When K and I brought Ali home that first day we were utterly lost. Thankfully, I had listened to my family's and friend's advise and had hired a night nurse to help us navigate our first few nights at home. Ann Marie, our night nurse, quickly became part of our family and gave me some great tips to follow in order to get Ali into a somewhat reliable schedule for sleep and eating. Ali turned out to be a good little sleeper. We established a bedtime routine from day one and Ali would go into her crib by 9pm, having had a couple of ounces right before bed. She would then wake up at around 1am for a feeding and then again at 5am. Luckily, she would go right back down to sleep right after eating, a quick diaper change and re-swaddle. At seven weeks Ali was skipping the 1am feeding and was making it "through the night," sleeping from 9pm to 5am straight.
A few weeks later we noticed that the 9pm bedtime wasn't ideal for her as she was more alert and active during the day and so was getting tired earlier. She also wasn't really into the napping thing - we would try to get her to nap in the swing, rock n play, and crib but... nothing. At 5 months we changed things up and Ali started going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at 6:30am - hip hip hooray!
Well, fast forward then to nights of teething and an older and smarter Ali and our schedule was turned upside down without us even noticing. At 7 months old Ali would only fall asleep if she was rocked to sleep and was starting to wake up several times a night and needing to be rocked back to sleep. It became a habit... quickly! She was also not napping still - only a few cat naps that would last no more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Our good little sleeper was going through a sleep regression and I found myself googling, talking to the ped, texting Ann Marie and speaking to other mommy friends in a search for answers and, more importantly, a solution. Well, the solution was found in the form of sleep training. We had never officially sleep trained Ali - we also had never let her cry it out - and so it was a bit daunting and nerve wrecking to think of doing it to my 8 month old. But alas, we did it.
The start was really rough. The first night Ali cried for over 30 minutes, hysterically, and I had a really tough time handling it. The hysterical crying even made her throw up - yes, throw up - and it was awful. To think your baby is crying so hard that she threw up! When I spoke to the pediatrician the next day she said to keep at it, that that reaction is actually more common than one would think, and that she would soon not cry herself to sleep. The second night wasn't much better for her or for me. The crying lasted just as long but, thankfully, there was no throwing up involved. By the third night the crying lasted less than 10 minutes and now, a week and a half after that first awful night I can say that Ali is being put in her crib, awake, and she falls asleep within minutes of going down. She sometimes complains a bit but it's never for more than a couple of minutes.
I'm sure we'll go through many more of these sleep regressions and our schedule and nights will go through different ups and downs but I feel much more prepared for it now that we went through our first one. Before I became a mom I would hear my friends with babies talk about how hard it was to sleep train or to let their babies cry but, wow! I had no idea how true that was! Now I know. However, I can't tell you how good this has been for Ali. She is happier in the morning, seems well rested and is even napping twice a day! It does seem like she wasn't sleeping well at night and that was affecting her mood and her daytime sleep. Crazy, huh?
What has been your experience with your baby's sleep schedule?
Bow: thanks to Born on Bowery
Blanket: White and Warren