If you’ve been keeping up with us for awhile, you are probably aware that Hudson has not been much of a sleeper. Until now. I mentioned a couple of posts back that we finally got him to sleep through the night. (It only took a year and a half.) We’ve tried a few different tools in the past to get hudson to sleep. However nothing really seemed to help much. We had a strict bedtime routine for a while. We tried all kinds of miracle promising sleep suits and sound machines. We tried feeding him a ton during the day in hopes that his full belly would help him sleep. We co slept. We eventually did a few nights of crying it out. Three hours of crying for multiple days in a row plus, he would still wake up in the middle of the night and cry another three hours. Nothing seemed to work for us.
About two months ago, I finally hit my limit with it. I could no longer co-sleep. Or be woken up three times a night to nurse. Or be a human pacifier while I tried to sleep. So, I did my best to diagnose our biggest sleeping problems. The first: Hudson just wasn’t tired until after 11 pm. Trying to get him to go down before that was impossible. Second: He was waking up around the same times every night to nurse. His natural bedtime and his learned midnight hunger were our two biggest hurdles. So this is how I went about fixing them.
First, we banned Hudson from our bed. This was bittersweet for me. I love cuddling with Hudson, but it is not conducive for a restful night. The second thing we did was get back on a strict bedtime routine. However, this time instead of forcing him to go down when we wanted him to, I let him stay with his natural bedtime. 11:00. For a week, I would start his bedtime routine (bath, cup of milk, brush teeth, pajamas) at 10:30 and rock him until he fell asleep (always at 11:00). The second week, I started the bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier. The third week I moved it up another 15 minutes. And we just gradually did this until he started falling asleep around 9:00.
Secondly, to battle his multiple nighttime feedings I would gradually try to push the time on those back. He would wake up crying for milk around 3. So instead of feeding him right away, I would just hold him or rock him until about 3:30 and then let him nurse. Every few days I would push the feeding time further back. Eventually he was only waking up once a night instead of two to three times. I chose to do this gradually instead of cold turkey, because I figured even if he had learned to be hungry at these times of night, he was still genuinely hungry.
Once we completed these two steps, I finally decided there was no other rational reason for him to not be sleeping well. So one night I resolved to put him in his crib at his bed time, (even though he was wide awake) and just see what happened. He cried for about 5 minutes and then I laid him back down and pat his back a bit. Then he cried for 7 minutes. Repeat. 10 minutes… And he was asleep. Voila! For reference, I tried this exact CIO technique months earlier and we were up for hours crying. So I strongly believe that gradually creating good habits, first is what turned crying it out into a useful tool rather than plain torture. I told myself that if he woke up in the night I would let him cry for five minutes before I checked on him. He woke up twice and didn’t even make it to the five minute mark before he was back to sleep. He did this same exact routine the following night. But, by the third night he was falling asleep on his own and staying asleep throughout the entire night.
It has been over a year since I have actually slept. Or since I have laid down in my bed without the expectation of waking up two hours later. I can not tell you how much better life is now. And I really wish I had known how to do this earlier. At least now, we will be seasoned professionals when the next child arrives.