like a dream

Happy Madison

It’s incredible. It’s working!!! It has been just over two weeks since we started sleep training Madison, and the results have been nothing short of amazing. I just put Madison down for her nap and it went something like this:

Madison starts getting cranky. It’s one of her sleepy signs, along with rubbing her eyes and yawning.

I pick her up and sing her sleepytime song as I walk up the stairs, take her into her room and turn on the sound machine, fan and baby monitor.

I give her a milk top-up in the rocking chair, then pop her soother into her mouth and give her a little cuddle.

She gets a kiss on the forehead as we walk to her crib, and I put her in gently and give her her teddy bear.

I leave the room.

That’s it! It’s magic! She now falls asleep on her own, nearly every time, for every nap and bedtime. I have to say that our quality of life has improved dramatically now that Madison has been sleep trained. Sometimes I can’t believe that it’s possible that she falls asleep on her own so well. Originally, we had only gone to the sleep consultant for help with baby’s naps, and we were happy enough with her nighttime sleep. Well, with this sleep training, we have gotten the additional benefit of better nighttime sleep as well.

Bedtime is now earlier. We used to put Maddy to sleep around 7:30 or 8, and we had to rock her to sleep. Now, I do her last milk feed at 6:45, then Murray reads her a book and puts her in her crib. She’s often asleep by 7 or 7:10PM, then we have the rest of the evening to ourselves! It’s nice that we get more time with just the two of us so we can actually relax together. The mornings are also better now, too. She used to wake up sometime between about 4-6AM, at which point we’d put her in bed with us. Now she will usually sleep in her crib till 7, occasionally 7:30AM. This morning she stunned me by sleeping until 7:45!

We are so proud of our little girl. She did it! And I survived.

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sleep training sucks

Nothing to do with sleep training, but darn she's cute

We have now completed one week of sleep training with Madison. It’s been a long week… As I mentioned in my previous post, we decided to enlist the help of a sleep consultant. Ever since we moved to Calgary at the end of Feb, she has taken every nap in her carseat. That means that for 4 out of her 10 months, almost half her life, she had never napped in her crib. With such a stubborn baby, I was terrified to attempt nap training. I knew I needed help.

After some research online, I found the website for Helen Sands, a baby sleep consultant based out of BC. She had a package that included a an online and phone interview, from which she would create a personalized sleep training plan, and one month of follow-up support. The cost was just over $200. Not cheap, but for us we decided that it was worth it to have a plan that was tailored specifically to our needs. For the most part, Madison sleeps pretty well at night. Once she’s down, she usually would sleep from about 7:45/8PM till somewhere between 5-6 in the morning. It’s the naps that are the issue.

Because we are on the go every day, she always naps in her carseat. I plan our activities and meetup times around it. So, for example, I’d make plans to meet some friends at the park at 11AM. I’d leave the house at 10, so Maddy could fall asleep en route to wherever we’re going and I’d sit in the car until she’d wake up. Then, when we would leave at around 1:30, she would again fall asleep in the car on the way home. When we got home, I would leave her in the car in the garage for a minute while I’d go inside the house and let the dogs out. I’d turn the fan on in the main floor bathroom and then carefully carry the carseat inside and place her in the bathroom and close the door. Then she would nap for about an hour and a half, sometimes as long as two hours. So really, her nap lengths were not an issue, it was the method that was the problem. If for some reason, she would get woken before she should, it was impossible to get her back to sleep unless you put her back in the car and took her for another drive. Now – there are several things that could wake her before she should be getting up, ranging from bumping her foot on the dryer when carrying the carseat from the garage to the bathroom, dogs barking outside the bathroom door, or sometimes she would even wake up if I didn’t back in at just the right angle and the jostle from the street to the driveway would wake her up.

It got to the point where I realized this just wasn’t going to work for us anymore. A couple of things accelerated this thought process for me. Number 1 – we’re coming back home to Vancouver for most of August. Staying at Murray’s dad’s house means we can’t do this whole bathroom sleeping routine. We tried it last time and it just doesn’t work. We can’t park in the garage, so the sunlight and the distance from the driveway into the house almost always woke her up. Secondly, I’ll be going back to work soon and we can’t expect any daycare to drive her around to put her to bed, and I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to expect them to sleep train her there. I’d be worried that she would be kicked out or not accepted because she’s not sleep trained.

We began the training last Saturday, beginning with her first nap of the day. The plan is basically to put her down according to her sleepy signals (yawning, rubbing her eyes). When she inevitably starts to cry, you do some soothing methods like shushing and patting (five pats only, then stop – no continual patting) to get her to calm down. If that doesn’t work, you reach in and give her a scoop cuddle, but never pick her up out of the crib. When she pulls herself up to a stand, you calmly grab her beneath the arms and sit her back down, then lay her onto her back or side each time. If she calms, you leave the room, but if she is freaking out, you may stay for up to 5 mins. After that five minutes is up, you leave anyway. This continues for a cycle like this:

Put into crib, stay up to 5 mins

Leave for 10, return and use same techniques to try to calm for up to 5 mins then leave

Leave for another 10, go back in if needed for another 5

Leave for last 20, go back in for 5 mins

If she doesn’t fall asleep at all through this process, then she just misses the nap and you try again at the next nap time.

As you can easily guess, Miss Stubborn didn’t sleep at all the first day and she was a massive grump. Bedtime was a breeze as she was absolutely exhausted. Day 2 was not much better. By Day 4, I had thought she turned a corner as she went down for her first nap immediately with no crying and slept for half an hour. Unfortunately, she was back to the fight for her afternoon nap. I can see that there is progress, but most of the time she still fights for half an hour before she will nap. The good news is, though, that she WILL eventually fall asleep in her crib now, each and every time.

The big progression is actually with me, though. I think the hardest part of this sleep training has been for me to get over my fear and frustration with Madison. Because I have a detailed plan (15 pages!), I’ve been able to keep more of a level head and keep my emotions more in check. I say “more” because it’s still really tough. It sucks to hear her crying so often and so long every day. It’s brutal being stuck at home all day long because I’m not allowed to take her out in the car or in her stroller during training. (This is because she is used to sleeping in motion, so part of our plan was that I have to stay at home.) It’s still a bit frustrating to have to deal with her crankiness because she only slept for 40 mins in the afternoon instead of two hours. However, I can see that both of us are coming along, and I hope that in a couple of weeks, we’ll really be where we want to be.

Wish us luck, we’ll need it! And if anyone would like a review on Helen Sands or get more information on the sleep plan she gave us, please feel free to get in touch.

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