12:00 a.m. – I open my eyes to the sounds of my baby screaming. I had only one hour of sleep under my belt. Like clockwork, it was the first wake up of the night.
“She’s 10 months old,” I angrily thought to myself as I got out of bed for the first of 4 times that night. “When does this end??”
I had no idea at this point that I had been the one crippling my baby’s sleep. I blamed it on her, I thought she was just a BAD sleeper. As a sleep-deprived first-time mom, I had no idea that it was me that had never given her the tools she needed to sleep through the night.
See my blog post on deciding when cosleeping and codependence becomes a problem to help you figure out whether sleep training may be right for your family.
If you told me that the 10 month old who awoke crying to breastfeed every two hours who’d slept inches away from me since birth could be taught to sleep on her own, through the night, in only a week- I would have NEVER believed you. I’ve been against sleep training since day one. I thought the “cry-it-out’ method was way too harsh for us. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Despite popular opinion, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing for sleep training to work.
Let’s face it, if you have a codependent, co-sleeping, breastfeeding baby- traditional sleep training probably would be a painful, traumatic experience for both of you. I decided to do my own gentle form of sleep training, and I’m glad to report that it worked PERFECTLY! Here is how I did it.
Instead of letting her cry it out for any length of time no matter what, if it was apparent to me that she could not get herself back to sleep on her own and she was too worked up in the night I went in her room to rock her. It was important to me that she still knew if she really needed me I would be there for her. I stood firm in not letting her come sleep in my room with me, some nights that meant a lot of time spent in the rocking chair. Sometimes she would wake up as I set her down in the crib and cry, but this time the crying would only last one or two minutes before she drifted back to sleep. The first night to fall asleep was the longest I let her cry it out. It was extremely hard for me, but I knew that she needed to learn to sleep for her own benefit (not just mine.) I also didn’t choose to cut off her nighttime feedings cold turkey. I knew that breastfeeding her back to sleep was not a nutritional need, but a crutch and a bad habit. But it was far less traumatic for both of us to gradually wean off the nighttime feedings. Since she was learning to sleep better, she naturally didn’t wake for feedings every two hours anymore!
If you are trying to decide whether to try sleep training with your codependent, cosleeping, breastfeeding baby, I encourage you to do your research and to do it in the way that will be best for you and your baby! Below I’ve logged our complete experience with a mild version of sleep training, and I hope reading it can give you confidence! If we can do this, anyone can! Ellie is now 13 months old and sleeping through the night in her crib with no crying from around 10:30 p.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Come back for our next blog post, to find out the nighttime routine I created to support trying to get her sleeping through the night!
Finally fell asleep at 10:00 with 25 minutes of crying beforehand. I cried much longer than she did though as I found it very inexplicably hard to not have her sleeping right next to me. She awoke 3 times in crib and fell back asleep, I was able to not go in and get her out until 5:30 a.m. In one night we had the significant improvement of her not eating every two hours. She then went back in crib until 8.
Asleep at 11:00 with only 5 minutes of crying. She awoke at 4:30 a.m. to breastfeed, and went back to sleep in crib until 8.
Asleep at 10:30 with only 3 minutes of crying. I really thought at this point I had it all down perfectly, until she awoke at 3 a.m. and I couldn’t get her back to sleep without breastfeeding. But even after that she struggled to get back to sleep until 4:30. She then awoke at 6:30 to eat again. Completely exhausted, I gave in and left her in bed with me so we could sleep until 9:00.
Weary from the failure the night before, I was expecting the worst again. However, she was asleep at 11 with not even a single tear. She awoke at 5 to eat and went back to sleep in her crib until 8.
She fell asleep at 11:30 with no crying but awoke at 12:30 and cried herself back to sleep for 5 minutes. She did the same at 2:00 am. 3:30 a.m. she was crying for over 5 minutes so I went in to soothe her. We rocked in her rocking chair and I laid her back down. She woke to eat once more at 6:30.
Asleep at 11 with no crying. She awoke at 3:30 cried herself back to sleep for 5 minutes. She awoke at 6:30 to eat then slept until 8:30.
Fell asleep at 11:30 no crying 4 a.m. cried back to sleep a few minutes. Again at 6:30 and then back to sleep until 9 a.m.
Slept through the night!!!! 10:30p.m.-8:30a.m.
Slept 11 p.m.-8 a.m.
Slept 10 p.m.-8 a.m.
Overall, I learned that as a mother you should always trust your instincts. I felt it was time that I taught Ellie how she could learn to give herself better sleep. It was a hard process and at times, I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But I couldn’t argue that it was improving little by little every night. Now we are both worlds happier. Never underestimate the power of a good night of sleep mamas!