I decided to fully commit to sleep training for bedtime and for naps.
Pre Nap Training
Ella has been waking up at 9:30 every day for a few weeks regardless on when we would finally get her to bed so I’m pretty confident that our 9:30-9:30 schedule will work for us. I read conflicting things on if you should have your baby on a nap schedule vs putting them to sleep at the first sign of being tired. Over the last few weeks I’ve tried variations of both for naps and believe that the former works better for us.
Basically I adjusted her first nap of the day to see what would work. Sometimes she would be rubbing her eyes by 10:15 (45 mins after waking up) and I would try to get her to nap by nursing or rocking and it would take 45 mins to 1.5 hours to get her to sleep (and she would only sleep for 30 mins max). So regardless of when I would start the nap process, she wouldn’t fall asleep until 11:30ish. So now nap time is 11:30ish.
I encourage you to keep a journal of when your baby sleeps, eats, etc and the cues that she shows for a few days. You probably don’t (I didn’t) see the pattern that she is trying to show you until it’s written out. I repeated all of the above (journaling her activities and adjusting naps) to come up with this vague schedule.
9:30 AM – Wake
11:30 AM – Nap
3/3:30 PM – Nap
6/6:30 PM – Nap
9:30 PM – Bed
I nurse her before she falls asleep (but not to sleep) and when she wakes up. I will also nurse her any time in between that she is acting hungry. This works for me but some will disagree with the frequency of her feedings. I’m not a professional by any means. This is simply what worked for us; it might not work for you and you might disagree with everything I’ve written and that’s okay!
I attacked nap training the same way I attacked bedtime.. just with less stuff. I nursed and cuddled her until she was super drowsy and then put her into her crib AWAKE. As soon as Ella started to fuss/cry I started my stopwatch on my phone. After 5 minutes I stopped and cleared and started the stopwatch again. I went in and gave her a binkie and told her it was okay and that I was right here. I didn’t really make eye contact or engage her. I just stated that I was there and she was safe. I rubbed her back and got her to a point where was not crying. Again, I was not going to stay in her room for more than 2 minutes. She calmed down pretty quickly and I left her room probably in less than 1 minute.
I stopped and cleared and started the stopwatch again as soon as she started to fuss/cry. I let her fuss/cry for 5 minutes before going back in and soothing her. Repeat process until she is asleep. Her naps went pretty well the first day, none of them took longer than 1 or 2 rounds of the 5 minute/2 minute process.
Sleep Training Night 2
I adjusted to 6 minutes of fussing/crying with 2 minutes of soothing. It actually took a little longer this time to get her to sleep but once she was asleep she slept until 5:30 AM. I think she woke up twice.. around 10:30 and midnight, but had put herself back to sleep by the time I woke up and looked at the monitor. Maybe she wasn’t even crying.. maybe it was PTSD??
Naps the next day were the same as the day before. It took 1 or 2 rounds of the 6 minute/2 minute process but she ended up falling asleep just fine. She slept about 1 hour 15 minutes for all her naps which is a huge improvement from any naps she ever taken before!
Sleep Training Night 3
I adjusted to 7 minutes of fussing/crying with 2 minutes of soothing. Night 3 was actually the hardest night to get her to fall asleep yet! It took 45 minutes of the process to get her to sleep! This left me plenty of time to google “night 3 worse during sleep training” and I found plenty of sites, blogs, forums that said that this is typically true. I haven’t the slightest clue why but JUST STICK WITH IT!!!! I wanted to go in and pick her up several times but I just remembered all those miserable nights before and that she had successfully put herself to sleep the last 2 nights and for 6 naps in between so she definitely could do this! She’s been asleep for about an hour so far so I will update this tomorrow when she wakes up! update: she slept until 7 AM and didn’t wake up once!!!!
Sleep Training Night 4
I’m writing this as she is crying the hardest she has during this process. So night 4 has definitely not been good… but I think it’s my fault. We went down to my parent’s today to make baby headbands and it threw her schedule off!! She took her afternoon nap perfectly while at my parent’s house but she skipped her 6ish nap and fell asleep on the car ride home around 8 PM. She only slept for about 15 minutes and was rubbing her eyes and yawning around 9 as per usual. BUT for some reason she is just not having it tonight. Which sucks. I hope this doesn’t negate our previous night’s work. Guess we will be sticking to the schedule much more closely from here on out… which is hard as we’re not much of “schedule” people 🙁 It took her an hour to fall asleep!! YIKES! This was hands down the hardest night for me! I wanted so badly to go in and pick her up and try again later.. but that goes against everything I laid out before. I felt I needed to stick with the routine as this is her bedtime and this is what happens.. but I felt so bad for her. She’s happily asleep now, so I guess alls well that ends well. Hopefully she gets another full night of sleep!!
Has anyone else dealt with this? How do you handle “weird” days where you need to adjust your schedule? I mean, I can’t just stay home 24/7 … right??
Sleep Training Night 5
I could basically copy and past from night 4 minus the weird naps. Her naps were perfect today! She napped from 11:30AM-1:30PM, 4:00PM-5:00PM & 7:00-7:30PM but she just doesn’t seem tired when I went to put her down at 9:30 like she did the first few nights. We are up to 9 minutes of fuss/cry, 2 minutes of soothe tonight and we’ve been at it for 30 minutes already and she’s super pissed in there. I’m writing this wondering if I should drop the third nap??? But I don’t think that is the answer.. unless her afternoon nap becomes a 2 hour nap instead of a 1 hour nap. UGH! My hubby and I agreed to stick to our current 3 nap schedule and give it a week or so to get her internal clock right and hopefully she just learns that 9:30 is bedtime!!
Questions I asked myself throughout sleep training:
What if she calms herself down at the 3 minute mark (of a X minute fuss/cry) but then starts crying again after a minute or so? Does the clock start over or what?
I started the clock over if she calmed herself down for 1 minute+. I didn’t necessarily time it, but if I felt she had calmed herself down to the point it actually looked like she fell asleep, I would start the clock over. Nine times out of 10 she would fall asleep for good during the next X minute fuss/cry.
At what point (if at all) do I nurse her?
I decided on her waking after 4AM would be her first and only nurse session of the night. So if she got up at 5 and nursed and went back to sleep until only 7, she would not get nursed again. She would get “sleep trained” back to sleep until her 9:30 wake up. X minutes of fussing/crying with 2 minutes of soothing until she falls back asleep.
Should I change her diaper when she gets nursed?
Yes, I changed her diaper but in total darkness and silence. Literally not one word to her during diaper or nursing.
What if she wakes up before 4 AM?
She gets “sleep trained” again. X minutes of fussing/crying with 2 minutes of soothing until she falls back asleep.
What if she doesn’t seem tired at all around bedtime?
This has actually been the hardest thing. Nights 4 and 5 she just wasn’t tired at “bedtime,” but I put her down anyway because I want her to get used to going to bed at 9:30 and stuck with it until she fell asleep. It took 45 mins-1 hour both nights!
What if she doesn’t wake up at 9:30 AM?
I give her about a 15 minute window and then I will wake her up! I will close a door a little hard or make some other dull noise to try to get her to wake herself up which usually works. Again, I want her to know that bedtime is 9:30 PM and wakeup time is 9:30 AM. The only way to achieve that (in my opinion) is to be super consistent with those times. You can’t let her sleep in until 11 AM because her internal clock will be thrown off. She doesn’t understand the concept of sleeping in – she only understands what her internal clock is telling her!
Can a baby nap too much?
This one I actually don’t have the answer too.. yet. I never actually thought I would be in a situation where this thought even crossed my mind! But here we are.. on our second 2 hour nap of the day and it’s only 5:30 (bedtime is still 9:30 PM)! I’m going to say that no, a baby can not nap too much.. and neither can her momma 😉
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional by any means. This is simply what worked for us; it might not work for you and you might disagree with everything I’ve written and that’s okay! But I hope it helps someone else out there!