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A follow-up to Adventures in Baby Sleep Training.

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Every week, I get lots of comments and emails about one post in particular – the sleep training post.  Desperate moms stumble across it in the wee hours of the night and email me to say, “HELP! How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?”  Because if there’s one thing that most moms really, really crave – it’s sleep.  For baby and for themselves!

 

Now, first of all, I’ve only done this once. Smile  And if there is one thing that I’m sure of, it’s that no two children are alike.  What worked with Henry may not work with our next kiddo. But I do believe that the system I used with Henry is a great way to ‘teach’ babies that are old enough to sleep through the night to, well, sleep through the freaking night (STTN).  And don’t get me wrong – there are probably lots of ways to encourage STTN. But I wasn’t interested in a method that would take months. I knew it was going to be a trying experience (for Henry and me both) and I wanted to get it over with quickly.

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When I wrote the first sleep training post, I think I was a little convoluted.  I overthought sleep training and thus overwrote the post. Basically, sleep training for us boiled down to:

 

  • Making sure baby was ready (with doctor’s okay – small babies cannot physically STTN).
  • Making sure what I was ready (emotionally!).
  • Going cold turkey with nighttime feedings – no more bottles at night.
  • Controlled checks when Henry woke up crying (basically, go in every 5 or 10 minutes).
  • Controlled checks involved loving touches and reassuring words, but I tried to never pick him up.
  • We sleep trained for naps first and then did nighttime.

 

The entire process took about five days or so, but it was much better after two nights.  And now, over a year later, Henry is a great napper and sleeper. I am so grateful for sleep training!

 

In this post, I wanted to answer four common questions about Henry’s sleep.  Up first – his sleep habits.  I’ve had quite a few readers ask me to outline how his sleep changed before and after sleep training.  Here it is!

 

Newborn – 2 months:

Slept on top of me, in bed with me, or in a bassinet next to our bed.  Napped whenever, wherever. I fed on demand and never let him cry. He woke up 3 – 5 times a night to eat.

 

2 months – 5 months:

Transitioned him to the crib at night around 3 months (I think – details are fuzzy).  Naps began to organized to three naps a day, which would occur on me, in a bassinet, in the stroller or carseat, or (when he was older) in his crib. I still fed on demand and never let him cry. He still woke up 3 – 5 times a night to eat. Kristien and I were so exhausted that we couldn’t even spell our own names.

 

5 months:

Sleep training began. He starts STTN. The adults in the home stop looking like they were hit by a bus 24/7. We are very grateful! Henry has early wake-ups (6:00 AM-ish) for many, many months.  Naps three times a day, mostly in his crib but sometimes on-the-go. Naps are usually short – 45 minutes and occur every 2 – 3 hours. Has a real ‘bedtime’ for the first time ever (7:30 PM); his bedtime has always stayed the same.

 

7 months – 10 months:

Still STTN consistently.  Wakeups are getting later (side note: he started to walk at 7 months and could walk independently all the time at 9 months; later wakeups definitely coincided with the increase in physical activity). Naps two times a day, both in the crib.  Naps start to get a little longer but not much. 

 

11 months – Now (19 months):

Sleep is now divine all around.  Henry goes to bed at 7:30 PM and gets up around 6:45 – 7:30 AM.  He has transitioned to one nap.  Nap is consistently a long one (2 – 3 hours) and starts anytime between 11 AM – 12 PM.

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Readers have also asked me how teething or sickness impacts sleep training. The short answer is that I always comfort Henry if he is hurt, scared, or sick.  Of course!  If he’s ill and we have a few nights of “Wahh Wahh! I don’t feel good! Oh, here’s mommy! Yay!”, we have to go back to the sleep training principles once he’s better.  But he usually figures it out again really fast.  Also, when he was younger, I could always tell the difference between a roll-over-and-simply-cry cry and a “I need you!” cry.  Now that he can talk, he will wake up and call for me if he really needs me (like the other night, he woke up and yelled, “Mommy! Diaper! Diaper! Diaper!”).  I think you just have to trust your gut.

 

And next, lots of people have asked about the one nap transition.  I wish I had wise words to offer about how to know when your baby is ready to go to one nap, but I don’t really.  Again – just follow your instinct.  Our transition occurred rather fast and was entirely lead by Henry.  I do think that we just got lucky in this regard; I know it’s really hard on a lot of toddlers.  Maybe some of you can weigh in on this in the comments section?

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Last, but not least, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sleep training tips (again, age and weight are very important factors in sleep training so PLEASEEEEEEEEEEE, please, please get your doctor’s okay first):

 

Get breathable bumpers so you don’t have to worry about baby trapping his or her limbs in the crib.

 

If you don’t think you can handle the crying associated with sleep training, ask your partner to do it. Or you can turn off the monitor when the crying begins and set an alarm to turn it back on when the 5 – 10 minute interval is over.

 

I really valued the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and still refer to it regularly.

 

Even if you aren’t ready to sleep train, consider taking a brief pause before rushing up to your baby, especially if you know they aren’t hungry or should still be sleeping. I can’t tell you how often Henry puts himself back to sleep after a minute or two of whining.

 

Trust your gut.  You know your child best.  If things feel really off one night, it’s okay to throw the principles out the window and go comfort him or her as long as necessary.  That being said… consistency is very important. Don’t half-ass sleep training.  It’s very confusing to a child.

 

If you sleep train in a loving, thoughtful way, your child is going to be just fine. There’s a way to do it (controlled checks) that isn’t mean or cruel. If you want to sleep train but struggle with the idea of having your child cry, remember that you are helping them learn an important skill (self-soothing to go back to sleep).

 

It’s okay if your friends use different methods or don’t believe in sleep training at all.  Different parents have different viewpoints.  No one is right or wrong.  We have unique situations and challenges. Some of us take the sleep deprivation really hard (me) and need to have baby STTN as soon as possible. Some of us work away from home and don’t mind getting up twice a night because it’s special mommy/baby time.  Some of us prefer cosleeping, sharing a big family bed, and don’t mind feeding baby throughout the night.  That’s cool; different strokes and whatnot.

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So – that’s that!  A summary of our baby sleep journey thus far. I am excited to hear your tips and advice; I would love to hear from parents who sleep trained and those who didn’t, too.  What lessons have you learned about baby sleep?

{ 56 comments }

 

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  • Ashley M. January 7, 2014, 3:00 pm

    I have learned to never get comfortable and confident with sleep “schedules” hahah :) Honestly, for us — which is, admittedly, a somewhat unique situation, it’s been rocky. Ada was a champion sleeper from 6 months to 22 months. Then, even before surgery, she started just . . . not being one. She will do OK now, but has trouble going down at night (sometimes up to 1 hour!) and then wakes between 5:30 and 8:15. There are periods when it’s great and times when it’s horrible. And now that she has all her teeth, there are fewer excuses! Grrr. Part of the trouble at our house is that we live in a small space and there’s often lots of outdoor noise from neighbors, and a lot of that stuff is what jostles her from otherwise “good” naps/nights.

    Reply
  • Rachel January 7, 2014, 3:02 pm

    I would something that I learned (from Isis Parenting- an awesome resource!). When starting to sleep train, starting with nighttime is generally easier. The child is more tired, so he puts up less resistance. With the early morning wake-up thing, you have to use light to your advantage. Light is what triggers melatonin (the sleep hormone). Often babies sleep better and longer during the winter because it’s dark outside. Use black out shades/curtains to help in the summer, and dim the lights 30 minutes before target bedtime. Also keep the lights dim in the morning until your target wake time.

    I sleep trained my son at 7.5 months. We used the extinction method (NOT recommended by Isis Parenting FYI), and it worked great for us. I felt that going in to check on him would cause greater distress and I could use the video monitor to make sure he was okay, so I just shut the door and left. I also left the house completely, and let my husband stay and listen to the crying ;-) He has slept through the night literally every single night since (he’s now 16 months). The 2 to 1 nap transition was really hard for us. He had to learn how to nap longer. It took a few weeks, but now he sleeps 2-3 hours every day just like Henry. With our next baby, I will definitely do the same thing, but probably closer to the 6 month mark. It was rough for 2 or 3 days, but it has been life-changing ever since.

    Reply
    • Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries January 7, 2014, 5:02 pm

      I have to totally agree with starting sleep training with nighttime first. Initially I thought naps would be easier, but it ended up being a vicious cycle for us. Our pediatrician suggested doing nighttime first, and it made things SO much easier. Once we nailed nighttime, we worked on naps, and he suddenly seemed to get it so much better. But like you said, Caitlin, every baby is so different!

      Reply
      • Caitlin January 7, 2014, 6:03 pm

        Great tip!!!

        Reply
  • Kathryn January 7, 2014, 3:11 pm

    Thanks for this post. I read your others on sleep training and it’s helped me. We are in the middle of sleep training our 6 month old.

    Reply
  • Katie January 7, 2014, 3:24 pm

    Thank you for this post! My daughter followed almost an identical sleep pattern to Henry and I can say my husband, daughter and I were ALL much happier when she slept through the night. A few hard nights of sleep training = so many more of sweet, sweet sleep :)

    Reply
  • Abby January 7, 2014, 3:36 pm

    What a topic! And you write with such grace and wonder, thank you for that! You are a terrific blogger!
    So I have an almost 3 year old and a 16 month old. We have never sleep trained. I can say there have been stages they have gone through for sure. The older one is a great sleeper but we sometimes lay down with her, more for snuggles than anything! The 2nd one has been a struggle. I take ownership. We live in a 2 bedroom flat so logistics can be tricky. Plus here’s a different one, our 16 month old slept in her carseat up until 3 weeks ago! Crazy I know but that was the way we got our sleep. She is now co sleeping with us. I also am still nursing and she’s a little milk monster. I am looking forward to some transitions in the next few months!

    In the end I ask myself is everyone in our family healthy and happy and it’s a YES for the four of us ! So we keep doing our best.

    Reply
    • Sara January 10, 2014, 9:41 am

      Same here! Our son sleeps in our room (works for us, everyone is happy, so why not! To each their own). :-)

      Reply
  • Vanessa @ Her Heart Proclaims January 7, 2014, 3:38 pm

    This is really great! We did all of this with my son and he has always been a great sleeper.

    When we have relatives over, they are surprised that we can put him down AWAKE and let him fall asleep on his own- no bottles or waiting till he’s exhausted.

    He just turned two a few days ago. One thing that has been a HUGE help is a bedtime routine. At 6:45pm we start his bath- then bed time stories, prayers, songs, hugs/kisses- good night! Sometimes baths are longer, sometimes bed time stories go on forever, but we really try to go by his cues.

    He sleeps from 7:30ish to about 6ish, one nape in the afternoon around 12-1pm, for about 1.5-2 hours. (Much like Henry!)

    If he’s overly tired, he will protest and want to play or read more but we’re pretty firm on making sure he gets to bed earlier rather than later. And we always trust our gut and through “sleep training” out the window if he’s really upset, hurt, or not feeling well.

    His protesting has changed recently, though. He now asks for water, diaper changes, hugs- anything to prolong the process LOL! I always change his diaper when he asks (we’re starting toilet training soon) but won’t speak or make eye contact with him. He gets water once, at which I’ll tell him “no more.” He sometimes cry when we leave the room but most times it’s just a protest and he goes to sleep in less than 5 minutes.

    I’m so grateful that we took on a gentle but firm method of sleep training. I know parents who chose to “wing it” and while it works for them, my son’s predictable sleep patterns have been a huge help to our family dynamic.

    Reply
  • Katie January 7, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Loved this! I read (and re-read) your original sleep training posts, and they helped encourage me to keep at what I felt was right for our family. We sleep-trained our daughter starting around 5 months, and did a similar controlled checking method. She is now almost 10 months and has been sleeping so well every since. Thanks for your updates – Henry is precious.

    Reply
  • Tiffany January 7, 2014, 4:12 pm

    Since I’m getting close to meeting baby #2, I definitely appreciate the recap as I already forgot how all of this works and what to expect! I am STILL stunned that Henry started walking so early. My daughter was a very late walker (19 months!!) so the difference is just amazing to me. You aren’t kidding about the no two kids are alike thing!

    Reply
  • Jocelyn January 7, 2014, 4:22 pm

    My little guy is 5 months and we are starting to sleep train, similar to what you did at the same age with Henry. The nighttime is going ok but naps are a disaster. How long did you leave Henry in his crib to fall asleep for a nap? And would you adjust your nap schedule if he wouldn’t fall asleep? This morning he wouldn’t go to sleep so after an hour of crying I went and got him. But then he was ready for his next nap earlier so I put him down a bit earlier but I didn’t want to throw the whole schedule off for the day.

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 7, 2014, 4:28 pm

      How soon did you put him down for his nap after waking?
      Was he fed, dry etc?
      Was he hysterical crying for an hour or just whimpering?

      Reply
      • Jocelyn January 7, 2014, 4:42 pm

        I put him down 2 hours after waking up and he wasn’t hungry or in need of a diaper change. I would say it was normal crying, not hysterical but more than fussing. At night we decided to let him cry for up to 2 hours as long as he wasn’t hysterical. His max has been 66 minutes. But I’m not sure what to do for naps since it will affect the schedule for the whole day.

        Also I’ve been reading lots of your old posts and they are so helpful!! I can’t believe you wrote so much when Henry was little.

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        • Caitlin January 7, 2014, 4:49 pm

          Haha me neither. I was brain dead a lot. :) i would probably have taken him out after 90 minutes and tried again in another 45 or so. Which would ruin the whole day I guess. But the morning nap was always the most important one for us.

          Reply
        • Megan January 8, 2014, 1:45 am

          Even sleep training advocates recommend to not sleep train before 6 months.

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          • Caitlin January 8, 2014, 8:00 am

            Who? Where?

          • Grace January 8, 2014, 9:09 am

            Most experts don’t recommend crying-it-out younger than 6 months, and scientific studies have backed that up:
            http://www.parentingscience.com/Ferber-method.html (and specifically here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12531150 and here: http://www.tau.ac.il/~sadeh/baby/france.pdf)

            It is important to remember as well for an exclusively breastfed baby, breast milk is digested within two hours (vs formula, which has larger proteins that are harder for baby’s gut to digest, and therefore sits in the stomach longer), and 10-12 hours of fasting may not be appropriate for a young baby. Even Weissbluth says that 1-2 night feedings may be needed up until 9 months. Of course each baby is different, talk to your pediatrician, etc.

            In fact, those that follow “Baby Wise” which recommends CIO and scheduling for very young infants (not what Caitlin has outlined here, but for infants as young as 12 weeks if I remember right) has resulted in hospitalization of infants for dehydration and failure to thrive, and the AAP has specifically stated that the techniques outlined in that book are dangerous and should not be followed.

          • Caitlin January 8, 2014, 9:15 am

            Yeah, I read Baby Wise and I was surprised by the recommendations for young babies. There’s no way a 12 week old can go that long without eating, especially with breast milk.

            I do think it varies a lot by baby to baby, which is why everyone should talk to their doctor’s first.

          • Maureen January 8, 2014, 9:32 am

            I think you need to remember that every baby is different. My son who was exclusively breastfeed began sleeping through the night (8-10 hour stretch) at 8 weeks all on his own. My daughter (also exclusively breastfeed slept 8 hours at a time from 5 weeks on. I certainly didn’t train them to do it, but it’s not exactly accurate to say “there’s no way a 12 week old can go that long without eating, especially with breast milk.” It’s simply not true.

          • Caitlin January 8, 2014, 9:58 am

            That’s true. I should nene say never! :) you’re right. I guess what I meant was I personally wouldn’t sleep train a baby that young. If they STTN by themselves, well, you are blessed :)

          • Kelli January 8, 2014, 3:47 pm

            We used the Babywise method as well & our son slept through the night 10+ hours consistently since he was 10 weeks old. I think that it gets a bad rap b/c there have apparently been some neglect/malnutrition incidences where the parent says they used the principles of this book. The book states over & over that the whole point is to make the principles work for you, not to be a slave to the rules & to always use common sense & cues from your child. In other words, some common sense.
            Anyway, I’m 7 months pregnant with my second child & plan to use baby wise again. We started sleep training at 6 weeks with my first *and babywise doesn’t advocate going 12 hours between feedings at this age!!* I believe they suggest the longest stretch of time should be the current # of weeks they are, again using common sense
            We did discuss using it with our pediatrician before we started & he was fine with it so long as our son was thriving.
            I agree that each child is different & their cues are so important too. We definitely throw the routine out the window when Rhett is sick & he goes back to it easily. To me sleep training had 2 huge benefits- sleep for everyone involved, & a routine for each day that we all are comfortable with. Which for us anyway has led to a really calm & confident kid!
            Thanks for sharing all your tips with your readers. I really enjoy your blog.

          • Leah January 8, 2014, 11:48 am

            We followed the baby wise routine (eat, play, sleep) and both of my kids were sleeping 12+ hours by 6 weeks and they were exclusively breast fed. We didn’t have to do cry-it-out with either of them, they just adapted to it. They never slept in our room, so maybe that helped them sleep longer earlier. Who knows!

            My favorite resource for new moms is Moms on Call: http://www.momsoncall.com

          • Tricia January 10, 2014, 8:28 am

            Agreed. I’m following the Baby Wise plan loosely and more during the day. The eat-play-sleep rroutine during the day is fantastic for us. My 8 week old takes two 2.5 hour naps, 1 one hour nap, and sleeps 7pm-7am with one night feeding (usually but sometimes sleeps straight through).

          • Megan January 8, 2014, 12:47 pm

            Thanks, Grace!

  • laura January 7, 2014, 4:52 pm

    that one picture of henry in the crib with that hilarious smile on his face is priceless!! i wish my mom had a pic of me like that. dang that’s going to be so much fun showing people when he’s older lol all in good fun of course :)

    Reply
  • Grace January 7, 2014, 4:59 pm

    I love the baby-related posts! And Henry is soooo cute! I do have to say, though, it sounds like he’s naturally an AWESOME sleeper – I think you guys really lucked out! I’ve got a lot friends that followed Weissbluth to the letter and their kids don’t sleep nearly as well as Henry does. So I think it’s important for new moms and moms-to-be to know that if they don’t have a Magical Sleeping Baby like Henry (even in the beginning – man, 3-5 wake ups sounds lovely with a newborn!), it’s not their fault. ;)

    The most important thing I learned with baby sleep: honestly, nothing you do (or don’t do!) (short of something awful like neglect or abuse) will affect your child’s long-term sleep OR health later in life. All of the research backs this up (see here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/09/04/peds.2011-3467.abstract). If you want to sleep train because you can’t handle disrupted baby sleep, that’s fine, but don’t do it out of an obligation that it’s healthier or better than other options for your kid. It doesn’t impact them at all either way. AND the other big thing I learned is that ALL kids end up in the same place! All kids will sleep through the night and there’s a huge spectrum of normal. I didn’t sleep train at all (never let my daughter cry, breastfed on demand, still breastfeed and she’s over 2), and she was down to one easy 5 am wake-up at 13 months and reliably STTN by 18 months. So you definitely DON’T have to do any type of sleep training or crying it out to have your baby sleep through the night!

    Some greatbaby sleep resources (scientific resources backed up by peer-reviewed studies):
    http://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-tips.html
    and
    http://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sleep-requirements.html

    And for those healthy living blog readers that aren’t interested in crying it out, http://www.nurshable.com is an absolutely invaluable resource. My favorite parenting website on the Internet, hands down. :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 7, 2014, 6:04 pm

      Thanks for all the links!

      Reply
    • Megan January 8, 2014, 1:49 am

      100% agree. Coslept and nurses my oldest on demand and he started STTN right after I weaned him at 25 months. My daughter is 3.5 and we coslept and nurses on demand (she weaned herself at 23 months) and she still doesn’t consistently STTN but it’s no big deal to me and my husband. She usually wakes up between midnight-4 and gets in our bed and goes straight back to sleep. I love the extra cuddles!

      Reply
    • K January 8, 2014, 4:19 am

      A huge YES to Nurshable!!

      And what “the books” don’t tell you is that night waking is NORMAL and so is STTN. I respect any mother’s right to parent how they see fit but sometimes adjusting your expectations is just as helpful!

      Reply
  • Jocelyn January 7, 2014, 5:04 pm

    We’ve always struggled with morning naps. Prior to sleep training I would just hold him and try to get 45-60 minutes but now he’s in the crib for all his naps. I will let him go a little longer tomorrow then. But hopefully he will just give in and take a nap!!

    Reply
  • Nancy January 7, 2014, 7:41 pm

    My baby is almost 16 years old and has been STTN for about 15 of them! Actually, I don’t think he sleeps much at night anymore ’cause he’s usually sleeping most of the day now!
    Anyway, I found the morning routine was just as important as the bedtime routine. Getting him to sleep was one issue (I tried to let him cry – didn’t work for me), but having him stay asleep past 4am was another issue.
    Once he was in a room by himself (about 10 months), I set a radio to start quietly at 6 (or whatever time we thought was acceptable to start the day – the details are fuzzy!) If the music was playing, he could expect to get up. If it was quiet, he stayed quiet in his bed.
    The trick was to be consistent everyday – weekends too!
    In the end, it’s like potty training – to some it comes early, some late – but it happens!
    Good luck all.

    Reply
  • Verna January 7, 2014, 7:55 pm

    We’re on our 3rd baby and we love the same book. We’ve tweaked our method some but followed the book basic ideas for all of them.

    Reply
  • susan January 7, 2014, 8:49 pm

    Our two babies were as different as night and day. One was not good at going to sleep or staying asleep, and still isn’t, at age 16. The other was a good sleeper from the first, and still is, at age 11. I’m glad it worked for you, but it never would have worked for our first!

    Reply
  • Jacquelynn January 7, 2014, 9:26 pm

    Oh my, I have been using your last Adventures in Sleep Training post as a point of reference. We are sleep training my 5.5 month old now :) I even passed along your blog about it to a friend last night!

    My biggest obstacle is getting him to like sleeping in his crib. He has been in a graco portable sleeper for a couple months (and a fisher price snug-a-bunny sleeper before that), but is outgrowing it. We are tackling naps right now, and going to try the crib for nighttime this week. He’s been sleeping 10-12 hours at night in his sleeper, so I am nervous about moving him to his crib…

    Thanks for your posts, I really enjoy them!

    Reply
  • Keri January 8, 2014, 12:17 am

    As a first time mama to be–due any day, I’m grateful for this post. Wondering what your thoughts on co-sleeping are (not bed sharing though). How far away is/was crib to your room? Was it harder to wake up & feed at night with him further away? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 8, 2014, 8:02 am

      Hi :) congrats! Once we moved him to his crib we slept a lot better because I wasn’t waking up for every sigh and peep. But there’s a lot of evidence that cosleeping reduces SIDS and helps with breastfeeding which is why we did it initially. Once he moved he was all the way upstairs. It was a pain to go upstairs at night!

      Reply
  • Stephanie January 8, 2014, 6:49 am

    I don’t even have kids and I enjoy these posts because I know it’s advice I would want if I had a child. I love that you always keep it real. I’m pinning these for “later.” ;-)

    Reply
  • Lastetoad January 8, 2014, 7:24 am

    Woww there is a big training list what to do. It may surely help somebody but every child is unique and every mother should follow her child needs at first.

    Reply
  • Kattrina January 8, 2014, 10:05 am

    I love discussions on babies and their sleep habits! Initially I had assumed we would sleep train our son because after three months I had to go back to work and needed my sleep. However, our son wasn’t a great sleeper and in the beginning he’d sleep from 8pm-1am without waking up but then after that he would wake up every ten minutes and pretty much never went back to bed unless I was holding him. It was miserable. After talking to my pediatrician, she recommended having him sleep in our bed when I went back to work because she said I’d get more sleep and that sometimes working moms enjoyed the snuggle time at night since they didn’t see their babies as much during the day (obviously pediatricians are all very different and it’s important to choose a pediatrician that is in line with your personal views – some pediatricians are completely against co-sleeping and others are fans…we picked a more attachment-style pediatrician so her suggestions are more in line with that style of parenting).

    So from that moment on, we started co-sleeping and I have slept SO much better. My son still wakes up and nurses 2-3 times a night (he’s 16 months now) but it doesn’t bother me at all. He naps once in the afternoon (from 12-2ish) most of the time, but we pretty much let him dictate his nap schedule and so far we haven’t had any problems. It was super easy to transition him from two to one naps – if he wasn’t tired enough to go to sleep for his morning nap we kept him up a bit longer and then put him to bed when he was tired (that’s how we ended up with one nap at 12pm, he used to nap from 9-11 and from 1-3). During our Christmas vacation he didn’t want to nap during the day and would nap from 5pm-8pm, wake up and eat and then be ready for bed at 10pm.

    My husband is Honduran and in Honduras they don’t have schedules for their children at all and everyone co-sleeps until they move out of the house practically (obviously not every family in Honduras, but many). They also believe that if a child is tired he or she will fall asleep wherever. So our sleep style is a combination of his culture and ours, and it seems to have worked well so far.

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 8, 2014, 10:19 am

      So cool to read!

      Reply
  • Tara January 8, 2014, 10:16 am

    We used sleep training with our first and he was STTN within two days. I couldn’t believe it. We tried the same method with his little brother and he was having none of it! Remarkably two weeks later he started STTN all on his own, which we were incredibly grateful for. It’s very true what works for one may not work for the other, but it doesn’t hurt to take what you’ve learned at try! :)

    As for the two nap to one transition. With our first it happened very naturally. Suddenly he was just so alert and wanting to be on the move all morning with no signs of needing a nap. He did increase his afternoon nap to 3-4 hours (at 3.5 years old now he still takes that long of a nap!) My second son is approaching his 1st b-day and some days he barely sleeps an hour during his morning nap and sometimes it’s a 3 hour nap. I feel like he’ll need a bit before he’s ready for just an afternoon nap, since his mornings naps can still be so long. It’s just harder having an older sibling who wants to go out and do things in the mornings and not realize why his baby brother needs to sleep when he feels like they just woke-up!

    Reply
  • Lizzie January 8, 2014, 10:16 am

    Agree with everything Caitlin said above, and just wanted to add a few tips that really helped us. My son is 17 months and a pretty great sleeper, but we’ve had some awful regressions and things like that that have kept things interesting…

    First, it’s a phase. EVERYTHING is a phase. It’s so easy to get so caught up and depressed when your baby sleeps well for a while and then suddenly stops–I swear it screws with your brain. You start thinking you’ll never sleep again and this is how it is (WHY DID WE DO THIS? WHAT WERE WE THINKING?), but chances are, in three weeks it’ll be in the past and you’ll be writing blog comments about what a great sleeper your kid is.

    Second, check and console doesn’t work for every baby, or every parent. My son always got so much more agitated when we checked, that we really had to save consoling for extreme cases. I’m also a crappy consoler because I have no willpower or self control, so my husband usually does it. Do what works for you and your kid.

    Third, when you’re in a cry-it-out stage, set an actual timer for how long you want to wait until checking/etc. You’ll go through what feels like half an hour of torture and realize it’s been 7 minutes. And if you have the option, go somewhere–anywhere–where you’re not just sitting there listening. It’s torture. As long as someone else is close enough to hear if the baby escalates significantly, get out of there.

    Finally, if the baby is sick/teething/in pain, ditch the principles for a few days or until the issue resolves, then set the rules again and start over, just like the first time you sleep trained. My son just had two months of molars, two ear infections and a sinus infection, and we were up at least once a night most nights. Finally when everything was clear we had to go through the process again (full hour of crying the first night during his wakeup) but after three days all was back to normal. One good way to tell if your baby is crying due to illness/pain vs. just wanting you is if he/she smiles ands tops crying immediately when you come in or pick him up. Fakers. Those little jerks.

    Good luck!

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  • Jamie January 8, 2014, 1:38 pm

    Hi Caitlin! Great advice and I think yours is a level headed approach to sleep training. We employed a very similar tactic with our 3 little ones. Your Henry is well past needing our homegrown solution to help teach our kids to self-soothe and sleep independently, but I wanted to share with you our website – http://www.bittablankie.com. 3 years ago, we created Bitta Blankie, a baby sleep suit + wearable lovey for our then 4 month old son and haven’t looked back since!

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  • Jen in SC January 8, 2014, 3:26 pm

    Love these baby/toddler posts! I’m a huge advocate of sleep training because, like you, I wasn’t functioning. And thankfully, both my girls (now aged 4.5 and 1.5) took to it well. They had started to STTN on their own from freakishly young ages, which I know was mostly based on sheer luck. But I struggled a lot, in general, with adjusting to baby #2, so I gratefully took it and ran with it!

    With DD #1, we did a more formal ST plan around 6 months. We mostly did extinction because I could not handle the intervals with a slightly older baby. DD #2 had the personality to do short, gentle fuss/cry intervals even younger than that. She did awesome. I am thankful for my good sleepers! It keeps me sane as a mama of 2 :)

    Thanks for writing with grace, openness, and humor!

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  • Dana January 8, 2014, 5:55 pm

    http://www.troublesometots.com/are-you-keeping-baby-awake-too-long/

    I lived by this chart with my last baby who just turned one. She’s my third and final kiddo. I have a 13 year old and 9 year old so I had forgotten a lot once #3 arrived. But, my best advice is that good night sleeping comes from good day sleeping. All three of my kiddos slept 6-7 hours at night by age 8 weeks. By 3 months, they slept from 8:30 pm until 7 am.

    I miss the baby stage but at 41, I guess it’s time to stop! 😉

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  • Carol January 8, 2014, 8:45 pm

    I think that if you mentally and physically stimulate them enough they will be so tired they will sleep longer and better.

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  • Tammy Root January 9, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Hey Caitlin,
    If any of your readers want my sleep specialist’s name/number for which we based Henry’s STTN technique, let me know! She can do phone consults.
    Tammy

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    • Caitlin January 9, 2014, 8:01 pm

      You are awesome!

      Reply
  • Heather January 9, 2014, 7:47 pm

    Just wanted to say the photo of Henry looking over his shoulder in the crib is the cutest thing ever.

    Also, this was interesting to read. I never once thought of how to sleep train my son. It wasn’t even on my radar because he was so small that we needed to wake up him up every 2 – 3 hours for months and months to feed him. After that, he just slept all night. I know that makes me a very fortunate and lucky momma! :)

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  • Sara January 10, 2014, 9:39 am

    My son will be 8 months old next week and still sleeps in our room in a pack and play. It works for us. He’s a sound sleeper though. He’s good at putting himself to sleep (if he’s awake when I put him down, he’ll roll around and babble awhile but then he conks out). Even when we get up at night to use the bathroom or when we shower in the mornings, it doesn’t bother him! And our dogs sleep outside of our room and they don’t bother him. We’re blessed! Every baby and every situation is different for sure! I just take sleep one day at a time. It works for us now–it may not soon. We do want to put him in his crib soon, since he’s getting a little big and heavy for his pack and play and it would probably be more comfortable for him in his crib. But I really enjoy having him in our room. I didn’t think that would be the case when I was pregnant, but I changed my tune when we came home from the hospital.

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  • sara January 10, 2014, 10:18 am

    Hi! my son just turned 9 months, so we are a little late due to some reflux, etc. But I am determined now to do some sleep training! He goes to daycare during the day and naps well. But within the last month, he fights sleep horribly…we have to do a dog and pony show to get him to sleep! I nursed and he shared a bed with us, moved him to a bottle at 4 months, but we are still sharing a bed! He is eating some solid foods now so that helps sleep. But I am wondering the steps I should take. We have tried a few times lately to nap or sleep in his bed, but only after he falls asleep. He doesnt stay in there very long before he knows I will get him and bring him to my bed. I am afraid that he wont nap well in his bed, and I know how important naps are! so do you have any advice on getting him in his bed first? I know I have to do this before we start to sleep train, because its not going to do much good in our bed!

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    • sara January 10, 2014, 10:22 am

      ps. I meant for that to be a new comment! Sorry!

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  • Jade January 16, 2014, 10:15 am

    I like reading about sleeping posts, this one not so much for the sleep training part (as we did that a few months ago with good success) but to see how long your kiddo will sleep and how long naps are too. Our kids were born on the same day, and yes I know no two kids are the same, but for the last month (I think) now we have had 5 am wake ups, no matter how late or how early I put him to bed, we get the same. He will not go back to sleep when the clock hits 5… He goes to bed around 7-7:30 and some nights he even asks to go to bed earlier. His naps are fairly good, about 2 hours. Sometimes I think that he wakes up early as he needs more awake hours in the day – which maybe it is true, but when he wakes up with bags under his eyes, I think not!

    Baby sleep, who knew I would spend so much time obsessing over it! hahaha

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  • kath January 17, 2014, 9:11 pm

    Awesome post! The ages and stages were true for us too and will be so great as a reference for new moms.

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  • Sharon T January 18, 2014, 10:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. The right words at the right time. I started working with my 11 month old last week (naps have been solid for a month, moved on to night sleeping). Last 2 nights she slept 11 hours – straight. I’m floored – really didn’t think it was possible! Thank you for this post.

    Reply