Sleep Training my 10 month old in 8 days or less
Zay has never been a great sleeper. Think back to his 4 month sleep regression that lasted well over 2 months. Also understand that I have had to physically rock him to sleep every night and for every nap. He has never, and I mean literally never not even one single time, dozed off on his own. It has always required some sort of motion, and work, on my part.
Lately though, he has been unbearable at bedtime. We sit in the glider for 2-3 hours nodding in and out of sleep. The second I put him in his crib, no matter how long his eyes had been shut in my arms, he pops up onto all fours (sometimes even to a full stand) and begins screaming his head off. I pick him up and his eyes immediately shut and he goes limp again. We do this for hours. Every. Single. Night.
So finally, after much frustration on my part. I made the decision to sleep train. I’m not a gung-ho supporter for the whole Cry It Out (CIO) thing, but I’ve certainly had my days. I stumbled across a Sleep Training method on Parenting.com with aspects that appealed to me more than the common “plop him and leave him” method. I also utilized some of Super Nanny’s tips in terms of frequency of check-ins, but overall I think this is a unique combination that hopefully works for your family too.
Days 1 – 3: Put him in his crib while I sit within touching distance in the glider. Stay with him as long as he needs to in order to fall asleep. I can pat his bottom or back, hold his hands, sing to him and interact with him, but I can not pick him up.
Day 1 – Asleep in 2 hours / Stayed asleep all night
At 7:30 p.m. we went upstairs. I changed Zay into his jammies and fed him his bottle while we rocked in the glider. He seemed asleep in my arms so I put him down. He popped up to his feet as I described above and began crying. I pat his back until he settled and then sat in the glider singing to him. He kept reaching his hands through the slats while he laid on his back to hold my hand. There were no real screaming fits, but it took two hours for him to give all the way into sleep. He was out by 9:30 and stayed asleep until 8 a.m.
Day 2 – Asleep in 45 minutes / Stayed asleep all night
7:15 p.m. Zay started to show signs that he was ready for bed. We went through our night time routine and I put him in his crib immediately after. No rocking. He played, reached through the slats to hold my hand, played some more. We had a brief game of “throw the paci across the room and laugh every time mommy picks it up” until I finally left it on the floor. After about thirty minutes he would lay down on his pillow and doze in and out popping up to look for me each time he opened his eyes. I stayed patting his butt for a few minutes. After I thought he was asleep, I left the room. He woke up 5 minutes later and began crying when he realized I wasn’t there any longer. I went back in, pat him on the back and he was back asleep (for the rest of the night) shortly after around 8 p.m.
Day 3 – Asleep in 25 minutes (but then awake and back asleep after 1.5 hours) / Slept until 6:15 a.m. (up 1.25 hours earlier than usual)
This was the biggest milestone for us. At 7:30 p.m. we went up stairs for our bed time routine. After his bottle, I put him in his crib. He immediately laid down on his pillow and began dozing in and out. I could tell each time he opened his eyes it was in search of me so I stood within his gaze. He fell asleep without me ever touching him after only 25 minutes in his crib. Now he did wake up about 15 minutes later and I continued the pat on the butt, hold hands, sing to him routine for another hour and a half before he went back to bed. The fact that he fell asleep on his own the first time though was a really big deal.
Days 4 – 6: The Parenting.com article says that I’m now supposed to move halfway between the door and the crib, but this doesn’t really make sense for me or Zay, so I decided to Sleep Train in true Mommy My Way fashion and try it my way. THE RULES – I can stay with Zay for 5 minutes, as I had done in Days 1-3, but then I would leave him to try to sleep on his own. I would let him go for 15 minutes at first, and if he was still crying or awake I could go back into his room and spend 5 minutes with him. After 5 minutes, I had to leave again for 20 minutes, then 25 minutes, 30 and so on as needed. Each time I could spend 5 minutes with him, but then I would increase the interval of time by 5 minutes before re-entering the room until he was asleep.
Day 4 – Asleep in 1 hour
7:30 p.m. We began our routine. I put him down wide awake and spent 5 minutes with him. As soon as I shut his bedroom door he began crying. This is the hardest moment of cry it out for me; the actual act of leaving him while he’s upset. I set my timer for 15 minutes, and checked it frequently as I sat on the couch with my eyes glued to the monitor. He was still crying. I visited for 5 minutes and left him, still wide awake. He again cried the second I shut the door. This time I stayed downstairs for 20 minutes while he cried the entire time. Another 5 minute visit and it was time to leave again, but this time he didn’t cry, even though he was still awake. He sat up in his crib quietly for about 10 minutes or so and then put his head down and went to bed.
Day 5 – Asleep in 20 minutes
Yes, you read that right! Asleep in 20 minutes! I didn’t have to check on him even once. I feel like I just won the freaking lottery; the sleep and mommy-free-time lottery!
Day 6 – Asleep in 5 minutes
I’d say we are successfully sleep trained, ya’ll! I am so excited! Yes, the exclamation points are necessary. This is a big freaking deal so I’m yelling.
Days 7 – 8: I will continue to check on Zay every 15/20/25 minutes as needed (although it doesn’t seem like we need it!), but this time it is just to say, “Goodnight, I love you. It is time to go to sleep.” No more touching during interval visits and no staying for 5 minutes as I had done previously. These visits are just to reassure him that I am still here, but that it is bed time.
We didn’t need days 7-8 of the Mommy My Way sleep training method, but if you do try to stay strong and push through it. Continue with this schedule until your little one sleeps on their own. If you’re still having trouble, try adjusting your bedtime. Maybe 7:30 is to early for your bub, or maybe it’s even too late. Play around with your schedule and your routine to find what works for your family.
Good luck and sweet dreams!