Diary of My Baby’s Sleep Training (Part 2)
My objective to sleep training is to get JBL to sleep independently. Hopefully by this, she will learn how to connect sleep cycles and have good naps, sleep through the night and not wake up before 5:00AM. Another objective is to consolidate the multiple night feeds to just one. Thus, letting her sleep for longer stretches.
The cries during sleep training still stresses me out even though it’s my second time. I sleep trained the first time out of desperation too, you can read about it in my diary post. However, for the sake of JBL’s emotional and physical development, my body aches and emotional burnout, I needed to do this for the good of the family.
Well-rested Mummy = Happy Mummy = Happy Baby, Toddler and Daddy!
Before Sleep Training
Before sleep training, do keep these in mind:
- Established nap and bedtime routines before sleep training (see next section).
- Decide on the cue words and lullaby. These are to cue the baby that it’s now time to sleep.
- Decide on the sleep training methods.
- Have a look at what I wrote in preparing for Sleep Training (Part 1).
- Consistency is the key to success.
- Practice pause during wakings.
- Offer early bedtime (to reduce WT)
- During the first week of sleep training period.
- Especially so when there’s nap on the go or a missed nap for the day.
- For post-sleep training too (after day 3-4).
- Waking before 6:00AM is due to over-tiredness. Early bedtime is encouraged.
- Bedtime at around 6:00PM- 8:00PM, best is 7:00PM. However, early bedtime can be as early as 5:30PM-6:00PM.
- Start training with night sleep or first nap. The sleep pressure is higher and thus easier to fall asleep.
- Changes to sleep environment and arrangement might be challenging to sleep training.
- Best to have the same person deal with the baby throughout the night. It can be confusing for the baby when different people appear at different times at night.
- Don’t return to old sleeping habits.
I have to change a bit of our bedtime routine because previously I latch her to sleep in a dark room. The revised bedtime routine goes like this:
- Bath time.
- Nurse for her last feed of the day in the bright living room. This is for her to stay awake after her bath.
- Say goodnight to everyone, keep repeating the words, “Bye bye, goodnight.“.
- Go into her bedroom with dim lighting and black out curtains (perhaps white noise machine too).
- Put on her sleep sack/swaddle.
- Carry and sing one lullaby (for us, it is “Jesus loves me, this I know”).
- Extra step for us:
- Pray for her.
- Kiss her and tell her, “Have a good sleep baby, love you.”
- Wait for her to calm down. Then, tell her “I will put you down,” and put her down. Crying will usually start.
- Tell her “Goodnight, sweet dreams,” and turn off lights.
About Sleep Training
Sleep Training Methods
There are a few sleep training methods you can choose from. But for babies below 3 months old, it’s best to use the pick up and put down method.
Gentler methods such as fading/stay in room take longer to sleep train a child compared to extinction (cry it out “CIO”) method. CIO is not recommended if other methods don’t work or if the child is older than 18 months.
For our firstborn, we didn’t do much preparation and so went ahead with CIO at 8 months. I was so desperate that I wanted to get it over and done with. This time we chose the middle ground, check and leave/controlled crying method.
Night Sleep Training
Due to higher sleep pressure and effect of melatonin, it is much easier for the child to sleep the first night and the first nap of the next day. According to Gina Ford, how much your baby sleeps at night depend on his day sleep and amount of food he eats.
Nap training takes about a week. Once child is an independent sleeper, there should not be any crying.
Put child down for nap based on their tired cues, quality of previous sleep (night sleep or previous nap), sample routine, and nap chart.
Check and Leave
What’s check and leave method?
It should be called leave and check. That’s because the parent leaves the room, wait for a while before returning to check on the child. The amount of time between visits gradually increases until the child falls asleep.
For us, we follow the “7-minute cycle”. Check at 7 minutes, then at 14, then at 21 minutes. Some experts said that 21 minutes is one cycle of crying. Still, I believe there’s no magic number.
This 7-14-21 cycle serves as a good guide for us. Because 1 minute of crying might feel like an hour, and this guideline gives us an objective yardstick. Although you need to be flexible and listen to the cry, to see whether you should go in earlier or later.
Here’s a sleep training plan we agreed upon for JBL:
- Make sure there’s no or minimum light in the hallway when you enter the room to check on your child.
- Allow a minimum of 7-14 minutes of crying before entering to reassure the child.
- Reassurances: Keeping your reassurance consistent/repetitive and brief. Do the least amount first to avoid over-stimulation. Soothe with your touch, voice, presence and love. Although at 6 to 8 months, your presence might make their cries worse. Examples:
- Stroke the child, like a back rub or a tummy rub, but don’t hold your hand there until the child is fully asleep.
- Say ‘shh shh’, or sing, or say something, “I know it’s hard, but you need to sleep to grow well,” “I know you don’t want to sleep, but it’s good for you.” Make statements about how going to sleep is good for the child, and not good for you (even though it is!).
- If you want to pick up/rock/cuddle, make sure it is very brief.
- Say your cue words and leave the room after 2 minutes. “Goodnight, sweet dreams.”
- You can stretch the check-in interval to 14-21 minutes after half hour, or when the cries have decreased in intensity. You might take longer to go in if the cries become less persistent and more whiny.
- Same plan for night wakings: 7-14 minutes and subsequently 15-20 minutes. I plan to only latch her if she wakes up after around 11:00PM.
Day 2: Naps
- Because nap is a shorter period of sleep, it’s best to wait a bit longer than night sleep before checking in. Wait 14-21 minutes before checking your child.
- After half hour, 21 minutes.
- Stay for maximum 2 minutes.
- Try not to pick up for naps, more so for naps than night sleep. However, if the cries at a high intensity, pick up and hold the child in a chair. If holding doesn’t help, leave the room.
- Give the whole nap training 1-1.5 hours. The child does not come out of the crib until this “nap time” is over. Try again later in 15-30 minutes time.
Do this every day for every nap.
Day 2: Night
- Wait for 7-14 minutes before returning to the room.
- After 21 minutes, 14-21 minutes.
- Stay for maximum 1 minute.
- Night wakes: Wait for 21 minutes before entering to reassure the child.
Most babies will settle by 20 minutes. If baby back track one of the sleep times, can check again every 21 minutes. Within couple of weeks, the child will sleep without fuss.
Our Sleep Training Diary
I don’t want to bore you with the boring stuff. This section is going to be a day to day account of our sleep training of JBL. So you can either skip it or journey with us! You will see how theory and practice can differ and how we are humans, parents, after all.
We’re not strict in following the schedule timings. Instead, we put her down based on her tired cues and wake up timing. Also, we broke a few rules stated in Part 1, such as starting the sleep training before my toddler goes to a new pre-school. I cannot wait for one more month to train!
Scroll on to read or skip to the end for my concluding thoughts about our sleep training regime this time round.
As mentioned, my objectives for sleep training are to have JBL sleep independently and to have only one night feed at 6-month old. So we will attempt to lengthen the time between feeds gradually, dropping one feed at a time. Apparently attempting to eliminate two or three feeds in one night will lead to a very distressing night for both the mother and baby.
Day 1 (8 Sep 20)
My firstborn went to her grandparents’ house for two nights. It’s much easier to sleep train JBL with her away because of her loud voice and high energy level.
At about 6:00PM, hubby showered JBL and then I nursed her. Thereafter, I brought her to her room and said “good night, love you”. Hubby did the rest of the bedtime routine and put her in the cot at 6:33PM.
He did all the checks, while I went to another room, closed the door and on music. Hubby said her cries are softer than EX , but I still felt stress and anxious. JBL wrestled with the pillow and then the toy giraffe in the cot. Perhaps we should remove these distractions tomorrow.
At the last lap, it was time to go in after 21 minutes. However, at hubby’s better judgment, he decided to wait a while more. The cries had tapered and she seemed to be dozing off to sleep.
At 8:00PM, she fell asleep. She let out a small cry at 9:00+PM.
10:00PM, I was engorged. About 40 minutes later, I pumped out after my shower.
Woke up at 10:50AM, 2:07AM, 4.10AM. All her cries were more of whines and she went back after about 5 minutes for the first two times. I went in at the last cry to feed her because I was super engorged and thought she might still need a feed on first night.
Day 2 (9 Sep 20)
MORNING WAKE UP
Woke up at 7:44AM in the morning and she was playing in her cot. However, didn’t want her to wake up too late so I went into pick her up at 7:50AM.
Put her down for her first nap at 9:44AM (2 hours after her wake up). Hubby went in to check at 9:53AM (7 minutes later), but by then she was already “eh eh”-ing to sleep. Finally slept at 9:55AM for half hour, and we let her cry for another 14 minutes before picking her up.
JBL didn’t drink well in the morning, and so just before the second nap she was hungry. So I latched her for 12 minutes and she fell asleep. Thereafter, I moved her to cot at 12:30PM. She woke up at half hour mark, cried for a minute and went back to sleep for an hour.
Third nap, put down at 4:04PM, check at 4:11PM, and supposed to check at 4:25PM, but she making the falling asleep sounds. Indeed, she fell asleep at 4:29PM. 25 minutes of crying.
Put down at 6:51PM. Checks at longer intervals because she wasn’t crying much with pockets of silence in between. 7:22PM and 7:56PM. But she had a loud burst of 5 minutes crying before she knock out at 8:14PM. 1hour15 minutes, 15 minutes shorter than last night.
Woke up at 3:30AM, I went in fairly quickly to feed her because I was engorged. Put her down when she’s done feeding, didn’t cry to sleep.
Woke up again at 6:08AM.
Hubby went in to check at 6:20AM, but after he came out she cried very loudly. Fed her for 10 minutes and put her in cot. Didn’t think she slept immediately, but around 6:50AM.
Day 3 (10 Sep 20)
MORNING WAKE UP
She officially woke up at 8:10AM, technically 12 hours of “sleep”.
We went out the whole afternoon, so it was crappy and short for all three naps on the go.
Put down at 6:33PM put down, and went in at 21-minute cycle: 6:54PM, 7:15PM. Skipped 7:36PM because hubby thought she was quieting down.
Slept at 7:46PM.
Woke up at 11:24PM, whined, turned and tossed and slept at 11:38PM.
Woke up at 4:35AM whining. I waited a while and fell asleep, woke up again and she was still up after 22 minutes, so I went into latch her at 4:57AM.
After drinking, I carried JBL back to her cot, slept at 5:07AM.
Day 4 (11 Sep 20)
MORNING WAKE UP
Woke up at 7:55AM.
Put JBL down again 9:53AM. She cried for 12 minutes and slept at 10:05AM for about 1hr 15 minutes.
Thereafter we went out until evening. On the way back, she slept in the carrier. Decided to put her in the cot after 13 minutes of sleep. She woke up and cried a bit before falling asleep for another 12 minutes.
Put her down at 6:45PM, and she slept at 7:02PM. Only 17 minutes of crying! Exponential improvement yays~
NO NIGHT WAKINGS!!! HOORAYS!
(p.s. or not that we know of.)
Day 5 (12 Sep 20)
MORNING WAKE UP
She woke up early at 6:29AM.
I didn’t wait longer because I was feeling super engorged. So I fed her and thereafter on the night light to slowly aroused her. She seemed to want to sleep back. But since it was 6:42AM by the time I was done feeding her, I decided to “wake” her up.
First nap: Put down at 8:37AM, and she slept at 8:44AM. Woke up at 9:34AM, only 50 minutes! So decided to let her cry a bit to see if she sleeps back. Nope, still screaming, so after 7 minutes of cries, I picked her up. Still unsettled when I put her on her rocker. So I fed her and she calmed down and self entertained after that.
But for a while.
She started becoming cranky and restless, even after I changed her poop diaper. She only calmed down when I put her in her baby chair. Blw on her solids (avocado) and I put her down to sleep after a wake time of 2 hours.
Put down at 11:36AM, cried for 4 minutes, started quietening for 2 minutes, and slept at 11:42AM.
Started crying, so I changed her diaper and put her in cot at 3:09PM, which I thought was a bit early. So when she continued to scream for 17 minutes, I picked her up at 3:26PM and latched her. Thinking if she was more hungry than tired.
She was dozing off at my breasts. So I unlatched her and put her back in cot at 3:37PM and let her cry again for another 45 minutes, with a check after 21 minutes. Finally slept at 4:22PM. Woke up after half an hour, 4:51PM
Put down at 6:35PM, and check in after 14 minutes and then 21 minutes: 6:49PM, 7:10PM. Slept at 7:30PM just before we were about to check again.
Is this the 5th day regression I heard about? Took about 55 minutes of crying to sleep today. 🙁
Woke up at 1:31 AM with soft whines, no crying in fact. Tossed and turned without crying. We were still contemplating if I should go in to feed her. She was not screaming, but was she “trained” not to cry even though she’s hungry? We didn’t want to disturb her, so we waited for her to cry out if she was really hungry. She didn’t though.
Not sure what time when she fell back to sleep, but she was still awake at 2:30AM.
Woke up with small cries at 5:26AM. This time, I went ahead to feed her at her small cries. Not so engorged this morning, but I thought she might still want one night feed. She was having like 4-5 night feeds before the sleep training, so taking all away seems sudden.
Anyway after she latched for 11 minutes, she went back in her cot and slept soundly.
Day 6 (13 Sep 20)
MORNING WAKE UP
She slept from 5:40AM to 8:35AM. She woke up super happy, waving the milk cloth in her hand when daddy opened the door. And continued smiling widely all the time when daddy picked her up. Well rested baby!
First nap, put down at 10:29AM, slept at 10:36AM, with wake time of 2 hours. Slept for a shocking 2 hours 15 minutes!
Thus for second nap, we stretched the wake time slightly and put her down at 3:00PM. However, it seems like we put her down too early, because she cried for 45 minutes, with hubby checking in at 3:18PM and 3:35PM. Surprisingly, she slept for 1.5 hours.
Went out to visit our neighbour before heading for dinner. Lost track of time and hence bedtime got delayed. Put down only at 7:57PM. Scarily late. But I was thinking if a few days of early bedtime was the cause of split night yesterday.
We were expecting overtired baby too cry her heads out like during her bath time. Surprisingly, she was quiet when put in cot. We thought she was so tired she slept immediately. Apparently not! We saw her moving tossing, and pushing herself up to look in the darkness. Slept at 8:20PM!
Is this sleep training success? Shall see tonight.
No night wakings!! Yays!! At least not that we know of. We should install a camera that records to review the night. (We did change to a camera that allows us to playback, and it’s indeed better for us to review her sleep!)
Day 7 (14 Sep 20)
It’s one week now, and there’s some improvement!
MORNING WAKE UP
Woke up at 7:05AM and played in her cot by herself.
First nap put down at 8:55AM, cried when I put down but in less than a minute she was quietly self-soothing in the cot. Slept at 9:05AM and woke up 11:09AM, with 2 hours of nap! Hooray!
Put down at 1:20PM (2hr10mins Waketime), go in 1:41PM to check and she slept at 1:45PM. Wondering if I put her down too early. Woke up after 1.5 hours, at 3:20PM.
It was awkward for a short nap in the evening. We should end naps by 5:00PM, but if we were to put her down, it will be 5:30PM. We also didn’t want her to cry twice in the evening. So we tried to give her an early bedtime. Aimed for 6:00PM but ended up 6:37PM in cot, and 6:47PM sleep. Hope she will not be too over-tired and wake up at night.
Woke up at 4:00AM (my hubby told me), but I was only woken up by her screams at 4:10AM, of which I jumped out to latch her. Fed for 8 minutes before putting her back to sleep. She dozed off at 4:23AM.
The Days Continue (Final Thoughts)
Usually the baby gets the drill within a few days to a week. The cries would become be very minimal to none at all. I thought JBL’s crying has decreased much as well, plus she was sleeping much longer day and night.
But somehow a sleep regression hit soon after week one, and she’s back to crying for 1.5 hours to sleep by Day 9. Sometimes she slept fast, sometimes she took long. She was inconsistent in having short to no cries at every sleep. Thankfully, she’s continues to wake up only once a night for feeding.
Was my scheduling wrong – overtired or undertired? Was it something she ate, or still hungry? Is it something we do or not? Then I checked wonder weeks app and realised we are in the midst of dark clouds when this happened, “Fussy and irritable behaviour because your baby has simply discovered that her mummy can walk away and leave her behind. It is progress, a new skill, your baby is learning about distance.”
There are a million reasons why she’s crying again. We cannot be sure of the reason, but to continue our trial and error. Most importantly, to keep praying for JBL to stop crying and sleep and for us to have godly wisdom in the whole situation. I don’t know what’s wrong, but God knows!
My heart aches to hear JBL cry so badly. Although my hubby said her cries are better compared to EX, our first born. Is it because she’s younger when we sleep trained her and thus softer cries or is it more bearable to go through this a second time? Not for me though! My hubby’s advice to parents undertaking sleep training: endure and don’t go in unless really necessary.
I thought EX was sleep trained faster because of cry it out method. But I read my diary to find out that it’s also a two steps forward, and one step back. EX slept well eventually and thus I forgot about this tango with sleep training. I guess, there will indeed be sleep at the end of the tunnel. Just need to be patient.
A good restorative sleep leads to a happy baby growing up well. And with that, I continue to believe in sleep training her to sleep independently.
How’s your experience with sleep training? What’s your concern? Leave a comment below.
- The Complete Sleep Guide For Contented Babies & Toddlers, by Gina Ford
- Reading materials from Facebook community, “Sleeping like an SGBaby“.
- The Compassionate Sleep Solution by Eileen Henry
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