If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Abbie has never been a great sleeper – until recently. When I was desperately trying to get Abbie to sleep better, I read countless books, did a lot of online research, and asked my mom for advice…but I never found a place where moms could share their own experiences about baby and toddler sleep.
Sometimes getting your baby to sleep is easy…and sometimes it’s a nightmare. But what I wanted to know was what worked, what didn’t work, and why or why not. Since I never found it, I’ve now created a way for mom’s to share it – in the Sleep Chronicles.
Over the coming weeks (and months, I hope) I’ll be sharing other women’s stories – what they did, how they did it, and how it turned out. If you’d like to share your story, please email me at [email protected]. Today, I’m starting with our own story.
Abbie’s sleep was never particularly great…I wrote about it a lot. She was always taking catnaps, needed to be rocked or nursed to sleep, and would wake up when I put her down. At six months, she slept through the night for about 10 days…then quickly went to even worse sleeping habits. We decided to sleep train for a lot of reasons – Abbie couldn’t put herself to sleep, was waking up pretty often, and was sometimes up for hours overnight. I did something a little different during the process – I kept a log. Most of the time, I wrote things down as they happened, but some overnight times are approximate. So here’s our sleep training log, using the Ferber method, starting from the moment we decided to sleep train. I cut off the days as of midnight, just to avoid confusion. It’s pretty long at the beginning, but the descriptions get shorter toward the end.
1:00 – 3:00am: Abbie’s awake and won’t go to sleep. I’m so tired I can’t see straight. I’ve put it off as long as I could. I think it’s time to sleep train.
During the day: I make a list of everything we need to prep for sleep training. I also get an email from Chris (since we didn’t really discuss it in the middle of the night) that he did his own research, and he likes the Ferber method. Cue sigh of relief that we agree. He wants to start over the weekend. I want to start now, so we have the weekend to recover if we need it. Thankfully, the upcoming weekend is Labor day weekend, so it’s a three day weekend.
5:30pm: Get home and spray WD40 on Abbie’s door hinges like I’ve been meaning to do for months. Don’t need any squeaking. The evening proceeds as normal with dinner and feeding Abbie dinner. We try to get as much food into her as possible to make sure her belly’s full at bedtime.
7:10pm: Start bath. Remember in a panic that I wanted to drop the crib to the lowest level (it was on second lowest out of four) just in case. Chris finishes Abbie’s bath so I can do that.
7:45pm: Abbie’s dressed in her pajamas. We turn the lights out and put on Abbie’s white noise machine. I sit in the rocker with her and feed her her evening bottle.
7:54pm: Abbie’s done with her bottle. Instead of starting to rock her like I’ve been doing, I give her a few kisses and say goodnight, then lay her on her back in the crib. I give her the pacifier (we call it a nunnie) and her lovey. She spits the pacifier out immediately. I leave the room, sitting in the hallway just outside the door, and steel myself against her crying. The first interval I do will be 5 minutes, followed by 7, then 10, 12, and 15.
8:00pm: She’s still crying and whining. I go in, give her back her nunnie and lovey, and leave again.
8:05pm: She’s stopped fussing. I’m terrified that if I go in to check I’ll mess everything up. This is when a video monitor would be helpful.
8:15pm: I finally have the nerve to check on her, and she’s fast asleep, curled up on her tummy in the corner of the crib with her lovey. I’m shocked by how quickly she fell asleep.
2:15am: Abbie wakes up – time to sleep train. I go in to check her. I lay her back down with her nunnie and lovey, and comfort her for a few minutes without picking her up. I leave and set the timer on my phone for 3 minutes.
2:20am: Repeat. Wait 5 minutes.
2:27am: Repeat. Wait 7 minutes.
2:38am: Repeat. Start 10 minute cycle. Chris gets up and asks how it’s going. He seems slightly annoyed by her crying, and turns the sound on the baby monitor off before going back to bed. I decide I’m bored and start folding/stuffing Abbie’s clean diapers.
2:50am: Repeat. Ferber says another 10 minutes (the max for the day), so I start with that. I finish her diapers and start folding her clothes. At least the laundry’s getting done. At 10 minutes, she’s starting to calm down, so I wait to 12 minutes, when she’s crying again.
3:05am: Repeat. She’s much calmer and takes the nunnie without complaint. Cries when I leave but quickly settles down.
3:10am: I suspect she’s asleep, but I’m scared to go in and risk waking her (again, why didn’t I get a video monitor?). I resolve to go in when I finish folding her laundry, unless she starts up crying again.
3:28am: I finish folding, so I go in to check. She’s asleep in the silliest position, but asleep. I go back to bed.
6:15am: Abbie’s up for the day, but making happy noises, so I leave her until 6:30am. Usually she cries in the morning! I go in and she’s already in a good mood.
Abbie takes two naps at daycare.
7:35pm: Dressed and getting her bottle.
7:48pm: I give her lots of kisses and put her down in her crib. She fusses slightly but doesn’t cry. Set timer for 5 minutes.
7:52pm: I turn off the timer because she’s not crying. I wish again for a video monitor.
8:03pm: I go in to check her, and she’s fast asleep, with ZERO crying.
10:40pm: She wakes up. I check and her and settle her, then wait 5 minutes. She’s back asleep that fast!
1:45am: I hear Abbie wake up. I wait to see if she’s really up.
1:51am: I settle her down. Wait 5 minutes.
1:58am: Repeat. Set timer for 7 minutes.
2:00am: She’s stopped crying, so I stop the timer.
2:07am: I check and she’s asleep!
6:30am: She’s up for the day, and once again, in a great mood.
Since it’s Saturday, we have naps to contend with too, which she takes with no issues at daycare during the week.
9:40am: While I’m out, Chris gives her a bottle and puts her down for a nap. She sleeps for an hour and doesn’t cry at all!
2:00pm: Put her down for a nap. Wait 5 minutes.
2:07pm: Settle. Wait 7 minutes.
2:15pm: Settle. 10 minutes.
2:30pm: Settle. 12 minutes.
2:45pm: She’s asleep, and stays asleep for 2 hours!
7:45pm: Bathtime, a little later since she napped later than normal.
8:10pm: Dressed and has her bottle. I put her down with minor fussing and no crying.
8:20pm: She’s asleep!
5:50am: Abbie wakes. I give her the nunnie and turn on her mobile. She’s quite until about 6:30am, when she’s up and in a good mood!
10:00am: We come back from a Target run. Chris puts Abbie down for a nap, and she sleeps until I wake her at 11:40am!
3:00pm: We attempt nap number two. Start with 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes, 15 minutes… At 3:50pm, she’s finally asleep after settling her down for the last time at 3:45pm. She sleeps until I wake her at 4:50 so she doesn’t sleep too close to bedtime.
8:00pm: She’s dressed and having her bottle.
8:15pm: I put her down in her crib. She rolls over immediately and goes right to sleep!
4:40am: Abbie wakes up. I settle her and go back to bed.
5:20am: She wakes again. Repeat.
5:35am: She’s still fussing. Repeat.
6:25am: Abbie gets up for the day.
We spend the morning running errands, and her first nap is from 10:30-11:00am in the stroller while we’re out.
3:12pm: I put Abbie down for her second nap. She goes right to sleep with no fussing, and stays asleep until I wake her at 4:50pm.
8:10pm: I put her down for the night after bedtime routine. No fussing, and she goes right to sleep.
5:30am: Abbie wakes. I settle her and go back to bed.
6:25am: She’s up for the day, and in a good mood.
She has two naps at daycare during the day. The second one ends late, at 5pm.
8:00pm: I put Abbie to bed. She fusses a little (probably a result of her last nap going so late).
8:15pm: Still fussing. Settle.
8:24pm: She’s crying, but it’s different. I go in and she’s squirmed around so much she’s stuck sideways in her crib! I settle her back down.
8:30pm: She’s asleep.
5:58am: I hear Abbie stir. She plays quietly until 6:25am, when she’s up for the day.
Abbie takes two naps at daycare.
8:08pm: I put Abbie down with no fussing.
5:40am: She stirs. I settle her back down.
6:25am: Abbie’s up for the day.
Once again, she takes two naps at daycare.
8:00pm: I put her down for the night with no fussing.
As you can tell, I kept the log for a week, and you can really see the improvement in her sleeping habits as the week went on. The Ferber method really worked for us. Abbie now typically has her bath around 7:30pm, then is in her crib by 8:00pm. If she’s had a late nap or is particularly tired, we adjust it. She’s been sleeping through the night until about 6:30am pretty much every night. I do occasionally hear her wake at night, but she’s now a pro at getting herself back to sleep.
Abbie wakes up every morning in a great mood, and naps are rarely a problem now. I can’t even explain what a difference it is in our daily life, but if you’ve ever had a child that won’t sleep…well, you understand. I’m hoping Abbie’s good sleep habits continue, even with the challenges of cutting teeth and daylight savings time on the horizon. We’ll see how it all ends up!
I tried to give a lot of detail here about what we did, but if you have any questions, please let me know! If you’d like to be featured on the Sleep Chronicles, please send me an email at [email protected].