I’ve had mixed feelings about sleep training Jonathan. He’s my last baby, I’ve enjoyed ‘spoiling’ him and letting him nap on me in the beginning. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to rush him and just soak up all the snuggles that I could, especially because Ethan stopped falling asleep on me by the time he was 10 weeks old. However, I have ‘put up’ with Jonathan’s awful nap habits for 4 months now, and it’s been getting worse the last 2 months in particular. Jonathan will only nap on me or in his car seat and it’s a miracle if he naps over an hour. Generally he only naps 25-45 minutes, usually the former and not as often the latter.
I just cannot get anything done around my house, and that’s not my style. Yes, I know that “babies don’t keep” and I’ve truly loved and enjoyed my last baby so much but this is getting unhealthy for me and him. He needed extra mama love after his surgery and adjusting to his helmet, and I happily gave it to him, but with two boys in school and harvest going on…I need to be able to put this baby down for his naps, and it’s time for him to learn to self-soothe like his brothers. It would even be one thing if he just let me sit down, nurse him and the whole process took 1/2 hour including his nap…but it’s so much more than that.
It’s nurse-walking, which is really hard on my arm and back with his helmet, it’s bouncing and convincing him he actually wants to nap. I knew it was time to take the plunge into sleep training because I was starting to get frustrated and mad at him. I’d give him a little squeeze and firmly verbalize my disgust at how long it was taking him to fall asleep. I also hesitated because I didn’t want Jonathan to get overheated in his helmet, I didn’t want him to feel abandoned…but I also didn’t want him feeling how mad it was making me while he cried and fussed in my arms. I figured he would be better off fussing in his crib by himself.
And I was right.
How Did I Do It?
Just like with his brothers, I used the SleepEasy sleep training method. It involves crying it out (CIO) and weaning from their night feeds. Luckily for me, I got to skip weaning Jonathan from his night feeds because (God bless him!) he weaned himself 2 months ago, has been sleeping 11-13 hours through the night for a couple of months already, and his only 4 month sleep regression seems to be affecting his naps. In all honesty, the hardest part about this sleep training (effort-wise) is weaning from the night feeds. You will feel infinitely more tired weaning (from breast or bottle) during sleep training than when you were waking up ‘x’ amount of times before. You will think you are crazy and wonder if it was really that bad the way it was before. It was and it’s worth it — stick with me.
How Did It Go?
Luckily, the huge step of night-weaning was done for me already, and he just needed to learn to put himself to sleep and re-settle himself should he wake up in the night, or too early for naps. You can read more in detail about the SleepEasy method in my blog post about sleep training Ethan. I tested out a few times letting Jonathan try to settle himself to sleep and it didn’t go very well, so I wasn’t sure how it would go.
- Jonathan was very tired. He wouldn’t settle for an evening nap, so he had been up >3 hours (which is ridiculous for a 4 month old!).
- 8:49 pm he goes down drowsy, but wakes up and is actually happy and kicking around, chewing his thumb
- 9:05 pm he realizes I’m not coming and starts to cry out and get restless while chewing/sucking on his thumb
- 9:15 pm gets REALLY worked up and cries hard for 7 minutes
- 9:22 pm falls asleep! (Took him 33 minutes to settle)
- 10:14 pm wakes up (slept 52 mins) and crying/very upset
- 10:18 pm settles self very easily and falls asleep
- Sleeps through the rest of the night and I actually had to wake him up so we could get going with our day at 9:15 am….slept 11 hours!
The first night couldn’t have gone better. I wondered if I might have to do a dreamfeed (gently pick up baby while they’re fast asleep and feed them; they shouldn’t wake up) to get him through some lost calories from his extended previous bedtime routine…but he seemed to be just fine. That morning he had 2 good car seat naps on the way to and from the city and then it was time to start nap training.
- His very first nap in his crib he laid there for 5 minutes quite content and then started to cry
- It took him 19 minutes to settle and he slept for 37 minutes
- He was awake for barely an hour (he was SO TIRED today; sleep begets sleep!), went down and this time it took him 15 minutes to settle and he slept 1 hour 5 minutes
Simply. A. Miracle!
He had another little 25 minute and then it was time for his second night.
- 8:21 pm goes down and fusses
- 8:32 pm falls asleep; took only 11 minutes this time!
- He only slept 55 minutes and it took him 8 minutes to settle (it’s very important with SleepEasy they always settle themselves)
- Slept another 1 hour 20 minutes and woke up…this is when I wasn’t sure if I should dreamfeed him after he fell asleep again
- Took him about 7 minutes to settle (really hard crying) and I told myself if he woke again (3 strikes!) I’d dreamfeed him after he fell asleep
- He didn’t wake up and continued to sleep through the night another 8.5 hours, so almost 11 hours total
Napping on day 2 he has done well. He continued to be really tired and was awake barely 45 minutes before I feed him and lay him down for a nap. He’s taking about 10-20 minutes to settle, but I know he’s getting the hang of it. He had a 45 minute nap and another 1 hour 5 minute nap and then it was time for bed again.
- 9:00 pm I lay him down and he fusses, just a bit
- 9:06 pm he’s asleep and doesn’t wake up an hour or two later like the first two nights
- 5:13 am wakes up, but really really happy. I give him 10 minutes to settle…but something tells me I should go check on him (even though that against ‘the rules’)
- I do check on him and I pick him up and he’s wet. I thought he was sweaty at first, but it was nice and cool in his room…upon further inspection he was soaked with pee all the way up his back 🙁
- I’m so glad I checked on him, I changed him and the bedding (which REALLY ticked him off!) and fed him
- 5:58 am I laid him down and he didn’t even make a peep, just got comfy and was asleep a couple of minutes later at 6!
- He only slept just over an hour…but was very very very happy when he woke up (again, breaking the rules of ‘they have to stay in their bed for 11 hours at night’)
My Best Advice
Follow your instincts. I have bent the rules of sleep training to suit my individual babies’ needs all three times. I do the same for potty training. For Braden I let him keep a soother and for both Braden and Ethan if they slept almost all night 9-10 hours, I’d still just go in, feed them and they would nap a couple more hours and I was fine with that. They both eventually just dropped that feed and slept full 11+ hour nights.
For Jonathan, I’ve kept him in his DockATot as I didn’t want to change too much on him and he still fits in it and loves it. Eventually he will outgrow it, and I know he’ll have the skills to get used to sleeping just in his crib. He is already a more well-rested baby and he’s oh so happy and proud when he wakes up! He was so overtired, napping on average 30 minutes at a time and staying up about 1.5-2 hours between naps. Now he’s napping longer (and he will continue to have fewer, but longer naps as he gets used to this) and only staying up about an hour between naps. The last few times I’ve put him it’s only taken a few minutes for him to settle with no crying.
Sleep training, for the win, AGAIN!
Sleep is SO IMPORTANT for your entire family’s help. I know sleep training, and perhaps especially a CIO method, isn’t for everyone…but I’ll never regret sleep training all 3 of our babies.
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