Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sleep Training Progress & Success

I want to give a little disclaimer with this as I usually do with these types of post topics.  I am referring to this as "sleep training" however I know that term typically gets associated with the cry it out (CIO) method and this simply is NOT any form of CIO.  We do not leave Georgia unattended to cry for lengthy periods of time.  The longest we let her cry was 2 minute intervals and I was right next to her when we did this.  This is just our personal preference.

In my last post I discussed how our sleep struggles started; what our habits and routine were since we brought her home, and how she became dependent on me being next to her in order to go to sleep.  Overall it has caused a lot of stress and unnecessary frustration because bed time success relied heavily on me and could sometimes take up to an hour so I finally decided to get help from a pediatric sleep consultant.

A few weeks ago Carla and I spoke and she gave us our 17 page plan.  It came full of details about what her sleep space should be like, what her naps and day should look like, how to deal with crying at bed time, and what her routine would be going forward.  She also gave me suggestions (with Amazon links) for certain products that might help the process be easier!  The routine she presented wasn't much different than what we were already doing, but we needed to stay committed and consistent with what she was telling us in order for this to be successful.

We began on Saturday May 4th.  Carla and I had our consult that morning and afterwards I dropped Georgia off at my parents and explained the new routine to them.  No more would they be allowed to put her in the car and drive her around til she fell asleep.  I told them that they would have to lay her down in her bed with the lights off, curtains drawn, and leave her by herself.  I explained that they could be in the room with her but the overall goal was for her to go to sleep on her own without anyone in the room.  I left them to be the first ones to start our new routine and she went right to sleep with just a couple minutes of fuss.  That evening also went surprisingly well too!  

We made a few adjustments and our new routine now looks like this in the evenings: 6:00pm dinner, 6:30pm bath, brush teeth, pjs, light reading or playing with no screen time, 7:00pm bed.  It's not much different than what we were doing before, however we did adjust bedtime to be a little earlier and have really tried to stick to the exact times each night to stay consistent.  Joe has been working really late nights so it's been her and I which can sometimes be a little challenging but overall we got it down pretty well.

Every day we have had success.  We are just about a month in and I cannot believe how well it has gone since day 1.  Georgia is now comfortable laying down in her bed with her blanket and binky without me.  I usually give her a kiss and a hug when she lays down.  I started off by sitting at the side of her bed for a few nights, then to her rocker, then at the doorway, and now I just lay her down and walk out.  I started to tell her I was going to put Frank (our pug) in his bed (which is in our bed, he can't jump up into it) and leave the room for a few minutes.  That was how I began getting myself out of the room before she was asleep.  If she started calling for me or crying I'd stand in the door and make my presence known but never get in or near her bed.  For the first few days I sat right next to her bed, I'd hold her hand, rub her back, tell her I was there but I couldn't get in bed with her.  She'd pat the pillow next to her and say "mama come-me" and I'd tell her I couldn't but I was right there.  It was hard, and it still is some times because I love to snuggle her but it's better for ALL of us.  After a couple days right at her bed side I moved back to the end of her bed, and then a few days later into her rocker, then to the door.  I spent a few days in each spot until I eventually was able to leave her.  

Don't get me wrong there have been some tough nights.  There were some nights she went to sleep in literal minutes and then there were some nights that took 30-60 minutes.  The first night I had to use the timer for the 2 minute intervals of crying, that was the only time I had to do that.  There were a few other nights of some pretty good cries, there were some nights of her asking "where'd mommy go" over and over and over; it was not easy but I was 100% committed.  The going to sleep part for her she got really good at.  She is doing very well with just being laid down in her bed with her blankie & binky, giving a hug and kiss, and turning the lights out.  It's truly amazing.  

The bigger struggle is sleeping through the night.  She was notorious for waking up in the middle of the night and coming into our room.  I'd pick her up and put her in our bed and she'd sleep soundly til morning.  We didn't mind.  We bed shared with her for so long and still love having her in our bed, but it was a habit I had to change and it was hard for both of us.  Every time she wakes in the middle of the night and comes into our room I pick her up and put her back in her bed.  It's tough sometimes getting woken up from a dead sleep and having to get my ass out of bed to put her back but she's been getting better with this too and being able to get herself back to sleep on her own rather than getting out of bed.  We also recently added a bed rail which seems to help keep her in her bed.

For naps she's also doing really well.  At grandma and grandpas (my parents) she now goes to sleep on her twin size floor bed, they have black out curtains as well and have been successful at putting her in bed and letting her put herself to sleep.  At daycare the other two days she has never had any issues going down on her own as that is what she has almost always done since I started taking her there at two months.

For the first two weeks, Carla checks in every morning and she gives some general tips or praise which is really nice.  It was great that she touched base daily and reminded me on some of the harder days that what we are doing is normal and fine.  One Friday morning I had a moment of weakness and let her back in our bed around 4:30am after about 2 hours of her being awake.  She came into our room a few times and I tried to put her back into her bed but she got herself worked up and upset about having to lay down.  Eventually I ended up asleep (or trying to sleep) in the rocker but she never did go back to sleep and continued to try to get out of her bed.  I was exhausted and tired from fighting her so I brought her into our room and she fell right to sleep.  Carla explained that they do sometimes experience a regression and that she is starting to figure out the change and possibly trying to fight it.  It all made a lot of sense and I was really glad that she reassured me that what I did was not the end of the world.  The key to all of this working is consistency so allowing her into our bed was not the best choice, but mama also needed her sleep too. 

Transitioning kids is hard.  Whether it’s a big thing or a little thing, they sure do like and prefer routine (at least my kid does) so making big changes like this all at once seemed pretty daunting to me.  I knew she could do it but I also felt bad putting too much on her at once.  Changing bed time around and taking the binky away for the majority of her day seemed like a lot for her to handle but she's done really really well.  Kids are so resilient, it's amazing.  I know our next big one after we master this bedtime thing will be potty training which we failed at earlier this year. 

I can't even being to tell you guys how much this has changed our lives for the better.  I know it sounds corny and kind of extreme but you if you've struggled at bed time (which I know so many parents have) then you know what I mean when I talk about being frustrated and angry at bed time.  I absolutely HATED going to bed in a bad mood all the time, annoyed and irritated and exhausted from laying in a dark room on a bed with black out curtains, sleepy oils, and white noise.  I felt like the little time I could get for me at the end of the day I was so tired all I wanted to do was just crawl in bed.  Now I am able to sit here and blog for awhile, I started watching a new series (not one that I have watched over and over again) because I actually have time to sit down and enjoy a little adult TV.  It's amazing and overall I feel a huge relief and weight off my shoulders in the evenings.  

What I love about Carla is that she understands that sometimes life happens & that it's not the end of the world if things don't go exactly as planned but she also really tries to reinforce how much commitment it takes on the part of the parents.  Consistency is key and for the first two weeks you may have to adjust some things, say no to certain things, cut things short, etc. in order to make it work but I will say it is SOOO worth it.  I seriously never thought that we would be able to get out of the habits we were in.  I didn't know where to start, I felt I was trapped in that situation and that I would just have to wait for Georgia to grow out of it which she probably wouldn't have done for a few years honestly.  Once again social media proved its worth to me with this random chance encounter I had with Carla.  

If you are at all struggling, even in the slightest bit, reach out to Carla and give yourself and your family some peace.  It is well worth it.  She offers a free 15 minute consultation where you can chat with her and get some initial overall ideas of what she offers and what she suggests.  I know a few of my followers have reached out to her already and have began their own new sleep routines. 

Here's some great info shared by Carla herself regarding sleep:


I often get asked how much sleep a baby needs, but there is no clear cut
answer. Just as adults need different amounts of sleep to function well,
babies and toddlers need different amounts as well. However, we can use
guidelines based on age to help regulate their sleep needs and make sure
no one is over tired or under tired.
For example, a 6 month old baby needs about 10 hours of sleep overnight.
It is important that naps are taken regularly during the day, and should
account for up to 4 - 5 additional hours of sleep.
Cat naps are not considered naps; babies and toddlers need their naps for
healthy growth and development. If your baby doesn’t nap regularly, it is
important to teach him/her how to connect sleep cycles so sleep is not
interrupted. If a baby does not know how to connect sleep cycles, or uses a
sleep prop, they will wake often during the night, might wake too early in
the morning, and naps will not be consistent.
Another important factor to teach your baby and toddler healthy sleep
habits is to set up a safe sleep environment for all sleep. If you use the
same place for each nap and overnight sleep, your baby and toddler will
start to associate this space for sleep and it will be a happy place for them.
This will also help to alleviate bedtime struggles. Your family will start to
look at bedtime as night’s beginning, rather than day’s end. This will make
bedtime a fun experience to look forward to, rather than dread.
Toddler’s sleep needs are different from a baby’s sleep needs. At 2 years
old, toddlers still need a solid nap of 2 - 3 hours in the middle of the day so
they can recharge their energy. Their overnight sleep should be around 11
or 12 hours, depending on how long their nap is.
By 3 to 4 years old, toddlers will drop their daytime nap, so a consistent
bedtime routine and appropriate bedtime is very important. No one wants
an overtired toddler running around until all hours of the night!
Establishing a healthy bedtime routine and safe sleep space, for naps as
well as night time sleep, teaches babies how to fall asleep independently
and stay asleep. Studies have shown that proper amounts of sleep help
with learning and brain development. Healthy sleep habits and routines will
teach them independence and restful sleep which they will carry into
adulthood. In return, you will have peace of mind while your child is
sleeping and get some well deserved rest, too.
If you have any questions about your baby’s or toddler’s sleep habits and
routines, or have any sleep challenges, I am happy to discuss them with
you. I am confident we can get everyone on a healthy sleep routine.

Sweet Dreams!


Friday, May 03, 2019

The Scoop on Sleep

Prefacing this by saying this is MY experience and what worked for US.  Sometimes it didn't work which is why I'm writing this post to begin with.  My choices for sleep may not be something that everyone agrees with and that is fine, please keep any judgement to yourself if you have any.  I have turned off commenting to this post (not because of judgment but because of an influx of spammy comments) so if you have any questions or comments please email them directly to me at babyridleybump@gmail.com

Babies and sleep...it's a mystery, it's one of those topics that is always highly discussed, one that people wish there was a magic solution to, one that gets criticized quite a bit, and one that can be a major struggle.

I'll give you a little background.  I was one of those people who swore they'd never cosleep or bedshare.  I bought a Halo bassinet which I loved and was so excited to use.  I assembled it well before Georgia's arrival and had it set up in our bedroom just waiting for her to come.  In the hospital she slept well in the little bassinet that they left her in by my bedside as we slept.  When we got home it was a totally different story.  She HATED the bassinet, screamed those curdling newborn screams so loud there was no way anyone was getting sleep if we forced her to be in that thing.  So for the first few nights home she slept right on my chest and I didn't sleep much at all because I was a nervous wreck having her sleep on me.  I was nursing and she was eating every 2 hours so she was up quite a bit.  I was having these jolts when I would fall asleep from the residual meds that were lingering around in my body after the csection and I was so fearful that I was going to throw her across the room accidentally or roll over on her so I slept very little those first few days.

I ordered a Dockatot within just a couple days of being home and within a week of her being home she was sleeping soundly swaddled in her new little space.  We all felt safe and comfortable about how she slept and we were all getting really good sleep.  After about 8 weeks or so in her DAT between us in bed we moved her into the Halo finally.  She slept there pretty well from about 2 months to about 5 months when she got too big for it.  It was at that point she began bed sharing with us permanently.  We have a king size bed and she would sleep at the top between us, we'd spread our pillows apart and make sure that she had no blankets around her.  It worked out great for us especially since I was nursing it was so easy to feed her & get us both right back to sleep without having to leave our bed.

she was so tiny and hated this thing so much at first

Eventually it was time for her to move to her crib.  She was about 15 months and I knew that we'd be doing our next embryo transfer for baby #2 so I wanted her to be transitioned fully into her crib by the time a second baby would come.  Transitioning her to her crib was somewhat challenging.  She never seemed to sleep soundly in it and would always end up back in our bed.  I would rock her to sleep every night from when she was newborn all the way til she was close to two so once she was rocked to sleep I'd lay her down in her crib where she'd sleep for a couple hours before waking and then coming into our room.  I was always too tired to put the effort into trying to get her back down in her crib so I'd take her into our bed where it was just easier to get us both back to sleep.

Eventually we realized that she might be better off in a full size bed because she'd sleep great when she was in our bed but terribly in the crib.  We had already had a baby gate at her door and her room is right across from ours so we decided one weekend to make the switch.  She was 22 months at the time.  It was a very rough adjustment, a couple of weeks it took for her to really transition and not think that she just had a giant trampoline in her room to jump on and roll around on.  It was a very hard 3/4 weeks and none of us were sleeping.  Joe and I basically tag teamed it on sleep until she finally got through it and began sleeping soundly in her new floor bed.  You can read all the details here

Over the last few months since transitioning and even when she was in a crib it's become very clear that I am Georgia's crutch for sleep and have been all along.  I have to be in the room with her in order for her to fall asleep.  If I leave her when she's awake she calls for me, cries, gets out of bed, etc. until I come in and lay down with her.  Once she's asleep I sneak out and wait for her to wake up in the middle of the night calling for me or coming into our room and getting in our bed.  She has no idea how to self soothe and bed time is very stressful and frustrating most nights.  Her room is darkened with blackout curtains, we use white noise all the way turned up, and I diffuse oils in her room to help calm her (Gentle Baby is our favorite) but none of those things matter if I am not there with her.  

It's been very frustrating most nights.  Of course there are nights when she goes down just fine without any issues, but some nights we fight because she doesn't want to go to sleep, some nights it takes her over an hour to fall asleep and I can't get anything done.  I have just gotten to the point where I feel as though something needs to change before I lose my sanity.  I am constantly going to bed angry and frustrated & those are the last two things I want to be feeling right before bed.  

One day on the good ol' 'gram I noticed I had a like on one of my photos from an account called Slumberland Solutions.  I instantly checked out her page and gave her a follow when I saw in her bio that she was a pediatric sleep consultant.  Within a week or two I was messaging her and had a consultation set up.  We had our first call which lasted about 15 minutes.  She gave me a few tips like moving bed time earlier and taking away screen time before bed.  We tried both of those things right off the bat and they seemed to help so I got back with her that week and we set up our next consultation.  I gave her a bunch of information about Georgia's sleep habits including wake time, nap time, and bed time along with her routine for the rest of the day such as meals.  Carla told me that over the next few days she'd come up with a plan for us to follow. 

A few days later we followed up with a facetime phone call.  She sent me 17 pages of a plan to put into place with Georgia.  Our ultimate goal being that Georgia puts herself to sleep and soothes herself back to sleep if/when she wakes in the middle of the night.  The biggest challenge for me is not putting her into our bed when she comes in the middle of the night.  The biggest challenge for her is laying down without me right next to her.  The basics of the very detailed plan are getting out of her bed, being consistent, only letting her cry for very short periods of time (2 minutes to start), and not putting her into our bed.  Some of the challenges for us are that she is already on a floor bed so she isn't contained and that it's very light in her room even with black out curtains.

Some of Carla's suggestions were a toddler sleep sack, a weighted blanket, a toddler alarm clock, and a bed rail.  I also want to get these black out blinds for her room to go behind the black out curtains so that it's much darker in her room.  She has a west facing window and her curtain although are "black out" are actually white so they don't offer much darkness and I think that makes it a lot harder for her to associate the time of night with bed time.  For now we put tin foil over the window (suggested by another mama) and it worked perfect!

Another thing that Carla pointed out is the importance of her nap.  We're lucky that at daycare she goes down on her own and always has.  At my parents however, they have always been like me and rocked or held her to sleep.  They have even been putting her in the car and driving her around to get her to sleep so they are having to change their routine with her as well.  At their house she has a twin mattress on the floor and they have blackout curtains for her as well.  They successfully got her down with our new plan on Saturday without any issues so we are hopeful that will continue.  It's a big adjustment for all of us.  Routine and consistency are the biggest keys to success with this.

A few other tips Carla suggested is that binky is only for sleep time (which is good because we are ready for her to get rid of it), no clutter in her bed (we do a fitted sheet, pillow, and a small blanket for her), bath and a full belly before sleep times, and to remember that the first few days are the hardest!  So far she is totally right!  We have had success but it hasn't come easy and without challenges but I am 100% committed to doing this as hard as it has been.  On top of this Joe was sick and Georgia was also slightly sick so the timing wasn't ideal but I know it's something that we ultimately all need to make our lives a little easier and less stressful.  Night one and two were very challenging and lots of tears were shed by both her and I, night three was a totally different story.  Within about 7 minutes she was asleep with no tears or fights at all.  I couldn't believe it!

I will continue to keep you guys updated.  If you have any sleep struggles yourself I urge you to give Carla a follow or check out her website.  She has been wonderful and I love her methods.  She does not typically include any CIO in her plan unless requested by her clients so if that is a route you're considering be sure to let her know.  As always, please email me with any questions or comments I'd love to know if you've done any sleep training with your kids!

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