From about the time she was 4 months on, the Littlest Brewster had been sleeping through the night. Occasionally during the night, she’d start crexing (our term for those little half-hearted cries that may or may not turn into full-fledged crying) and we’d get up, put the pacifier back in her mouth, restart her sleep giraffe ((You know, that thing that makes white noise for the baby? It is awesome.)), and she’d go back to sleep. Around 4:30 or 5, she’d start crexing again and we’d give her a bottle. She would then go back to sleep until about 6:30 or so, when we would get up for daycare.
And then, we went to Myrtle Beach with my family. And we spent 3 nights all sleeping in the same room. And we were so worried about her waking up the other members of our family that as soon as she’d have the slightest stir, we’d get up and pop a pacifier back in her mouth and restart her sleep giraffe. And we successfully made it through the trip without her waking up everyone in the condo.
But then we went back home and we weren’t in the same room. And she started not going back to sleep with just a pacifier and the sleep giraffe. She wouldn’t go back to sleep without a bottle. And the bottle started getting earlier and earlier and earlier…. It got to the point that she was waking up for a bottle at 2:30 or 3:00 when she had previously been fine without one until 5:00 or later!
The Dread Brewer’s argument was that she must be hungry, because she drank the entire thing. I argued that it was just a bad habit that we had gotten into because we couldn’t get her back to sleep without the bottle and that she wasn’t really that hungry. DB wasn’t quite on board with sleep training or letting her cry it out for a few nights. I wanted to try it, but I didn’t really know how. I mean, did we just let her sob for hours? Go in every few minutes? Give it 30 minutes and then cave and feed her because she must be really hungry?
Enter my fabulous friend Elise who sent me her copy of The Sleep Sense Program by Dana Obleman.
I read the appropriate chapters (it covers sleep issues in 0-3 month, 3-12 month, and >12 month children) and DB and I came up with a plan. We had a 3 day weekend coming up and DB had a business trip the following week, so we had 6 nights to try it out. If it didn’t work after 6 nights, we would try something else or just revert to giving her a bottle at 2:30 in the morning.
Here was our plan (based on my interpretation of the book): When LB started crexing at night, look at the clock, note the time, and essentially ignore her for 10 minutes. If she is still fussing after 10 minutes, go in, make sure she’s not got a poopy diaper, tell her “It’s time for sleep”, pat her back, and leave. Do NOT put the pacifier back in her mouth, because we are trying to help her learn to soothe herself to sleep without props. Wait 10 more minutes. Repeat the process, as many times as necessary, until she either falls asleep or the agreed upon “She must really be hungry and we’re okay with feeding her now” time arrives (4:45, in our case).
The first night was a little hard but not impossible. She cried, off and on, for 35 minutes before she fell asleep and slept until 6:30!
The second night, LB only cried for 15 minutes.
The third night, she slept through the night without a peep!
DB and I kept saying to each other, “There is no way that it was that easy.” But it was.
Now, she’s not been a perfect sleeper since that weekend. She has her nights when she’s up crexing quite a few times. But now, we’re comfortable with letting her work it out for herself and soothe herself back to sleep. We realize now that a little bit of crying will not scar her for life or make her hate us in the morning. There hasn’t been a night since then that we’ve given her a bottle before 4:45.
So, for any of my fellow mommies out there who are dealing with non-sleepy babies, maybe you should try this. Read the book, come up with a plan, give it a shot. It can’t get any worse, right?