Yongling was kind enough to share her experience with sleep training in an e-mail. She gave me permission to post it here.
Family: Yongling, John and Stefanie (7 months)
Approach: Cry-it-out (but not until Stefanie signaled she was ready for it!)
The Background: When Stefanie was 3 or 4 months old, it was a nightmare to get her back to sleep after waking up at night. She would be up for an hour or two before she would fall back asleep, and sometimes I fell asleep before she did (while nursing), and often I woke up and saw Stefanie sleeping on my breast!
The Change: After we moved I decided that I had enough of it and I was going to try the cold turkey way to get her sleep on her own; however, it was my husband who kept wanting to rush to her and rescue her…I guess I am the Asian tiger mom, LOL. So after some conversation, John and I decided that I will be the main person to do the sleeping training, and he will just keep himself still.
The first thing I did was not to change her middle of the night, put diaper cream before putting her to bed, in the night only nurse her and put her back to sleep. In the morning her diaper usually weighs 1 pound, but she doesn’t seem to be bothered. I remember very precisely that at 5 months, one night, after nursing her, I decided to put Stefanie right to bed without any rocking. She babbled for about 15 minutes and then it was quiet. Hurray! I was lying there counting time and I was so happy that she did it finally.
But she still needed rocking before going to sleep, both naps and for the night and I kept doing that until she was about 6 months (by which time I finally stopped swaddling her). I used to put her down in a deep sleep mood, at 6 months I put her when she first fell asleep, as I learned that even if she wakes up after the initial stir of being put to bed, she would quickly fall back, the trick is NOT to pick her up if she cries, because in less than 10 minutes she would fall asleep. So gradually, Stefanie learned to sleep on her own for the night, I now put her down after I sang her bedtime lullaby twice, pat her, kiss her good night and leave. And she doesn’t even fuss (it took me a while to slowly get rid of the fuss, but now she does!!!).
Daytime napping is a slightly different story. I usually nurse her before she goes to bed at night, but not so before her daytime naps; that’s why she constantly wanted to suck my breast before her daytime nap (Stefanie NEVER took a pacifier so we don’t even know where our pacifiers are now, LOL). I did let her nurse for a couple of days, but I think she wasn’t really needing it, as she fell right asleep almost the minute she got latched on.
So one day (approximately when she was 6 months and 1 week), I decided that I will finally get my cold turkey way. As I am home alone with her during the day, I find it easy to implement sleep training, as I have no nagging from anyone. So for about a week, I let her cry to sleep for naps. At first I would go back in for once to comfort her by patting, then I stopped going back at all. It was hard, but I managed to let her cry for about 30 minutes. Now she still fusses every now and then before her nap, but in less than 10 minutes she finds herself in dreamland. She usually takes two naps a day, but if she wakes up from her afternoon nap too early (before 3 p.m., my consideration), I let her take a short cap nap around 5 p.m., usually about 30 minutes.
So in short, I didn’t really experience the let-baby-cry-2-hours-before s/he falls asleep story, as told to me by some of my friends. I was very fortunate in that Stefanie only cried for 30 minutes or so at the longest time. I was also so determined that no one can prevent me from sleep training my baby, and I would rather do it myself, all on my own, than have any distraction. This probably won’t apply to everyone, but if you want to do it, you can.
- Work out your approach with your spouse/partner (if applicable) ahead of time so you’re on the same page
- Make sure you’ve implemented a consistent bedtime routine
- Don’t change the diaper in the middle of the night unless it’s absolutely necessary. Pampers and Huggies both have diapers that are good for up to 12 hours.