Recently, I transitioned Apple from our bed to the crib. It is a bitter sweet achievement for my baby girl. She feels so young and tiny to be leaving my bed! I didn’t push the older boys out so young but Apple was going down a path that was mixing our days and nights up badly. It really hit me a few weeks ago; I realized I was lacking sleep so badly and this was starting to affect my temper to Kurt and the boys, it was shortening my patience with everything.
Her sleep digression happened slowly from about three months old, she was increasing her feeds at night and waking more. Around that time the summer heat had started, our nursing sessions were shorter and less during the hot days and nights were a feeding party. Apple’s health and weight gain were important to me and if she was getting most of her calories at night, then I was up for the late night feeds. I figured I could handle it until we adjusted to the hot days and she started eating solids.
Fast forward to her six month birthday; we started solids and at this stage were baby to boob more than five times a night! I became her pacifier and comfort, not her main nutrition source. It was time to part ways on our nights together. I knew the only way for this to work was for Apple to not be sniffing the source in bed with me.
So how did I transition girlfriend? Well, easily and not easily over a 3 day period. Thankfully, from the start we had done naps awake and I would start her in the crib before transferring her to the Dockatot to co-sleep after that first wake up. If you haven’t ever put your baby in the crib or have always rocked, nursed or bottlefed them to sleep you will have a bigger habit to break. As a mom of four having gone through a lot of breaking habits (taking away soothers, bottles, crib to bed, etc) I can assure you that most only take a few days. You must have commitment though! Don’t torture them for day one and two then give in on three and go back to old ways because it feels easier. Often day three or four are the game changer days! That is when you see a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
Glow in the dark soother by MAM
I’ve simplified an outline of our nights. And how I worked through the three days it took.
I knew this was going to be the hardest of all my days. I was going to become more tired before it could get better. It was going to be about Apple all night long!
I started the night with an extra long bath for Apple, this helps to tire them out. We nursed and rocked in the chair as per our usual. At around 8:30 pm I placed her in the crib in her room. She knew something was up and wasn’t happy from the start! (she was used to our room’s crib at night) Since she can sit up quickly I needed to calm her and started the firm patting technique. I placed her light blankie over her eyes and started to pat her back/bum with a good solid pat. She calmed and fell asleep within about 5 minutes. I removed the blanket and placed it over her body and snuck out.
10 pm rolled around and girl was up with a roar! I walked back in the nursery laid her back down without nursing and started the patting again. We needed to break the nursing and mommy picking her up. As I left the room she started to cry and this is the hard part. Not going back in and grabbing her to nurse. I sat out the door for about 4-5 minutes walked back in and did the pat again until she was calm. This was on repeat for a handful of times before she fell asleep again.
1 am came … 2 am came …. 4 am came …. all on repeat. Me in her nursery patting/leaving/patting/leaving to show her mommy is there but no boobies and no coming in my bed. Tears were shed by both of us.
6 am and it was time to feed! Thank goodness I got to pick her up and nurse that sweet girl. She fed like a champion and was so tired I placed her back in the crib and she slept until 9am.
I was at an all time exhaustion and thankfully had Kurt helping extra. During Apple’s afternoon nap I took one also to prepare for our second night.
Once again it was an extra long bath and lots of playing that night to tire her out.
8pm I nursed her and rocked her in her nursery and placed her in the crib. She was about to fuss so I placed her blankie quickly on her head and started the patting! She fell fast asleep so I took off the blankie, covered her and snuck out.
11 pm rolled around and the crying was heard. This time I waited it out before tending to her for the pat and comfort. I needed her to self soothe. After some time I went to calm and as soon as I walked away she would fuss. We repeated this a few times and finally she started to relax and fell asleep.
She slept longer this night… waking only a couple times. We repeated me waiting longer to go in each time.
At 6:30 am I went in to the room and took her out of the crib to nurse. She was still sleeping but nursed like crazy and went back to the crib like a breeze! She slept in again until 8:30 am.
Mentally, I was questioning myself! What the hell am I thinking? Why would I want to repeat night one and two? Why would I let this baby cry and not just bring her in my bed. Feeding all night isn’t that bad.. or is it? She is my last baby! What kind of mom am I to let her cry or not cuddle her forever in my bed. I am sure by seventeen she will like her room. Like I don’t know any nursing, co-sleeping teenagers!
After being irrational and looking at my big boys who happily kissed me to sleep I realized I am not really the bad mom I thought. It was for all of our good.
8:30 pm the same old routine and placement in the crib. I was ready to battle but baby girl just flipped her tiny butt into the air and curled up within the first couple pats. I could’t have been more thankful to have a peaceful exit out of the nursery.
5 am and I woke to a quiet house. Something must have happened to my sweet girl or I slept through her cries were the thoughts racing through my head as I ran to her room.
She was sleeping.
After more than a week we now have our routine perfected and that beautiful baby girl goes to sleep without tears. She is a whole new baby on the perfect routine and I am a whole new mom!
She sleeps from around 8:30 pm to 9 am. I sneak in the room to give her a sleepy top up at 6:30 – 7 am. I could skip the feed I am sure but that sleepy feed allows me more time in the morning with her asleep. It gives the tummy fuel for those extra winks and dreams.
To break the habit of nursing to sleep. Remove the breast from the baby’s mouth before they close their eyes. If you see them starting to nod that is the time! If you want to snuggle and rock you may need to change the natural hold it cradle position.
Talking about CIO (cry it out) publicly is not advised. Don’t tell even your bestest friends! This is a subject that comes with the biggest opinions! They can be sharp.
Before you make the night transition figure out your goals. Are you wanting to reduce to one feed or to sleeping through the night? Are you ready for the task?
The blankie for over the head while bum tapping should be light and you need to remove it once asleep! DO NOT cover their mouth with the blanket. See photo how her mouth and nose are free.
Butt or back taps work best with a good firm tap. For all my polar opposite babies that has been something that was universal to them liking.
I personally do not advise no night feeds before four to six months. The size of your baby, breastmilk or formula should be considered before you take away feeds. Braedy my oldest slept through the night very young as he was a tank and fed well during the day. My next son was the opposite. (If they naturally don’t feed before four months don’t panic!)
As you work through them being upset and you walking in to soothe – try wearing headphones with music you love while timing your next entrance. Hearing cries makes minutes feel like hours and is harder on you than them.
I prefer the walk in and soothe to be starting at five minute intervals. The first night is the worst then you need to work on extending your time outside the nursery. If you come in too fast they will think crying brings you instantly.
Remember if you haven’t used your crib yet and the little one can pull themselves up. Lower the mattress!
I recommend a good mattress. I use Nook Sleep because of all the benefits. It’s soft, comfortable, doesn’t have plastic sounds to wake them. (Liked HERE to read more)
I like the Westcoast Baby brand blankets for the head. So light and made from bamboo.
Back to sleep is safest. I place my babies on their backs to sleep and once they start rolling flip them onto their backs again. At six months I relax when they roll to their tummy.
If you use the Dockatot DO NOT place that in the crib. They are not meant for moving babies in the crib.
Don’t beat yourself up if you get them on track and change your mind once they are sleeping nights. You need to be ready to part with the love of your life! With Kingsley, we sleep trained him and he was sleeping nights for more than a week. Turned out his big brother couldn’t handle the thought of a baby alone in the crib and we found Kaeden taking him out of the crib to his bed! (On our video monitor the nine year old would sneak in and pluck him out – then in the morning lie and say he just got him.) w
We all broke down in the end and King slept with us or his brother for a few years. Our training didn’t go to waste since the night feeds didn’t come back just the cuddles.
Once your night routine is solid be careful about naps too late in the day.
Older babies can scream louder and harder. This can make transitions more difficult and heartbreaking. Cue the headphones
A dark room helps. If you don’t have good curtains consider a black out blind. – Gro Company makes a great one that’s portable. Below are photos of how we work on it. These are only a representation of our night. Yes, I needed day photos for the light! But she still fell asleep perfect using our blankie – pat system.
I covered her up and started tapping her for her nap.
She is relaxed so I stopped tapping. Standing and waiting for the deep breathes to remove blanket.
View of blanket. Not over mouth!
Solid breathing meant I could remove the blanket.
Flipped her over to her back. (This is age dependent and your personal choice.)