Ok friends with kids older than me - I need to pick your brains a little bit about everyone's favorite topic: sleep!
I realize I'm sort of opening the wormhole with this one (since everyone has their own opinion on "the best" way to get your kid to sleep). But honestly - I just need some opinions and/or advice from people who are a few months (or years) ahead of us on parenting (ie, people who know what a 4 month old looks like vs. a 6 month old vs. a 12 month old, etc.).
Here begins the longest blog post in the World...
Some back story:
We co-slept since the day we brought him home from the hospital. He was in a bassinet pressed against our bed. I don't want to dwell too much on how he slept as an early baby (since, from everything I've read, sleep habits are constantly changing as they get older), instead I want you all to understand our method so you can hopefully offer some insight. (But for the record, he was a good sleeper and was not colicky.)
So The Method has been: rock him until he's completely asleep before putting him in the bassinet. Any time he fusses/cries in the night (and it's not hunger), I immediately offer him comfort (shhhhhing, putting my hand on his tummy, giving him a paci) until he calms down. This happens a minimum of twice a night, and sometimes as many as five times a night. (Note: the fussing has never got so bad that I need to do something other than these things [ie, I almost never have to get out of bed to pick him up or rock him or anything.]) He eats once in the night - after 3am - but varying depending on the day. And around 6 or 7am, he wakes up and, fussing or not, I bring him into our bed where he falls asleep until we get up. These nights are roughly 8pm to 8am.
We have a solid bedtime routine that doesn't change. And he naps three times during the day (he's one of those kids where "sleep encourages sleep" and I find if his naps are messed up or short, he definitely sleeps worse at night).
So we decided when he turned 4 months old we would: a) move him into his nursery, and b) teach him to self-soothe by "crying it out." The doctor suggested we do both of these at the same time.
Our New Method (as of Friday) has been: keep the same bedtime routine (bath, bottle, book, and rocking), except rocking only until he's drowsy and then putting him in his crib. We then follow the "10 minute rule" - that is, we let him "cry it out" for 10 minutes before we go in and offer comfort. If he calms down for a second, we re-start the 10 minute timer. The 10 minute rule then also applies in the middle of the night when he wakes up fussing (not hungry).
Here's how it has gone with putting him down awake:
Friday Night: cried and cried and cried (and cried!) when we put him down. This was expected.
Saturday Night: fell asleep right after feeding, so basically got put in his bed asleep. Whoops.
Sunday Night: did fine - was awake when we put him in, but then fell asleep not too long afterwards.
Monday Night: same deal as Sunday (awesome!).
Tuesday Night: played in bed for awhile, started fussing, started crying, turned into hysterics, turned into hysterics that made him spit up a ton of food, didn't fall asleep until 9:30 after I rocked him and then stood over the crib holding his hand. Cry-it-out fail.
Aside from the initial putting him to sleep, though, what really frustrates me about his sleeping is the middle-of-the-night waking! He's been waking up a lot! And now that he's in his own room, I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place: I know if I go in right when he wakes up and soothe him, he'll go back to sleep without much fuss. Doing this, though, isn't helping at all with the self soothing. On the other hand, if I don't go in right away (ie, follow the 10 minute rule), I am (I guess?) helping him learn to self soothe. Buuuuut then he will not go right back to sleep after I come in. In fact, a lot of times, 10 minutes has been enough time for the fussing to severely escalate into uncontrollable crying. A couple nights ago he was so fired up at 1am I had to feed him! It was the only thing that would calm him down (both Jonathan and I took turns trying to calm him).
And you guys - these nighttime wakings are KILLING ME! When he was in our room, the whole night would feel sort of hazy the next day - like, I knew I had been up a couple times soothing him, but since all I had to do was reach over the bed, I never really woke up. Whereas now that I have to get out of bed to do anything (thus waking myself up), I'm exhausted because I think, quite literally, I'm only sleeping 4-5 broken up hours a night (which is not enough for me - I need sleep; actually, I need solid blocks of sleep - this hour here, hour there thing isn't working).
1) I get that self-soothing is important. And I get that "crying it out" is just that. But where do you draw the line with the crying? I'm thinking crying so much you vomit isn't really helping anything... (And if you let your kid cry until he fell asleep - what on Earth did you do to occupy yourself to keep from going in and comforting him??)
2) We maybe should have let him "cry it out" sooner than 4 months - but since we didn't - do you think we should let him learn to self soothe asap to avoid wasting any more time? Or do you think a, say 6-month old is better equipped to self soothe than a 4-month old (and we should therefore wait)? How old were your kids when you decided they could self-soothe? Did any of you try to let them self soothe, realize it wasn't working, and wait a month or so? Or does it always eventually work, it just needs time?
3) Do most kids wake up multiple times in the night? Or when others say their kid "sleeps through the night" do they literally mean getting in bed at 8 and not peeping again until 8 the next morning?
4) How long did it take for your kids to adjust to new routines? I've read books that say it should only take 3 days for a new routine to stick - and other books say a week - and others say 2 weeks. What did it look like in your experience?
5) What are your thoughts about the middle-of-the-night Catch 22 (that is, if I immediately respond to his fussing, he'll go right back to sleep vs. the 10 minute rule where the crying escalates so much he's then wide awake, but on one hand I'm helping him learn to self soothe vs. continuing to reinforce that he needs me to fall asleep)?
6) Did any of your have a really successful way to either teach your kid to self soothe OR teach your kid to sleep the night that you think I should try?
7) Sort of unrelated, but Bates only wants to sleep on his tummy. We put him "back to sleep" and he immediately rolls over. The doctor says it's ok. But the other night our fancy-schmancy monitor that has a motion detector (ie tells you if they aren't moving [breathing] after 20 seconds and sounds an alarm) went off like 5 times. And every time I went in there he was on his tummy, face-down in the mattress. I'm now out of my mind scared of SIDS - that he's going to be face down in the mattress and breath too much CO2, etc. Anyone else have a tummy sleeper? Was he often face-down to the mattress? Did it freak you out??
Any insight is appreciated! I talked to his doctor about the whole thing before we did the big switch-a-roo to the nursery and she noted that since he doesn't know how to self soothe, he needs to learn. But she also said, "I think, given how well he's been sleeping, it won't be a big deal or a hard transition." Hmm. Maybe I just need to give it more time? It's only been 5 nights. Will all this be better in a week or so?