How I Got My Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Unfortunately, teaching your baby to sleep through the night is no easy feat. With each child, I have struggled with long periods of sleep deprivation, and with each child, I have eventually found a solution that works – convinced that I have unlocked the mystery to babies and sleep. But the truth is, there is no one easy answer – at least that hasn’t been the case for me.

With my first child, I tried the Ferber CIO method and let my girl ‘cry it out’.  I found that a combination of playing quiet music, surrounding her with soothers, and leaving her to cry in her crib when I put her down, actually worked quite well.

I remember being so nervous to try it out for the first time – afraid it wouldn’t work, or that I wouldn’t be able to last for more than a minute hearing my baby girl cry for me from another room. But I was so overtired! I had reached the point of desperation where I was willing to try anything.

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My first child – sleeping soundly on her own.

She cried for 40 minutes straight, and then fell asleep on her own. And after that night, she was sleeping through the night. I would lay her down (asleep or awake), and she would suck on her soother and fall asleep peacefully on her own. I was so ready for baby #2. Or so I thought.

With my second child, nothing worked. From the day he was born, my sweet little boy would. not. sleep. There was no honeymoon period at the beginning – where newborns usually sleep most of their days and night away. He just didn’t want to sleep. Ever.

Eventually, when I reached a point of losing my mind from sleep deprivation, I decided it was time to try the Ferber method again. After (I hate to admit) letting him cry for more than 2 hours straight, I realized that it just wasn’t going to work with him. He didn’t take a soother, and just couldn’t settle on his own. I tried every other sleep training technique I could find, and eventually gave up.

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My second child – who would only sleep on the go.

While it took a really long time for him to learn how to sleep on his own in his bed, my little guy had no problem falling asleep when we were out and about – especially in the car or on our boat. With him, I learned that each child is completely different when it comes to sleep patterns and sleep training, regardless of consistency in parenting efforts.

With my third child, this method worked like a charm (so far). For the first 6 months of her life, baby #3 slept like a rockstar. I’d put her down, and she would just sleep. I thought I had been blessed with the best sleeper in the world, and was living the dream. Until about 2 months ago.

Suddenly she just wouldn’t let me put her down. She’d fall asleep in my arms, and if I so much as inhaled too quickly, she’d awake with a vengeance. If I did manage to get her down, she’d wake up in the night frequently. Exhausted, I would pick her up, bring her into my bed, and nurse her to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep with her next to me, and I was starting to lose my mind with sleeplessness once more.

Baby Sleep

Ready to try anything, I started with trying to let her ‘cry it out’. I put her gently down as she wailed desperately for my rescue. I sat in another room listening to her helpless cries, and watched the clock. But as the time went by, I couldn’t handle it – I couldn’t stand to hear her so upset. After about 30 minutes, I went to her rescue. I’m not sure if it was the fact that she’s my last baby, or that my old age has weakened me, but I just wanted to make her feel better. After another long run of sleepless nights, I decided to try something new.

After rocking her and walking her for hours – I put her down in her crib and watched her as she cried. And as she continued to stand up and wail, determined to have me pick her up, I would gently lay her down on her stomach, and say in a hushed voice “It’s night night time, mommy’s here” while patting her back.

For 45 minutes, I continued to repeat those words in a calm and soothing voice, and continued to pat her back and lay her back down as she stood. Yes it was tiring, but I wanted it to work. And you know what? It did.

Her cries faded and eventually she fell asleep.

I ninja’d myself out of the room, and fist-pumped my way back to the living room where I celebrated my victory with a quiet night of tv-watching – baby free and grinning from ear-to-ear. And (knock on wood), she has been letting me put her down (awake!) ever since.

Some nights I still have to pat her back for a minute or two and say “night night”, but then she drifts to sleep – and sleeps all night long.

There is no simple solution – trial and error is what has worked for me.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you – have you unlocked the mystery of babies and sleep with your little one?

Get The Eff Out Of My Bed!

I can’t remember the last time my husband and I slept through the night without our toddler creeping into our bed in the middle of the night.

At first I enforced a strict “no sleeping in mommy’s bed rule”, getting up in the night and tucking him back in. I spent many a night sitting on the floor, rubbing his back until my arm went numb, curling into the fetal position, shivering quietly as I waited for the sound of his heavy inhale-exhale. Then I would creep out in stealth-like movements – hand to floor, stop, listen. Opposite hand to the floor, stop, listen. Slow crab walk to the door, head half-turned, ear cocked, squinting to see if the slits of his eyes had opened. Then, if I was lucky enough to make it to the crack of light – I’d do a grand jeté the eff outta there! Sometimes, it would be a successful exit, and other times, I’d hear the siren-like wail start up and I’d be back in to start the process all over again.

But after awhile, I became lazy. What’s the harm in letting him sleep in our bed anyways, he’s only young once, and so many people promote co-sleeping. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I’ll tell you the worst thing that can happen – toys in the eye, kicks to the face, head bonks, facial bruises and fat lips. And worst of all, 3-4 hours of sleep at night. Tops.

Many times I’ve been smashed in the head by toy trucks, had cars zoom up and down my face (sound effects included), and superheroes jumping and dancing on my cheek. The other night? He brought the Canucks car flag into my bed. Imagine waking up to a sharp plastic pole poking into your nostril.

So I’ve decided to put my foot down – it’s time to get my toddler OUT of the “big bed” for good.

After some frantic Googling, I’ve devised a 3-step toddler exit strategy:

Step 1) Get the hubs to put him to bed. I’ve resorted to lying with him during the initial bed time and it’s gotten to the point where I have to lie with him until he’s completely asleep. This seems to be taking longer and longer, and if he wakes when I’m sneaking out, it becomes a struggle of epic proportions.

Step 2) Set up a little nest for him on the floor in my room. When he comes into my room in the middle of the night, I’ll encourage him to lie down on the little floor bed. Gradual exit in full effect.

Step 3) Encourage him to sleep in his bed with lots of positive reinforcement. I will set up a little spot for myself to lie beside him at first so he feels comfortable in his own bed again (and so that I’m not freezing). Then, keep my fingers crossed that this whole thing works.

I’ll leave you with this post about The Big Bed from a toddler’s perspective (via The Honest Toddler). I’m convinced that this is exactly how my toddler views our little sleep situation…

Bit of Zzzz’s

“Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.”

Oh, is that what that means? I wouldn’t know.

Since I’ve returned to my full time job (about 6 months ago), I have been deprived of sleep, or anything that resembles sleep.  My schedule is jam-packed from 6:30am until 11:30pm, and the 7 hours in between are eaten up by thoughts of things I should have done during my busy day, work issues and projects, and kids waking up and wanting my undivided attention. So how long can I go without any semblance of rest?

I can remember a time in my life when I thought I was so busy. When I was working a 9-5 job, and had to worry about feeding myself. A time when I would sleep in on weekends until 2pm, and then worry about where to go for brunch that would still serve coffee and eggs. I’d love to have a conversation with that younger me. “Bee-” I would say. “You need to take more pictures of your tight face, close ups of your youthful eyes and colourful complexion. You will miss these features when you’ve had children and have returned to work. You need to sleep until 3pm, eat a ton, and then go back to bed and sleep some more!”

I would also like to go back in time and have a conversation with myself when I was pregnant with my first child. “LISTEN to the advice of other moms!” I would say while shaking my plump little pregger body. “Sleep NOW, and sleep when the baby sleeps for the love of God.” Why I didn’t take that advice when I was pregnant with my second, I will never truly understand.

When my children are fully grown, I would like to saunter into their cozy bedrooms when they have drifted deeply into dreamland. I would like to stand with my face 2 inches from their faces, and start talking to them at my highest volume, repeating the same 2-3 words over and over again while prying their eyelids open with my fingertips – until they are fully awake. Then I would like to wait until they have fallen back asleep, and then do it all over again. Every hour until the sun rises. Is it wrong for me to think this way? I blame it on the sleep deprivation.

After 8 nights in a row of 2-3 hours of sleep, I’ve lost my mind and all patience. I’ve decided to cry it out. And the toddler can cry it out too! Ferber needs to hook a mommy up with some new sleep techniques.