Sleep Training: The Saga Continues....

Just when you think you have it all figured out....

Juna's got our number. At three months old, she is already putting it together and making associations. She knows now that swaddling + shush/pat = the dreaded nap. After our week of sleep-educating her, she decided she would no longer respond to our program. It began taking longer and longer to get her down for naps. She'd cry and cry being held over the shoulder until finally, out of sheer exhaustion, she would quickly fall asleep. As soon as she felt a shift in gravity towards the crib, she'd cry, and as soon as you picked her back up again, she'd fall asleep, exhausted, on your shoulder. It took about four cycles of this before she'd stay asleep in the crib, but would wake thirty to forty minutes later, upset and miserable.

It only took a couple of days of this before I declared a cease-fire on the nap battle. Bradford and I decided we would do more rocking, walking and bouncing to see if we could get her into a peaceful drowsy state while putting her down. I would nurse her to drowsiness, then transition her. This worked beautifully. We got some wonderful, long naps and life seemed happy again. For three days. Until, of course, Juna figured out our ploy. She began to fight her naps even with the much gentler (more time consuming) ways of getting her to sleep. This has resulted in lots of crying (from the both of us!), and an overtired baby.

Even our nighttime routine, which I thought we had down-pat, has been disrupted. I used to be able to nurse her and put her in her crib awake or asleep and count on her sleeping four to six hours. It now takes about forty-five minutes to get her to sleep at night, and I have to go in usually thirty minutes later to resettle her. She is waking three to five times during the night to eat, play or get her diaper changed. What gives?? Growth spurt? Teething? Sheer determination to stay awake and take on the world? We are in the midst of an economic crisis after all...

Bradford and I have had many discussions about the best way to proceed. Juna needs sleep, and so do we. If she slept great in our bed, our arms, her vibrating chair, her swing, the car or the stroller, I would have no problems using those as tools to help our precious girl get some rest, but she fights sleep no matter where or when. Despite appearances, she sleeps best and deepest on her own and in her own space, so we persevere.

This weekend was particularly trying as Bradford was out of town for three days, leaving me to tackle all naps and nighttime sleeps by myself. I vowed to stay relaxed and calm, and go with the flow. Upon advice from a friend, I decided that whatever it took to get Juna and I some rest, I would do. My first full day, I nursed her down for every nap, and it worked brilliantly. She even slept for two hours in the afternoon. I was thrilled! I found something that worked! Bedtime was not as successful, and she woke four times in the night to eat. Sunday was less victorious; she took three twenty-minute naps, and was miserable for much of the day. We had the worst night we've had since she was born, with five wake-ups that took at least 45-minutes for her to eat and get back to sleep. Finally, at 5:30a.m. Juna decided it was time to get up for the day. So, I've been up since then, going on maybe four hours sleep, as I have been every day for the past few weeks. Thankfully, Bradford has returned to share the burden of naptime, and the joys of Juna's happy awake time.

I wish I had some philosophical insight to share on what we're learning from this experience, or why this is making me a better person and mother. Instead, I will just say that this sucks. It's hard and it's exhausting, and it's heart-breaking to watch a little person that you love so much in pain from lack of sleep. We feel like we are back at the beginning, and have no idea where to go from here, so we are going to work the original plan, adjusting as we see fit for special circumstances. It feels like something we are all going to have to just outgrow, and to stave off the extreme anxiety I feel over Juna's sleep habits, I tell myself that this will pass. In the meantime, we are enjoying Juna's new developments: her sweet little voice babbling all day (and night) long, her fascination with her hands and feet, laughing at the cute baby in the mirror, singing along to Mommy's silly songs...  As eager as I am for this sleep phase to be over with, I wouldn't mind if this little baby phase lasted awhile longer...

who could resist this sweet face???


  1. I am so glad you wrote this. I have been thinking about you and wondering how things are going. The EXACT same thing started with Izzy about 5 days ago after we have had much success with the sleep training that you had described in your blog and posts on babycenter (and our conversations on that site). I was so pleased after a few days of the training bc it was working and it even worked for my mom and Izzy's sitter who did a trial run watching her bc I go back to work next week.

    Now, though, she is crying much harder than before and taking twice as long. She will eventually tire herself out from all the crying and take the pacifier (sometimes), which helps her go to sleep, but, like you, I've begun nursing her to sleep and letting her sleep on my chest bc she can sleep for hours that way! However, I'm freaking bc I have no clue how her sitter (who is 7 months pregnant) and my grandmother, who will also be watching her, are going to get her to sleep!

    Well, know you are not alone... Your attitude is great! Thanks for posting about it, it sure makes me feel MUCH better about how things have been going here!
    -Sarah (coylee33 on babycenter).

  2. Eek! What does your sleep coach say??

  3. @Sarah: You must be nervous going back to work! I wonder if maybe Izzy will go down easier when it's not Mama doing the putting down? If she smells yummy mommy, of course she's going to want to only sleep in your arms! That's what I noticed about Juna: she'll cry and cry, and I'll pick her up and it's almost as if immediate sleep descends upon her! Hopefully they will outgrow this soon. Good luck and keep me posted. If you discover any tricks, please pass them on!
    @Julie: She sort of shrugged... with these gentler methods, I guess it takes a much longer time for things to become consistent. She agreed we should do what we need to do and what we feel comfortable with until Juna's a bit older. We only had her for a week, so I guess we're on our own from here! But it's like I reminded Bradford, our parents and their parents didn't have sleep coaches, the internet and a plethora of books on children, and we turned out ok!

  4. Do you know these concerns will be a distant memory in five year. Parenting changes day by day. It sounds like you have bright baby. Also she could be going through a grown spurt and/or teething. Baby are really poor at letting us know such things. :) Its a day by day thing. Enjoy the good moments and remember that you can get through this .. You both are great parents. If parenting was THAT easy than their wouldn't be a million books on it. Take it day by day. IT DOES GET EASIER but you will miss this stage too. You are on the right track there is always setbacks.

  5. Oh gosh, you poor thing. Reading this blog entry brought back all the anxiety I felt when my daughter was having sleep issues. Great big (((((HUGS))))) to you. In one of your previous entries I promised to come back with some suggestions for a new vice, since caffeine is a no-no:

    - gum chewing
    - lollipops
    - warm bubble baths
    - scrap booking

    Ok, that's all I've got for now.

  6. Just a little set back..she has to keep you and Bradford on your toes...don't be discouraged, your still ahead of the game with a method to deal with her curve balls... Kids love to keep their parents off balance. You just have to out smart her..LOL Im rooting for you guys, she will be fine. xoxo Carolyn W.

  7. I was wondering how this sleep training was going. Ours - for intents and purposes - has stopped as well. Saoirse caught on to us, too! I kind of obsessed over it for a while and then reminded myself she's 3 months old. I mean this is when they really put the petal to the metal with development and it seems pretty common on the July board. So, I've given up the stress. I think this is one of those "normal" things people don't tell you.

    When she's awake she's fairly independent, but when she's tired she wants to be comforted to sleep. I hold her and pat her until the bottle or pacifier fall out of her mouth. If that's what works for her, I'm happy to do it. There will come a day when she'll want as much distance between us as possible, so why not enjoy the closeness now?

    Incidentally, I did experiment with wake times. One hour and 45 minutes is our magic number - not give or take - on the dot. Her naps are a little bit better with this.

    This, too, shall pass!

    <3 Siobhan