I’m going to write this all down for people who have struggled with sleep like we have. There are as many theories on sleep as there are different kinds of babies, and we’re finally making some progress. Will has never gone to sleep on his own without being rocked or nursed to sleep, and often would only sleep while being held, both for naps and through the night. When we first brought him home I would sleep with him on my chest some, but we’re not comfortable with co-sleeping. Since he’s been on the low end of the weight scale, we wanted to make sure that if he was hungry, he was getting fed even if that meant lots of middle of the night feedings. The last 3 weeks, though, have been tough. Like not sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, and sometimes less than 5 hours a night tough. Each feeding in the middle of the night took 45 minutes, plus with diaper changes and rocking I was up for an hour every time he woke up. We felt confident after Will’s 4 month appointment that he is getting enough to eat during the day, and he moved into his own crib at night from the bassinet shortly afterward.
Sunday was our breaking point. We worked at the new house until dark and came home, fed Will, and Carl rocked him to sleep. After 45 minutes of rocking where he had to stay in Carl’s arms, I fed him again (another 45 minutes), and Carl tried rocking him to sleep again. Again, he would only sleep while being held, but we really needed to get some sleep. (The night before there was one time when I got up to get him and literally walked into a wall. I was also falling asleep while feeding him more and more often). So we did the dreadful cry it out. We didn’t follow a particular method with it, because we knew he wasn’t doing it for attention (ie he wouldn’t stop crying if he saw someone, but only if he was being held). We also knew that he was well fed, a good temperature, and had a fresh diaper. We’re also not doing it exclusively – maybe at six months we’ll work on putting him to sleep from a quiet alert state,
Night 1: Cried hard for 30-40 minutes. Woke up cold and wet after 3.5 hours, slept 3 more.
Night 2: Nursed to sleep, stayed asleep once he was in his crib. Slept well.
Night 3: Same as Night 2.
Night 4: Cried for 2 stretches of 10 minutes, slept 5 hours (and then 3). (also went to bed at 9:30, his earliest bedtime ever)
Night 5: Took a little longer to go down, woke up a few times (and stopped crying when I went in the room, so after making sure he was dry and well fed I let him fuss himself back to sleep).
So it’s still a process – he’s figuring out what this change means as much as we are. When I nurse him in the night now I don’t stay for as long because it’s more to calm him down than it is to do a full feeding, which means I’m up for less than 30 minutes instead of a full hour. He’s sometimes going down more easily for naps, but is still taking some naps in the swing, too, and sometimes we let him nap while he’s being held. I’ll worry more about the consistency of that around 6 months. He’s generally waking up happier in the morning and from naps – not screaming to get up, but laughing and cooing a little on his own before making noises for us to come and get him. But we’re happy with the increased level of sanity, and the fact that we’ve gotten in some REM cycles this week. And it just feels like good progress overall.