My life has completely changed. OUR lives have completely changed….
Lyon is officially Sleep Trained, and I’m LOVING life right now.
Above: my baby deep asleep for one of his two naps of the day. Good boy.
If you missed my part 1, you can find a little bit of background info here about our need to sleep train Lyon. In summary, we knew we had to bite the bullet when:
1) Kyu & I would play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” every night to see who had to take the 3 hour night shift that inevitably came. Kyu almost always lost.
2) When it was my turn, I would go in with my iphone and headphones while I rocked him back to sleep. Hey, might as well watch a movie on Netflix instead of going crazy out of my mind from boredom, right?
3) On the evenings that we stayed up until 1am doing work, we’d forfeit sleep & decided it wasn’t worth it to sleep for an hour, just to wake up again with Lyon from 2-5am. Those made for rough, rough next days.
How did it play out? Here’s a recap:
3 months old: Transition out of Swaddle. I attempted crying-it-out (cio) with Lyon, but after 20 minutes and a good, hard cry for me downstairs, I ran back to Lyon, squeezed him as hard as I could, and vowed to never put him (and me) through this type of torture again. I told Kyu – “If I have to, I will rock this baby to sleep for the rest of his life…” as my dear husband rolled his eyes at me.
Lyon started to get into a rhythm soon after that. He was a great sleeper so long as I rocked him to sleep. That lasted about 2 months.
6 months old: The waking up in the middle of the night began. We thought it was a phase and blamed it on teething.
7 months old: Still no teeth, and the night waking worsened as getting him back to sleep proved to be harder and harder.
8 months old: I started to become an angry person. Resentful to my husband if he got more sleep than me, frustrated at Lyon for keeping us up, mad at myself for allowing this to go on this long. And so Sleep Training began:
7pm – Went down for bed. Rocked him for approximately 3 minutes until he fell into a very deep slumber.
10pm – Woke up crying hysterically. Thought I could quickly comfort him, but I proved to be very wrong. I ended up rocking him for a very long time…
1am – Finally fell into a deep enough sleep for me to put him back in his crib. I vowed to not pick him up again that night.
4am – Woke up again crying. I knew that if I picked him up, it would take him longer to fall back asleep, so Kyu and I waited patiently by the monitor as he learned to put himself back to sleep.
His voice was so coarse from crying, and it pained me so much to watch him cry.
I ended up turning off the monitor, crying in Kyu’s arms, and labeling myself as the absolute worst mom in the world. “CRAP, THIS IS SO HARD.”
6:45am – Finally found his paci, rolled onto his comfortable side, and fell asleep.
8am – woke up for the day
7pm – went down for the night easily. He was so exhausted from crying the entire night before that falling asleep that evening proved to be quite painless.
10pm – woke up crying for 10 minutes
10:45pm – woke up again crying. Somehow managed to do a 180 degree turn in the crib while having a fit!
11:45 – fell back asleep on his own
3am – woke up again crying. I listened for a little over an hour.
4:20am – went to him thinking I could soothe him, but that proved to be wrong. I realized that by being there, I was stimulating him further…
5:30am – finally went to sleep for the rest of the night on his own.
8am – woke up for the day
7pm – went down for the night
10pm – woke up crying. I turned off the monitor and let Kyu take over… Could not bear it anymore myself.
11:30pm – found his paci, rolled onto his side, and fell asleep.
11pm – woke up and cried for 5 minutes. Found his paci, rolled onto his side, and fell asleep.
Slept the rest of the night. Started to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I began witnessing my baby learn to soothe himself back to sleep. That night was a big turning point for us.
7pm – went down for the night
Slept the whole night.
Kyu and I danced in circles out of pure parental bliss. Success.
We spent the next few weeks fine turning his schedule, teaching him to fall asleep 100% on this own, and stretching out his naps during the day so that he was getting at least 15-16 hours of really good, deep sleep a day.
Lyon is now an amazing sleeper and is such a happy, well-rested baby. We put him down awake now, and after about 30 seconds of crying, he can put himself down to sleep within 5 minutes.
It’s one of the most incredible things for us to witness. We never thought that we could break him from his need to be rocked to sleep, but after about a week of hard Sleep Training and a couple of weeks of fine-tuning, Lyon was a pro.
Life is good.
10 Things I learned through this process:
1. Have a consistent bedtime routine. Babies thrive on routine… Ours is bath, quiet play, read for 5 minutes, white noise, last bottle, then sleep.
2. Enforce a daily schedule. There is no use in Sleep Training if you do not follow a daily schedule. Your baby needs to wake up at the same time everyday, eat, nap & play at the same time everyday. The more scheduled his routine, the more his body will become like clockwork. It’s hard for the mom & dad at times, but it leads to less surprises in the end.
3. You are stronger than you think. The hardest part is deciding to do this.
4. Learn your baby’s sleep cues…then put him down for bed BEFORE that. When Lyon is sleepy, he rubs his eyes and starts to get a little deliriously hyper. Super cute, but we know the window of time before he gets overtired is soon after that. We’ve figured out his schedule so that we put Lyon down to sleep 10 minutes before he gets sleepy. He plays in his crib for a little, settles down, and falls asleep happy each & every time.
5. Make this a team effort. During waiting periods, do something enjoyable with your partner, like play cards or listen to music. If you find the crying intolerable after a while, let your partner take over so you can take a walk or a warm bath. When you’re refreshed, you can give your partner a break.
6. Teach him to fall asleep in your arms, in a pack n’ play, in a carseat too. There will be days when you’ll travel with your baby, and he’ll be away from his familiar environment. To make it easier on everyone, it’s important that he gets as much practice outside of his room & crib as possible.
7. Learn to understand your baby’s cries… Hearing your baby cry is a horrible, HORRIBLE part of Sleep Training. But what is so fascinating about what I learned through this process is that I’m now able to understand and hear Lyon’s cries. I know when he’s hungry, when he’s got a dirty diaper, when he’s whiny, when he’s overtired, when he’s in pain, and when he’s just bored of being by himself.
There’s a lot more crying in our future together, I’m sure… So, I’m glad I’m learning this early.
8. The 1st night is tough. You’ll second guess yourself, hate yourself & feel like the cruelest mother in the world. Remember why you’re doing this and lean towards the light on the other side… If you need to leave the first night, do. You can get through this, and every day you are strong, it’s one less day to teaching your baby a lifelong skill.
9. Start when you’re ready. I wasn’t ready at 3 months, not even at 7 months even when the rest of my family was. I blame it on being a first time mom, but in reality – I know I’m just a wimp. It took a miserable 3 months of no sleep, a little bit of pushing from friends & family, and an incredibly unhappy baby to give me the thick skin I needed to help him go through this. But I was ready when we started, and I stayed the course through it all.
10. Remember the long term advantages of this method: a child who wakes up in the morning feeling rested, refreshed and ready to take in the world. Lyon now naps better, eats more, feels more eager to try new things, is more alert & attentive to his surroundings… it’s really amazing.
When chatting with Laura of Moms on Call after our Sleep Training experience for an update – I realized that I learned something pretty remarkable about life and parenting through this process… I realized that teaching my son how to soothe himself to sleep was one of the first lessons in life I would teach him. Witnessing him learn to fall asleep on his own was like watching my baby climb Mt. Everest! Truly miraculous and such a proud moment for us.
Her response was incredibly meaningful to me: “There will be many times in life that we have to stand back and let them learn new things. Sometimes when we continue to “Help” we are really just “standing in the way”………”
By letting go and allowing my son to flourish, I know I’m growing up a little bit as well. Crazy how life can be like that.