Friday, April 11, 2014

How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Y'all know that Kendall and Reese weren't sleeping and I was pretty much at my breaking point. I tried to let Kendall cry but with my husband's job I knew just couldn't let the girls scream all night, plus Reese was waking up, so the cry it out thing was short lived. But y'all… as of this week both my girls are sleeping through the night!  And this isn't on accident, this was an intentional thing I did by following my own advice… with the encouragement of my friends. And this is how you can get your baby to sleep through the night by correcting your sleep training mistakes.

For some reason, this time around,  I didn't remember that in order to teach Kendall to sleep I would need to stick it out for a few days. Sometimes, when you're there in the thick of it, you can't see past that evening. And the nights were so hard, y'all. There wasn't even reprieve at bedtime. I knew for sure Kendall would wake up at 10:30pm for her nighttime feeding and then pretty much every 2-3 hours for the rest of the night. It was exhausting. I was tired y'all. Like, beyond tired. Like post-ridiculously-horrible-pictures-on-the-internet tired.

And I did it to myself. From the very beginning I hadn't taught Kendi to self soothe. Right before bed, I nursed her and put her to bed alllllmost asleep instead of awake. Everytime she cried, I'd picked her up and nursed her. It was at the point that only I could calm her down at night- she wouldn't be calm with even my husband which is CRAZYTOWN. This was our nighttime routine with the girls:
  • Bath time for both girls started at between 7:00-7:15pm. 
  • Lotion and pajamas
  • Storytime- we read one fun book and one bible story
  • Song- Reese loves to sing so we sing one song (sometimes a bunch of times) 
  • Bedtime prayers
  • Lights out, sound machine one, ballerina music for Reese. 
  • Nursed Kendall and put her down awake
Both girls went right to bed because this has ALWAYS been their bedtime routine, so they know what to expect. But I had also accidentally perpetuated another nighttime routine:
  • Kendall wakes up at 10:30, I go in and nurse her. 
  • She wakes up between 1-2, I go in beg her to sleep as she screams at me and then finally break down and nurse her lying down. 
  • She wakes up at 4am and I cry and curse under my breath and go in and nurse her
And we did this every night for basically the entire last year. I had to keep the girls in different rooms so Kendall is still in the guest room in a pack-n-play. Crazy. Like, really crazy. But last weekend the hubby went camping in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen (via pictures) and I, through the encouragement of some awesome friends, put my mind to sleep training. He left on a Thursday and my hope was that by the time he got back on Sunday the girls would sleep through the night.

Now, before you anti-cry-it-out-ers get all hot and bothered, let me say two things. Firstly, Kendall is eating food, a full dinner, and is not nursing out of hunger at night. She would nurse out of habit and out of comfort and, not that thats a bad thing, but it wasn't necessary 4 times a night at her age. If you are trying this method and your baby is not yet eating solids and so is nursing out of hunger, obviously nurse your baby. (My personal suggestion would be to nurse your baby right before bed and then nurse your baby again right before you go to bed (between 10-11) . After about 4 months if not earlier they shouldn't need to be nursing all night long) Secondly, I do not in any way believe the cry it out method causes children to lose trust in parents or feel neglected or abandoned or unloved. My girls are loved on and played with all day long. We kiss and cuddle them and do everything we can to make sure they know they are loved and feel secure. And before we put them down, we give them all the cues it is bedtime, we put them to sleep with a book, a song, a prayer, their sound machine and their special dolls. We put them down awake so they know where they are and they wake up in the same place. They can trust us and know they are loved even if we don't come in to their room every 2 hours all night because duh.

Day 1: Kendall woke up at 10:30 like she always does. I went in after 5 mins and picked her up, gave her her pacifier instead of nursing her, and held her until she was calm and content. I had set a precedent for her to expect me to come in and I wasn't trying to scare her. I told her she was ok and she needed to sleep in her bed. And then I put her in her room. She started screaming crying when she realized I wasn't going to nurse her to sleep and I went into my room, turned off the sound on the monitor because there was no not hearing her and let her scream. I ended up going into her room one other time but total she screamed for an hour and a half. The whole time she was screaming I was reminding myself no baby ever died of crying, that she was safe and that it was better for her and for everyone if she slept, and praying. Reese woke up somewhere around the end of the first hour and I let her come into my bed to sleep. I knew that if I could get Kendall sleeping, Reese would be no problem and probably wouldn't wake up anymore. After that first hour and a half she didn't wake up for the rest of the night. This was crazy progress because she had never ever ever only woken up once ever in her life. 

Day 2: Kendall didn't wake up until 11:30. I didn't go in there until about 30 mins in, which was as long as I could stand. After I comforted her and put her down she screamed for about 15 more minutes (Reese came in to my bed again) and then everyone slept for the rest of the night. This was, again progress and showed me we were on the right track. 

Day 3: Kendall again didn't wake up until midnight, cried for about 45 minutes, Reese came into my bed, but I never went in to check on Kendall. She eventually put herself to sleep. Time wise, this wasn't a win BUT it was the first time in her life I had ever not go in to her room and she slept. insert emoji praise hands here

Day 4: The Husband came home after bedtime so when Kendall started crying around midnight he went in to comfort her because he missed her. This was the worst thing we could've done. She was hysterical and panicky when he left to the point that even when I went in to comfort her, she didn't stop crying. I nursed her to sleep that night and Reese ended up in our bed. womp womp. 

Day 5: Kendall woke up at night between 12 and 1am, but we didn't go in. She cried for about 20 minutes. Reese came into our room.

Day 6: Kendall again woke up at night between 12 and 1am, but we didn't go in. Her cries were as short lived as they were angry. Reese didn't wake up.

Day 7: Oh, glorious day 7. If I could've, I would've titled this blog post "On The Seventh Day She Rested" is that blasphemous? Nobody in the house woke up, not once, not ever, for the first time in 21 months!! thanks to those pesky nighttime pregnancy potty trips Y'all, praise God, my friends who encouraged me, and our friend Don who took my husband camping. 

Since then, Kendall has yet to wake up at night. BUT IF SHE DID, I would let her cry. I have to say that both girls have been so much better behaved during the day. They are sweeter than usual and are far less emotional and the same is true for me. Everyone was so affected by the lack of sleep to the point that we were all just the grumpiest grumps who ever grumped. 

If this is true for your family, my best advice to you is to sleep train your baby. Most commonly it takes 3 days, for us it took a week, but it might take a little longer (although I doubt much longer than 7 days). If you want, you should ask your doctor if your baby still isn't sleeping and hear their best advice for you. The best encouragement I can give you is 1. To do it 2. To stick to it 3. If you falter a little, its ok 

Let's encourage each other- how is your baby sleeping? Do you have any tips and tricks? 


  1. Seriously, there is no need to preface anything. You do what you know is best for you AND your kids. I commend you for sticking it out again. It's so rough to get back to it, especially when they're older. And yes, it takes 3 days. 3! Maybe a little more depending on stubborn level. But isn't your sanity worth it? Isn't her being able to sleep on her own worth it? YES! MOM NEEDS SLEEP TOO.

    And maybe I'm just toooooootally cray cray here, but I never nursed my kids before bedtime. Is that horrible? Obviously they weren't lacking for nutrition and I would still do 1 night feeding around 11 but I always felt that nursing before bed encouraged that need to be soothed to sleep. And it didn't fit in with the eat/wake/sleep cycle. We just always depended on a solid night time routine. So maybe that's my tip? Nurse after the last nap and then not until the night waking. (Also, then you can leave them with a sitter at night even if they don't take a bottle as long as you're home by 11 to nurse again!)

    But again, yay Kendall!! Yay momma!!

  2. YAY, yay, yay! Sooooo happy about this, Ash.

    Also, at our 4 month well visit, my doctor told us that if our baby wasn't sleeping through the night, they were healthy + weighed enough to start skipping that night time feeding. It was so helpful to know they weren't in pain or hungry, during the 4-5 nights of crying-it-out. They really just needed to sleep, and teaching them how to sleep long stretches was the best thing I could do as a parent.

    Way to go! Glad you had the chance to work it out while your hubby was away.

  3. I am so glad you wrote this - I always felt ashamed admitting how we sleep trained our oldest - assuming everyone would think we were mean parents. Honestly, I can't even admit how many weeks it took of crying herself to sleep but once she was asleep she would sleep through the night. And the end result was amazing. My babe is 6 weeks now. I nurse her before bed but she is still awake when she finishes. I expect we will take the same approach with her. Glad your girls are getting sleep!! Being exhausted is the worst!!

  4. Thank you thank you thank you for your honesty and for sharing this!