I've heard there are people out there who have children who were born good sleepers.
We are not those people. And this is our story.
Avery slept a good majority of her first 3 weeks of life and I remember thinking "Ah! This is fantastic! All she does is sleep all the time!" And then she turned 3 weeks old and pretty much overnight everything was different. She would stay fast asleep if I was holding her, but the moment she was put down, she would freak out. From the very beginning, she preferred to sleep on her stomach which is such a no-no for little babies but sometimes I let her sleep on her stomach for nap time because for heaven's sake we all needed sleep!
Nap times were rough, but at night it was even worse. She'd go to bed about 6 or 7 but she'd be up AT LEAST every 2 hours the whole freaking night. Eventually I decided we had to split the night into shifts so Kyle and I could have some hope of getting any sleep at all. He's on duty from bedtime to 1:00 AM. I take the 1:00 AM til morning shift. This helped, but no one really slept well. For 5 whole months, it was a round the clock battle to help Avery sleep.
As a result, we became very, very sleep deprived.
Around 5 months, I decided we had to try some kind of sleep training because I was absolutely going to die if we did not get some normal sleep happening around here. I picked up a book our insurance company had sent me early in my pregnancy, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I'd heard great things about "Babywise" and "Happiest Baby on the Block" but I am cheap and didn't want to go out and buy a new book. So I read the free one I had.
I'm telling you that book became, for me, the Bible of sleep training. I was so skeptical in the beginning but every little tip I tried worked! I love that it covers an array of possible problems and ages and gives enough flexibility for you to find a solution that works for your family.
This is Avery's current sleep schedule, which has been in place and effective for 2-3 months now (thanks to my "Sleep Bible"):
7:00 AM wakeup
9:00 AM nap for 1 1/2 to 2 HOURS!
1:00 PM nap for 1 1/2 to 2 HOURS!
4:30 PM nap for 45 min.
7:30 PM bedtime
3:00 AM feeding
Every time she goes to sleep on her own I am so freakin' proud of her.
I'm still in shock every day that she naps for more than an hour at a time. For months I had so much anxiety about her sleeping that I'm kind of afraid to even say anything about it. I mean, will I jinx it? If I celebrate her good sleeping, will it suddenly backfire? I sure hope not. Because this sleep schedule rocks.
We started sleep training around Christmas time and let me tell you, that was probably a really bad idea. "Merry" and "Happy" don't go well at all with letting your 5 month old baby cry for 45 minutes until she falls asleep. I got a lot of crap for being the "sleep Nazi" too. I was convinced that if we stuck to it, eventually she would catch on. Seriously, it was totally worth it. Most of the time now I will just lie her in her crib when it's nap time and she will talk herself to sleep. Hardly any crying. And she wakes up happy!
Did I mention this is amazing?!? It still absolutely blows my mind. I wish I would have read this book when Avery was first born because there are things we could have done from the very beginning to help her get the sleep she needs. I think I just kind of expected that babies are born knowing how to sleep and eat. You don't really think about those as being learned skills, but they really are.
I'm still apprehensive for whenever baby #2 will happen because the mere thought of reliving the no sleep for 5 months thing sends me into a panic attack. Hopefully next time I'll be more prepared.
Seriously seriously if you have a baby I totally recommend sleep training. (Unless you're one of those aforementioned superpeople with supersleeper babies. And if you are, then I send internet stinkeye your way) I can't say anything about the other methods out there, but "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" absolutely saved my life. I'm not even joking. No sleep makes me a very miserable person (just ask Kyle).