If you’ve been following my updates, you’ll know that Wonder Baby is a terrible sleeper. She has ups and downs but in general is just brutal. Even on her good days she will only take her afternoon nap in her crib; the morning nap is always in the baby carrier on my back. On good nights she wakes up 3-4 times a night and nurses every time. That’s the good days. On bad days she will not nap at all and wakes up every hour to nurse all night long. Lately there have been more and more bad days.
Her big sister, Toddler Girl, pretty much sleep trained herself. She had sleep regressions and teething issues like most babies, but by six months she was sleeping 14 hours a night most nights, and taking two good naps in her crib. Seriously, we didn’t do anything drastic to teach her to sleep. She decided on her own to stop nursing to sleep, and eventually even learned to find her soother in the crib at night. I was a well rested mommy.
Wonder Baby is a whole ‘nother story. I’ve tried multiple times to improve her sleep but she is very stubborn and I think I was just too distracted or two exhausted to fight hard enough. When you are very, very tired (not sleeping more than 3 hours ever for months) it’s hard to see how bad it’s gotten; you just keep doing what works and hope for improvement.
But then, everything stopped working. Wonder Baby would no longer nurse to sleep — she would close her eyes, relax against me, and then open her eyes and start blowing raspberries on my boob and laughing. Then she would try to sit up and crawl off to play. For a few days I fought this; I would let her nurse for half an hour, then put her in her crib where she would immediately start to cry, let her wail for 15 minutes in the vain hope that she would settle, and then go back in when she was upset enough to need to comfort nurse, nurse for another half hour or more, hold her for a few more minutes, then put her in the crib and pray that she didn’t wake up with the door shutting.
Does that sound like a great bedtime routine or what? In addition, I did this for three days over the weekend, which meant that Mr. SH was at work so Toddler Girl ended up watching Veggie Tales for over an hour every evening while I tried to get the baby to sleep. She thought this was awesome, as she normally gets very limited screen time. At least someone was happy.
So last weekend, I hit my breaking point. Seriously, it was ridiculous. Wonder Baby and I were both exhausted all day, which made me cranky and her clingy (which made me crankier). I also realized that I would soon no longer have a baby who slept badly — I would have a toddler who had never had a full night’s sleep in her life. So, what to do? I am not a fan of cry it out sleep training (although I was feeling much more ready to try it with her by this age), but here’s what I had tried already:
- co-sleeping: She wasn’t into it anymore. She would wake up and squirm until she was back in her crib and had some space. I also couldn’t settle her to sleep this way and then leave because she wanted to play.
- nursing to sleep: didn’t work anymore
- rocking to sleep: made her squirmy and mad
- pick up/put down: worked somewhat at 6 months but now just made her ragey
- putting her down drowsy but awake: also worked at 6 months but now didn’t
- sitting beside the crib with my hand on her: yet another thing that worked at 6 months but now just upset her.
- wearing her to sleep: worked for naps, but I couldn’t transfer her, so it would never work at night. Ditto for car rides.
Have I missed any attachment parenting ideas? If so, it’s because I’m tired. I seriously tried it all. I figured I was down to actual sleep training. She clearly wanted to fall asleep without my help, but didn’t know how. Leaving my daughter to scream in her crib was very unappealing. She’s super stubborn and has separation anxiety right now so I knew it would be very painful for us both, and possibly not work at all. Somewhere in this I had an online meltdown and some of the Bees suggested I look into a sleep consultant. I did a bit of research and found the closest consultant. She seemed great but was six hours away and around $400. I decided to file that under “last resort.” However, she mentioned that she uses the Sleep Sense program, so I decided to look it up. In the end I decided to go with it (and it’s working!), so I’ll explain it in my next post, because this one is getting to be a bit of a novel!
How did you finally solve your horrible sleeper’s sleep problems?