Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Our experience with sleep training

It has been over 2 weeks now since Tristan started sleep training. It was very difficult for all of us initially but now it has just become part of our routine. The results? Tristan will still cry most of the time when we put him down but then 5-10 minutes later, he will settle down and sleep. When he is interrupted and wakes up, he puts himself back asleep almost right away. He sleeps from 9:45PM until 6:45AM. He naps twice a day for 1-2 hour at a time. He usually takes longer to fall asleep for his second nap. There was even a time when he didn't cry at all and slept almost instantly. The worst was near the beginning when he was interrupted during his sleep and he cried for 52 minutes.

Before sleep training:
Tristan depended on nursing to fall asleep. If that didn't work, we used the pacifier. We also rocked him and played music. In the middle of the night, we used the pacifier and rocked him. In most cases, it didn't take long but in the worst case it took hours. It was not good practice but he did sleep through the night and he napped well in the day too.

After sleep training:
Tristan sleeps just as much as before but probably sleeps better now since he can put himself back to sleep. He does not depend on milk, the pacifier, music or rocking to fall asleep.

Here's our night routine:

6-6:30PM - solid food for dinner
7-7:30PM - bath time (if it's a bath night), change into PJs
8PM - last milk feeding
8:25PM - teeth brushing, followed by cuddles and a little play time with us
9PM - dim lights and quiet chit chat
9:20PM - last diaper change
9:30-9:45PM - put Tristan down in crib

We kept a record of the sleep training for 2 weeks. The following is a graph of the results. There were 2 sleep interruptions which resulted in him waking up and were not plotted on the graph. As you can see below, Tristan will cry more on certain days but most of the time, he would spend no more than 15 minutes crying. Crying time is plotted but some of that time is spent fussing or whining and sometimes even a bit of cooing and playing. He never cries at the top of his lungs the whole time. He cries less for his first nap and sleeps longer compared to his second nap. Since we stopped recording data, he has actually been crying even less now.

Overall, we are pleased with the outcome and Jean-Louis and I both agree that he has done well enough to graduate from sleep training :) Psychologically, it was difficult and stressful and sometimes it still is. So is it worth it? Yeah, I think so. Wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before you start sleep training, especially if you take the cry it out route. Others have recommended waiting that long as well.


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