Sleep Training my 5 Month Old: Our Steps / by Erin Baynham

Sleeping babyThe week of June 18th, I made the conscious effort to start the sleep training process with my son. We were co-sleeping exclusively, and to be honest, I have no idea how we got there. It was never my intention to do it, but it was so convenient, we just ended up sticking to it. My son is six months old, and although I love sleeping side by side, my husband and I need our bed back. I don't want to end up with us having to kick him out of the bed when he's three, or five, or ten, or any of the other stories people tell me! There are a lot of battles we have to get through, including:

  1. Getting him to sleep in his crib (which he hated)
  2. Getting him to stop nursing on and off all night
  3. Getting him to sleep through the night

To prepare for the new ordeal, I read that routine is key. So we got it down (more or less) to this:

  • Bath (Lasts about 10 minutes. Even if I don't wash him, I let him soak and play in the water)
  • Soft music while getting pajamas on
  • Read a book or two
  • White noise while nursing and/or bottle feeding
  • Put him down while he's still awake

For the longest time, I was convinced that the bed was too stiff for his liking. To start off, we did the rolled towel under the crib sheet "trick". It was meant to make him feel like he is cuddled. I also laid a flat blanket under the crib sheet to make it a little softer. I decided to (sort of) use the Ferber sleep method, where you lay the baby down while he's still awake, and let him cry it out in increments of time. I messed up by putting him to sleep sometimes. Oops. The goal of Ferber's method is to let the baby self soothe, which he should end up doing in the middle of the night when he wakes up too.

Here's how the seven days went:

Day 1

Put him down at 8:10 Checked on him at 8:15 He was asleep at 8:26 I walked in at 8:30 to get my phone, woke him up 8:39, back to sleep Awake at 10:35 Bottle Down at 10:46 Up at 12:48 Down at 12:52 Up 1:05 Down 1:14 Up 2:28 Down 2:36 Up 4:42 In bed with me--up at 6:50

Day 2 Put him down at 8:35 Thought I smelled poop. Picked him up. No poop. Oops. 8:44 Put him down at 8:48 Asleep at 9:01 Awake 11:15 Bottle at 11:32 Asleep at 11:45 Awake at 2:09 Breastfed, back down at 2:21 Awake 3:40 Asleep (almost) 3:45 Awake 4:20 (Nursed) In bed with me, up at 8:30

Day 3 In bed, 9:10 (already asleep) Awake at 9:56 Asleep at 10:00 (on his own) Moved him at 11:42, breastfed and fell asleep at 11:49 Picked up at midnight and slept with me

Day 4 In bed at 8:57 Breastfed at 9:09 Went to sleep at 9:14 Woke up around 2:30

Day 5 In bed at 8:24 Asleep at 8:29 Awake 8:32 (Teething--cry doesn't sound tired) Rocked and fell asleep at 8:47 Awake at 10:58 Gave bottle, asleep at 11:04 Awake 11:51 Asleep 11:56 Awake 4:29 Breastfed and back down at 4:42 Awake 6:55

Major milestone: First night entirely in his own bed!

Day 6 Down at 8:04 Up 10:44 Breastfed and down 10:47 12:44 breastfed Down at 1:03

Day 7 Down at 8:37 Asleep at 8:42 Awake at 6:13!!!!

Major milestone: Holy crap he slept the entire night!!!!!! (I didn't, because I got up to check on him basically every hour)

And then what did I do? We had a fun weekend and got home late every night, omitted routine....and now we have to start all over again. Uuuuuuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhh. What was I thinking? Ever since we started this, however, I can say that I see his sleep pattern more clearly. He's usually down by 8pm. He wakes up at either 12:30 or 2:30am. From then, I'm usually so tired that I bring him from his crib into our bed. Then I nurse him throughout the night as he wakes us, usually at 4:30ish and 5:30ish. These methods don't work well when the baby's sick, has had vaccines, or is away from home. Of course, he gets his shots next week, and we go on vacation a few weeks after that. We'll keep you posted on round two, which I'll try aggressively when we return from vacation in mid August.