Sleep Training: Will It Ever End?

Unhappy in Crib

Ugh. Fia is waking up in the night….again. With baby Leroy just 2 weeks away, we gotta figure this out. I can’t have both of them up all night. I’ll lose my mind. Or at least more so than I already will with a newborn.

We sleep-trained her at 4.5 months. From then until this fall (so like 18 months) she was a consistent sleeper: Down at 7, up at 6:30-7. Never woke up in the night.

Then, right when we were packing/moving to LA, she began to wake up in the night. And getting up earlier, like 6:15-6:30. I figured it was all part of the chaos of the move.

But now we’ve been settled here for nearly 4 months, and instead of getting better, she’s regressing. Not only is she now waking up in the night, but she also gets up between 5 and 5:45. For good. Unless. Unless. Unless…we (ack) put her in bed with us. Then she sleeps until 6:30-7. I don’t sleep, but she does.

I have tried cracking the code. We got her this “bunny” alarm clock. When the light on the bottom is on, it shows the bunny sleeping and the moon. When the light on top shines, bunny is awake and the sun is shining. We’ve set it for 6:30 a.m., and explained to her when bunny wakes up, she can wake us up. I really do think she understands. I also think she chooses to ignore.

And now I’m finding that this middle of the night thing is getting out of control. She doesn’t go back down on her own. We have to go in and hold her. Sometimes it’s up to 4 times a night. Add to that, over the weekend she was up at 4:45. For good. I tried to “referber”. Went in at 5 ,10, 15 minute intervals. Can you believe she screamed straight until 6 a.m.?? No tears, just whining/screaming/squawking. Maddening. Phil and I were zombies all day Saturday and Sunday.

I enlisted the help of some of my friends who have all the books on sleep training. I even wrote my old Pediatrician in Brooklyn, Dr. Gold, this weekend asking for her insight/advice. Here is the consensus:

In the middle of the night, go into her room, don’t make eye contact, don’t say a word, don’t pick her up. Be completely mechanical, so it’s not like this is any type of reward. Lie her back down and walk out. It takes about 10 seconds.

I did that last night and she stood right back up. So Phil went in and she stayed down. It might be a mama thing–ie: she doesn’t want to go down for me. She stands there and says “Mama hold you.” (which I usually find quite cute–when it’s daytime). She woke up three more times and Phil went in everytime. She stayed down for him. So I guess that’s progress. We’ll see what happens tonight.

As for the morning wake up call: Dr. Gold said that you simply can’t put them in bed with you. “Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile…they are smart little buggers,” is what her email said. She also said to retrain at this stage could take 1-2 weeks. But it will work. They are just more stubborn at this age.

However, both the sleep experts (mainly referring to Ferber and Weissbluth) say that if they are going down at 7 pm, and have slept 10+ hours, you can’t really expect them to sleep more than that. So there are a couple options:

a) try the bunny clock thing, though they say you can’t really expect a tot to “get it” until they’re 3 yrs old or more. But you can try and give them some things to play with in their crib and see if they’ll stay quiet until the clock says they can call for you.

or

b) go ahead and put them in bed with you that last hour, ie: 5-6 a.m. if they are sleeping, so everyone can sleep. But don’t start letting it creep earlier and earlier or you’ll get into the middle of the night scenario (which is what is happening to us–as Dr. Gold pointed out.)

Last night I explained to her about the bunny clock again. But this time I set it for 5:3o a.m. Was thinking we could gradually push it later and later once she “gets” the initial concept.

We also put it right next to her crib so she could see it. Her last wake up in the night was 4 a.m. and Phil put her back down. Then she slept until 5:52! At that point, “bunny” was awake. I galloped in, took her from the crib and praised her for not waking us up until bunny woke up. She was really excited about her accomplishment. As was I. Estatic actually.

My friend Teresa, who has good sleep training skills, told me she gives her son (a 2.5 yr old) a little “treat” on mornings when he waits for his alarm clock to light up. So today I think I’m going to go buy some chewy vitamins and give them to her as a “reward” every time she makes it until bunny is awake. It reinforces the goal.

I only hope that a) we get this down before the new baby comes, and b) while I’m in the hospital and my inlaws are watching Fia, our system holds.

Like I said, it’s bad enough dealing with a non-sleeping newborn, much less 2 babes.  So fingers crossed all this works.

Any other ideas that worked for you guys? I sometimes can’t believe I’m still talking about sleep. But I guess this is parenthood for years to come– until she’s a teenager and I can’t get her to get out of her bed!

 

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