Monday, August 27, 2012

Co-sleeping, No-sleeping, and the Sleep Lady Shuffle

No-Cry Sleep Training sounded to me about as plausible as No-Pain Childbirth.  Honestly, I just don't think that the majority of us will every experience it.  No pain, no gain. Right?

I figured that sleep training would be similar.  Doing it wouldn’t be easy, but the result would be well worth the effort.  Luckily, it all went even smoother than I had anticipated.  After only 3 days, my little Lukas was sleeping peacefully through the night and even naps in his own crib...

Sleep Training and the Sleep Lady Shuffle

I had never thought that I would be one of those parents who co-sleeps with their toddler.  I put my first boy Jonas in his crib from the very beginning.  I had tried to nurse him in bed, but he was just too messy and wiggly.  He loved his crib and I figured it was also the safest way.

Then Lukas came along.  He was the easiest baby ever to nurse and he would fall asleep on my shoulder in bed and not move a muscle until it was time to nurse again.  Holding him was so comforting, I would almost always fall asleep.  However, between relocating, teething, a hospital visit due to asthma, and guests, we realized our co-sleeper was already 15 months old.  He was not only way too big for our bed, but he also had to have my hair in order to fall back asleep, which could be a few times a night, i.e. our co-sleeping had become no-sleeping.

I’ll admit, I tried my own sleep training a couple of times.  The first time I put him in the guest room in the travel crib and tried timed checks, but honestly, I couldn’t handle even 10 minutes of crying.  The second time, I tried sitting next to him during nap time, but after five minutes of being in his crib, he puked all over himself and me.  I had always thought that kids who puke during sleep training have cried forever before that happens.  I was wrong.  I needed help.

After disregarding the no-cry sleep approach (Have you ever tried to pick up a 30 pound baby every time he cries only to put him down again, pick him up, put him down, pick him up, etc..?), and having tried Ferber unsuccessfully, I finally found the Sleep Lady and bought her book for my Kindle.
During the Sleep Lady Shuffle, you begin by sitting next to your child in the room the first three nights, then continually work your way out the door.  What I liked about this method the most, is that it took the fear out of sleep training for both my child and myself.  Even though Lukas would be angry at me, he wouldn’t be freaked out as to where his mother was and I could at least give kind words to help him through it.  After talking to my husband, we decided to begin. 

Here is the daily progression that led to our happy super sleeper:

Preparation: We put a big mattress on our living room floor a good distance away from where Lukas would sleep for my other son or my husband to sleep if necessary.  I also rigged Lukas’s crib with towels in case he puked during training (which from what I’ve learned is pretty common).  I got out a big t-shirt from daddy as pajamas for Lukas to wear so he couldn’t climb out of the crib, and another as a spare in case he puked.

I tied a piece of hair to his little stuffed sheep, sprayed my parfum on it, and laid it in his bed. I made sure to do the same bedtime routine the last few nights before sleep training: early milk (to prevent puking), bathtime, three stories, light off and fan on (white noise), some songs, and then off to bed. When he was asleep I brought his brother Jonas to bed who sleeps in the same room.

Day 1:  At 7 p.m. I started winding Lukas down. Then I did the bedtime routine before laying him in his crib.  I sat down first in a chair right next to his crib just like the Sleep Lady had said.  He started bawling immediately. He was not a happy camper.  After a few minutes I realized it would be better to get down lower so that he wouldn’t have a reason to stand up.  I then sat on the floor and leaned against the chair.  Lukas was really upset, almost puked twice, and it was incredibly hard to handle even when I could pat his back, say soothing words, and rub his head. After about 10 min of this I got the feeling that he was just getting more hysterical and that it would make more since for me to go to the other side of the room and act like I was sleeping.  I laid down on the little bed on the other side of the room.

Lukas cried about 10 minutes more making me feel like a horrible parent and question my intentions. But then all of a sudden, he stopped crying like someone had turned the mute button on.  He just stood at the end of the crib and looked in my direction.  He didn’t move a muscle for what seemed like three or four minutes.  I wondered if he was holding his breath or something and then he crumpled into a sleeping heap with his sweet little head down on his hands.  I went over the bed and rolled him on his side.  I tucked his little kitty under his arm and he pulled it to him and went back to sleep. Then I went over to the bed and cried.
Other then briefly waking up during the night (probably to roll over), he slept straight through until 7 the next morning.  Only 30 horrible minutes of crying and my baby slept all night. The first time ever!  Unbelievable!

Day 2:  I didn’t begin nap training until day 3, so today I let Lukas sleep in the car in the morning and then laid him in his crib after falling asleep after a little stroll in the afternoon. 

In the evening I did everything like the day before.  I laid Lukas in his bed and he immediately started crying.  I said some soothing words and before I could even go to my position across the room, he puked.  It hadn’t even been 2 min!  I quickly changed his shirt and pulled out the dirty towels I had laid around his crib and then went to my position across the room.  That was tough on me, but then Lukas seriously surprised me.  He cried for about another 2 minutes.  Then he sat down in his crib and started playing and singing!  This went on for about 20 minutes before he fell asleep and then slept again until 6:15 the next morning.  This sleep training is crazy! 

Day 3:  I decided to start nap training, so at around 9:30 I laid Lukas down for his nap.  This went without a hitch and he cried about a minute before going straight to sleep.  In the afternoon I put both boys down at the same time which seriously is not easy, but with a little effort (and another run to the potty) worked.  When I finally got them both in bed, I laid down, too and they were both asleep within 5 minutes.  Yeah!

In the evening I put Lukas to bed and he cuddled on me while I was reading but didn’t even make a peep when I put him down.  I gave him his little kitty and he went to sleep almost immediately.  He slept straight through the night and his older brother actually woke up before he did at 6:30 the next morning.  I had never dreamed that sleep training would work so quickly. I figured I wouldn’t get any sleep during sleep training and I now just got three days of sleep myself which I had desperately needed.  Thank you Sleep Lady and thank you Lukas for making it all worthwhile!

I hope that my story has helped some of you calm your fears about sleep training.  I invite all of my readers to please post their comments, questions, fears, personal stories, etc… I'll help where I can. Thank you for your support!

Three years later: After having been so happy that Lukas could sleep on his own, unfortunately, things didn't stay that way. He landed in the hospital with a horrible cold about a month later and then we had to start all over again. In the end, he sleeps in his bed most of the time. I would like to add one disclaimer to this post, however, and that is that every child is different. My first child didn't sleep through the night for five years due to anxiety and my last child slept straight through from the beginning. This sleep method worked so well with Lukas that I thought it was worth sharing. Hopefully, you will also have peaceful nights, too and find a solution that works for your child. 


cazzy said...

I know this post is old, but I just came across it doing a Google search, since I am having the same issue with my little one.

I was wondering, after your LO threw up, did you give him another bottle? Ours seems to be starving after she throws up! It breaks my heart to just put her back into her crib after she throws up.

Any other suggestions to another sleep-deprived mama? Thanks. :)

Steve Berke said...

I enjoyed reading this article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from beddingstock