Our experience getting Ford to sleep through the night
Sleep is hard to come by these days. I miss those Friday nights that would end with, "Well, let's just see what time we wake up". While those types of weekends will be a thing of the past for at least a decade, there are things you can do to help set your household up for "success" which I know is always a messy word with kids. The first few months are usually filled with sleepless nights but let's also look at those first 2 years.
First, I am going to talk about how offering Ford sleep guidance went and then I'm going to talk about our sleep journey as parents.
I waited until 8 months to offer sleep guidance to Charlie. I hate the word training...sleep training. It sounds so cruel. Charlie slept in our room until he was seven months old and even though Ray wanted to start offering sleep guidance much earlier, I just couldn't do it. Charlie was on the thin side and I didn't think he could handle it. When we did it at 8 months old and it only took a few days and I immediately regretted waiting so long.
This time around has been very different. Ford is a much bigger baby and he feeds for comfort off and on throughout the night. I just went back to work and came to terms that I just can't be a human pacifier any longer. Our doctor said we could even start before four months but I felt most comfortable there. Yes, I am aware of the AAPs view on sleeping in the same room as the baby. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "The best place for a baby to sleep is in his parents' bedroom. He should sleep in his own crib or bassinet (or in a co-sleeper safely attached to the bed), but shouldn't be in his own room until he is at least 6 months, better 12 months."
If you move your baby out of your room earlier, like we are, I would just be extra cautious around having a safe sleeping environment. As a working mom of two under two with a baby that was only waking up in the middle of the night to breastfeed for comfort, I decided to move him at four months since I felt he would be worse off crying for milk in the middle of the night when he knew it was right beside him.
Our sleep training plan was very straight forward.
We agreed to move Ford into his own room but kept him in his bassinet and Dockatot since he was already very familiar with his sleep set up. I use a noisemaker, the lollipop baby monitor plus the v-tech sound monitor. I use the Oillie swaddle since he is so snug in it, I figured that paired with the Dockatot would offer womb like comfort. I also slept on a sofa near his room for the first 10 days because I felt guilty. I never let Ford fall asleep with a pacifier because I wanted him to learn to fall asleep without any sleep props. He also cries when he drops the paci and there's no way in hell I'm going to be running back and forth all night.
As I said, I did feel guilty. To get over that guilt I decided to start thinking about it differently. My baby has been waking up throughout the night greeted each time with warm milk that helped him drift right back to sleep. Instead of helping him learn how to put himself back to sleep and teaching him that it wasn't morning time, I was just too exhausted to deal with that and would "put a bandaid" on the entire situation by just whipping my boob out so I could get back to bed. Though of course this was the right thing to do for the first few months, it was now time to offer Ford some sleep guidance.
I would also like to point that as adults we wake up multiple times per night and roll over and go back to sleep. Instead of going back to sleep (this is what we want to teach our babies to do) they just cry. We think they must be hungry so we feed them. They just need help getting back to sleep. Unfortunately feeding them isn't the long term answer.
We decided to let him wake up and cry for a few minutes before going in. I started with setting the time around 10 minutes, even though our doctor said it would be ok to go an hour. I quickly learned going in after such a short time made things worse. We quickly moved the 10 minutes to waiting 15 minutes (it was so hard) but that extra 5 minutes made a huge difference. Ford never even made it to 15 minutes but 12-13 minutes seemed to be his sweet spot.
We put Ford to bed at 7 pm with the hope we could get him to sleep every night from 7 p.m - 6 a.m.
The first few nights he was pissed. He woke up around 4 times a night but every night he would eventually put himself back to sleep after 10-12 minutes.
By night six I saw significant improvements. He dropped one of his wake ups. A few days later he dropped another. Listening to him cry was hard but as the days went on he slept longer and longer periods between wake ups and cried less and less.
By two weeks Ford was sleeping from 7 p.m - 6 a.m straight through the night. I check my Lollipop monitor app every morning and he might moan or let out one cry here and there but the only time he cries now is if he gets out of his swaddle.
It was a very long 2 weeks, but the key is not to give in and not to give up. The moment you give in and offer a feed you set back the progress. That being said it's ok if you can't handle it and do this. Nothing is perfect and you will have set backs. We went away last weekend and I think the change in environment threw Ford off so I offered him a feeding at 5 am when he woke up at 4:30 am crying. I immediately regretted it when he then woke up looking for that same feeding at the same time the next morning.
My takeaway for you is: Consistency is KEY
OUR SLEEP JOURNEY AS PARENTS
The moment Ray found our we were pregnant he vocalized his opinions around sleep and kids. He witnessed the benefits his sister experienced with a good sleep schedule and really thought setting up some sleep boundaries would do wonders for us and our children. I have to say that looking back on our sleep journey with Charlie it really has been a blessing.
Charlie goes to sleep every night at 7 pm and wakes up around 7am. He takes a nap at noon everyday and sleeps anywhere from 2-4 hours. He rarely fights us and sometimes even dives into bed. He sleeps in a sleeping bag swaddle and started taking a pacifier to bed around 8 months old. He has never been allowed to fall asleep in our bed, EVER. Like not even once. I'd be lying if I didn't say I would love to have him fall asleep in my arms a few times cuddled in bed but it's not even worth starting bad habits. Having a well rested child was tops on the list of our priorities when it came to raising kids. These work for our family and we've had great success. I believe most of it is due to consistency for which I have to thank my husband. At the same time we are in no way the type of parents that rush home on a Saturday just to get the kids in their cribs by noon for nap time. We try to also be flexible and realistic. That's why creating a sleep environment on the go is also very important to us for the times we can't make it home. My go to sleep tools for sleep on the go are the Hushh noise maker, HERE and our sleep shade, HERE.
I also would like to note that just because Ford is sleeping well now doesn't mean his sleep schedule will never change. There are sleep regressions that we still will most likely run into but for now I'm very pleased with this outcome.