Weston is 5.5 months old and riddled with sleep issues. They've been with him since he was an infant. Many we helped form as a means to survive the 1st few months with a very fussy reflux baby who then turned into a very fussy early teething. These sleep issues have now been picked up as habits, a lone vehicle to sleep.
Sleep experts call them “Sleep Props”
The Swaddle: This is a BIG one for us and one that he relies on the most. If we want him to sleep longer than 20 minutes a tight swaddle is a must.
The Paci: It soothes him and helps him drift off to sleep but it only works when he’s in the right mindset. If he’s not in the paci mood the second it falls out of his mouth he flips out until we put it back in. Then the whole cycle repeats.
The Booty Pat and Rock: I cuddle him close to my chest rock him while patting his tush. Works usually but often backfires when it’s time to put him down.
The Sound Machine: It helps to settle him and keep him in a deep sleep. Without it he wakes often.
The Boob: Possibly his favorite way to fall asleep; while nursing.
The Mama Daddy Bed: Weston loves being close to his 2 favorite people. He’s been that way since the second he was born. He takes the best naps and sleeps the longest stretches when he’s cuddles up with us. My husband can sleep just fine when Weston is in bed with us but I cannot. I’m a light sleeper so every move he makes I wake up. I also worry about my husband who is a deep sleeper rolling over on him so co sleeping while it works for some and is precious is not ideal for us.
All of these things work together to help our little nugget drift off to la la land and until now it really hasn't been much of an issue. It worked, so it’s what we did. He was going down around 9:30pm and sleeping until 8am. It was awesome and we often told people that he was a great sleeper! Until it all started backfiring!
I’m not really sure what caused things to get all out of whack. A growth spurt? Teething? A mixtures of both? Our perfect little sleepy concoction was no longer working. Weston was going down and taking us with him.
Naps become nonexistent which lead to an irritable baby during the day.
He stared waking every 1 to 2 hours during the night.
He used to sleep a 9 hour stretch without eating then started taking 2-3 5oz bottles during the night which caused his feeding schedule during the day to decrease since he was eating so much in the middle of the night.
Mr. Fussy Pants turned into The Hulk on a rage binge. He was happy one second screaming in frustration the next. Besides being in my arms nothing really kept him happy for longer than a couple minutes.
He started taking tons of little mini naps. 10min here. 5min there. He was always falling asleep the second we got in the car but only for a few minutes (remember the swaddle issue).
We didn’t know what to do but decided it was time to make some changes. I made it a priority to do some sleep training research: sleep schedules, night time routines, how to break the swaddle habit, tricks of the trade.
After researching I realized we were pretty much doing everything wrong.
If I’ve learned anything of value in these last few months of parenthood the one thing that I’ve learned that’s been golden is that every baby is different. It’s not typically a one size fits all type of thing when it comes to raising children. I knew this would be true with sleep training as well. Weston wasn’t going to respond to this transition the same as Sally Sue’s kid. Nope! So I took several things I liked from several different sources and mashed them all together to form our “Sleep Training Plan”. I hoped it would work but knew it may need some tweaking along the way. I talked the plan over with the hubs to make sure we were both on the same page and prepared him for a week of little to no sleep.
Our sleep training journey was underway. To start us off I decided it was time to transition Weston to his crib. Maybe having more room to stretch out and a dark quiet place to fall asleep would help some of the sleep issues we were dealing with.
He’d outgrown his Rock and Play (which is what he slept in until this point) and we felt it was time to break him of his swaddle habit. I wasn't comfortable moving him to his crib while swaddled and the swaddle was just one more thing he relied on to sleep.
When we decided it was time to move Weston to his crib we started to notice all the “sleep props” he needed to be able to fall asleep and how they we’re actually hurting NOT helping the main key for a successful night’s sleep…….
The ability to self soothe.
We were creating the prefect recipe for him and bundling it all up in a nice tight package so he didn’t even have a chance to learn how to do it on his own. How do you teach a baby to self soothe? You don’t, but you can give them the opportunity to learn!
6 days in and I’m happy to repot that……
*The swaddle is no longer needed. High five! I can NOT believe I’m saying this.
*He’s napping 2 to 3 times a day. The 1st and 2nd nap are around an hour and the last nap is 30-45min. We were lucky to get cat naps before so this is huge!
*He’s sleeping in his crib! There’s been some good long stretches mixed in with the not so good but that’s all part of the process. He does seems to be much more comfortable in his crib.
*When we started it would take Weston around 20-40min for him to fall asleep. He now typically falls asleep within 10 minutes of being put down!
*His night feeding has cut back. He wakes around 1ish for a bottle and goes right back down after he’s finished.
*He’s back to a regular eating schedule during the day.
*Things don’t seem to rustle his feathers as easily as they did before and he’s just all around a happier calmer baby. He still fussy but it’s leaps and bounds better! He’ll actually let me put him down for more than 2 min stretches! I’ve been able to wash dishes, do laundry, catch up on email all while he happily plays with his toys which he would not do before.
For only being 6 days in I think we’re making great progress. It hasn’t been all puppies and roses. I’m tired. The hubs is tried. I’ve spent hours hugging our baby monitor. Thank goodness for video monitors! Someone (not naming any names
Kent) almost threw the towel in. We’re still trying to overcome a few hurdles but we’re trucking right along. I’m super happy with our progress! Weston has really shocked us both with how fast and how well he accepted the transition. The fact that we haven’t used a swaddle in 5 days is pretty big! Ummmm and naps….HELLO! I’ve never really benefited from them in the past. Let me tell ya they’re good for baby and mama!
I’m not naive in knowing this isn’t the end of the road. We still have more things to work through and I’m sure as he hits growth spurts, teething, and all that jazz things will change we’ll have to revisit “sleep training” but at least we’re starting down the right path!
Disclaimer: Sleep Training is one of those things that comes with tons of different opinions. People are passionate about methods used to break bad sleep habits or getting your baby on a sleep schedule. I say whatever works for you and your family! It’s important to educate yourself on the topic but it’s also important to take what you learn and make it work for your specific child as they are all so different. Unfortunately each child is not born with a handbook. It’s all about trial and error. Due to this I chose not to share exactly how we tackled our sleep training plan in this post. I’m not an expert on the topic and I’m in no place to say “This is what you should do….” With that being said I am happy to share a few things we did to break the swaddle habit, start a nap routine, and make the move to the crib in another post if there is interest in it. Again it’s not a one size fits all kind thing. If you would like to know how we decided to go about it let me know and I’ll work on getting a post together.