I’ve been wanting to post about this subject for a while now, but I’ve been too afraid that in doing so I would jinx the progress we’ve made…but I think things are consistent enough now that I can announce to the world that ADELAIDE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!!!
That’s right, my nine-month-old sleeps through the night. Ooooh, it feels good to say that. It feels even better to get eight straight hours of sleep again!
We struggled, and I mean STRUGGLED with sleep in our household. This new sleeping-through-the-night reality did not come easily, we had to work sooo hard to achieve it. I’m pretty sure this has been the second hardest part of being a parent for us (dealing with glaucoma being the first hardest) and I don’t think we’re alone. So I wanted to share our methods, successes and failures in the hope that someone might find similar or easier success.
When Adelaide was two months old we had her days and nights figured out, and we were ready for her to start going to bed before mommy and daddy (up until then she would just nap every few hours until we went to bed around 11 and then she would continue sleeping every few hours through the night). I desperately wanted a few hours for just Matt and I in the evenings before bed and so we made the decision to try and get Adelaide to sleep in her own bed before we went to bed.
NOTE: Our sleep set up was an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper attached to our bed in our room.
At two months old, our sleep routine looked something like this:
8:00PM – Nurse Adelaide to sleep
9:00PM – Adelaide wakes up, nurse Adelaide to sleep
9:30PM – Adelaide wakes up, bounce/nurse Adelaide to sleep
10:30PM – Adelaide wakes up, bounce/nurse Adelaide to sleep
11:00PM – Mom and dad go to bed, wake Adelaide up, pull Adelaide into bed with mom and everyone sleeps.
So, ya, not so great. Then when Adelaide was about three months old she was diagnosed with glaucoma, and everything changed. We stopped trying to enforce any kind of schedule or strict back-to-sleep techniques and just let her sleep whenever and wherever she wanted. That “wherever” happened to be the baby swing, so it got moved into our room for months while she was recovering.
By the time Adelaide was five months old, her glaucoma had been addressed and she was no longer in any pain. She was also firmly dependent on the swing for sleep, and honestly, we were too. It was wonderful to just put her in it and watch her fall asleep, and STAY asleep for two hour naps and six hour stretches at night. We knew it was a crutch though, and with
our her glaucoma no longer an excuse, we knew we had to get down to work setting up healthy sleep habits for our baby.
I bought the book The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and read it cover to cover. Matt and I were not at all comfortable letting Adelaide cry-it-out since we couldn’t be 100% confident that she was crying about sleep things and not glaucoma things, so this method was our best option.
The no cry method is based on the idea that babies cry out of fear and that by introducing change in small increments and immediately responding to crying, parents support the change by letting the baby know that she is safe and that mommy and daddy are always here. We started implementing Pantley’s suggestions right away by attempting to establish a bed-time routine (easier said than done back then…I really had no idea what constituted a “routine”) and a bed time and immediately responding to Adelaide’s crying with cuddles and nursing.
We chose to let Adelaide continue sleeping in the swing adhering to the idea that we would first get her on a bed time schedule and routine then once that was solid we would change her sleeping location.
Well, none of it really worked. Adelaide grew weary of the swing, and then one day the batteries died and I didn’t have replacements and I was forced to put her down for a nap in her bed (YIKES!). She actually slept there for an hour just fine, imagine that. So at that point we made the decision not to use the swing anymore…we just cut it out, cold turkey.
By this time Adelaide was six months old, and her sleeping habits were even worse than before. Here is what our nights looked like:
11:00 PM – Fell asleep next to me in my bed
3:00 AM – Woke Adelaide up trying to move her into her own bed, nursed her back to sleep, put
her in her bed
5:00 AM – Adelaide woke up, nursed back to sleep in bed with me
8:30 AM – Adelaide woke up, nursed back to sleep in bed with me
9:00 AM – Adelaide wok up, cuddled next to Matt, fell back asleep
10:00 AM – Woke up for the day
At this point, we were getting very tired of not getting any sleep, and we were starting to get desperate. After trying the no-cry method for four weeks, we weren’t any closer to our goal of having our evenings back and getting a full night’s sleep. So we ordered a new sleep method book, the 3 Day Sleep Solution by Davis Ehrler.
The 3 Day Sleep Solution is a cry it out method. Plain and simple. It’s based on the idea that babies process things vocally, through crying, and that until old habits are broken and new, healthy habits are formed (supposedly a process that takes three days) the baby will have to process these changes through crying.
Again, we read this book cover to cover and worked out how we wanted to use this information. We weren’t on board with the idea of letting Adelaide cry for up to an hour like this method suggests, but we did seem to become more ok with the idea that Adelaide may just have to cry for a little while to figure things out.
To be perfectly honest, we didn’t really follow either method (the No Cry Sleep Solution, or the 3 Day Sleep Solution) as they suggest in their books. We kinda took a little from each, and implemented our changes, finessing and adjusting until we saw results.
Here is what worked for us:
- Made gradual changes as to where Adelaide slept (moved her into her own bed, moved her bed across the room, changed her bed from the co-sleeper to a real crib, moved the real crib into her own room) This process took a little over two months.
- Established an earlier bed time (6PM for a month, then 7PM)
- Established a VERY firm bed-time routine (much more flexible now that she has the hang of things)
- Let her cry for up to 30 minutes or until she was “freaking-out-crying”, which ever came first, before comforting her
By the time Adelaide was seven months old she was sleeping in her own bed, across the room from our bed, going to bed at the same time every night, was not nursing to sleep anymore, and was only waking up 1-2 times a night. MASSIVE improvement!!
We had a small set back when we traveled for Christmas and she was totally thrown off her routine, but we got things back to normal when we got home and she has been thriving ever since.
She continued to have one mid-night wake up between 2AM and 5AM, but in the last couple of weeks she has been sleeping completely through the night, no wakings at all.
I am such a proud mama! It has been wonderful to just lay my awake baby in her bed, kiss her head, tell her I love her and leave her room and know she will put herself to sleep. And then have several hours each night to just hang out with Matt and catch up with him without baby interruptions. I still don’t go to bed assuming I will get to sleep through the night (and often I find myself waking up and wondering if Adelaide is ok, LOL) but it’s been a very pleasant surprise to hear the alarm waking me up in the morning and not my crying baby.
I know we will continue to have sleep battles as Adelaide grows up, but at least for now, we are both breathing a huge relaxing sigh, and reveling in our new-found time and rest.