An update on sleep

I’ve kind of settled into this life of little sleep. It has been 9 months and 1 week since I slept through the night. No, that’s not true. There was a while there when Avery was 5-6 months old that I demanded we bed share because the dreaded 4 month sleep regression had destroyed any possibility of putting my baby down, anywhere, without my body next to hers. During those weeks I slept a lot more back-to-back hours, but she was also waking up for the day at 4:30am. 
Here’s where we are now, at 9 months and 1 week, in a nutshell. 

7/7:30pm. Bedtime routine, then I nurse her to sleep (with a lullaby) on the floor of her room, on her crib mattress. 

8:30-9:30pm. At her first wake up of the night, about an hour to two hours later, I lift her mattress into her crib with one hand while holding her and Benny (her chosen Lovie) in the other, and I nurse her back to sleep in the chair before putting her down in the crib. 

We start the night on the floor because she is a lot more sensitive to wake ups early in the evening. By the time she has been sleeping for an hour or two, her wake ups are a lot quicker to manage and she settles in the crib a lot easier. I feed her at her first wake up even if it’s only an hour later because she wants it. It seems like her body wants to stock up for the night ahead. 

So by around 9:30-10 I am done my shift, and I am free to go to sleep (free does not equal able). My wife handles most wake ups from 10 – 1 by rocking. These wake ups are usually easy to deal with. She wakes crying but it’s only a couple of minutes of reassuring snuggles before she’ll stay asleep for the crib transfer. 

Of course, every time she wakes for my wife, usually 1 to 3 times between 10pm and 1am, I wake up. Occasionally my wife calls me in because Avery tries to nurse on my wife’s shoulder and we offer her milk. It’s usually just that she wants me to hold her, though. 

At 1:30am she wakes for milk. 

At 2:30am she wakes and I try rocking her but my legs are too weak from the tiredness and I feel nauseous and I have to sit. She is asleep on me and I fall asleep before I can get back up to put her in the crib. 

3:30am rolls around and she wakes again, this time in my arms in the chair. Oh fuck, I’m still in the chair. I rock her and put her in the crib and go back to bed where I find the cats have stolen my side of the bed and I am too tired to move them so I teeter on the edge of the bed, usually with no blankets. It’s so silly what the sleepy brain makes you do. Why can’t I think to just move them? 

4:30am she wakes and I waste no time bringing her into our bed with me for the best 1.5 hours of sleep I will have all night. I lock the cats out of the room so they won’t wake her by begging for breakfast. She sleeps next to me until her natural wake up time of 6am. 

Ocassionally we get a 3 hour stretch that happens totally out of the blue, always in the very middle of the night. The other night she slept from 11:30pm until 3:30am. 

I try to really pay attention to the progress we’ve made rather than focusing on how far we have yet to go. Although she still wakes a lot, there was a time when we COULD NOT put her down in the crib. No matter how long she had been sleeping for in our arms, a transfer would lead to SCREAMING. Now she responds well to crib transfers most of the time, and even pushes off of us at least once a night asking to be put down while still awake. On these rare but hopeful occasions, she rolls over and goes to sleep with a light back rub. That’s amazing progress. 

Although I would still love to bring back bed sharing, I’m kind of sneakily integrating bedsharing into the 4:30am wakeup when I’m just too tired to be up with her. That’s good enough for me right now. It’s nice to have our bed to ourselves for the first half of the night so we can watch tv and talk (and even have sex, TWICE, for the first time since part way through my pregnancy).  

I can see her growing up before my very eyes, and I can see her sleep abilities maturing, if I look really, really closely. Or rather, if I look at the big picture. I’m confident that another sleep update post a few months from now will look even better. 


A Gentle Baby Sleep Experiment: The Conclusion

I used gentle baby sleep methods to try to get my bed-sharing baby used to sleeping in the crib. Did I make it till the end of the 10 days I challenged us to? Are we sleeping peacefully with baby in the crib using only gentle methods? Here’s a re-cap of our 10 night challenge. 

Asleep in our bed by 7, woke 4 times before 10pm. Transferred to crib at 10. Woke every hour until 5am. Putting my hand on her chest only worked once to get her back to sleep. Brought her into our bed at 5am, slept until 6:30.


Passed out immediately upon nursing at about 6:40, slept in our bed until 10, moved her to her crib. Woke every 2 hours and I nursed her back to sleep. 6:30 wide awake and ready for the day. 


Not a good night. It took 3 hours to get her to fall asleep and she nursed and kicked and punched me the whole time. Transferred to crib at 10, woke and demanded the boob every 45 -90 minutes.  Up for the day at 6:30.


I caved. Typical evening, only woke once before 10 pm crib transfer. Once in the crib, woke every 15 god damn minutes for 3 and a half hours. I had to pick her up and hug her for just a second to calm her and then she would go happily back into the crib, for 15 minutes. By 1:30am I caved and brought her into bed with us where she slept beautifully until 6:30am. 


Another terrible night. Went to sleep well in our bed and transfered well at 10. Then she woke every 15 min again. At 3:15 she went to sleep and stayed asleep until 5, brought her into bed with us, slept till 6:30. She woke underslept and cranky. 


She was super tired so we let her go to bed early, asleep by 6. Crib transfer at 10 – she protested being put down in the crib for 2 hours. Lots of crying and rocking. Finally at 12:30 I got her to stay sleeping and she woke every hour until 5am, brought her into our bed,  slept till 7am. 


Daylight savings time change. We adjusted her bedtime to 7:30 instead of 6:30 so she wouldn’t feel it. Transfer to crib took 3 hours (10:30-1:30). Any time I put her down, awake, drowsy or asleep, she immediately cried. Brought her into bed with me at 2am. I felt like it was cruel to deprive her of any more sleep that night. Woke at 7:30.


Oops, I fell asleep during bedtime routine and neither baby nor I woke up again until 7:30am. Bed shared all night. 


Transfer to crib took half an hour. Woke every 30 to 90 minutes. Woke for the day at 7:30 (loving the time change). 


Tried something new. Put her crib mattress on the floor in her room and I put her to sleep there at bedtime instead of in our bed. I stayed with her most of the night and she only woke when I went back to my own bed twice, briefly. Slept till 6, brought her back to our bed so I could get an hour or so of good sleep. Woke at 7:30.
So did it work? No. Not at all. But we did come out the other side of these rough 10 nights with a new plan, thanks to feedback I got on the No-Cry Sleep Solution Facebook group. We’ll try the crib mattress on the floor of her room for as long as I can hold out in discomfort. 

My original goal with this 10 day challenge was to get her used to sleeping in the crib. I hoped that if we just pushed through, she’d get used to it as a function of spending more time in it. We may have tried to bypass a necessary step: recreate the sense of safety/comfort that she currently gets from being next to me. The Lovie that we conditioned is not sufficient for her. 

The goal now is to make her room a safe and comfortable place to sleep, with me there at first to make this association. We realized that she generally slept well alone in our bed between her bedtime and our bedtime, so we know it’s possible for her to be left alone to sleep. 

Perhaps I’ll have another 10 days in me before caving… I know consistency is key, but it is very hard to be consistent with the things you do in the middle of the night when you’re exhausted. 

Wish me luck. 

A gentle baby sleep experiment

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..