Avery sleeps well. She wakes for food 2 or 3 times a night, which is acceptable for her age, and she barely wakes during these night feeds making it easy to transfer her back to the bassinet. But getting her to sleep (for naps or bedtime) is becoming a problem.
I’m afraid I’m making sleep hard for her by committing the sleep training no-nos: nursing her to sleep at night and naps, picking her up as soon as her fussing and whimpers turn to cries, and letting her fall asleep cuddled up to me in my bed every night before transferring her to the bassinet.
This habit/routine came about during her extreme fussy period, when comfort nursing and rocking for hours was literally all we could do to minimise her cries. The books all said it was OK with a fussy baby – do what you need to do to survive until 4 months (then repent for what you did to survive!!).
I think back to a time when I could actually put her down in her crib drowsy for a morning nap and she would drift off for one or two hours at a time. I thought we had won the baby sleep lottery. But then she became more and more difficult to settle, and I became more and more directly comforting to get her to sleep. And now if I put her in her crib at any time she cries and works herself into a tizzy.
Honestly, if it were just her and I and a paid 12 month mat leave, I’d be OK with our way of doing things. It feels natural, and usually it works really well to keep Avery happy and well slept. But it’s just not sustainable in the real world.
Here are the reasons I think I’m ready to try sleep training Avery:
- My wife and I can’t really have a life together when Avery’s bedtime routine is two hours of comfort nursing in the darkened bedroom. We just sit in the dark in silence every evening from 7 until we fall asleep. We eat dinner in bed in the dark. When my wife speaks above a whisper I snap at her to be quiet because the baby isn’t in a deep sleep yet. Not good for the maritals.
- She can’t nap without me, which takes a lot of my day and means I can’t get much done, or go anywhere.
- She is only about 2 inches away from literally not fitting in the bassinet anymore. The bassinet is also on loan and is needed back by its owner in January or February for another baby. Her crib is waiting for her…
- The books and sleep experts seem to try not to judge co-sleeping or using vices to get a fussy baby to sleep, but they do say to think about the future – practice now what you want the baby’s sleep habits to look like in the future. I want her sleep future to involve her Mo being able to put her to sleep in her crib with a short bedtime routine around 7pm. I’m not concerned about getting her to sleep through the night, but getting to sleep in the first place looks a lot different in my ideal future than it does now.
How I plan to sleep train:
- We have talked about moving the crib into our bedroom (huge undertaking that would require dismantling the crib or removing the door jamb, and would require removing our dresser and climbing over the bed to get past it in our tiny room). We have talked about blowing up the air mattress in the nursery and starting sleep training in her own room, cold turkey. Not sure which one we’ll go with yet.
- In the mean time, I’ll start with that morning nap. I’m going to keep working on her positive crib association by putting her in there slightly before her usual morning nap time (to avoid getting her overtired). I set her room up with the heater, humidifier, sleep-associated lullabies playing softly in the background, blinds drawn, light off, mommy-scented lovie on her chest. I rock her for a bit and put her in the crib awake but drowsy. She cries. I rock her, put her back in awake but drowsy. She cries. Repeat. I have been giving up after 45 minutes and letting her sleep on me, but today after 30 minutes of in and out, she fell asleep in the crib! It only lasted 10 minutes, but it’s a first step in building the crib-sleep association.
- Timeline: my goal is to master the morning nap (and maybe others) in the crib during the month of December. We will be messing with the bedtime a little over the holidays with travelling and festivities, so I plan to save the bedtime sleep training for January and hope it goes quickly because we are losing the option of the bassinet. Also, she hasn’t reached the 4 month sleep regression yet, and I’ve been hearing that sometimes it’s best to wait for that to strike before sleep training. She will be 4 months on Christmas Eve.
Any sleep training tips are welcome as we embark on this long journey…
Wish us luck!