Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sleep Training. How I got Charlie to sleep

As you may know, I went back to work at the start of the new school year and all was well for a few weeks; Charlie continued his one night time wake and it was manageable. And then we moved. I gave him a few weeks to settle into being in his own room and in a new house as he was waking a few times, but then he got worse and was going down at 7.30 and waking up between 10-11 and then again between 12-2 and then again nearly every hour or so after that. I was exhausted and I am sure hubby was too. The final straw was when I got ill. Properly ill,  as in spent three whole days in bed sleeping and not eating. Ask my mum or the hubby - I never do that when ill! I think the lack of sleep had really taken its effect on me and I knew it was time to do something. Loads of people had mentioned controlled crying or sleep training and I was completely dead set against it. I think I have even said on this blog I couldn't leave my baby to cry without comforting him. But I was at my wits end. He is nearly 8 months old now and he is waking in the night for a feed completely out of habit. It also coincided with the health visitor coming and suggesting sleep training that I decided that we needed to give it a go, not just for our sake, but for Charlie's too, as he can't get himself to sleep at night and only sometimes during the day.

So on the first day of half term, we began 'sleep training.' As I said, I'm not a huge fan of the whole concept of controlled crying or whatever you want to call it, so I modified it to make it work for us. Here's how I did it:

- Bedtime routine started. This involved PJ's, sleeping bag and then I  fed him and read him a story. He was still quite awake after this so I fed him again for a few more minutes.
- Took him upstairs, kissed him and put him in his cot, awake and said goodnight. I already had music playing and his nigh light was on.
- I went out of the room and sat on my bed!
- Charlie played happily in his cot for about 10 minutes. I don't mind this, as long as he's quiet and eventually goes to sleep then I don't see this as a problem.
- After 10 minutes, he started to whimper.
- The whimpering turned to crying.
- Crying turned to screaming. The screaming got so bad at one point that he was coughing and making himself choke.
- From the moment I put him down awake I checked on him every 4 minutes for 20 minutes. After that I extended it to 5 minutes.
- After 48 minutes his cries became a whimper and within 2 minutes the whimpering had stopped and he was quiet - I couldn't believe it but I didn't dare go in to check him this time as I didn't want to disturb him if he was just in the process of falling asleep.
- I waited another 5 or so minutes, checked him and he was asleep!
- So the whole thing took about 55 minutes. It was hard hearing him cry like that, but it worked - he fell asleep.

He slept until 5am! I couldn't believe it! Night two, I did exactly the same thing, he went down awake and it took 12 minutes for him to fall asleep. Night three and four was twenty minutes and since then he goes down awake and within 5 minutes, he is generally asleep. Coincidentally this has coincided with him starting to crawl properly - so I am not sure if he was in the middle of a sleep regression due to trying to master a new skill.

What we still need to conquer is that he is still waking around 1am and 5am for a feed. 5am I don't mind so much, but I really want to phase the 1am waking out. I'm going to give it another week or so and see how it's going and then make a plan from there really.

So all in all, it definitely worked for us. So far anyway. We're not completely there yet, but the situation is so much better now. I feel so much better too, less grumpy and grouchy and can actually concentrate at work and do something productive!

So yeah it was great!

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