…sleep training. Boo.
I hate sleep training!! Hate, hate, hate. And hate is a strong word, I know.
But, it is necessary and I know the benefits far outweigh the time it takes to sleep train, for both baby and mommy.
I sleep trained Little Bug at 3 months. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep train Sweet Pea until she was over her tummy troubles because when I sleep train my babies I do it completely 100% confident that there are no other issues going on except…they just need to learn to put themselves to sleep and stay asleep.
The time is approaching fast. I knew I would just feel when it was time.
And it is time. Almost.
Sweet Pea is a good sleeper. She really is. She still sleeps completely swaddled in her rock and play sleeper with her paci plastered to her face by a receiving blanket that holds it in or within reach should she need it. This system has worked fabulous for months now, but I knew it wouldn’t last forever. I really disliked that I let her need the paci to fall asleep, but that is just the way it was with Sweet Pea because of all her tummy troubles at the beginning. The paci brought her comfort and I was willing to do whatever it took to bring her comfort, even though I knew getting hooked on the paci would make for some sleep problems later.
I knew when, by trial and error, I was able to confidently say that her interrupted sleep is due to needing the paci replaced in her mouth mid-sleep, that would be the sign that I needed to sleep train her – once tummy troubles were a thing of the past, of course.
Good news!! Tummy troubles are basically a thing of the past. Woo-hoo!! But now it is time to sleep train. Boo.
This is what is happening: Typically naps are fine and only short or interrupted when she is needing to extend her wake time or overtired (which I try to avoid at all costs). Easy fix there. Just extend wake time by 15ish minutes and make sure she doesn’t stay up too long and get overstimulated.
The problem has shown itself in the wee hours of the morning. Sweet Pea goes to sleep (with paci), it falls out eventually and she is okay with that. She even takes the dreamfeed and then goes right back to bed, with no paci in her mouth.
Then anywhere from around 5-6:30 (ish) in the morning, she wakes. Now, you might be thinking…Well, she is just ready to get up!! Babies just wake up early like that! Nope. Sorry. That isn’t it! Because as soon as I hear her in the monitor I jump out of bed and go give her the paci and she promptly falls back to sleep for about another hour. If she wakes again before 8am, I give her the paci again. The past week, like clockwork, she has woken at 6:30am for the paci and 7:30am and then gone back to sleep. (Sometimes at 7:30am I don’t think she ever really goes fully back to sleep. She just lays there, with the paci in her mouth, until I get her at 8am.)
Right now, I am in the middle of “Operation Figure Out Why Sweet Pea is Waking Early”. Which means I am, by trial and error, seeing if tweaking things will change anything in her sleep pattern to help her not wake early and sleep completely through the night 8pm to 8am.
So far, I have tried this:
- An earlier bedtime. Contrary to popular belief, a baby that goes to bed too late will wake up too early. Put baby to bed early and they will end up sleeping later. I know. It doesn’t make sense. But these little human beings come out of the womb not making sense, right?! And it is our job as parents to help them “make sense” of their world. Which is why I love Babywise. It helps parents learn how to teach their baby to “make sense” of their world, starting with sleeping and eating. Because, you know, that is all babies basically do straight from the womb! But all that is besides the point I am making here!So, I moved her bedtime up half an hour from 8:30pm to 8pm. That didn’t do the trick. She was still waking early.
- I shortened her 3rd nap from 1.5 hours to 1 hour 15 minutes, then to just 1 hour. That didn’t do the trick. She was still waking early.
- We dropped the dreamfeed. Yes, we did!!! (Yay!!!) I know in her 6 month post I said that she wasn’t showing signs of being ready to drop this, but literally days later Dave said she wasn’t eating a full feed and it seemed like he was bothering her when he would get her to feed her. As if she just wanted to sleep and not eat! Also, she wasn’t eager for her daytime feeds, so we thought that maybe she just doesn’t need 30 oz. of formula in a day!We dropped the dreamfeed cold turkey on February 7th. I thought maybe this feed was interrupting her sleep pattern, but she continued to wake early after the dreamfeed was dropped.
These are the only other tricks I have up my sleeve:
- Incase she is waking early because of hunger because she no longer is eating at 11:30pm, I added an ounce to two of her daytime feeds to give her extra calories during the day. February 9th was the first day she got two 7oz bottles and two 6oz bottles. I am pretty confident that she is not waking out of hunger, but before I can sleep train I have to rule out hunger as the issue.
- The only other thing I have left to tweak is bedtime. Perhaps she needs to be awake a longer stretch between her 3rd nap and bedtime?? So I will try a 8:15pm and then an 8:30pm bedtime once I have ruled out hunger. I know that not all babies are 12 hour sleepers. Little Bug wasn’t as an infant and is not as a 2 year old. She is an 11 – 11.5 hour sleeper. Perhaps Sweet Pea is, too. I would actually prefer a later bedtime (8:30ish) because it is hard to get home for bedtime routine with 8pm bedtimes!
- Change morning waketime to 7:30am. That’s called compromise! I’d like an 8am waketime, but she may just not be able to make it to 8am, and that is fine.
And here is what happened last night (which makes me believe even further that this is a bad habit that just needs to be broken): She woke at 5am two nights ago and last night it was 3am! It did occur to me that she might be hungry (although I really didn’t think so). I went in her bedroom, she was searching for her paci with her mouth (eyes closed) and as soon as I put it in, she settled back to sleep. I figured if she was hungry that paci wouldn’t suffice for long, but she slept until 7:30. That looks like a habit to me.
If none of these things are the answer, I am left with: Sweet Pea is waking in the wee hours of the morning out of habit, needing her paci. She has clearly shown me she still wants to sleep. And that will bring us to…sleep training.
I knew the time would come. I know the younger baby is, the easier it is for baby to sleep train. And I know that many times with parenting the hard option really is the best overall for everyone. I know sleep is so important for proper growth and development for babies. I know Sweet Pea’s sleep “problem” really isn’t that bad!! It could be much, much worse and I want to nip this in the bud before it escalates to become a huge problem of constant wake ups throughout naps and/or nighttime sleep due to needing the paci to stay asleep.
And, as a doctor friend of mine recently told me when I flat out asked her if letting a baby cry it out damages their brain and the attachment they feel to their parents, she said and I quote, Yeah, babies will choose the hard way (waking up a lot) unless we inform them that it behooves them to learn a different way…then they’re grateful! I’ve never seen any evidence of trauma to your brain. And it generally works so QUICKLY…and my theory is, if he [reference to her son] wakes up smiling and happy to see me the next morning, clearly he still loves me and is doing ok!
I (still) hate sleep training!
But I did it once and I can do it again (probably soon, now that I have just about eliminated other reasons why she could be waking).