Last week we started sleep training Rosalie.
I have known for quite a while that the way Rosalie fell asleep each night was not ideal. Rosalie has been breast fed from birth and so I have always been able to feed her to sleep. She would fall asleep in my arms and then I would carefully transfer her to her cot. Up until recently this did not cause us a problem. Although I knew it wash’t particularly good for Rosalie, it was working for us. I enjoyed the cuddles each night and Rosalie seemed happy so I wasn’t too bothered.
However, as the evenings got lighter and warmer Rosalie would no longer fall asleep in my arms. She would get all hot and bothered and throw herself around. If I put her in her cot whilst she was still awake she would scream the house down. I couldn’t rock her to sleep as she would get too hot. In the end, I resorted to lying next to her on our bed until Rosalie fell asleep. Some days this took hours, it was getting ridiculous.
I chatted to my mum about it, although she wasn’t much help, I slept in her bed until I was 3 years old! I did some research and asked friends for advice. In the end Nick and I decided that we would attempt to sleep train Rosalie.
I didn’t like the sound of leaving her to cry. Rosalie is not a cryer. She very rarely cries and if she does it will be for a matter of minutes. The longest I have left Rosalie to cry for is 10 minutes and it nearly kills me! I have to set myself an alarm to stop myself picking her up too early. But, we couldn’t carry on as we were so we thought we would give it a go.
I started by making sure that I followed Rosalie’s bedtime routine of bath, feed, bed, every single night. I had been skipping her bath on occasion but for the purpose of the sleep training we reinstated it so that Rosalie had a longer bedtime routine.
I feed her as I do every night then instead of cradling Rosalie as I carry her to her cot like I used to I have begun to sit Rosalie up and carry her to bed on my hip. This would wake her up a little and mean she was awake when I layed her down.
Rosalie inevitably cries every time I put her down. I put her dummy in, stroke her face, tell her it’s bed time and that she needs to go to sleep, keep stroking and shhhhhh-ing.
The first night Rosalie was not having any of it. She stood up and screamed with all her might, solidly, for 2 hours and 45 minutes! I kept lying her down, stroking, shhhhing, talking to her, reading her stories…. I would leave her for a few minutes and then come back, carry on lying her down, shhhhing etc. It was pretty hideous but eventually she did fall asleep. 3 HOURS LATER!!!
The next night it took 1 hour and 10 minutes for Rosalie to fall asleep. Still a long time but a definite improvement on the first night. There were periods of quiet during that time, Rosalie wasn’t crying continually like she did the first night.
The third night Rosalie fell asleep after 7 minutes, It was brilliant! She did go to bed a little later that night so that might have been why. 7 minutes though, happy days! It gave me a taste of what bed time might be like if we manage to crack this.
On Day 4 it took Rosalie 20 minutes to settle herself. I was really pleased that after only 2 days the time it took to settle Rosalie had reduced by so much. Rosalie did wake up in the night on day 4 but I think that was just random and unrelated to the sleep training.
On the fifth evening, Rosalie fell asleep after 10 minutes of crying. That was her down for the night then too. I am so shocked at how quickly this has worked. Rosalie has already learnt that once she has been put to bed she is not coming back out of her cot.
Night 6. Rosalie fell asleep in my arms whilst I was feeding her. I was really tired and so I cheated a little and transferred her to her cot whilst she was still asleep. She woke up half an hour later and started crying so it really wasn’t worth doing this, in future I will just wake her up a little so that she can settle herself in her cot.
On Day 7 it took Rosalie 25 minutes to fall asleep in her cot. When we first started sleep training Rosalie would sit or stand up and scream. Now although she still cries, she doesn’t stand up. She lays and sobs until she falls asleep.
We have been sleep training Rosalie for two weeks now. There is definitely an improvement in the length of time it takes Rosalie to fall asleep. I would say on average Rosalie is asleep 10 minutes after we put her down most nights. Rosalie also seems much more contented and peaceful at bed time.
It has even had a positive effect on her nap times. Rosalie has never really had structured nap times and has just napped when we have been out and about. Some days if we stayed in and Rosalie wasn’t in the car or pushchair she wouldn’t nap at all. Now if I put Rosalie in her cot when I think she is tired she will go to sleep. It takes about the same amount of time for her to settle at nap time as it does at bedtime. Although this morning I think she was asleep before id’d even closed the door!
Overall this has definitely worked for us. Although it is hard leaving Rosalie to cry, you do get used to it. I know Rosalie is getting the sleep she needs, at night and during the day, and is much happier as a result. I hope that eventually if we keep it up Rosalie will fall asleep without any tears at all.
How did you find sleep training your little one? Is a tearless bedtime possible?
You can watch our sleep training diary over on my youtube channel here.