The title of this post is a little misleading. What I WAS doing was not working so great (err… not at all, really). What I am doing NOW is working wonders!
Every single night of our little CIO adventure got worse and worse. I tried the Sleep Lady process of sitting right. next. to. M’s. crib. That did not work. If I was there, he would stand up and scream at me to take him out of his crib. NOTHING I did would console him. I couldn’t pat his back through the crib rails, I couldn’t sing him to calmness, I couldn’t make eye contact with him, etc. It was a freaking disaster. There was nothing about my presence that was calming to him because he wanted in my arms, not to lay next to my hand! It was awful – just awful. I would spend up to 45 minutes in there (I sh*t you not) with him screaming at me the whole entire time. My presence was stressing him out. After 45 minutes, I’d say, “I’ve done what I can, and I’m leaving now.” Then the poor little guy would scream for another 15 minutes until he was out of steam – but STILL STANDING in his crib. At this point in time, I’d go in, lay him down, and pat him to sleep (which is what you’re absolutely NOT supposed to do). Only after he screamed for a full hour, standing almost the entire time, was I able to lay him down and calm him into a nice, sound sleep. After this, he would sleep until 6:00 AM at which time B would bring him into our room and I’d nurse him off and on until – oh, I don’t know (really I do know) – 9:00 AM. And then, and THEN? Because we slept so late out of pure exhaustion, he’d miss his morning nap. The day would be totally and completely awful because the poor kid was just exhausted all day.
I did this for five whole nights. The last night of this adventure, I decided to go in for only a few minutes to check on him and then leave him alone to see if he would calm himself down. I watched the monitor for about 10 minutes with the volume off but the video on, as I laid in bed wide awake. Well – I wasn’t that wide awake because I woke up 40 minutes later dreaming that he was crying. I took a look at the monitor and he was STILL crying (no – screaming is more like it) and standing up in his crib. He screamed in his crib, STANDING UP, for a straight hour. It started at 12:08 (not even 4 hours into bedtime) and I woke back up at 1:08. I was horrified! What a terrible mother I was – I fell asleep while he suffered immensely. I RAN into his room, laid him down, gave him a couple pats, and he was out. And so was I.
No – this was not working at all. In all fairness to the Sleep Lady, I only read online how to do her process – I did not read her book. She probably tells you to not bring them into your bed in the AM because you’re both so tired. But honestly, I tried really hard to do what she, herself, guides you to do online and it did not work for us.
Then, my Canadian counterpart (you know who you are) tweeted me that she had some tips, and she shared them, and I bought Ferber’s book, and we are so, so, SO happy now!
Ferber gets a bad rap. I have not read the entire book yet (but will, because I’ve read the first couple chapters and I find it TRULY FASCINATING!) but let me tell you – this guy does NOT tell you to leave your kid to scream all night. His progressive-waiting approach is the most gentle approach we’ve (I’ve) tried – and we’ve (I’ve) tried them ALL. In case you’re wondering, these are the sleep training approaches we’ve (I’ve) tried:
- Babywise (this worked great when he was tiny tiny tiny, but we never could drop that final night feeding – no matter what we tried from the book)
- No Cry Sleep Solution (I despise Elizabeth Pantley – her methods single-handedly took us from one night feeding to THREE)
- Sleep Lady (total and complete disaster)
- Extinction process (I’ve never seen him so mad in my entire life)
- Ferber (happiness is around the corner!)
We are finding that M cries way less with the Ferber method than he did with all the other things we tried (with the exception of Babywise and I think that’s because he was too young to really want his mom all the time). Last night, he cried and fussed, but he only screamed once. ONCE! We followed the guide on page 74 to a T (as advised by my Canadian soul sister) and we only had to have one long section before he was sound asleep ON HIS OWN! Matthew woke up at 3:04 and I went in after 3, 5, and then 10 minutes and then he was asleep. I didn’t have to remove him from his standing position, I didn’t have to pat him to sleep, I didn’t have to shhhh shhhh shhhh my way out of the room. He just laid down – and went to sleep. I got to go back to bed after being up for only 45 minutes.
Of course, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep and finally dozed off at 5:00 and Matthew woke up at 5:55. I did just as Ferber says and got him up at 6:00 and we went about our day. I am exhausted from my lack of sleep, but who cares because Matthew put himself to sleep! Today – he took two SOLID naps in his crib, for a total of 4 hours. He put himself to sleep tonight at 8:25 after only 16 minutes of fussing. I only had to check on him once before he was sound asleep. As I’m writing this, I’m hoping that the night goes like last night or better. Oh, that would be so nice!
Dr. Ferber is not the mean old guy that all the anti-CIO folks want to make him out to be. He wants you to check on your baby, he wants you to comfort your baby, he wants you to reassure your baby. He just doesn’t want you to be your baby’s nighttime crutch. ALL of the other sleep training approaches we’ve tried have involved WAY more tears than the Ferber method is proving to involve. I am so grateful!
To my Canadian friend – THANK YOU for the guidance! We are on the upswing here at the D house!
For those of you trying to figure out the sleeping conundrum, I encourage you to get “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Dr. Ferber, read the intro paragraph, and then skip to pages 74-76 and get started immediately. You’ll be glad you did!
PS – I love the Ferber process SO much that I created a spreadsheet to track our nights so we can watch the trend.