At Travis's 6 month appointment, the doctor said that there was no reason he was still eating 3 times a night and that it was only going to get tougher to break him of this habit. I had been contemplating and preparing to sleep train him for 2 months now, but I could never pull the trigger. I've had some great mommy friends that have talked with me about sleep issues ad nauseum, and I'm so grateful for all of their advice and support. I had been praying for strength and patience, and this past weekend, we finally decided to start. Most "experts" say that you can start sleep training at 4 months, but I am glad that we waited. I needed to know that he had the skills necessary to help him make the transition. Starting about a month ago, he was getting himself to sleep at the beginning of the night without a full-on rocker-a-thon so I think that was when I first felt like he was getting the hang of it. Him rolling himself over and sleeping on his tummy also made me feel more confident in his sleep skill set. So after lots of prayers and preparation, we finally decided to pull the trigger this past weekend. I had been preparing him for a few weeks by decreasing the amount of time he was feeding during the night. In my head, I was trying to prepare his chubby little body to sleep without a full to the brim tummy of milk. I had also turned down "Travis Cam" in our bedroom hoping that maybe there were occasions that I wouldn't wake up and he would go back to sleep. Finally, we started cereal a couple of weeks ago in hopes that some solids would help him get through the night.
So here is how it all went down.
On Friday night, I put him down at 7:05. I did a dreamfeed at 9:30 - my goal with this was to feed him before he woke for his first feeding. He woke at 12:30 (little stinker was glued to a 3 hr routine), but I just ignored him. He fussed for 20 minutes tops and was back asleep. He woke at 3, and I fed him. I had made a mental note to feed him before he woke, but I failed. Two steps forward, and one step back. He was up at 6:30.
On Saturday night, T missed his last afternoon nap, so I put him down at 6:40. I did a dreamfeed at 9:10. He woke at 9:35, but only fussed for 10 minutes. This next stretch was the toughest. He woke at 1:50. I should have fed him by then so I felt even guiltier. He cried until 2:38. It was important to let him go back to sleep by himself before feeding him as I didn't want him to think that crying would get him fed. I just laid in bed during this time praying for God to give him strength and guidance. PTL - it worked! So, I scooped him up at 2:53 and fed him for a few minutes. He was no worse for the wear so I felt okay going back to sleep. He was up at 6:15.
On Sunday night, I put him down at 6:55. He made some noise at 9:40, but only fussed for 5 minutes. I attempted a dreamfeed at 10, but he wasn't interested and didn't even open his eyes. This night, I set my alarm for 1:30. I fed him for 4 minutes. He was up at 6:55.
On Monday night, Daddy put him down at 7. I set my alarm and fed him for 3.5 minutes at 1:30. We didn't hear a peep on either side of the dreamfeed. He was up at 6:30.
On Tuesday night, I put him down at 7. He woke randomly at 11:40 and cried for about 40 minutes. My dad was staying over, and he didn't hear him so it wasn't too bad. I was awake for all of it, but thankfully, my new friend, Adrien, was awake so we e-mailed back and forth while he went back to sleep. I said sweet little sleep prayers for my baby while waiting for her return e-mails. :) Once he went back to sleep, I waited for a little while and then went ahead and fed him. Didn't see him again until morning.
Last night, He went down about 7:05. I fed for 3 minutes at 1:30. He was awake at 6, but I didn't go get him until 6:30. He seemed content in his crib, and I was happy to lay horitzontal for a few more minutes. :)
I'm going to continue cutting down the dreamfeed for a few more days. Hopefully, he'll then be going a full 11-12 hours.
Obviously, what works for every little one is different. Parenting is a big ol' bunch of trial and error! You can read and read and read, but ultimately, it is a gut thing. What we did ended up being a random mixture of lots of different strategies, but one that I felt comfortable doing. I'm putting all of this out there mainly as a way to remember this whole process, but also, maybe to help someone else on the sleep training journey. Lord knows I do lots of "googling" for parental advice. :)
The hardest part in the whole process was dreading it.