Posted: Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Ready to give sleep training a whirl? Here’s a night-by-night gameplan, plus a detailed log of my own experience, so you know what to expect. May the sleep be with you!
The first night: Go in quickly– during the first five minutes of crying, and stay for under a minute. After that, if your baby keeps crying, go in every 5-25 minutes, at the height of baby’s cry. Repeat this process throughout the night. Do not feed your baby before midnight.
The second night: Stick to the plan above. If your baby ate at midnight last night, feed her again at midnight. If she lasted longer, for example, she nursed at 2 AM, do not feed her before that time.
The third night: Follow the same plan, but tonight, move the boundary for feeding by two hours. If your baby has been nursing for the past two nights at midnight, don’t feed her tonight before 2 AM. If she’s been nursing at 3 AM the past two nights, move the feeding to 5 AM.
The following nights: Every baby is different. Many will be sleeping through the night after three nights of this sleep program. For others, it can take two weeks or more. The most important thing is consistency. If you respond to your baby the same way each night, she’ll know the drill. Don’t start feeding her earlier than the boundary you set and don’t pick her up when she cries. Babies adjust quickly if the routine is consistent and they know what to expect.
A Week in the Life of a Sleep Trainer…
Knowing what to do in theory, and actually doing it are completely different things. I’ve just finished a full week of following Diamond and Cochran’s advice. Let me state for the record that I have a child who can cry for long spouts. I didn’t really expect this to work. Here’s the blow-by-blow of what’s happened so far:
Night #1: Went to bed at 7 PM. Woke up crying at 9 PM, so I knew she wasn’t hungry. I put the pacifier in her mouth (bad mommy!) and walked out of the room. She cried even harder. I waited five minutes and the crying lessened, so I didn’t go back in. She eventually fell asleep and didn’t wake up again until 3:45 AM, at which point I fed her. She slept until 6:30 AM.
Night #2: Went to bed at 7 PM. Woke up crying at 12 AM. It took three rounds of going in and patting her, with her crying harder each time. I was tempted to feed her, but I resisted, since she’d gone until 3:45 AM the night before. Instead, I went in for each round at the height of the cry, stayed less than a minute each time, and prepared myself for a very long night. But after the third time, the crying lessened and she fell asleep. She woke up again at 5:15 AM and I fed her. It was starting to get light out, so I didn’t think she’d fall asleep again, but she did. She woke up again at 7:30 AM.
Night #3: She slept through until 3:15 AM. I wasn’t sure what to do, since she’d gone longer without eating the night before, so I fed her. She slept until 6 AM.
Night #4: She slept from 7 PM-5:30 AM without eating! I fed her just as it was growing light out, and she slept until 7:30.
Night #5: My worst night I think. Now that I’m used to the fact that she can sleep until 5-ish, I was really disheartened when she woke up at 3:15. I went in over and over again, determined not to feed her. After an hour and a half, of visits according to the “official” rules, my husband was pushing me to feed her, and I was in crisis in my room. She was still wailing. Just as I was about to break down, the crying stopped and she went to sleep. I don’t know if I can do this…
Night #6: She cried at midnight and I went in to help her get off her belly. She went back to sleep. She woke up again at 4 AM and I wasn’t sure if I should feed her, since other than the freak night when she slept until 5:30, my official threshold was more like 3:30 or 4, so I fed her. She slept until 6:15.
Night #7: Whoohoo! I think I’m in the home stretch. My daughter slept from 6:45 PM until 5:30 AM without waking once. I fed her and she slept until 7:30. Sleep, glorious sleep!
So there it is, my sleep saga, explained. It was quick and not too painful. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, I say, do it! Who knows, you might be sleeping more than two hours at a time in a week, too…