Let me preface this by stating that we seriously have the easiest baby on the planet. If I knew that we could duplicate his laid back personality and ability to adapt to change, I would seriously have 12 more babies in a heartbeat. Thankfully, this made helping him learn how to self soothe a breeze. I'm aware that many of you probably want to punch me in the face, and that's fine. But remember that my next kid will most likely be a fucking nightmare. And then you can laugh.
I mentioned before that we were following the SleepEasy Solution sleep learning program. We began the crib transition by sleeping in the room with him (on a blow-up mattress) for a week before forcing him to stay in the room by himself. I felt that it helped him to know that we were still in the room with him, especially since he's only slept without us on a few occasions.
For the most part, he did exceptionally well being in his crib at night. We would do his nightly routine like usual (diaper change, baby massage, jammies, book, song, and rock to sleep), and then place him in his crib and try not to wake him up. He would sometimes wake after his sleep cycle, but was pretty skilled at putting himself back to sleep. Occasionally, he would be pretty upset, and that's when I would just go up to comfort him and go to bed myself. There were a few times that I just brought him to bed with me on the air mattress - I felt it was better to do that than fall asleep rocking him in the glider. I also may or may not have wanted to really soak up those last nights of snuggling and smelling his sweaty little head while he sleeps.
Finally, after a week of killing my back on the air mattress, we decided to start the full program on May 31st. We did everything the same, except that I took the time to tell him while we were doing our routine that we were going to be leaving him in his room all night, and that he was ready to sleep in his crib all by himself. Also, instead of rocking him to sleep, we put him in his crib awake. I just rocked him for a minute and sang "you are my sunshine" to him, and laid him down. As I was walking toward the crib, I said "alright buddy, it's time for you to learn to self soothe. you're a big boy and you're going to do great!"
Of course, as soon as I shut the door, I could hear him start to cry. As instructed by the book, we went in after 5 minutes of crying. I just walked halfway to his crib so that he could see me and I said, "I know this is hard for you, Ronin, but you're such a big boy now that you have to learn to sleep by yourself. I'll be back in to check on you in a few minutes. night night!" I was in the room for less than 30 seconds. They really encourage you to sound confident and not weary at all, and I think that's important. Babies can totally sense if you are nervous or hesitant and if you aren't comfortable with what you're doing, they certainly won't be either.
Anyway, so there was more crying. Sean did the second check 10 minutes later, and we figured we'd take turns. Oh, and Ronin had also just gotten over a bit of a cold, so he was still kind of congested and his nose was a little runny. The book suggests NOT beginning sleep learning while a baby is sick or teething, but I knew if I didn't start it then, I would just keep putting it off. He wasn't running a fever and had been playing like normal, so I knew he'd be okay. At least... I knew that in the very back hidden corner of my mind.
After 10 minutes of crying, I was thisclose to saying "fuck it" and going upstairs to soothe him. I just kept picturing his little face covered in snot and tears and it broke me. There is no doubt in my mind that sleep training is WAY worse on Mamas than it is on Dads. Sean assured me that he was fine, that he needed to learn how to soothe himself. I still protested and tried to come up with excuse after excuse as to why we should just "wait until next weekend." At that point, he just flat out refused and didn't try to comfort me because he knew I was being ridiculous. I then found myself crying in the bathroom with the fan on to drown out Ronin's crying. With a beer, of course.
Sean continued to do the check-ins at the suggested intervals (every 15 minutes after the first two at 5 and 10 minutes). For instance, if Ronin was placed in bed at 8:00 and continued to cry, he would be checked on at 8:05, 8:15, 8:30, and every 15 minutes after that until he fell asleep. On the first evening, it took 56 minutes for him to finally self soothe. It was probably the longest hour of my life. The second evening only took 24 minutes, and by the fifth night or so, he was down to 6 minutes and zero crying. The time it took him to fall asleep dwindled with each passing night, which was wonderful to witness. It made me SO proud.
It was incredibly heart wrenching to listen to him cry, but I knew he was okay. He was only upset because he wanted me to help him sleep, even though I knew he could do it on his own. He first soothed himself to sleep around 4 months, so I encouraged him to do that for a while in our bed. Once he became mobile though, it was impossible to put him in our bed for a nap by himself, so I think he forgot how to do it.
Do I miss co-sleeping? Yes and no. Obviously, I miss having the snuggly, warm little body next to me at night, and I definitely miss helping him to go back to sleep in the middle of the night by rubbing his back or playing with his hair. However, it is SO nice to have our bed back and not having to prop pillows up along the edge of the bed when I get up to pee in the middle of the night. The freedom of being able to take a nice long shower while he naps is more amazing than I could ever describe. I love that I don't have to worry about making too much noise and waking him up - either at night or during naps, which means I can get things done around the house instead of tip-toeing around and watching the monitor like a hawk. It's so awesome watching him play in his crib and talk to his blankie when he can't sleep. I think it helps him to become more independent, even though he's still so young.
Nine months is a long time to wait to sleep train for some people, but it ended up being perfect timing for us, including Ronin. He adapted so quickly and I think he sleeps better in his own room than he did in ours. He's doing so well in his crib now and it's hard to believe I ever doubted that he'd be able to sleep in there. Buuuuuut I do still nap with him in our bed occasionally when I really miss the cuddles or it's a rainy day and just feeling like snuggling. We are so thankful to have such an easy going baby - if only I could clone him!
So I wanna know:
What method did you use for sleep training? How long did it take? How many cases of beer (or wine) did you go through during the process? :)