People love to ask you how your baby sleeps, and I have occasionally told people that Fritter sleeps “great!” only then to clarify to say that she still wakes several times a night.
You see, our bar is set LOW.
Until he was nearly two, Owl was waking multiple times in the night, usually every hour and a half.
Meanwhile, Fritter from day one would sleep in two to three hour stretches. There were some caveats – she couldn’t be put down, for example. I tried. Oh, how I tried. But if you put her down, she would wake up, until about 11 pm in the evening.
Those first couple of months I spent my evenings watching The Mindy Project with her nursing and fussing, and about an hour after she fell asleep I would transfer her to the Moses basket and she would sleep for another couple of hours.
Compared to Owl, that felt like a MIRACLE.
Once my anxiety about SIDS was relieved enough that I could leave her alone to sleep (around 5 months), I started nursing her down on my bed and then just sneaking away. By adding our trusty old Sleepy Suit to the mix, I was actually able to pick her up off of the bed and transfer her to the Pack N Play next to our bed (the successor to the Moses basket).
And so, I have been pretty okay with her sleep overall. She would go down to sleep at around 8 pm, sleep until midnight, until 3, until 5 or 6, and then until 7 or 8.
I could HANDLE that.
Plus, she has two solid naps a day, one in the morning at around 9:30 am that often runs until 11 or 12, and another around 4 pm that goes until 5 or 6.
But lately, that has been falling apart.
It started with more frequent night waking. First it was every two to three hours, instead of 3-4 hours. Lately it has been more like every hour. And she’s fussier, instead of waking up, fussing a minute, latching on and quickly going back to sleep. Maybe it’s teething? Maybe it’s some kind of sleep regression? Maybe God knows that I am trying to get ready to go back to work and wants to make life harder for all of us?
I have been aware all along that she is hooked on nursing to sleep and I was deliberately not acting on it, because, well, she’s my last baby. And I LIKE snuggling with my baby at night, and cuddling her, and I didn’t see any reason to change something I enjoyed and knew that I would miss.
I’ve always felt fairly confidant that once I got her off of nursing to sleep, she would start sleeping really solid stretches, because unlike Owl, she actually seems to LIKE sleep and doesn’t fight it as if it were her own death.
So when her sleep started to fall apart I decided yeah, it’s time to get her off the breast. I started doing the good old pop-off routine, and usually after a few minutes of fussing she would drop off. On a few bad days she would fuss and nurse and get removed and fuss and nurse and get removed for an hour, but mostly it went fine.
But her sleep didn’t improve. It kept getting worse.
Meanwhile, my worries about going back to work became more and more pronounced, and so after one restless night too many, I decided that it was time.
Yes, I love sleeping with my baby, but she has got to get out of the bed. She has to get to the point where someone can lay her down and she can just SLEEP.
So it was time for my friend’s Sleep Training, which has worked beautifully on all three of her kids, and EVENTUALLY kind of sort of worked on Owl. I mean, he did eventually learn to go to sleep without the breast but he was nearly three before I could kiss him goodnight and just walk out of the room. Half an hour to an hour of sitting there humming was the norm.
So, yesterday I popped her in the Sleepy Suit, and nursed her til she started doing her drowsy slow-blinks, and then I picked her up, kissed her, and laid her in the pack and play.
She began to cry – not a broken hearted cry but an annoyed, “hey, what gives” sort of complaint. I smiled blandly at her and read my book. Within five minutes she cut herself off mid-cry, turned her head, and lay quietly. Within two minutes she was asleep.
She slept for two hours.
At her next nap I did the same thing, and the same thing happened. Another two hour nap.
So then, at bed time, I decided to try something even harder – I DIDN’T USE THE SLEEPY SUIT. I often think that she overheats in it, plus it is three month size and she’s really too big for it. Instead I used one of those Sleep Bags you can put on your baby to keep their feet warm.
Well, that was harder. But I nursed her til she looked drowsy, kissed her, and put her down.
She rolled over and got up. I let her hang out standing in her Pack N Play for a while, until she got bored and started to fuss. I picked her up, kissed her, and put her on her back again.
She rolled over and got up again.
We did this for half an hour or so. On the third or fourth kiss-and-back-down, she just lay still, cuddled her Sleepy Sheep, and drifted off.
It was never this easy with Owl.
We are now on day 2, and it has been going about the same.
I’m interested to see if her overnight wake ups change. I meant to put her back into the Pack N Play last night after her first middle of the night wake up/feed, but I fell asleep and woke up with her snoozing peacefully next to me two hours later. Even so, she definitely had fewer wake ups.