Sleep, Baby, Sleep

This is our story of how our son slept through the night at 18 months. And how I didn’t sleep through the night for over a year and a half.

Note: I get a lot of traffic through this page and as a mama who googled “6 months not sleeping through the night”, “9 months not sleeping through the night”, “15 months not sleeping through the night”… my friends, I know how hard it is.

What I wish I had heard was another mother telling me that “crying-it-out” doesn’t always work and it isn’t for every family. If your heart tells you that something isn’t right for you, it doesn’t mean you are naive, spoiling your child or a softie. If you pick your baby up because she is hysterical even when you are trying a new tactic of NOT picking your baby up, it doesn’t mean that you have lost the war and your baby will expect to be picked up FOREVER. If you are breastfeeding and are enjoying it, you are not “creating a problem”. Consistancy may be the key but sometimes you need flexibility and sensitivity to make it fit the lock.

To the mothers of 16 children who never had a sleepless night because they KNEW how to put a baby to sleep… well, good for you. You never had my son, a lovely little boy who needed a lot of help to sleep by himself and through the night.

If you are that googling parent, believe you are not the only one and there is nothing wrong with your baby. I highly recommend The Fussy Baby Site for sympathy, if nothing else.

August 26, 2011

After a few nights of waking up only once but very upset, Adam didn’t need me at all last night. He woke up a few times and fussed and cried a bit but went back to sleep on his own. He went to sleep at 7:45 and woke up at 5:00. He came into bed with me and nursed for an hour and a half.

This morning nursing is the only time he nurses now. He used to occasionally ask in the late afternoon, just before dinner when he was tired but that seems to have stopped. I think the only way to end this morning nursing is to take him straight down to breakfast at 5:00 a.m. I don’t mind the nursing in the morning, especially because I can stay in bed a little longer. Anything for more sleep, right?

August 21, 2011

Adam has been consistently waking up once a night. Sometimes at 12:30, sometimes at 2:30, sometimes at 4:30. But it’s ONCE and it is AWESOME.

The biggest change is he is so much more relaxed about sleeping and being alone in his room. He doesn’t wake and babble happily but he doesn’t panic either. We still sit with him while he falls asleep but it is lovely time (most of the time) and we’re so much happier.

Yay Adam!

July 16, 2011

He. Slept. Through. The. Night.

OK. He woke up for the day at 3:30 a.m. and spent a good part of the day running around, swimming and digging in the sand. It took two hours to get him to go to sleep. So not something we can (or would want to) recreate every day.

But he slept from 7:40 until 4:40. I brought him to bed with me and nursed him for half an hour and fully expected him to be up for the day but with only half-hearted protests, he let me put him back in his crib where he slept for another hour and a half.

I’ve kept this sticker from his first year calendar, waiting for the day we could use it. He may never sleep through the night again. But today we have this:

July 5, 2011

He slept for 7.5 hours! A new record! Of course, we did nothing different but he slept from 7:00 until 2:30. I’m sure it will never happened again.

June 30, 2011

Another rough patch. More teeth. And I am a sucker for punishment so I’m trying to night-wean… again.

He’s become much better at falling asleep in his crib as long as we stay in the room. I’m down to nursing once during the night, though he still wakes up at least three times.

Last week, I was so tired that while trying to go back to sleep with the cat climbing all over me, I thought to myself, “Why is this damn cat being so clingy?? Oh, that’s right. He’s got the book coming out.” And I let him sleep on my back.

What book? I don’t know. This makes no more sense to me than it does to you.

So, so tired.

June 1, 2011

He woke at night  just once for the first time EVER. We’ve had a bumpy month of teething (molars!), switching to one nap and staying up late for roast beef dinners at a country church or chicken BBQ and fireworks. But we seem to be onto something good!

May 10, 2011

Adam has been consistent for long enough that I feel I can update. He’s back to sleeping in his crib. Yay! It took a night or two of crying and many, many nights of holding his hands while he falls asleep. I hold him while we sing to him and when he’s good and drowsy, I put him in his crib. We wait with him until he’s asleep but unless he’s having a bad night, I don’t need to hold his hand or rub his back. From starting to sing to fallen asleep takes about half an hour to an hour. Crazy, I know but it works.

He’s not nursing before bedtime which is rather odd because he nurses before he naps, morning and night and wakes up 3 times during the night and nurses. I moved his routine around so we could brush his teeth after nursing. He would be so excited about brushing his teeth that he didn’t want to nurse beforehand and the nursing quietly went away. Occasionally, while I’m holding him and singing, he’ll ask to nurse but doesn’t make too much of a fuss if I tell him it’s time to sleep. Who knew the nursing session acknowledged to be the hardest to drop would end with so little drama?

So he still wakes 3 times a night. I can live with that. It’s the best he’s ever done. He went from a good night of waking 6 times to consistently waking 3 times and he did himself without “training” or what-have-you. I can only hope that he will continue to improve when he’s ready. I think the biggest change is that he’s relaxed in his crib. He gets upset if we leave before he sleeps but if we stay he’s happy.

He still naps morning and afternoon and he’s been sleeping longer and longer. Sometimes he’ll nap for 40 minutes. Sometimes up to two hours. This is an amazing improvement for him. And nice for me, too!

February 17, 2011

Some readers have asked for an update to Sleep, Baby, Sleep. I haven’t been updating, mostly because I’ve given up.

Maybe “given up” isn’t quite right. I feel I’ve tried everything and tried it several times. The more I accept what Adam seems to need, the happier we both are. For the last few weeks, I’ve been rocking him to sleep and putting him in his crib. He’ll sleep there for 2 or 3 hours and when he wakes up, I nurse him and sleep with him on the floor. When he wakes up in the night, if he wants to nurse, we do. We both get more sleep that way.

I would love to sleep in my own bed with my husband. I would love to put Adam in his crib, say “Nighty-nighty” and be greeted with a happy, rested baby the next morning. But that’s not happening. And I’ve tried. Lord, have I tried.

I did try night weaning again and he didn’t wake any less. He spent more time awake and it took a lot of holding and rocking to get him to go back to sleep.

It seems when I try to make changes, I trade one “bad habit” for another: if he doesn’t nurse at night, he needs to be picked up, held and rocked. If I don’t pick him up, he’s awake for hours and his schedule is derailed. Whatever I try, the end result is something worse and right now, we both need to sleep.

Despite what experts and know-it-all parents have to say, I think Adam is just doing what he needs to do. He needs a lot of reassurance, both day and night. He gets better on his own, albeit VERY SLOWLY. I know this can’t last forever… right?

January 8, 2011

Whew. Where were we?

I managed to cut back on his night feedings. We were doing well with one or two feedings but he was waking up just as much.

Then he got sick, so sick over Christmas and wasn’t eating. He wanted to nurse, nurse, nurse and be held all the time. Fortunately, it took about a week to get back to where we were. Sort of. He still wanted to be held ALL THE TIME.

I’m sure part of this is his super-crazy separation anxiety so I’m trying to go about this gently but firmly. Crying-it-out is not for Adam. When I took a moment and actually thought about what I wanted from him, I realized that sleeping better is not something he’ll figure out on his own. He can follow simple directions so I thought I’d try talking him through it.

Before he got sick, I got him comfortable (more or less) with not being picked up. He’s not always happy about it but we don’t get the sort of hysteria that happens when I leave to use the washroom. So I ask him to sit, then lay down. This can take awhile. He’ll get back up, he’ll fuss, he’ll throw his pacifier on the floor. Eventually, he’ll lay down and stay down. He’ll hold my hand while he falls asleep.

Every night, the time it takes to get to sleep is a bit shorter. And last night, he slept for five hours, woke up, slept for one and a half hours, woke up, I nursed him then went back to sleep for another three hours. Amazing for Adam! Best of all, there’s not much crying or anxiety.

December 13, 2010

Adam slept for a five-hour stretch! For the first time! Ever!

He went to bed at 7:00 and woke up just after midnight. He woke up every hour after that…but still!

I stayed awake waiting to nurse him, which usually happens at 10:00 or 10:30. I gave up at about 11:30 and tried to sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

But five-hour stretch! Woo!

December 11, 2010

Last night I was preparing myself for a tough night of crying because I’m trying to cut back Adam’s all-night breastfeeding buffet. He went to sleep at 7:00, woke up at 10:15 and I nursed him. He woke up an hour later and wouldn’t sleep unless I held him. I got him back into the crib at 12:20 and he slept until after 3:00. I nursed him then and again when he woke up at 5:00 because I thought he was up for the day. I brought him into bed with me for that feed and he fell asleep until 7:30. Four wakings and three feedings? For Adam, that is amazing!

When I woke up, I still felt like crap but I think I’m getting sick. I’m hoping tonight goes well, too. I don’t think we’ve ever had two good nights in a row.

December 9, 2010

I haven’t been trying anything new. We pick him up when he cries, which means less night time drama and he goes back to sleep sooner and cries less overall. “Sleep begets sleep” hasn’t played out in this house but “less crying begets less crying” certainly has.

When he has a predictable day, he sleeps better. When there is a change to his schedule, even if it’s something he enjoys, that night is awful. He wants to be held all night.

The last three days he’s been getting up very early – 5:30 or 6:30 – and we’ve tried putting him to bed a little later which helps a little. His naps are all crazy, though. He woke up at 6:30 and desperately needed a nap at 8:30 and he slept for his usual 30 minutes. I think he’ll need another nap before lunch.


December 1, 2010

Well, he’s back to sleep for about 3.5 hours at the beginning of the night but after midnight wakes up every hour and wants to nurse. He’s very unsettled during the night. He used to be good about going to sleep for his naps (short as they were) but now that has become a mess, too. Sigh.

November 21, 2010

Nearly two weeks ago, I started Ferberizing/crying-it-out. The first night was awful (of course) but the next night and for about a week after that, Adam would sleep for 3 hours after falling asleep for the night. After that he would wake up every two hours with more crying. He’s cranky during the day and his napping can be unpredictable if the night is particularly bad.

The last night he’s dropped the 3 hour stretch and sleeping for about an hour and a half. The rest of the night is the same. There’s still so much crying. I feel awful but I don’t know what else to do.

October 28, 2010

So after a couple months of part time co-sleeping (Adam starting off in his crib and joining us in our bed when I was too exhausted to hold him), I’m back to sleeping on the nursery floor with him. I hope to get him back into his crib for a few reasons: a) I’m not sleeping well with him in our bed and b) Thomas isn’t getting much sleep and there’s no point in both of us going without sleep. Adam hasn’t been sleeping any better in our bed anymore and he’s back to waking about 12 times a night. No fun.

Last night he started in his crib, “slept” (read: squirmed and fussed) beside me most of the night and slept in his crib for the last two hours-ish this morning.

I’ve been without sleep for so long that I hate who I am: a tired, impatient shrew. The scrap of decent human behaviour I have left is reserved for Adam. The idea that this could go on for months or years is so overwhelming I can’t think about it. All I want to do is sleep.

October 23, 2010

The last two nights have been a disaster. When Adam wakes up, he kicks me, scratches me, pulls my hair and fusses and whines. Last night, he had such a crying fit that I caved and nursed him twice during the night. I’m exhausted. Thomas is exhausted. I wish I knew what to do.

October 19, 2010

The last two nights I haven’t nursed him during the night after about 10:00 – I do nurse him the first time he wakes up to help him tank up for the night.

The first night when he woke up at 2:30, he cried for an hour while we took turns holding him. He calmed down and went back to sleep at 3:30 and slept until 7:15. Big improvement for us!

Last night he woke up at about 4:00 and didn’t cry as much but fussed and thrashed around for more than an hour.

He’s nursing more (but not more frequently) during the day so hopefully, he’ll catch on soon that we don’t eat all night long.

He’s also been sleeping on his tummy and I’ve turned on the humidifier for the white noise. Maybe all of this will help. For the first time in a long time Adam didn’t wake 45 minutes after being put down for the night. He slept for nearly THREE hours. Woo!

October 6, 2010

Thank you for the messages of support, both public and private. Books, experts and know-it-all parents will have you believe that you have something to do with how well or how badly your child sleeps. But when you have a baby that doesn’t sleep and try just about everything in vain, only to have that baby change sleep habits with no rhyme or reason, that’s when you realize how little control you have. It’s nice to know that there are other sleepless children (and parents)  out there because sometimes it seems like a dirty little secret.

Anyhoo, Adam has been sleeping a smidgen better, though I spent last night sleeping with him on the nursery floor again. Sometimes when he was drifting off after nursing, he would try to roll over and wake up again. He would give me a look of betrayal and a wail – “Why are you making me roll over when I am TRYING TO SLEEP?” when I was about to fall asleep myself. Fun.

I want to sleep in my own bed. I don’t expect to sleep uninterrupted (sleep through the night? ha!) but spending most of my sleeping hours minutes in bed would be nice.

October 5, 2010

I knew that our trip to Wisconsin would throw Adam for a loop and once we returned, his sleep would be a tad erratic. And as I’m on night duty, having breasts and all, I knew that I was in for some more sleepless nights. But this is ridiculous.

Regular readers know that Adam has never slept through the night. Not even close. I think the best he’s done is waking three times in one night and that was a rare occurance indeed. He’s more of a six to eight times a night baby. Needless to say, I’m exhausted so when he fusses more than usual in the middle of the night and I cannot remaining upright myself, nevermind soothe a wiggly baby, I started bringing him into bed with us. It wasn’t my first, second or third choice. Our bed is small and Thomas and I are hardly small people. Adding a baby to the bed isn’t realistic. I didn’t sleep well but when I was beyond tired and couldn’t cope anymore, catching a few uncomfortable and inadequate winks were the best I could do.

The last half of our trip Adam started screaming at night when he’s usually more of a whimperer. Back home and back to his routine, he’s cut the night time crying by about half. Our nights start as they did pre-trip – in his crib, sleeps for 45 minutes, needs soothing, back to sleep for another 45. After that, he used to sleep for a couple hours before waking up to nurse and on it would go throughout the night. Now not only will he scream bloody murder when put down in his crib, as of last night, lying next to me on the floor isn’t good enough. He will only sleep if he’s held.

I know the likely solution is to let him fuss, either in his crib or next to me and eventually he will be so exhausted he will fall asleep. But after eight months of so little sleep, I cannot even entertain the idea. Instead, my mind goes to how can I hold him and still sleep myself. And that’s what I did last night: held him in the crook of my arm and half sat up, half leaned… for nearly seven hours, broken up by more crying, more feeding, more soothing.

Clearly, this can’t continue. He naps just dandy in his crib and the beginning of the night, too. Why does he fuss as the night goes on? Do I wait him out?

I dread night time. I wish I didn’t have to sleep at all.

September 17, 2010

Poor baby. He’s gotten at least three teeth in the last two weeks and more are coming through. This makes for an unhappy baby.

He’s nursing every three hours and after the first two hours in his crib at night, I can’t get him to sleep there. He’ll fall asleep in my arms or in our bed but will wake up every 10 or 15 minutes (if we make it that far) when I put him back in his crib. The last week I’ve been starting the night with him in his crib and when he’s over that, I’ve been bringing him into our bed.

I know some will warn me that we’re on a path to sleeping with an 8 year old sprawled over us. The way I see it, our trip to Wisconsin is going to throw him for a loop – there’s no point in starting a new programme now.

August 31, 2010

Last night, Adam did his best sleeping EVER. He woke up twice after going to bed at 7:30 – once at 10:00 and again at 2:30. I changed his diaper, fed him… and he went back to sleep! This may not be great news for the mama of the average almost 7 month old baby, but for me it’s amazing!

August 25, 2010

Based on nothing new that I have been doing (or am aware of doing), Adam has been sleeping in longer stretches (two, sometimes three hours) at night. Sometimes after a long stretch it’s harder to get him to sleep and sometimes he’ll be awake for awhile. He slept this way at about two or three months before the Hell of teething started.

His naps, which had been quite regular at 9:00, noon and 3:00 seem to be getting an overhaul, too. It’s unpredictable from day to day but I think he might drop one. Maybe less sleep during the day is what has been helping him sleep at night. I’m trying not to guess to what I can attribute his sleep changes – it’s foolish to start off on that road of insanity.

Still going with his flow.

August 10, 2010

A few days ago, Adam woke up 5:00 after going to bed at about 8:00. Boooooo.

It took me a long time to find a bed time routine because he’s so keyed up at the end of the day and the usual bed time things just increase his craziness. Baths? FUN! Reading a story? Let’s take the book and throw it! WHEE!

After a lot of trial and error, I find that changing his diaper, washing his face, hands and feet, brushing his teeth and letting him be alone in his crib to screech (happily) and throw his teddy around for 15 or 20 minutes, before going back in to nurse him and cuddle him is the best bed time for him. He isn’t sleeping any better, but he goes to sleep in about 45 minutes. It had been anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours before.

This is good.

July 28, 2010

After I had logged Adam’s sleep for two weeks and saw the horrific details of how often he woke up, I stopped watching the clock. It was a good thing to see his sleep for what it was and it went a long way in helping realize that I was justified in being so tired. Most nights I would have guessed that I woke up 3 or 4 times, but while keeping a log I realized it was more like 6 or 8 times. I also saw that he was waking to eat every 3 hours or so and the other times he woke, he just wanted to be comforted.

But after two weeks, I had to stop watching the clock. It was awful knowing how long he was up some nights, watching the minutes tick by. For a few days I let him nap whenever the mood came upon him – no matter if it had been an hour since his last nap or four hours – I watched for the sleepy signs and put him to bed, schedules be damned. Well, golly-gee, after a few days, he put himself on a regular nap schedule of 9:00, noon and 3:00. The times vary slightly, but not much and he goes down for a nap happy and quicker now.

Nights are slowly getting better. He woke up every 2.5 to 3 hours last night and always to eat. The longer he sleeps, the longer he’s awake when he does wake. But I’m trying to keep the lights low, the voices soft and the atmosphere exceptionally boring and hoping that we can work on a more seamless night. I’m also giving him plenty of time to try asleep on his own using a comfort item. It means a lot of time sitting nearby but out of sight. It’s a good way to get a lot of reading in and I’ve read two books this week – The Boy in the Moon and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

* * * * *

Sleep Solutions Night #11

Naps – 8:22 to 9:58, 12:00 to 12:35, 2:45 to 3:30, 4:24 to 5:07.

Asleep 7:33.

5:30 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 8 hours, 33 minutes (3 hours, 39 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 4

Longest Stretch: 2 hours, 26 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #10

Naps – 8:24 to 9:08, 10:45 to 11:29, 1:24 to 2:01, 3:23 to 4:10. I didn’t swaddle him for any of his naps. I took upstairs to his crib at any sign of sleepiness, whatever time, no matter how long since his last nap. He seemed much happier to be snuggled and rocked and put down. Nap time was a lot less like wrestling a monkey than it has been. Yay!

Asleep 6:55. No swaddling all night long!

6:37 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 9 hours, 28 minutes (2 hours, 52 minutes)

Night Wakings: 7

Longest Stretch: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #9

Naps – 8:52 to 9:47, 9:55 to 10:50, 1:14 to 1:46, 1:52 to 2:42, 4:52 to 5:34.

Asleep 9:08, after two hours of rocking, nursing, swaying, shushing…

6:45 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 8 hours, 12 minutes (3 hours, 54 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 4

Longest Stretch: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #8

Naps – 9:53 to 10:30, 4:10 to 4:40 (in car), 5:34 to 6:20.

Asleep 8:06. Very wired.

7:11 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 8 hours, 25 minutes (1 hours, 53 minutes)

Night Wakings: 4

Longest Stretch: 2 hours, 19 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #7

Naps – 10:40 to 11:10 (in car), 12:00 to 1:00 (in car), 3:21 t0 4:11.

Asleep 6:18.

7:50 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 11 hours, 12 minutes (2 hours, 20 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 7

Longest Stretch: 3 hours, 11 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #6

Naps – Going to church seriously messes with Adam’s nap time. The older he gets, the more distracted he is by everything that is happening. He slept in his carrier from 11:40 to 12:10. At home, he napped from 2:30 to 3:00.

Asleep 6:51.

9:20 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 11 hours, 55 minutes (1 hour napping)

Night Wakings: 5

Longest Stretch: 3 hours, 21 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #5

Naps – 7:36 to 9:10, 11:25 to 12:32, 2:30 to 3:00, 4:34 to 5:30

Asleep at 7:40.

8:30 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 10 hours, 7 minutes (4 hours, 7 minutes… sort of the first nap of the morning was a night time carry-over.)

Night Wakings: 6

Longest Stretch: 3 hours, 14 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #4

Naps – 9:33 to 10:10, 10:11 to 10:51, 1:23 to 2:02, 2:12 to 3:02

Asleep at 6:18. He was exhausted.

6:03 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 9 hours, 12 minutes (2 hours, 46 minutes of napping)

Night Wakings: 5

Longest Stretch: 2 hours, 28 minutes

The good news is he woke up with his second tooth!

Sleep Solutions Night #3

Naps – 9:08 to 9:43, 9:51 to 10:27, 1:34 to 2:13 and 4:42 to 5:17. Ugh.

Asleep at 7:41, unswaddled.

7:20 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 9 hours, 44 minutes (2 hours, 25 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 5

Longest Stretch: 3 hours, 22 minutes

Sleep Solutions Night #2

Naps – 9:20 to 11:00, swaddled with a bit of help staying asleep at the beginning. 12:50 to 1:27, nursed to sleep, slept without swaddling. 3:00 to 3:49, after a struggle, swaddled.

Asleep at 7:00.

7:00 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 9 hours, 52 minutes (3 hours, 6 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 8

Longest Stretch: 1 hour, 48 minutes (I think? I’m tired…)

Sleep Solutions Night #1

Naps – Adam snoozed from 10:30 to 11:30 and again from 2:00 to 4:30. I stayed in the room for his afternoon nap and when he started to wake up, I placed my hands on him and shushed. I had to do this a few times in the last hour but he didn’t wake up and he had a good nap.

He seems to want a 7:00 p.m. bed time, but it varies from day to day, depending on his napping. Last night, I started his bed time routine at 6:30: changed his diaper, read, nurse and rocked him until he was almost asleep and put him in his crib. The pre-bed time nursing did not go well. I don’t know if it’s his teeth or something else. He nurses frantically for a few minutes and then pulls away and cries. He is getting milk – after awhile of this my breast empties and he has milk in his mouth and doesn’t seem hungry. Asleep at 7:00.

7:04 – Morning!

Total Sleep Time: 9 hours, 11 minutes (3 hours, 30 minutes napping)

Night Wakings: 8

Longest Stretch: 2 hours, 9 minutes


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