As many of you know, we began sleep training with Aiden when he was 4 months old. He wasn’t a great sleeper and we saw that Damien was going the same way. After a few weeks of early success coaching Damien to go to sleep on his own, he went through a period of purple crying / colic. It was taking 2-4 hours to put Damien to sleep at night: he wouldn’t sleep on his own, he wouldn’t stay asleep if breastfed (even for hours of constant trying, he would keep waking after dozing off), he wouldn’t sleep longer than 30 minutes in the sling or carseat. It was exhausting and usually resulted in me breaking down in tears. Imagine trying to parent a toddler with all that!
I brought our issues to the sleep consultant we worked with for Aiden, Dawnn of CheekyChops, who I’ve continued to work with over the past 2 years through my consulting business. Despite what I thought I knew about teaching a baby to sleep, I had still hit a wall. Dawnn had a lot of great things to teach me about sleep in younger babies (which obviously we didn’t know) and that you can teach a younger baby to sleep better!
Within a very short time, Damien was falling asleep in his crib with little to no fuss – that’s him sleeping tonight in the image above. It took a week or two to get him to stay asleep; he had issues with his first sleep transition – he treated his night as a nap and would cry through his normal awake period, then resume his normal sleep. He struggled for a while to learn how to go back to sleep (which is a different skill from going to sleep – did you know that?).
Our first goal for our 8-week old was to improve his bedtime and the subsequent 3.5 hours – we let him do whatever he wanted for the rest of the night. For the first few nights, I brought him back to our bed towards morning (we were co-sleeping at the time). He was a reluctant co-sleeper (he doesn’t like side nursing), so that didn’t last long. After the first couple of nights, I committed to keeping him in his crib. There were a couple of nights where he got up frequently (every hour or two), but after that, it got better!
With no interference on our part, Damien began to extend his night feeds on his own. After 4 weeks, we’ve pushed his dreamfeed back to 10:30 and he wakes once at 3:30 to feed on his own – that’s it! We plan to try to coach him out of that early morning feed next month, though he seems to be pushing it back on his own.
Damien now takes his first and third nap in his crib, though the most he’s ever slept in his crib is an hour. Right now, 4 short naps is not quite enough to get him to bedtime, but there’s no time for 5 naps in his day, so we’re struggling a little to keep him up before bed. Prior to this week, he was taking a long nap in the sling during the middle of the day, but he’s getting too big for it and showing an obvious desire to twist around and suck his thumb; to me, it seems clear he wants to be in his crib. He falls asleep there instantly!
We’re trying to teach him to extend his nap, but that process could take several weeks. Still, for a 3 month old, Damien is sleeping really well! I’m very happy :)
Now… here’s hoping we can keep this kid from regressing all the time - Aiden is still super stubborn about sleep, despite our best efforts!!