Who’s Training Who?

in Sleeping

My little boy deserves an old man sweater after his STELLAR sleep performance last night.


I thought I’d give everyone a sleep training update because things have been going pretty well, save for a few sleep regressions here and there (which, by the way, are hell).


Since Henry’s naps have regulated – every two hours for 45 minutes at a time; naps are short, but I read it’s developmental and will soon pass, we decided to start working on nighttime.  Everything I had studied said that if naps regulate, the nighttime will, too.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  On a good night, my little night owl went down at 7 PM and was up at 10 PM and 2:00 AM – 3:00 AM for a bottle.  Then, he really woke up at 6 AM.   Bad nights, which happened all the time, involved three or four wakeups.  It was rough.  Really, really rough.  Especially the middle-of-the-night feeding.  Of course, round-the-clock feedings are normal for wee babes, but a 4 – 6 month old is physically capable of sleeping 8 –12 hours uninterrupted.  Kristien and I were literally at the brink of insanity and knew we had to do something.


So – we dropped the middle-of-the-night feeding.  I won’t pretend that I’m a baby sleep expert, so this is only what worked for us.  First, we checked with Henry’s doctor to make sure we could eliminate the feeding before he naturally did.  Then, I realized the problem was that Henry was too used to getting calories round-the-clock and needed to be guided into eating more during the day, especially more during his last baba at 7 PM.  By tweaking his afternoon feedings, I managed to get him up from 4 ounces to 6 or 7 before bedtime, and then we would dream feed him 3 ounces as normal at 10 PM.  When he did wake up for his middle-of-the-night feed, we offered him less and less milk over the course of a few days (we start off cold turkey, but that was a BIG mistake).  Then I switched to offering him a pacifier (which he isn’t really into anyway).  The result?  Henry has finally began to experience 7-hour sleep stretches from 10 PM to 5 AM.  AMAZING, to say the least.


Last night, I finally felt comfortable enough to move the mattress off the nursery floor.  I still slept upstairs with him, but there was a wall between us for the first time since he was born.  (It was a little sad, but it’s got to happen eventually…)


The other thing that I’ve ‘figured out’ with Henry is that I’ve been saying I want him to learn to self-soothe, but I’ve been allowing him to do anything but.  Of course, this made a lot more sense when he was tiny-tiny, but I’ve been continuously rushing into the room at every cry.  I force myself to wait a few minutes – I even set an alarm clock – and 80% of the time, he self-soothes himself in under 5 minutes.  Honestly, I have to turn off the video monitor when this happens because it sucks to hear him cry, but I know the crib is a safe spot and he just needs to work himself down.  When he can’t calm himself, I go in and give him a cuddle, and then he usually falls right asleep.


And last, but not least, when he does *really* wake up from a nap or sleep, I sing him a song and give him lots of praise and kisses so he associates feeling rested with approval and love.  I tell him how good he feels after his sleepy sleep, and he always smiles back.  It seems to work!


You know – it’s funny how non-intuitive so much of parenting is!  I really have to think about our ‘game plan’ and try lots of different combos before I really understand what I should be doing. 


End of the story… Today, I woke up BEFORE HENRY for the first time since the day he was born.  It was SO amazing… Every single horrible second of sleep training suddenly seemed well worth it. 


French toast, almonds, strawberries.


I feel so good that I think I’ll go for a six mile run!



  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 24, 2012, 8:49 am

    Congrats on a good night’s sleep! 🙂 And 6 mile run? YOU go girl!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) October 24, 2012, 8:54 am

    Sleep is an amazing thing! I’m so glad things are coming together for you guys. That is definitely the hardest part of the beginning of parenting. Sounds like you all are ready for a great day now! Enjoy your run!

  • Katie P. October 24, 2012, 9:05 am

    Maybe you have touched on this, but what do you put Henry in to sleep? I have a daughter the same age and am thinking it’s time to break her of the swaddle. I feel like just jammies will be too cold, but jammies + a fleece halo sack is too hot? Curious what you do…thanks!

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 9:19 am

      He only wore a swaddle from week 5-9 or so. He either sleeps in footed pjs or a sleep sack. I purposefully mix it up.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 24, 2012, 9:18 am

    Ahh congrats!!! I can’t imagine functioning on such interrupted sleep for so long! I’m glad Henry is learning to sleep longer!

  • stephanie October 24, 2012, 9:48 am

    Congrats!!!! Getting the sleep stuff into a rhythym is a huge accomplishment. I can imagine how wonderful and rested mama must be feeling now!

  • Carol October 24, 2012, 9:55 am

    I think we have the same baby! 🙂 We were having the EXACT same issue with our little one (who is only 2 days younger than Henry) I LOVE your blog so so much! YAY For Henry sleeping better at night! 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  • Gretchen October 24, 2012, 9:55 am

    That sweater/cardi on Henry is pretty much the cutest thing I have ever seen ever ever ever. Just so you know.

  • Holly P. @ A Year in Wichita October 24, 2012, 10:01 am

    Congrats! I can’t imagine how nice waking up first must have felt this morning! 🙂

  • Coco October 24, 2012, 10:03 am

    Congratulations on a good stretch of sleep! Way to go Henry 🙂

  • Angie October 24, 2012, 10:04 am

    That’s awesome. Our little boy is 4 weeks old and it’s tough letting him cry it out and self sooth. It’s gettin better. I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel and eventually he’ll sleep through the night. So hard though.

    • Tracie October 24, 2012, 1:31 pm

      May want to check with your pediatrician. 4 weeks is WAY too young for sleep training/crying it out.

      • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 1:41 pm

        Just a heads up, sleep training does not equal CIO and a little crying isn’t necessarily CIO.

        • Hotpotatokate October 24, 2012, 7:59 pm

          I think a LOT of people would classify 5 minutes of crying to “self soothe” as CIO. Everyone has their own definition though.

          • Ashley October 24, 2012, 11:34 pm

            I absolutely agree. CIO is CIO, no matter how long the baby cries. And at 4 months, very few babies have the ability to truly self-soothe. That’s why sleep training isn’t even recommended until around 6 months, when they do achieve that ability.

  • susan October 24, 2012, 10:04 am

    Thank you for sharing. Sleep training is such a vital part of staying sane.
    I LOVE to get up before my kiddos … it gives me a sense of balance and calm before the day really starts. Enjoy! Congrats!

  • Jayce October 24, 2012, 10:07 am

    It’s always interesting to hear other parents’ perspectives. I have found that this baby stage actually is very intuitive. We are not sleep training, though – just the thought of it stresses me out. I feel it would over complicate things for us? There have been random nights when he sleeps 7pm-4am, and I wake up first with rock hard breasts. I suppose this will balance out over time. Do you still pump at night or is your supply adjusting with Henry’s sleep?

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 10:38 am

      SomeTimes I have to pump, sometimes I can get away with it. I hate the hard boobies.

  • Abby October 24, 2012, 10:10 am


  • Melissa October 24, 2012, 10:23 am

    One thing I’ve learned is that sleep is a fluid thing. The best thing you can do is work hard to instill good sleep habits and also to really understand between you and your partner what your “sleep philosophy” is. We really struggled with sleep training, as our persistant little boy proved he could cry for HOURS in the middle of the night- which all the books we read did not prepare us for. Ultimately we decided that a modified cry-it-out approach works for us. When he cried, we would go in and comfort him but put him back in his crib still awake and while we might go in intermittently to soothe him, we basically let him cry until he put himself to sleep, however long it took. This was at 9 months old, when he had never once slept through the night, we were getting up at 5 am every weekday to go to our full time jobs, we’d had only one night of respite via the help of a grandparent, and I really thought I was going to lose my mind unless something changed. I hated doing it, but it worked- our son started sleeping through the night. Then I made the mistake of thinking that our sleep problems were solved, and now at 12 months we are having another sleep regression and having to do it all again. It sucks, but we are better parents and spouses when everyone is getting good sleep and so we do what we have to do. My husband has to remind me every night about our philosophy- that we are doing this in the best interest of everyone in the family and that we need to send a consistent message that our son needs to self-soothe during middle of the night wakeups. We know it’s not thinking that is shared by everyone, but it’s what works for us. The good news is that the sleep regressions at 12 months aren’t nearly as bad as 4 months- it does get better/easier!

  • Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) October 24, 2012, 10:24 am

    Rock star performance, Henry! YAY! 🙂

  • Laura October 24, 2012, 10:27 am

    Henry is too cute!!!

  • Lindsay October 24, 2012, 10:31 am

    Look at that pretty tree outside your window! You’re so lucky!

    And Henry just gets cuter by the day. He knows how to work a camera 🙂

  • Stacy October 24, 2012, 10:39 am

    Hooray! I felt like I was working through a puzzle with you…like..hmmm, how is she going to get him to sleep all night…..and then YOU DID IT! I felt so proud of you by the end of that post! haha!

    Enjoy your run!

  • Pam October 24, 2012, 10:41 am

    I’m so happy for you! My son is three weeks younger than Henry and I have a question because we’re dealing with multiple night wakings lately. When you put Henry in his crib at 7pm is he still awake? I keep reading that you’re supposed to put babies down awake but drowsy so they learn how to fall asleep on their own. But after I nurse my son at bedtime it’s almost impossible to wake him up, at least without making him upset.

    • Dominique Bain October 24, 2012, 1:36 pm

      My daughter is two weeks younger than Henry and we have the same thing going on. She loves to fall asleep nursing. When she does, I just put her into bed. I never wake her up on purpose. The book I was reading about sleeping said that it’s fine for them to fall asleep suckling. The biggest problem I’ve found is that it is difficult then to get her to go to sleep if she’s taking a bottle or needs to sleep but isn’t hungry. I’m still struggling with how to deal with that. I have found that she does not like being put into her crib still awake and will cry hysterically for a very long time. Hoping to fix that, but haven’t quite figured out how yet.

      I totally agree with Caitlin’s statement that so much of parenting is counter-intuitive. Every once in a while my husband asks me what my “mother’s intuition” says and I want to smack him because usually by the time we get to that point in the conversation, I’m totally at a loss.

  • Courtney @ Translating Nutrition October 24, 2012, 10:43 am

    Such a cute photo!

    Congrats on the sleep training! You may enjoy reading up on French parenting (bringing up bebe comes to mind), which emphasizes scheduling feedings during the day, self-soothing and no middle of the night feeds (after a certain point, naturally). Sounds exactly like what you’ve worked out for yourself along the way.

  • Ashlee October 24, 2012, 10:47 am

    Woohoo for sleep! You are an awesome Momma!

  • Johnna October 24, 2012, 10:48 am

    I think you have the cutest baby in the world.

  • Jess T October 24, 2012, 10:50 am

    Nice! I don’t even know what I would do with myself with seven hours straight of sleep! My Henry has been sleeping much better since we have put him in his crib at night. As much as My husband and I wanted to cosleep, it just wasn’t working for our boy. He is now sleeping in about 3 hour stretches for the most part, which is fine for now. I am trying to make sure I respond to him when I hear a “Mommy I need you!” cry rather than just “Dang, its taking me a whole 30 seconds to get comfortable!” fussing.

    Our babies are on the exact same nap schedule too! I thought something was wrong and he wasn’t taking long enough naps, but I also read a couple of places that it is developmentally normal. What a relief!

    Funny story…a two nights ago I was trying and trying to soothe Henry down in the middle of the night and every time he would wake up when I laid him down and cry! Finally, I changed his diaper and just decided to try laying him down awake, left the room and listened. The kid was alseep in minutes. Since then I just lay him in his bed after he eats and he goes right to sleep.

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope October 24, 2012, 10:54 am

    Looks so pretty outside from your window!

  • Ashley October 24, 2012, 11:02 am

    I’m a first time Mom & I was wondering if you could give me a schedule of how you tweaked his afternoon feedings & the ounces? I solely pump like you & our son barely will eat his entire 4 oz at every feeding. I don’t know how to make him eat more at one time to lessen the number of feedings. He gets his last bottle at 8:30 and we dream feed 3 oz at 11:30. He then wakes up between 3:00-4:00 like clockwork. I’m exhausted!!!!

    Also, we have swaddled him since birth and now it’s time to stop & I don’t know how. I’m worried he’ll wake himself up all night long. Any ideas on how to transition out of the swaddle.

    Thank you so much!

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 2:19 pm

      I feed him as he normally would be until his 5 PM feeding (which isnt set in stone, just the closest one to that). Before, he would have 4 – 5 ounces at 5, but I switched to giving him 2 – 3. He seems satisfied by it, he just isn’t being stuffed full of milk, so at 7, he is totally willing to drink 6 – 7 ounces.

  • Lindsay @ Fuel My Family October 24, 2012, 11:03 am

    I agree. The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” makes sense after having kids, not that I physically need all that help but I sure do need the advice of an entire village (or google these days :))

  • Ashley October 24, 2012, 11:06 am

    I resisted and resisted but when nothing was working for us as far as sleeping, we resorted to the Ferber method at 9 months. You’re right, sleep training SUCKS. Those tears are never easy to take. But in less than a week our entire house was happier. You’re doing a great job mama!

  • Heather October 24, 2012, 11:11 am

    Quick unrelated question for you: any update on the citronella collar for Maggie? We are at our wits end with our barky-bark dogs and want to know if it really worked for her? (I have my doubts about one of my not-so-smart dogs!)


    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 11:43 am

      It is getting less effective over time. But still works!

    • Stephanie C October 24, 2012, 1:18 pm

      We just bought one for our dog and it seems to work for barks when people knock or walk by, but her anxiety barks (skateboards, seltzer, and coffee grinding) only increase with the collar on (she tries to attack the collar – it’s hilarious). Over all its worth it because the anxiety barks happen only about once or twice a day vs people walking by and knocking a lot more.

  • Brittany October 24, 2012, 11:21 am

    Hey Caitlin! I thought you might be interested in Alfie Kohn. He’s a theorist that has a lot to say on school reform, and has written a few books on parenting too. He has some “unconventional” views on praise, and talks a lot about unconditional love. I have found that a lot of his work really resonates with my values, so as I’m a child and youth care worker, integrated a lot of his work into my practice. Definitely not making a judgement on your parenting here, or trying to tell you how to parent; just thought that you seem to like exploring new ideas!

    • Claire October 24, 2012, 11:57 am

      LOL! Yes, Alfie Kohn would have a LOT to say about try to reward a baby sleeping through the night with positive reinforcement. 🙂

  • Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets October 24, 2012, 11:27 am

    that grandpa sweater makes my heart happy. i can’t help but smile. so glad you are getting the sleep thing down. it sounds tough, but i love to hear about the experience.

  • Claire October 24, 2012, 11:29 am

    I’m glad you got a good night’s sleep! Sleep training is not for everyone (it’s something I’m personally opposed to) but I’m glad it worked for you. However, there are a LOT of dissenting opinions on if a baby can go as long as 8-12 hours without eating, especially as young as four months. Some (obviously more AP-leaning) experts say that some babies need to eat at least once overnight even up to a year old. Just like adults, all babies have differing metabolisms and have different needs when it comes to eating (as well as feeding, development, etc.), and breastmilk digests in two hours. Like any other developmental milestone, sleeping through the night can vary greatly by age (even some adults need to have a drink of water or a snack at night). And, for what it’s worth, we’re the only culture around the world that sees baby sleep as something that’s a “problem” that needs to be “fixed.”

    My little girl at 10 months still nurses anywhere from 1 to 4 times a night. BUT, we co-sleep, I plan on extended breastfeeding, and I’m pretty passionate about attachment parenting so it works well. For us, it’s the the most wonderful bonding experience (we sleep face to face, and most night she will cradle my head in her hands as she sleeps, and pat my hair from time to time – I just love it!). And surprisingly enough, I don’t feel tired on a day to day basis (co-sleeping and side-lying nursing means that the wake-ups are really negligible). Just a shout-out from the other side of the sleep spectrum! 🙂

    I know that you’ve mentioned before that you are particularly sensitive to normal levels of baby-induced sleep deprivation, so I’m glad you’re getting some more sleep!

    • Jayce October 24, 2012, 2:00 pm

      I am with you here. As I said in a previous comment, sleep training seems to over complicate things. I know I would get obsessed about regressions and counting how many hours sleep, etc. We lay our 4 month old down in the pnp by 8 (he set this bedtime), then when he wakes to nurse (anywhere from 11:30-4:00) I bring him in bed and nurse/cuddle. I think (?) he typically nurses three times a night. Feels uninterrupted to me! He will not be sleeping with me when he is a big boy, just as he will no longer wear diapers!! But, so glad you are getting more sleep and feeling better, Caitlin! Happy, rested mamas are so important for thriving babies!

      • K October 24, 2012, 3:13 pm

        Another voice from this side of things! I don’t think we personally could use any variant of a crying method, but I completely understand peoples’ decision to do SE and I believe that all of us are just doing our best for our babies. I agree that expecting a child to be able to sleep extended periods of time without food is a polarizing issue and personally, I want my guy to have as much breasilk as possible during this short stage of his life. That said, sleep deprivation is hard at any level and I am so glad to hear that you all seem to be sleeping better and finding what works for you. At the end of the day, these are just our opinions, baby sleep books are all based only on theory (regardless of which approach they promote) and you know better than any of us what Henry’s needs are!

        • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 3:18 pm

          Just want to throw this in there – I’m pretty sure all babies who are gaining weight normally eat the same amount of milk in total, whether they are eating 80% of it during the day or 50% of it at night. But I could be wrong? So I don’t think it’s a matter of getting as much milk as possible. Henry is getting just as much as he needs/wants.

          • K October 24, 2012, 4:54 pm

            Caitlin, I see what you are saying, and I really am not any kind of expert about food intake or weight gain, but I do think of nursing (via breast or bottle) as having more than a strictly nutritive function. I’m not at all suggesting that you’re depriving Henry of anything, just that we all have our own ways of expressing care, bonding and nurturing our babies.
            I really really don’t mean to imply that you’re not giving Henry the best shot possible at life! He looks very happy, healthy and well loved!

          • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 5:34 pm

            Oh no worries. I understand what you are saying about bonding time.

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 3:17 pm

      It is very interesting for me to read about how other parents do it, especially AP style. I think everyone is hitting the nail on the head when they say there is no one way to do anything, especially baby sleep! But I really applaud everyone who can stomach getting up 4 times a night for months on end – I just couldn’t physically handle it much longer. I’m a sleep wuss.

      • Claire October 25, 2012, 8:24 am

        I find it interesting that you are trending more toward the other end of the spectrum away from attachment/”crunchy” parenting (at least from what you’ve posted; you don’t cloth diaper, do any babywearing or co-sleep, and Henry is exclusively bottle-fed) especially after being so passionate about the Bradley method and having a natural birth. It’s funny, after reading your pregnancy posts, I would have bet money that you would have ended up following some attachment parenting philosophies!

        • Caitlin October 25, 2012, 9:24 am

          Hah I know. I don’t think my style is necessarily opposite, but its definitely not the way most Bradley people probably go about parenting. I have read a lot about AP and although I agree with some core philosophies, it’s just not for us. Honestly, I just have a completely different take on how Henry should be raised than the AP philosophy – I respect people who do it and certainly don’t think either way is ‘wrong’ but again – just not for us. I kind of want to write a post on this, but unfortunately, people tend to get really up in arms if you talk about the way you want to raise your kid if its opposite of they way they do, even if you aren’t saying your way is the only way! Oh, and I do have my crunchy moments with parenting. 🙂

  • deva at deva by definition October 24, 2012, 11:46 am

    congrats on a good night’s sleep! your breakfast sounds AMAZING 🙂

  • Annette@FitnessPerks October 24, 2012, 11:51 am

    YAY! I bet you feel like a million bucks!

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life October 24, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Being a mommy is easy… being a parent, that is the hard part! As a mommy we want to soothe and comfort and keep our baby safe and happy. As a parent we have to make difficult decisions for their well-being and those decisions aren’t always easy. I think it starts with letting them cry it out. The mommy inside is cringing with every whimper and wail and we feel like we are being cruel. But the parent inside has to know that you truly are helping them in the long run.

    I’m like you though, when it comes to the difficult parenting decisions I need to have a game plan and even though I know full well that things may not go smoothly and the plan may need to be adjusted at times, it still helps to have one. It also helps to make the plan with my husband and we both are “in it together.”

    Congrats on getting through the sleep training! The bad news… there will be another hurdle to get through as Henry develops. The really, really good news… with each new hurdle you become better equip to handle the stress that comes with it. It never gets ‘easier’ per se, but you get better at managing the hurdles and you quickly learn that no matter how difficult the phase you are in is getting, it is just that… a phase and it will pass. 🙂

    An even bigger congrats to you for moving out of Henry’s room! I seriously know how hard that must have been for you and it is a big deal. Way to go, momma!

  • Lindsay@A Healthy State of Mind October 24, 2012, 12:43 pm

    Go Henry, go!

    And, um, that sweater?? The cuteness is literally killing me over here.

  • jameil October 24, 2012, 12:51 pm

    I’m so happy for you I want to give you a hug! LOL I promise I’m not creepy. I just get inordinately happy for strangers when good things happen. Yay!

  • Tammy Root October 24, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Whoop, Whoop!! Go Mama Go!!!

  • Sarah October 24, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Yaay for full nights of sleep and for feeling good enough to go for a run!!

  • CJ @ Fill the Well October 24, 2012, 1:28 pm

    Congrats to you and Henry!

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 24, 2012, 1:32 pm

    6 Miles, I LIKE IT! I’m really impressed with your patience and willingness to experiment with all-things baby. It’s clearly paying off- way to go, Henry!

  • Rachel October 24, 2012, 1:57 pm

    YEAH HENRY! That feeling of waking up before the kids is amazing! You actually feel rested 🙂 Go kill that run, girl!

  • Kelli October 24, 2012, 2:08 pm

    I love reading about Henry’s sleep training! I am 24 weeks prego with a little girl. I will be returning to work when she is 16 weeks ago, so sleep training weighs heavily on my mind! I have saved these posts for future reference!

    • Caitlin October 24, 2012, 3:21 pm

      Read the Baby Whisperer!

  • Lori October 24, 2012, 2:11 pm

    Congrats – way to go, Mommy 🙂

  • Erica October 24, 2012, 9:34 pm

    I’m happy to read this – it’s so hard to let them learn to self soothe (harder on moms than babies!). So glad things are going well!

  • kathy October 25, 2012, 1:18 am

    My kids are long past the baby stage. maybe it is the people I was around when they were babies, but I never expected my baby to sleep through the night. We were all breastfeeding moms so maybe that was it. i think it is sad so many woman have such a short time with their baby before they have to go back to work.
    If henry’s sleep gets bad again you can asked your dad or hubby’s parents to take him over night. That is what I heard other feber parents did.

  • Andrea October 25, 2012, 5:58 pm

    My son is 2.5 weeks old and it’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel – especially nights like last night, when he slept from between 0.5 – 2.5 hours at a time 🙂 Glad to hear that things WILL eventually improve!

  • Keri October 30, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Congrats to you for helping your ENTIRE family get better sleep! I think its a wonderful thing to do. My little guy just turned one and needed some guidance with sleep back in the day. He was a 45 min napper for a long time but magically started sleeping longer when he dropped to two long naps and catnap around 6 months old. Keep at it! And enjoy those restful nights:) Also, letting a baby cry a little is perfectly fine. My baby cries when I change his diaper and suction his snotty nose, but that doesn’t keep me from doing it! Thanks for doing what you think is best and being willing to blog about it.

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