Last night was night 1 of 10 in a sleep “training” challenge for us. Avery sleeps perfectly through the night (11 hours) when she bed shares, but we’re ready to kick her out for the sake of my back and our intimacy as a couple. I’ve tried moving her to the crib a few times and it goes well for a night or two and then it goes downhill rapidly and I cave quickly because I know that bringing her into bed with me is a 100% effective, immediate solution that gets us all sleep.
I started practicing elements of the No-Cry Sleep Solution when she was 3 months old. I thought I could prevent the 4 month sleep regression if I instilled good habits and deterred sleep “crutches”. That didn’t work. Three months was just too young for my baby – she wasn’t ready, developmentally, for such a push toward independence.
Since then I’ve embraced nursing to sleep as a positive sleep association – it’s positive because it makes her and I feel good inside, it makes Avery feel comforted and safe, and it actually releases hormones that make her sleepy. My approach to sleep training is now a combination of tips from the No-Cry Sleep Solution and the Gentle Baby Sleep Book. I also don’t want to refer to it as sleep training, because that doesn’t really feel like what we’re doing here. This is my goal over the next 10 days:
Get Avery to sleep in her crib at night only waking up to nurse 3 times.
My rules are:
- Stick with bedtime routine: Mo takes her up for diaper change, moisturize, PJs and sleep sack, and tooth brushing; Mommy takes over with a lullaby and nursing in our bed until asleep.
- Continue conditioning her lovie and have it with her in her crib at night. We’ve conditioned it for about 2 months already so it should smell like mommy and milk and comfort and hopefully it should cue sleep.
- Get her to sleep at night by nursing in our bed. I don’t feel the need to break this pattern yet as it gets her good and relaxed for a later transfer. I’m usually able to spend the evening downstairs with only one wake-up before it’s my bedtime and time to move her, hopefully in her sleep.
- If she murmers or whimpers, wait it out to see if she’ll fall back to sleep. If it progresses to a cry, respond right away.
- Respond to cries by first putting my hand on her chest, shushing her, and kissing her cheek. If the cries escalate at all, pick her up and nurse her in the chair. Put her back in the crib when she unlatches herself. Put no limit on number of night feeds (but work toward a goal of no more than 3).
- For wake-ups after 5am, I give myself permission to bring her into our bed for a morning cuddle and to hopefully extend sleep a little longer.
Although the two sleep books I’ve referenced contradict each other in many ways (e.g., positive sleep cues in one are negative sleep crutches in the other), they can also work really well together if you’re flexible and want to follow your instinct with just a little guidance.
6:30pm we started the bedtime routine, asleep in our bed by 7. Woke up 4 times before 10pm (cuddled her back to sleep in our bed) when I moved her to her crib asleep. Woke every hour until 5am. Putting my hand on her chest only worked once to get her back to sleep. Nursed 6 times. Brought her into our bed at 5am, slept until 6:30 when the cats woke her up.
I’ll wait to document nights 2-10 until the end of this gentle baby sleep experiment. Will it work to achieve our goal? Will I give in again and bed share forever?? Wait to find out..