The dreaded...the evil...

Sleep training.

I said it.

Now, if my blog had more than about 12 readers, I'd be afraid of the reaction of the internet to the fact that David and I decided to start sleep training Kate this week. I know not everyone agrees with this method of teaching kids to sleep, but so far it has been wonderful for us.

Let me preface that by saying we just finished night #2, so obviously we're not quite out of the woods yet (Tswift reference AND Nickel Creek reference in the same phrase? winner) but I have confidence that this is going to help us all magically.

A couple reasons we decided to start now (let's be real, I made the decision but David was totally on board). Kate was displaying many a sign of being ready to sleep through the night but not actually doing it on a consistent basis. Right before she turned 4 months, she was sleeping basically every other night 11-12 hours solid, and then the in between days she'd wake up once to eat and then go back to sleep.

Then 4 month sleep regression hit, and all hell broke loose.
She wouldn't fall asleep. She wanted her pacifier to fall asleep each and every time, and c-r-i-e-d until we gave it back to her. She woke up basically every 2 hours, trying to transition into deeper sleep, unable to put herself back to sleep without us. Occasionally she'd get so worked up that I had to rock her back to sleep for upwards of 30+ minutes before she'd conk out.

I didn't want her to get in the habit of having me rock her to sleep, but within a week's time she was dependent on it. And we had started the "rock until she's asleep but not too asleep but not too awake and then gently put her down praying to the Lord above that she'd stay asleep" phase, which we'd never done with her even as a brand-new baby.

Don't get me wrong, it did sort of warm my heart. She wouldn't calm down and go to sleep without me, which kind of tugs at a mom's heart seeing her need me like that. David would be lucky every once and a while soothing her, but most of the time it had to be me. I liked it in a sort of twisted way.

But it got to the point that getting up every 1.5-2 hours was wearing on me. I don't do well on no sleep (even though I do better than David), so something had to give. So I did a ton of reading on the internet about the Ferber method and decided we should go for it.

The other reasons? She was obviously not hungry that much during the night, so I was okay with her dropping the night feed. (She's also growing like crazy so she's not in need of the extra calories.) She was developing bad habits. She was getting extra cranky during the day because she wasn't sleeping enough at night, and then she was napping badly, and it was all just compounded on itself.

Monday night was our first night sleep training. We followed the Ferber method as I read online (didn't read the book...whoops), which you can find in a lot of different places. Basically we were going to cut her off completely from a pacifier at night (worrying about naps at a later date) and hoping she would learn to soothe herself. She was at the right age for his method of training, which he recommends starting between 3 and 5 months, and was showing all signs toward needing to sleep through the night.

So the first night we started what I think will be our consistent bedtime routine: nurse, bathtime, eat a little more if she's still hungry, read a story, sing lullaby, turn sound machine on, leave room and have her go to sleep. We did that and then left the room. There were a few blissful seconds of silence and then...WAAAAA.

cute picture but unrelated
She cried for just over an hour the first night.

We did the Ferber timing - starting with 3, then 5, then 10 minutes (through the end of the crying) checking in on her, giving her back her bunny rabbit, patting and shushing her but not picking her up through that first hour. It was so hard to see her little eyes in disbelief staring back at us, not understanding why we weren't! just! picking! her! up! already! Emotionally heart wrenching but we lived through it. (I totally count 1 hour of crying as a win, because most of the stories I read online said that 2 hours is average for the first night.)

She slept from then about 9:30 until 2:30, when she woke up crying - again, I think mostly out of habit. So we started the program again. 3, 5, 10 minute increments. Again she cried for about an hour until she finally put herself back to sleep.

She woke up in the morning around 8 and was a happy, smiley baby. Hooray! During the day yesterday her naps were somewhat sporadic. I read a few places that naps transitioning takes longer than night-time sleep, so I wasn't going to worry if she needed the pacifier to fall asleep during the day. Two of her naps she put herself to sleep playing, which was great, and the other two she used the pacifier to fall asleep. Also a win.

Last night we repeated the bedtime routine, and put her down in her crib. Again, the screaming and crying - but with a little longer interval of checking (5, 7, and then 13 minute increments). This time it only took her a little over half an hour to fall asleep! It was great.

This morning, she woke up at 6:30 crying again. I wasn't sure if she was ready to be up for the day - my mom gut told me she was still tired, but obviously as this was only our second day sleep training I didn't know. I told myself that if she was still crying at 7:30 I'd get her up for the day and feed her. So we did the increments again for an hour until she was still crying at 7:30 so I got her up. Instantly happy and awake baby! So I think she was ready to get up. (Obviously I'd prefer if she slept a little later...I've never had a consistent wakeup time so early, 6:30 is hellish, but I'll do it for her...)

Obviously we're not very far into it so far but wow, sleeping from 11 to 6:30 solid was amazing! I missed it from not having it for like 3 weeks...I can't imagine having a baby who doesn't sleep well from the beginning. (Please Jesus keep blessing us with gems like Kate.) I can understand some people hesitating on sleep training because it's pretty awful hearing them cry for so long, but it's amazing when you can see them put themselves to sleep! I will keep y'all updated on how the rest of sleep training goes. Probably since I posted about it it will just completely go south and won't work...but I'm crossing my fingers it has worked its charm on Kate.

Anything I should be looking out for? Questions for me? hit me up, yo. I'm running on an uninterrupted sleep high!


  1. I already feel like I'm going to be in the sleep training camp, so absolutely no judgement over here. I just don't see how it's good for anyone, parents or baby, to have rough nights of sleep for so long after a certain point! I'll have to look up the Ferber method, I've never heard of that before!


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