02 October 2006

Why Healthy Sleep, Habits Happy Child didn't work for me

You remember this and this and this. Well, two months later and here we are. When I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child I really believed that I could sleep-train Frugalbaby with the methods in the book. But it didn't work. I was also fighting my two older girls with bedtime. In summers past, the light outside at bedtime didn't seem to make a difference. But this summer, there were nights that the bedtime fight lasted at least an hour. An hour, people. Add that to the additional hour that I would spend rocking the baby because I couldn't get her to go to sleep in her own bed. It was a trying time. When my sister was visiting, one of the nights she said to me. "I can't believe you have to do this every night." Unfortunately, she was here at a bad time. Now I want to call her up and tell her that I can have all four of my children asleep in 15 minutes!

Here's how I solved my problem. First, I picked my battle. I couldn't work on the baby's sleep until I got the older girls going to bed better. So I bribed rewarded them. I put a piece of paper on the fridge and every night they went to bed without getting out again, without jumping from one bed to the other, without asking for a snack they weren't hungry for, I let them choose a sticker in the morning. When they got 7 stickers, they got a treat. When they got 14 stickers, they got another treat. And then I didn't have to use the sticker chart anymore, and now the girls go to bed without a fight.

Now, on to the baby. A couple weeks ago Frugaldad had to go on a business trip for over a week, so I decided to take the opportunity to sleep train again. I put the playpen in my bedroom so I could put the baby in there whenever I wanted to. The first night she screamed for about 20 minutes. The next time, only about 3. The next night, and the next night, she didn't cry at all when I put her in her bed. I would nurse her when she woke, but put her back in bed right after. On about the third night, she woke after only a couple hours and I let her cry and she went back to sleep in about 10 minutes. Happened again the next night. Then Frugaldad came home and I put her in her crib again, hoping the transition between rooms would be all right. It was!

Now I can put the bigger girls to bed, and 15 minutes later I can put the baby in her bed. She doesn't cry and she goes to sleep. Two or three nights since then, she has woken up only once and then slept until after 7am.

What was the difference between sleep training this time and last time? This time I didn't try the ultra-early bedtime, so she didn't have the chance to wake up while it was still light and have to cry for a couple hours before I gave in and nursed her. This time I nursed her when she was hungry, and only fought the sleep. This time it worked.


Anonymous said...

Yay!! I'm so glad things are going well for you, thats awesome.

Lena said...

Awesome! We're starting the boys out in separate rooms again because every time I put Eric to bed, Robert wakes up! Like you said- pick your battles. Robert goes to sleep great and once Eric is in bed we can have Robert come down to his bed and then they both get sleep! Yay for sleep- however you can get them to do it!