Ahh sleep. It seems so easy right? Well..for those of us who are lucky enough to just be able to fall asleep and stay there it is. Unfortunately for a baby who has not learned the skill of falling asleep they rely on other things to get them there (milk, boobs, rocking, shushing, etc.). But then when your baby decides to not go to sleep until one of these things is happening and they wake up every 2 hours just so you can soothe them back to sleep you turn to google. You google everything from “why is my baby waking up all night long?” “how can I help my baby go to sleep without me?” and then you come across….
I first heard about sleep training from my Aunt who said she would come to New York and sleep train our baby. She did it with her children and she said that they were sleeping 12 hours afterwards. When thinking about what to do for Braxton, my husband and I agreed that our main goal would be for him to be able to go to sleep on his own. We were concerned as much about him sleeping “through the night” which in the baby world really only means 6-7 hours but in sleep training world means 12 hours. So after reading a ton of different websites and talking to other Moms and our pediatrician we decided to go with the Ferber method. This is a “cry it out” method, but its gradual extinction so the idea is that every night your wait time of going in and checking on your baby increases. For example the first night you wait 3 minutes before you go in and (not picking up your baby) give them a gentle chest rub, shush them, tell them they’re okay and to go to sleep. If they keep crying you wait 5 minutes, and then 10. The second night is the same thing but the wait time increases so you start with 5 and then 7 and then 10. My understanding is that if they stop crying during those times then you start back at the beginning. Justin and I both realized very quickly that when I tried to go in and quiet Braxton down it only made matters worse. He smelled me, knew that I normally would pick him up and frankly probably just wanted to nurse (baby’s sense of smell is impeccable). So he has been SUPER DAD and has gotten our little man to learn to fall asleep on his own. It’s really incredible. He has sacrificed sleep and has been so diligent making sure that he follows the plan to ensure it is successful.
Here’s how it went:
Night 1 (Sunday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. Brax cried for 3, 5, 10, 10 and went to sleep by 10pm.
He woke up around 4:15am, cried for 3, 5, 10 and went back to sleep for about an hour. Cried another 3, 5 and slept till 6:30am. I fed him, kept him awake and back down for a nap about an hour later.
Night 2 (Monday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. He cried for 5, 10, 12 and was asleep before the 12 minutes was up.
Woke up at 4am, cried for 5, 10, 12, and back to sleep till 7:45am.
Night 3 (Tuesday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. Cried for about 10 minutes slept until 1:45am. Cried another 10 or so minutes and slept until 7:55am.
Night 4 (Wednesday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. Cried for about 10 minutes slept until about 5:30am. This was the hardest night because we decided at this point to just let him cry it out (not go in to check on him. We felt like he was getting used to Justin coming in so we felt this was the best thing) He cried off and on for almost an hour! It was really tough to hear. He fell back asleep until around 9am.
Night 5 (Thursday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. Cried for about 3 minutes and fell asleep on his own! Woke up around 4am and put himself back to sleep! We’re seeing progress! Slept until 8:30am.
Night 6 (Friday):
Bath at 8pm, feed at 8:30pm, down by 9pm. Justin went out to watch a few games, so this was the first night putting Brax down by myself since we started sleep training. I was so nervous but luckily he was super sleepy and fell asleep on his own about 15 minutes after I put him in his crib (no crying!!). Here’s a picture of me freaking out starring at the monitor to see when he fell asleep! THIS SHIT IS STRESSFUL
This was also our first night sleeping in our bedroom again (we were on an air mattress in the living room!). I was nervous that when I went into the room he would smell me and wake up. It wasn’t immediately after, but he did wake up around midnight whimpered for a few minutes and fell back asleep!
He woke up around 5am..again! Cried for a few minutes and back to sleep until 8:15am.
Saturday and Sunday went similarly. He has been waking up around 4/5am every morning but whimpers for a few minutes and puts himself back to sleep. We are going to just let him cry for now. He has been eating enough during the day so he doesn’t need the calories overnight. He has doubled his birth weight and is perfectly fine to go 12 hours without eating.
I was shocked at how easy it was for me to hear him cry. I knew he was just tired so the whole time I’m thinking “bubba, just go to sleep!”. And eventually he did. The ” I’m tired” cry is a lot less forceful than the “I’m in pain” or “something is wrong” cry. It was a little more difficult when he woke up at 4 am, because I knew he was just hungry but he made it through the night and seemed happy in the morning.
The one thing I was not expecting was how tired he has been during the day. He has been super groggy and has taken naps really well but has slept a lot more than he usually does. Justin thinks its because we’ve messed with his sleep cycle so he’s just taking several days to get used to it.
But let me just say THERE IS NO WAY I COULD HAVE DONE THIS. JUSTIN IS A LITERAL BABY WHISPERER. Like seriously. I don’t know what he says (he says it’s a secret anyway). But little man goes right to sleep whenever Justin talks to him.
I have been stressing myself out SO badly about this and becoming OBSESSED with Braxton’s sleep. Trying to get him on a somewhat of a nap schedule as been exhausting (lol). I just have to keep reminding myself that “it’s OK!” if he doesn’t sleep through the night, it’s ok. If he doesn’t take a “full nap”, it’s ok. He can feel my energy and if I’m stressed there is no way he will be getting any sleep. Our goal through all of this was to have him be able to self soothe and go back to sleep, and it seems to have worked… for now!!
Moral of the story: do what works for you and your family. BE CONSISTENT!!! And stay calm, and know that everyday might be different but as long as you are calm and do your best to create an environment conducive to sleeping then your baby will (hopefully) sleep!
Here is an article on the Bump if you want to read more about the Ferber Method