For over five months, I have (not-so-secretly) resented my husband for being able to sleep through the night. Everett’s cries didn’t even register to him once he was down for the count. Sure he would wake up occasionally if I (not-so-subtly) kicked him as I got out of bed to respond to Everett’s cries, but he was able to drift back off into blissful slumber within seconds while I made my way, zombie-like, to my crying baby’s room. I was so tired from 5 1/2 months of this that I vowed that the moment the doctor told me Everett could go the whole night without a feeding, I would sleep train him. On December 5th, the doctor told me just that. And on December 5th, I called Jenn at BabyZzz.
Everett was born 8 weeks early which meant I had 8 more weeks of sleepless nights to endure compared to a mom of a full-term baby who is usually allowed to sleep train at 4 months. In the meantime, I did what I could to ensure Everett was sleeping as well as possible. I put him down for regular naps in his own crib when he showed signs of drowsiness, introduced a nap time and bedtime routine, and even stopped nursing him at night when I felt he was waking up just to see me rather than because he needed to feed.
But I was still getting up three times a night – twice to comfort Everett back to sleep and once to nurse him. I was also a slave to Everett’s naps, constantly looking at him for drowsy clues and putting him down to sleep whenever he seemed tired. I found myself rarely leaving the house because Everett’s windows of wakefulness were so short that after nursing him, we would only have an hour to play before he had to go back to sleep.
I needed a little more flexibility in my day, and most importantly, I needed a good night’s sleep.
After expressing to Jenn my biggest goals, she put together a detailed and customized sleep plan for Everett and I. It advised me when we should wake up each day, when Everett’s naps should be and why, how to handle resistance to naps and crying, how to handle short naps, and what to do at bedtime. It also suggested sleep training methods based on what my husband and I were comfortable with. What was incredibly helpful was talking through the plan with her and being able to ask questions about the nitty gritty details in advance of executing the plan.
I felt prepared, armed with new information and a course of action, and I wanted to start immediately.
Days 1-3 – Already a Success!
As part of the plan, Jenn suggested consistency in our morning schedule that allowed Everett his first two naps in his crib at specific times, and that our flexibility and opportunity to leave the house occur in the afternoon after Everett’s second nap of the day. After the first two days of executing the plan, I already felt like I had more freedom. I could finally run errands like grocery shopping without interfering too much with Everett’s sleep needs.
And the results were immediate: Everett quickly fell asleep for each nap because they were timed with his biological sleep cycles. And most importantly, he stopped waking three times a night. We eliminated all night feedings and Everett only awoke once to cry, at which point he was able to quickly soothe himself back to sleep within 10 minutes without intervention.
Days 4-6 – Ooops, I did it again!
After seeing such immediate results, I was ecstatic. However, 4 days after we started executing the plan, I realized I would have to interfere with the plan for a few days due to previously scheduled appointments, playdates, and outings. This meant toying with Everett’s nap times slightly, or in some cases, missing a nap altogether so that I could make these outings. After three days of this in a row, the lack of consistency took it’s toll on Everett. He awoke three times one night, not settling himself as quickly as he was just days before.
I realized the commitment I needed to make to Everett’s sleep that night. Just as babies need to eat regularly, they need to sleep as well. I saw first hand the toll it took on my baby: by messing with his sleep needs, he had become irritable, cried more often, and slept less at night.
I discovered quickly that when I mess with Everett’s sleep, we both end up getting less sleep as a result! And above that, it just felt unfair to Everett that I, who had control of what he did every day, prioritized my social life over his basic biological need to sleep. He deserved more from me.
Days 7-9 – Back on track!
After re-prioritizing my son’s sleep to the top of my list, I was determined to get his naps back on track. He was so affected by the past three days that he wasn’t able to nap well on Day 7 and woke up crying after each nap because he was still tired. However, by Day 9, after consistently putting him to bed at the appropriate times, I noticed immediate changes in him again. He was happier during the days and sleeping better at night once more.
Today, on day 10, he is still waking once a night around 5:30 a.m. but is able to settle himself quickly without requiring any help. And I have confidence that he will be able to drop this once-a-night waking in a few more days.
I very quickly learned the lesson that babies need consistency, especially when it comes to their sleep. I am so happy with the progress Everett has made, and I plan on sticking to his sleep plan as closely as I can going forward. Sure there will be days when we need to go to an appointment or a special event and on these days, Everett’s sleep may need to take a backseat once in a while. But as Jenn assured me, a well-rested baby can adapt easier to changes in his schedule once in a while compared to a baby who is over-tired.
I am so happy that my husband and I made the decision to sleep train as soon as possible. Our satisfaction with the results is immeasurable. Everett is a well rested baby which means he is rarely fussy, happy and responsive. And my husband and I are able to spend our evenings together again! We don’t need to watch the clock and go to bed early just in case Everett has a bad night. We go to bed with the confidence that we won’t need to see him again until the morning.
It’s truly amazing the impact a well-rested baby has on a family. Not only is Everett thriving on his sleep schedule, but my husband and I feel like ourselves again. We are not utterly exhausted, have our evenings to reconnect with each other, and have a happy baby. What more could we ask for?!
If you would like to learn more about how we can work together to get your child sleeping through the night, visit http://www.babyzzz.ca/.