Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I Decided to Sleep Train My Babies

Sleep training is one of those push button topics of parenting. People's opinions regarding sleep training are almost as strong as their opinions on breast vs bottle. Most parents have a deep belief in one method or another, and if you don't agree with them, they're going to tell you about it. That's not always the case, but look at any Facebook parenting post, and you'll see how opinionated many parents are.

I know I was positive CIO, cry it out, wasn't for us. Then I had kids who refused to sleep without nursing before, during, and after their naps and nighttime sleep. While I could deal with the sleep deprivation, Harrison couldn't and eventually refused to let me help him to sleep. He wouldn't let me nurse him, rock him, snuggle him. We both cried for 5 minutes, and then a miracle happened. For the first time in his 9 months of life, he fell asleep on his own, and stayed asleep for more than 45 minutes. CIO worked really well and really quickly for Brooke and Harrison.

With Scarlett and Clark I wanted to avoid CIO. We made sure the babies had designated sleeping places, not our bed, and we put them down awake. We had babies who slept 8+ hours at a time by 2 months. I thought for sure we had lucked out and that maybe we actually knew what we were doing the second time around. Then the 4 month sleep regression hit.

We had moved the babies to their cribs for naps, and they were still sleeping in their rock and plays at night. Naps went from an hour or two to never more than 45 minutes. Clark went from sleeping 10 hours straight to waking every couple hours. Scarlett wouldn't sleep more than 45 minutes at a time, and as soon as I put her in her rock and play, she'd start to cry. I reread Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and we started light sleep training. Not cry it out, but checking and consoling until they would fall asleep. Clark is a much better sleeper than Scarlett, so she needed a lot more consoling.

3 weeks into sleep training, and we'd made zero progress. Scarlett was still up all night and wouldn't sleep for more than 30 or so minutes at nap time. She was constantly tired and was waking up Clark, making him tired too.

One morning while I was getting the babies ready for their first nap, Brooke came in and started pestering the babies and talking back to me. After asking her repeatedly to stop, she got lippy with me and I smacked her. She rarely gets smacked, so she wasn't expecting it. It threw her off balance and she fell off the bed. Talk about a parenting low. I still hate that I reacted that way.

It was a major wakeup call that things couldn't keep on the way they were. I was exhausted, the babies were exhausted, Brooke and Harrison were desperate for attention. Our entire lives were revolving around the babies sleep, or rather their lack of sleep. Starting that same morning we began stronger sleep training.

We decided we would let the babies cry for short increments and slowly let them cry more and more if needed. 5 minutes, then 7, then 10. Within a couple days, we were seeing major progress. Our naps were back to 90+ minutes. Night wakings started to settle into a predictable routine. We're not anywhere close to sleeping through the night on a regular basis, but that isn't the goal. Yes it's the end point, but I feel like sleep training is a process. I wanted my happy babies back who weren't exhausted. I wanted my sanity back, which I have, mostly. I wanted more time to spend with my big kids, which happens now.

Most nights and naps now, the babies go down without any or with minimal crying. When we messed up their routine with a week at the lake, we had to let some crying happen. They now know how to put themselves to sleep and can make it through sleep cycle transitions. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they still get to come nurse, just not every hour. If they are having a particularly bad nap, I'll let them come snuggle in our bed and try to soothe them back to sleep. It's not about ignoring them all night, it's about letting them learn on their own while still being there when they really need it.

So this is where we are. 7 months in, learning to sleep on our own, but still a ways away from sleeping 7pm-7am, although Clark has done it twice. Scarlett hasn't come close since she was 3 months old. For the time being we're very ok with still waking to nurse. We may revisit our decision again in a couple months, but for now it works for us.

I'm not sure where exactly I'm going with this post, but I feel it's important to talk about some of our not so great parenting moments, and to share some of our more controversial parenting choices. I know sleep training isn't for every family, but for some families it is the right option, and that's ok. It has turned out to be the right option for us with all of our kids. I'd love to hear if and how you decided to sleep train, and how old your kids were when they started sleeping that glorious 12 hour stretch. While we aren't pushing for uninterrupted nights, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the day it does happen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 7 Months

Seven Months! If last month was all about getting them into a more predictable schedule, this month was all about taking that schedule and messing it up. They proved that they are true champions and rolled with whatever we threw their way. We spent 9 days at the lake which was definitely not ideal sleep conditions. Then once we got back back home and into our usual routine, employee changes forced me to take them to work with me 6 days in a row. It was definitely not ideal, but thanks to their laid back demeanors and a helping hand from our niece, she's a life saver, we made it through the week without too many tears. 

They also had their first bedtime without me here. Even though they don't nurse to sleep, nursing is a big part of their bedtime routine. There may have been a few extra tears, but they rolled with the changes. It helps that our friends that were watching them are parents to two young kids and know what they're doing.

The babies are all about food. They definitely look forward to meal time, and have even come to expect it. If we are eating while they are in the living room, they will let me know they're not happy about it. They've tried cucumber, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, avocado, blueberry, nectarine, banana, kiwi, watermelon waffles, apple sauce, pasta, Happy Baby Creamies, and even a little ice cream. They seem to enjoy vegetables more than fruits right now. Zucchini and carrots are definite favorites. They are doing the whole hand grab to pick up their food, and they're getting pretty good at it. Now that they're eating a couple times a day, they're also getting sink baths a couple times a day. They love sink baths!

When we did have a day with nothing going on, we'd spend it at home trying to get in two good naps. Thankfully naps have become very predictable when we're home. Night time sleep is getting better too. Clark slept through the night, 7:30p-8a for the first time. It only happened once, but still awesome. Instead of waking three times a night, we're down to twice a night most nights, and sometimes only once. Even though I'd love to get a solid 8 hours, I don't mind that they are still waking to eat most nights. Especially with me being gone at work frequently, I think those 10-15 minute nursing and cuddle sessions are good for all of us.

Clark has been working so hard on trying to figure out crawling. He has perfected the backwards scoot, but can't quite get the forward arm movement going. Scarlett still shows zero interest in crawling, but she is doing really well at sitting unassisted. She can sit for 30-60 seconds before needing a balance check. I definitely wouldn't sit her up and leave the room, but she's sitting up while playing all of the time now. Clark can sit briefly on his own, but he'd much rather be on the floor working on his crawling game.


  • still has zero teeth, much to my surprise
  • loves sleeping in, and often has to be awoken in the morning
  • started iron supplements after I requested his levels be tested. His RLS is almost completely gone
  • still has cradle cap. Mostly it's just on the soft spot on the top of his head
  • started steroid cream to clear up his eczema. His skin looks so much better
  • is constantly distracted by my phone
  • looks less like his brother each day. He still resembles Harrison, but they aren't mirror images anymore like when they were babies

  • is a morning person. She wakes up so happy, and always before her brother
  • has discovered the freckles and moles on my arms and chest. She tries to claw them off while nursing
  • still shows zero interest in leaning to crawl
  • is obsessed with screens. Surfing social media during nursing is becoming a thing of the past
  • has a new favorite person. She lights up when Robbie comes in the room
  • looks bald but has a full head of soft blond peach fuzz

I am really looking forward to the last few weeks of summer with these babes. August is my favorite month of the year. Now that they're starting to sit more reliably, I think there will be many pool and splash pad visits over the next month. Eating out is about to take on a whole new level of fun for these guys too. Exposing H and B to our favorite restaurants was so much fun, and I can't wait to do it with Scarlett and Clark. Indian food buffet, here we come! This is such a fun age of exploration and new experiences, and I can't wait to see these two take it all in.