Sleep Problems Solved

As some of our last posts suggested, we’ve been having sleep issues with Miss Lily Bean here. Since she was 5 weeks old, she started sleeping through the night, but as luck would have it, that didn’t always last. Until she became mobile, she was doing awesome, sleeping on her own, falling asleep on her own, and sleeping through the night. So, we had to rethink our strategy completely, and I think we now found what has worked for us.

Dave and I differed quite a bit regarding how we “sleep train” her. Being the loving, protective father that he is, he didn’t want to try any method that would mean she would cry. Me, being a little more firm, didn’t mind it so much, as I didn’t mind seeing her a little frustrated. I think it would teach her to be a little more secure and independent. So, after many, many, maaannyyy hours of long discussions with Dave, he finally agreed to a plan that included some crying, just to break her out of that “cuddle to sleep” mode that she was in with us. Sometimes, it would take me as much as two hours to get her to sleep, and other times, she’d wake up in the middle of the night and wouldn’t go back to sleep for about another two hours… all of which I would have to cuddle her and keep her company and convince her that indeed, it is not play time, it is sleep time. I was getting tired of this cycle.

First night we tried the plan where we would keep her in the crib “no matter what,” periodically coming in to comfort her and let her know we’re still around and not abandoning her. She did not do so well. She immediately started whining when we left the room, and when we didn’t come back right away (as we often did before), she upped the ante and started screaming blue murder. We came in after waiting it out a bit, comforted her, and then walked out again. She freaked out again, wondering why we weren’t picking her up immediately and rocking her to sleep. 45 minutes later of this, she was crying so hard and so intensely that she actually made herself throw up.

Dave was really angry with me. He didn’t want to do this plan anymore. I insisted that this is part of her learning, and that she’s just seeing how far she needs to go in order to get us to come to her rescue. I told him this wouldn’t happen again, and I made that promise. He said he wouldn’t do the plan with me, but that if I wanted to do it again, I would have to do it alone without his support.

So I mustered my courage up, and did it again two nights later. I did her whole bedtime routine — bath, reading, feeding, lights out — and then I cuddled her for a little bit in her rocking chair in her room, in the dark. I told her:

“My Lily, I love you… you’re going to go to bed now. Mommy’s going to lay you down in your bed so you can go to sleep. I will see you in the morning. You can do it. It’s bed time…”

I said this over and over again, about 3 or 4 times. By that time, she was relaxed and tired, but still awake. Then I got up, gave her the bunny/lovey, and popped a binky in her mouth, and laid her down, said goodnight, and walked out. She didn’t cry at first. Waited about 5 minutes, and then started crying. I waited about a minute, and then walked in to comfort her verbally, still leaving her in her crib. I put the binky back in her mouth, laid her down, said the same things I said to her while we were cuddling, and then walked out. She cried and cried and cried. However, she only did it for 20 minutes this second night. I stood outside her door, my heart completely ripped out of my chest and I was near tears. But just as I was ready to come back in again, suddenly the crying stopped. Completely. I went in to our bedroom to check out the video monitor, to see what she was doing. She had laid herself back down, and playing with her binky (not in her mouth). She started waving her leg back and forth, and within a minute or two, she was sound asleep.

She had put herself to sleep!! All on her own!!

There was no throwing up, no hysterical crying (didn’t get to that stage, fortunately). And it only took 20 minutes.

Next day, Dave put her down for both naps since I had to work. He said he put her down awake yet drowsy, and she didn’t cry for him. She was used to him doing that though. The bedtime routines were the issue, not the naps. So that night, I did the same thing again, and she cried for 10 minutes. Though out of those 10 minutes, only maybe 2 minutes were really hard crying. The rest were sort of whimper cries. I came in about 3 times, comforted her verbally and then walked out. I stood outside her door. The crying suddenly stopped, and she put herself to sleep.

Third night, there was no crying. She put herself to sleep within 10 minutes.

This was a week ago, exactly. Throughout the whole week, all her naps and her bedtimes looked like this. They went so smoothly. Sometimes, it’d take her a little over 10 minutes to fall asleep, but she never cries anymore. Sometimes she loses her binky and cries out for us to get it for her, but once we do, she’d lay back down and wouldn’t fuss when we walked out again.

She has been waking up less in the middle of the night. She is still regularly waking up at least once, but very sleepily so — never that wide-awake event anymore. And I would just put the binky back in her mouth, give her a kiss, lay her back down, without a word, and walk out the door. Within seconds, she’s back asleep. Sometimes even before I reach the door.

Over the week, I noticed that even when she does wake up in the middle of the night, very rarely does she even open her eyes. I would hear some whimpering and near-cries, and when I go check on her, her eyes are still closed, she’s still lying down, but she looks like she’s going to wake up. I would just pop the binky back in her mouth and walk out. She hardly even noticed I was even in the room.

The first few nights, since she was getting so much sleep at night, and sleeping through the night again, she was waking up earlier. She’d go down by 7:45p, and wake up at 6a or 6:30a. This was not cool. So when she did this, I would come in, and see her wide awake and laughing and giggling and having a ball, as if saying, “GOOD MORNING, MAMA!!!” I’d lay her down, tell her, “It’s not time to wake up yet, honey… go back to sleep.” And then I’d walk out. At first, she was very confused, but she did not cry out. She’d try to put herself back to sleep, and when she couldn’t, she’d just play in her crib, wait around until 7a for me to come get her. What a trooper!

Now, she’s sleeping until 7a again, sometimes even to 7:30a. So she’s getting near 12 hours of sleep per night, which is perfect. She has her two naps per day back, both adding up to about 3 hours altogether. She’s happy, well-rested, and cheery all day long, and she eats so well too.

It’s also cute that I see a change in the relationship between her and her bed. In the mornings, she’d crawl happily around her bed, and wouldn’t let me pick her up. It was like she was showing off how happy she is to be able to fall asleep on her own, and telling me, “Look, Mama, this is my bed! I have so much fun in here! I love it!” It’s a great feeling to see how proud she is of herself.

Throughout all this, I’ve been getting a LOT of encouragement and consultation and words of wisdom and kindness from Kendra, my new friend (and our photographer), as well as my sister-in-law, who does the same method with her kids. Now that we’re all getting enough sleep again, and we’re all happy again, and Dave isn’t mad and he’s proud of both of us again, and we’re all doing the same things again, it’s such a relief. I’m glad I stuck it through, and I knew our Lily Bean could do it. She wakes up to gives me hugs and kisses, and sometimes wouldn’t let me go. I know there is absolutely no resentment from her towards me, and I know she appreciates that I am teaching her confidence. Plus, this gives me and Dave some extra couple time with each other, after I put her down for bedtime. We’re so much more relaxed. I love it.

So, if you have any doubts that this works, just take my word for it. After confusing the heck out of our little girl with different methods and plans month after month, it only took less than 3 days for her to learn this. If she can do it, your baby can, too. And as an appreciation, she gives me MORE cuddles during her waking times than she used to before!

That first morning after she learned how to fall asleep on her own. Look how happy she is!

I love our baby girl. :)

4 Comments so far
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yay! I am glad you stuck with it and it worked! Happy rested baby + happy rested parents = happy family! I am glad she is sleeping well again for all of you! I think some crying really is good for them to learn. I love the new beach photos!!!

aww, I just adore that outfit!
Way to go for sticking to your plan, I’m proud of you for doing it!

Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

We did that too with Connor and it worked as well. There’s nothing like a well-rested baby (and parents). He didn’t have sleep issues when we went to SoCal this last time, only the first night.

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