Sleep Training: Day I & Night II

Last night went really well. We are instructed to do a 'dreamfeed' (where you feed the baby without waking her) around 10:30pm. Juna was in such a deep sleep, she didn't take her dreamfeed. I didn't want to push it, so I put her back down in her crib without her stirring. Her first wake up was at 2:00am (a five-hour sleep period) for an easy 10-minute feeding, then back to bed until 5:30am for another 10-minute feeding, with a wake up time of 6:45am (dirty diaper). We had a lovely, playful morning, and then it was time for the morning nap.

My husband is taking over all sleep-related duties for the next four days, and has requested that I leave the house during his time getting her to sleep. It's easier to do his job without feeling like I'm looking over his shoulder, which I completely understand. I haven't been the best at sharing the baby care since Juna was born, so he's been taking care of me instead by making our meals and cleaning the house (what a guy!). I am realizing slowly that this isn't the healthiest choice for our family. While sleep training isn't the ideal bonding situation, at least Juna and her Daddy are getting some alone time.

I am shocked at how relaxed I feel heading to Starbucks for some much-needed quiet time. Reading Yoga Journal and sipping my soy chai latte, I am, for the first time, not panicked about being away from Juna. Bradford has this situation under control, and while following our new plan, she won't feed for another hour and a half. Juna refuses, absolutely refuses, to take a bottle or pacifier, so I always feel like I have to be home just in case. For awhile, I believed she could only be soothed by me, either through nursing or simply being in my arms. Due to Juna's sensitive temperament, I became pretty much completely housebound, which was not good for either of us. I am learning to trust Bradford, and relinquish a little control.

Upon my return, Juna has been sleeping for twenty minutes after a twenty minute crying/soothing period. But then, like usual, she wakes at the forty-minute mark. We've tried the "wake to sleep" technique by going in at the thirty-minute mark and rousing her slightly then helping her go back down. It hasn't worked yet, but we'll keep trying.

We continue on our three-hour schedule to the minute (we want to be extremely consistent to see how she responds), and while naps are a battle with 10-20 minutes of crying (again, she is held the entire time), the day is peaceful otherwise. I'm not sure if she's just tired from letting off so much steam before her naps, but she is completely happy during her awake time. No fussing, no crying, and no soothing needed! We have a great time playing on her activity mat, sitting in the backyard, practicing sitting up in her bumbo seat and singing (Juna's new favorite thing!). Smiles are plentiful, and I've never heard her laugh so much before.

For her afternoon catnap, we are instructed to let her sleep anywhere we like. Bradford and I decide that I will relieve him of his duties for this nap, and after pacing with her swaddled upstairs for about 5 minutes she is so drowsy she can barely keep her eyes open. I lay down with her on our bed, and she passes out. We nap together for forty-minutes before, of course, she wakes. Since this is a catnap, that's the perfect amount of time, so we get up, eat and head to the park.

In my fantasy, before I had Juna, I daydreamed about the long walks we would take in the park as a family. Walking has always been one of my favorite things to do, and I haven't had the opportunity to do much of that since Juna was born. She usually fusses so much in her stroller or the wrap, it's not even worth it to upset her. We decide to chance it, since it's been such a good day, and we have a full two hours before her bedtime wind down routine.

We drive to the park, Bradford, Huck the dog, Juna the Baby and I. I put her in the stroller, and we make it a full two laps around the park with Juna happy and quiet the entire time. This feels like a huge victory, and Bradford and I are both very encouraged. She relaxes in her carseat on the way home, no screaming, no fussing, and we have a delightful bathtime and evening wind down, and she's so tired I have a hard time keeping her awake while she nurses.

It's bedtime again, and I head to the grocery store while Bradford does the hard work. He later reports that it took twenty-five minutes for her to settle, but then he put her in the crib with her eyes open, and it took only five minutes for her to close her eyes and go to sleep ON HER OWN! He goes in at the forty-minute mark to do a fake pick up/put down (per Sasha's suggestion) and she doesn't stir. Bradford and I enjoy watching The Mentalist and eating dinner together. One benefit of this plan is I can now have a glass of wine with my meal, since we are no longer nursing her to sleep! (FYI: it takes about 90 minutes for alcohol to peak in your blood, so a good 2-3 hours is plenty of time for it to leave your system before breastfeeding). After a delicious merlot and a piece of dark chocolate (I'm on a no-dairy diet for Juna), I am ready to tackle the dreamfeed.

I head up at 10:30, and pick her up from her crib. Like last night, she doesn't latch on to feed, so after trying for two-to-three minutes, I put her back down. I hear her stirring and starting to awaken, so I quickly pick her up and give her a ten-minute snack, during which she falls right back to sleep. I plop her down in her crib asleep, and turn in myself. We don't hear from Juna until 1:40am. Our 'rules' state we should wait to feed her until between two and four a.m., so we try for just a minute or two to resettle her, but she is clearly mad. A dirty diaper has foiled our carefully constructed night! I feed her right after her diaper change, and she goes easily back to sleep. Awake again at 4:40am for a snack, and back to sleep until 6:45am. All in all, a good night, though I didn't see a discernible difference in doing a dreamfeed.

This morning, Juna has been extremely happy and easy to please. We played music for her and she 'danced' and that was the big morning activity. She is sleeping now, after a full fifteen minutes of held crying. I am still not comfortable with the amount of crying she is doing and a little confused about how this is teaching her to fall asleep on her own. Right now, it still feels a little bit like we are letting her cry herself to sleep, even though Bradford is holding and reassuring her. The dreamfeed doesn't seem to be doing its' job in helping Juna to sleep longer into the night. Both evenings, she has awoken earlier than the recommended 3:00a.m. feeding time, and it feels so weird to wake her up when we are working so hard to keep her asleep. Dr. Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child) recommends never waking a sleeping baby and refutes the claim that she needs to be 'tanked up' before sleeping. I am going to stick it out for a couple days though, and see what happens. Part of my issue before was inconsistency, so I am committed this time to give Juna at least a week of the same routine. We have had success in putting her down drowsy but awake and watching her fall asleep by herself, which is encouraging. I am also pleased that our awake time with her has been so pleasant and relaxed.

Bradford has just returned from his fake-out pickup/putdown, which is supposed to help trick her into thinking she's woken up and gone back to sleep. We'll see if she makes it past the forty-minute mark! Fingers crossed!


  1. WOW -- what a process! I'm exhausted just hearing about it. And I think it's interesting that you gave her a warrior name -- but instead it's you and Bradford who have to be the super-strong, committed warriors in this situation. Good for you for working so hard to find the proper solution for your family. I don't want to jinx you but I see a good night's sleep -- for all three of you -- in your future.

  2. I just want to say thank you for this blog. My daughter is 5 months old and I feel like I have the same issue other than my daughter sleeps good through the night. It Is the day time naps and the battles to get her to sleep. I'm still not sure how to fix this for my daughter and I but I hope this method works for you. It's good to know I am not alone with these battles. Thanx again!

  3. @Julie: thanks! we feel really good about how everything is going so far... still a ways to go, but Juna is responding very well! it is soooo nice to see my little girl more relaxed!
    @Jessica: i know exactly how you feel; i felt so alone in this fight for sleep. everyone says infants sleep all day, and that just hasn't been our experience. it makes you feel like a bad parent at first, until you realize that lots of people have this issue! juna used to sleep great through the night, and then a few weeks ago started waking again. it's getting better, though. we are following a baby whisperer style plan, and it seems to be working. you can buy the book fairly inexpensively on amazon, and it has a lot of good information about setting up a predictable routine. i've also read 'healthy sleep habits happy child' (weissbluth) and 'the no cry sleep solution' by elizabeth pantley, all of which i have found incredibly useful. good luck with your daughter; i hope you and she get more rest soon!

  4. There is a huge difference between having her cry in your arms and having her cry alone in a crib. You are doing great. She sounds like she is enjoying her sleep.

  5. You and Bradford are doing awesome!!!!! It's only going to get easier now! Hope to see you soon . Xoxo

  6. Thanks everyone! Juna is starting to really enjoy her time in her crib, awake or asleep! There is much less crying going on in our house now. It is blissful!