(I am very well aware that the subject I am broaching today is a touchy one. So I am in no way saying that everyone has to do it the way I have chosen to do it! I watched several videos, and read several articles where other mothers shared how they trained their babies to sleep better, and then I tried mixing and matching to see what would work best for Michael. What works for one baby may not work for the next, or what one parent is comfortable with doing may be too difficult for the next parent to even think of doing!)
From the time Michael was born I broke all the sleeping rules with him. Not that I regret it, I was able to spend a lot of time holding and rocking and bouncing him. But there comes a time when, for the baby’s sake, as well as your own, you train them to go to sleep by themselves in their crib.
I mentioned in a previous post that I had begun to do a bedtime routine with him and then lay him down and let him fall asleep on his own. After 14 nights of that, and seeing that he was doing pretty good with it, I decided to take the next step. Nap times by himself, in the crib.
I started off using the tips given here in this blog post (Sleep Training), and was quite satisfied with the quick progress Michael was making. It is hard to just let him cry, but it was worth it when, after a while, I was greeting with a big smile! Then I kinda mixed and matched to see what would work.
Monday – The first nap time was hard, but he caught on and soon fell asleep. The second nap time was a battle of the wills, and the fight was long and hard but I came away with a win and he fell asleep. By the third one he fussed a little, but was asleep within 5 minutes.
Tuesday – The first nap was again a bit of a battle, he was tired but fought to stay awake. The second he fell asleep relatively quickly and with only a little fussing. The third one he fell asleep almost immediately BUT only slept for a short time, and I realized that his naps had all become shorter and shorter since I started training him.
Wednesday – I laid him down for his first nap a little before going to my fitness class, and when I got back I noticed he was super clingy and insecure. Even when he was in a good mood, as soon as I put him down he would start to get fussy and just wanted to be held. I tried laying him down for a nap but could see he was a bit stressed by it all so decided it was time to find a plan B.
Thursday – We had a service in the morning, so we got up, nursed and got dressed, then put him down for a nap, I was still in the room so he fell asleep without a problem. He slept through the first part of the sermon and then we went into the nursery where he was kept busy watching all the other children play (he is the youngest at the moment). In the afternoon we all took a nap at the same time, sleeping for several hours, and then he took a very short nap towards the end of our walk in the early evening.
Friday – He slept in the baby carrier while I did some house work, and then he slept in the stroller when we went into town to run some errands. The afternoon was also spent in the baby carrier, and it wasn’t until his early evening nap time that he got put in the crib, but when he did he fell asleep pretty quickly.
Saturday – After seeing how he did in the baby carrier, I decided to try the method where you carry/hold the baby until just before they fall asleep and then put them into the crib so that they learn to fall asleep in the crib. For both the first and second naps he was dropping off when I laid him down, but as soon as I laid him down he seemed to wake back up and just lay there looking around and playing with his hands, he would fuss every now and then but for the most part was just quiet until he would finally get too tired and fall asleep. The third nap, we got home from doing some shopping and he was hungry and tired. I nursed him and laid him right down, he was asleep within a few minutes. I also noticed that his naps were starting to get a little longer and his sleep deeper and more restful.
Sunday – For his first 2 naps he was asleep within 5 minutes of me having laid him down. For his third nap, he was very tired and very fussy, but as soon as I laid him down he decided he didn’t want to sleep. He laid there happily for a bit, but soon began to get fussy and fighting sleep. I was also tired so I laid down on the bed (he is sleeping at the moment in a little bed that attached to the bed) and let him hold my finger…we both fell asleep pretty fast and slept like that until he woke up wanting to nurse. We went for a walk a little before 6pm and he fell asleep in the baby carrier. I can always tell when he has had a nice nap, he wakes of with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye 🙂
Monday – His first nap was a battle! He was tired, but didn’t want to sleep. But finally after a lot of crying, he calmed down and fell asleep. The second looked like it was going to be a repeat, but he fell asleep within a few minutes. He was clingy again in the afternoon, so he spent lots of time in the baby carrier. Evening was a struggle to get him to sleep.
Tuesday – He started having shorter naps again and sleeping very restlessly. All of the nap times as well as putting him to bed for the night were not very easy. I ended up using a noise machine with the sound of rain falling to get him to sleep for the night.
Wednesday – He woke up crying, which is not normal, but got happy once he was fully awake. Fell asleep at 9am and, even though he was moved around 9:30 to my sister-in-laws (she babysits him while I do this postpartum fitness course), he slept until 10. When I got home he was as happy as could be and ready to eat 😀 His next nap he spent for the first time in his own room and in his big crib. He fell asleep quite quickly, but only slept for about 30 minutes. His good mood quickly faded after he woke up and I put him down again, but this time he only slept for about 5 to 10 minutes. Later it was the same, whether I laid him in his bed or carried him in the baby carrier, he really wasn’t sleeping so well. Finally, at 6 I laid him in his bed, played some music softly and told him it was time to sleep. He cried for quite a while, but finally fell asleep and slept until 7:30!
This post is ending up a lot longer than I had planned, but honestly I still haven’t figured out the whole thing. No one thing works, and I have to just be flexible. There are many factors that play into the whole situation, and the most important thing for me is that I am there when Michael needs me, that I don’t get so hung up on routine and structure to the point where there is no room for me to just hold him when he needs it, or rock him to sleep instead of dumping him in his bed. So that is the conclusion that I have come to after 10 days of trying all different things. (No this doesn’t mean that I am giving up…)
It does make a difference that there is a sort of structure, that is certain! Michael has been much happier and good tempered overall during the last while, and I can always tell when he has had a good nap…he wakes up with a smile!