This Little Miggy Stayed Home: Calling all Moms: Sleep Training

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Calling all Moms: Sleep Training

So you may have heard we've been doing a bit of sleep training. It was working fantastically, for the most part. However, the past 2 nights we've had some serious regression and I may need some advice, particularly from you moms who have done the "cry it out" method, because that's what we're doing. (And if you're against CIO, please don't send me a long diatribe about how terrible we are for letting our baby cry).

Here's the basics of what we've been doing. We put her to bed as always--bath, feeding, rocking to sleep. It doesn't take that long to get her to sleep, so we don't mind rocking her. I know most CIO is also to help them learn to fall asleep on their own, but for us it's mostly to help her stay asleep through the night. We decided that if she woke up before 12:30, she would have to cry to get back to sleep before I would feed her. We would go in every 5 minutes and reassure her, give her a paci, etc. We've now worked up to 18 min. Then when she wakes up after 12:30 I feed her--just once in the night. If she wakes again, more crying. After the first few nights she would only cry 5-10 minutes each time she woke. And then back to sleep. Also, after I feed her I could put her right back in the crib and she's go back to sleep no problem. However, the past 2 nights we're back to 30 min to hour long crying and doing this more than once per night. Also, we have tried to put her down without the paci as much as possible, but it seems she wants it for almost every nap and at night. So when we reassure her during he crying we give her the paci--could that be a problem? Also, while the sleep training has helped SO much, she sill wakes up about 3 times almost every night. It seem like most people say they learn to sleep through those wakings if they know you're not going to get them.

So to clarify, here is what I'm concerned about, 1) the past couple of nights waking and crying for long periods of time, whereas she was getting good about putting herself back to sleep after 5-10 minutes. 2) Is giving her the pacifier to help her go back to sleep a problem? 3) Even though sleeping has been A LOT better (we were co-sleeping before) she still wakes up multiple times in the night--will this just gradually get better?

Here are some other pieces to the puzzle that may help in your assessment:

We put her to bed early (between 7-8).

We are on vacation right now, however I don't think this would be the main cause because the first 2 nights she slept fine (in fact one night was her best so far) and she seems to be adjusted to the 2 hour time difference.

She is starting to show some stronger signs of separation anxiety, mostly with me. In fact, she was really fussy for B when he tried to put her down for her nap, but when I took her she went down in a matter of minutes. Also, on this vacation she has met and been held by A LOT of new people--doesn't seem to bother her so much the first and second days, but seems to be affecting her a little more now.

She is 5 1/2 months and is still exclusively breastfeeding. I wanted to wait to start her on solids until we got home, but I'm wondering if she is getting enough food. Maybe a growth spurt and is feeling more hungry? If so, should I feed her more than once during the night?

I'm pretty sure she is not teething.

Also, lately when she is tired or cranky she goes into a hysterical cry that we only saw occasionally before, but she seems to be pulling it out more frequently now.

We've been sleep training for a little over 2 weeks now, I've read this can take up to 4-6 weeks.

I think that's all. If you have any advice I'd love to hear it.


  1. These are just somethings I've tried or read or heard--remember only subjective advice =)

    I've been told that once a baby is over 12-13 lbs (you can go a little higher if you want to be on the safe side). They do not need to feed during the night (the physical body doesn't need the nourishment). 5 1/2 months old is a realistic age to start sleep training. I did it around 5 months with Benjamin. I figure if they don't need to eat during the night (and that's the reason you usually are getting up with them for) then I should help them learn to do that which they should be doing--sleeping.

    My approach was similiar. If they woke up any time after we put them down for the night we would do the five minute wait and let them fuss, go in for 2-3 min. maxium to only pat on the back, talk and reassure, and leave. Extended five minute increments each time (so wait 10 min. to go back the next time).

    During the night, Jesse would do this because I notice if I did it they knew it was mom and wanted to eat.

    When we were serious with Benjamin, I think the first night he went at it for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (with Jesse going in to reassure) before he gave up and went to sleep.

    Giving a pacifier, may not be the best idea during the night because you are still doing something for her and she's then going to cry each time until you give it to her instead of her learning to comfort herself--this is just my opinion.

    I've read that solids don't make a difference. People feel differently about it. My personal experience is when I've started them on solids they are still waking up during the night and sometimes they sleep great. Bean seems to be thriving great on breast milk alone, waiting until you get back to start shouldn't make a difference. Start her on solids when you feel it's time.

    I've also read that up until a year baby's sleep cycles are not as long as adults--they will lengthy as they get older--so it's normal and to expect them to wake up during the night. I think the sooner they learn to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up it becomes less noticeable to you.

    Be CONSISTENT in what ever method you pick--I think they'll learn if you can be consistent.

    I just wouldn't worry about teething. It's just hard to know until the first tooth or teeth come in and then maybe you'll see a pattern for the rest of the teeth to come. We thought Ian was teething for 8 months (his first tooth didn't come till he was almost one). As long as you know her diapers dry, she doesn't have a fever, you fed her before went down--then stick to your method. There will be times when you feel to do otherwise and that is the spirit and your motherly intuition so listen to that. You know the bean best!!

    I think those parents who can let their babies cry (I'm not talking about complete abandoment) help their children to develop good sleep habits in the long run. It's hard in the short run but it will pay off--just takes a little time and you will get there your so consciencious about bean she's so well taken care of!!

    Sorry for the lengthy comment--just opinions =)

  2. Solids don't make a difference.

    Here's the Ferber theory:
    When they go to sleep they had a certain set of circumstances: being rocked, or nursed, etc. When they wake up, they will expect the same circumstances they had when they fell asleep. Because she isn’t being rocked, she’ll cry. If it’s how they fell asleep, they can’t get back to sleep without the same thing. THAT’S why she keeps waking up.

    You say that the rocking to sleep is working, and while it is, she’s expecting that when she wakes up at night. We all wake up at 90 minute increments all night—that’s how long sleep cycles are. If things are the same we adjust and fall back asleep. Say you feel asleep in front of the TV and B carried you to your room, you’d be disoriented when you awoke, that’s how Bean feels. If you woke up and your pillow was gone, you’d wake up more, not fall asleep again.

    That’s why it’s important to do the CIO at the start of sleep. If you do the CIO when she initially falls asleep, she won’t wake up repeatedly in the middle of the night because her circumstances haven’t changed.

    That’s also why you want to limit pacifier use for sleep. It’s just like a pillow, if it’s gone, it disorients her and makes her fully awaken.

    I don’t know if you can expect her to sleep twelve hours at this point. The most that Proximo sleeps is 9 hours, and that’s pretty good. When we first did cry it out with Guille we started at 11pm. We gradually over the months increased that time so that he went to bed a little earlier and earlier.

  3. I agree with azucar. I don't think rocking her to sleep is a good idea. I am also big on putting them to sleep awake and letting them learn to go asleep on their own.

  4. Anonymous9:49 AM

    hey lady!!
    I agree with the previous posts about putting the little lady down initially, instead of rocking her. Also, I put Graham down the same way at nap time, just to be consistent, although you may already be doing that anyway. You know me, I am totally a solid food fan with the G-man, but I understand that every bean is different, so P may not need the huge amounts of calories that I feed G. I am always for giving a dinner-time snack, though, which I figure must keep them from feeling hungry at night:) (definately projecting onto the baby, I know!) See you in a little over a week!
    love, Suz

  5. Thanks all. I agree that I need to put her down awake and probably not use the pacifier so much. BUT here's the thing, even though she was still waking up she would put herself back to sleep in 5-10 minutes. Which was GREAT. No binky, no patting from mom and dad. (I was just hoping she'd stop waking up all together). It's just been the past now 3 nights that when she wakes up, she'll cry and settle down and be fine for 10 min, then cry again and then stop and this goes on for about an hour. Last night when decided to go calm her she was hysterical. She would not calm down like she would before so I finally just nursed her, even though it was before her 12:30 time limit and when I put her back in her crib (still awake and no binky) she went right to sleep. She woke up again around 4:30 and I just fed her again so she would be calm. Again, I put her back in her crib totally awake and she fussed for a second and then slept til 8. SO what I'm wondering is do you think this is the "vacation factor?" She's been around A LOT of new people everyday and it seems like at night she's just needing some mom comfort before going back to sleep. Like I said, before this (even the first 2 nights we were here) she was still waking but putting herself back to sleep in 5-10 minutes. . . the past 3 nights we've tried to just continue to let her cry it out, but I'm sorta thinking all the newness is starting to get to her and she just "needs" a little more comfort than usual. Have any of you experienced this type of strange behavior on a vacation? I didn't think it could be it since we've traveled with her before, but like I said she's met new people almost everyday and even seemed more fussy around some people on the 3rd day (which was the same night she started sleeping poorly). I know I'm not being very consistent, but she just seems a little out of sorts with all the commotion--does any of this sound familiar?

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  7. Yes, all bets are off on vacation.

    You're totally right in that all the new people and experiences are really stimulating. Add that to unfamiliar surroundings, and you've got a wired baby. Although I admire you for trying to stick to all of this on vacation, you'll probably have to start over anyway when you get home. At least, that's been our experience.

    p.s. I just wanted to encourage you, I think you're doing great! Listening to your heart and making decisions from those intuitions is never a bad idea.

  8. Yes, we have experienced that kind of thing. The best I can tell you is it will probably pass. I used to be against CIO, then we incorporated it into our sleep training routine. But now I'm pregnant again and super tired and I can't handle her crying (our house is small and the noise can't be escaped). I have come to the conclusion that babies are unexplainable in some areas, and I am still enjoying most of it and holding on until the rest is over. Good luck and don't take it too seriously! :) Juli

  9. Thanks Azucar--that's just what I needed to hear. I was so hopeful that she wouldn't be out of sorts with sleep on our vacation since we've traveled with her before, but it's sorta hard (although I try) to keep her on her normal schedule in general and she gets so easily worked up to this new hysterical cry. I'm trying very hard not to let this all get to me but it does. I feel that I've worked so hard to have her on a routine and especially the progress we had made in her night sleeping so it's scary to feel like you're throwing it all to pot. Plus I just feel like she was starting to make some changes anyway, but it's frustrating to feel like it's all happening at once and totally out of your control. Whew . . . I just needed to get that off my chest. Breathe in. . . and breathe out. . .

  10. Well, I guess Im the odd one out, but I think if the girl enjoys being rocked to sleep, then rock her to sleep. I rock Sofia for naps and for bedtime. She loves it and I love it. If we dont have a rocking chair on vacations, then we bounce. It only takes 5 short minutes and she is comforted and out cold. Plus, everyone tells me to enjoy rocking while I can. This phase is so short, goes by too quickly and we will want to go back to the days we could rock them. Its such a peaceful period and relaxes me. I get a lot of joy sitting there staring at her, playing with her hair, thinking about how much I love her and love snuggling with her. I will miss it sooo much when she doesnt want to be rocked anymore.

    As for pacifiers, I use it only during naps and bedtime. She doesn't like it during any other time.

    Going on vacations has alwasy thrown Sofia off. She will wake up multiple times when she is not in her own bed. She will sleep good the first night, but then the second night it is like she knew she was somewhere else.

    The Dr told me that separation anxiety usually sets in around 9 months and do not be suprised if Sofia starts awakening more during the night. And she did. Most of the time I did what you do and put her blanket back over her and let her know it was OK. He also told me that when they start doing something new (crawling, walking, or anything) that they will night awaken more also. She also woke up a lot during teething and we had NO clue (but this) that she was teething and it started 2 weeks before the tooth actually came in.

    Babies are babies for such a short time. I bet we miss having to go into their rooms at night one day. I know I will. I miss her when she goes to sleep (well the first two hours are heaven, then I get bored and miss her little giggle) and I find myself getting excited when I hear her and get to go in and get her back to sleep. Some of the best times have been recently when she has awaken at 11pm at night (she is teething) and Nate, her and I all jumped in bed together, snuggled, laughed and talked. Then she was ready to go back to bed around 12. Its fun times.

    Honestly, I saw a HUGE difference with Sofia and her sleep pattern when I gave her a bottle at night right before bed. I nursed her all day, gave solids during the day, and then a bottle of formula at night and she slept harder and longer. I have a lot of friends that said the same thing. We put her down at 7:30, she wakes up at 5am, gets the breast, and goes back to sleep till 8ish. She has always beat to a different drum.

    It will pass...another phase you have to go through. You are a great mom. You remind me a lot of myself. What I had to tell myself over and over was "stop thinking about why this is happening and what could be causing it. Just enjoy this short period of time cause it will be gone tomorrow."

    And it was...

  11. Azucar has it nailed... when we put Ella down in her cradle & actually rock her to sleep, she only sleeps about an hour- but if I just rock her enough to calm her down, she'll then fall asleep on her own and take a much better nap. I basically try never to rock her all the way to sleep. And if she falls asleep nursing in my arms, I always try to rouse her just enough to realize she is going to bed (whether for a nap or the night) b/c of what Azucar said about them expecting the same circumstances when they wake up.

    Also, ditch the pacifier. When it falls out of their mouth, they'll wake up and then you have to put it back in and it's just an endless cycle. I really don't use paci's much (except in dire circumstances) and I realize that's just personal preference, but I do think it's not the best for using to help them fall asleep.

    Hang in there! It's tough, but it will be worth it!

  12. OK, you don't know me, but Bracken does. I'm Jill's friend, Kimberly Porter (Nance)...hi Bracken!, and I got your blog off of Danielle & Brandon Webb's page. We're med students with them at UVa. I hope you don't mind me reading your blog, but it's fun to keep up with Jill's family (since Jill doesn't have a blog yet....arg!)

    Anyway, I read your situation and I see you already have plenty of comments, but I thought I'd give you my 2 cents, too.

    I have a little boy that is now 17 months old, but he went through this problem around your little girl's age, too. My Josh was totally sleeping through the night, then one day, out of no where, he stopped. It lasted about 6-8 weeks. I seriously tried everything (like you!) and nothing seemed to work. It was a phase. It's very common at this age, who knows why. This is when I started giving him a pacifier, too. The doctor says that it's fine, but I'm warning you that he STILL goes to sleep with a paci and won't without it. But, it did work to help him sleep on his own. What's worth more? Putting herself to sleep OR you getting sleep? If you can find another way, props to you. As for the sleep situation now: she's still SO little and I would rock her as long as she'd let you. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. My boy won't let us rock him anymore, but we did it until 12 or 13 months and he definitely can put himself to sleep now. Good luck! It slowly gets better, I promise! And I wouldn't start a "new routine" until you get home from vacation. Say hi to Jill, Erin, Bracken, and his parents from me!

  13. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Came across your blog and I don't know you but I just have to say you are doing a great job. I can tell by your detailed acount how hard you are working to teach/care for your baby. Moms can never hear it enough so keep up the good work. Have you ever heard of dreamfeeding. It worked like a charm for my first son. Put baby to bed like you do at 7 or 8 then go in before you go to bed at say 10 or 11 and feed her while she is still asleep. Once they get the hang, baby should be ok to not eat until early am when they wake up, depending on your baby. I used the pacifier too for my son to get rid of one middle of the nite feeding, once i knew he wieghed enough. Good luck, she will get there and this will all becoem a distant memory!