At what stage do you get a bit of your life back as a parent? The answer for me is when my baby started sleeping the night. With my maternity leave quickly approaching the finish line; we had to do something about the sleep problem.
I wrote before about the problems with babies and sleep. Since then we had good weeks and (probably more) bad weeks. Then it got to a stage where we took turns taking baby into the spare room each night at 1am or 2am or whenever he woke up screaming. Then he slept peacefully beside me or himself (that person did not sleep) for the rest of the night. So there was nothing wrong with baby per se. He literally settled as soon as you had him in your arms but not if he was put back in the cot. He just wanted the comfort of being beside a parent. And it was ok for a while as you caught up on your sleep every second night. But it was definitely not a long term solution. Not with the prospect of 12 hour shifts on the horizon at work next month. Added to the that, he needed to be walked around the room for a good ten minutes to get him to sleep and he wouldn’t be the lightest weight baby!
So at the grand old age of 7 and a half months, our baba got a shock. We didn’t run to him at the first sound he made. We (dare I say it?) tried some sleep training. I always said I’d never do it but never say never is a lesson I’m learning as a parent. I know the research says don’t do it, I know the sleepless nights don’t last forever, I know I know I know. However, we decided we would give it a try to keep ourselves from losing our minds.
We loosely followed the Ferber method leaving him in his cot for short intervals to try and settle himself followed by visits reassuring him but not lifting him out of the cot. The intervals got progressively longer. The first night was the hardest, especially as we have never listened to him cry. When I named this post ‘tears at bedtime’ it wasn’t just baba’s tears I was referring to. It took about an hour, many tears, many visits to his cot to try to reassure him, even worse tears every time either of us left the room. He was standing in his cot with his arms out demanding (as much as a 7 month old can demand) to be lifted. When he settled eventually, we questioned whether we could do it. The rule is to be consistent so once you start, you need to keep going completely or stop completely. We decided to give it 3 nights.
He slept until 4am that first night (from around 10pm when he settled). Then my husband, in his exhaustion, went and lifted him out of the cot and settled with him in the spare room. I couldn’t believe it, the whole thing was his idea in the first place. So back to square 1 the next day and having to do this method with his day time naps nearly drove me over the edge. But after a stressful day, to our absolute amazement, he settled after 5 minutes for the night at 7pm. He had to be woken at 7am for his bottle. This was a first and we were in a state of shock at getting a whole night of uninterrupted sleep. A fluke surely?
The third night was the same as the second night, he was finally sleeping the night! The fourth night it didn’t work at all and he was up half the night but after that we were back on track again!
3 weeks on. It’s working really well, he settles in the cot for naps and night sleeps. There’s very rarely tears any more. As long as he has his teddy he is happy. Sometimes he wakes around 1am but either settles himself again or one of us goes and give him his soother and he goes back to sleep.
Probably the most stressful thing we have ever done (coming from a couple who have been through IVF!) but it worked for us. Some babies take a lot longer to get it and I’m not sure we would have kept going with it if we had more nights like the first one. It’s not for everyone, if I wasn’t returning to a full time job I might have left it longer. I’m not recommending it, I’m just telling it as it is for us. He’s still hit and miss with his day time naps but the nights are pure golden. And he’s in such good form every day after his sleep so it’s had a positive effect on all of us. It’s early days yet but the future looks promising.
Why not pin this for later?