At 15 months, my daughter was still having issues with sleeping through the night. Around 6 months, she hit a really bad series of night wakings. I was up with her every hour or two and I couldn’t figure out if she needed to eat or just needed me. We rocked, we walked, I leaned over the crib for what felt like hours, we let her stay up later, we put her to bed earlier, and we changed when she ate. You name it, we did it. Then, I tried to let her cry. She would get sick within minutes either because she would work herself up to the point of no return or because she would gag on her own fingers.
As first time parents, my husband and I thought that we must have been doing something wrong because babies her age should be sleeping through the night, right? It was difficult to hear about other babies who cried for three nights and then slept like they were in hibernation mode. It was also tough to hear our own parents talk about how we slept and we were stuck comparing our daughter to ourselves!
At one point, I told my husband that I needed to bring her to bed with us because I was beginning to resent staying home after being up all night. He was OK with it and for that I am grateful. She began to sleep better and soon she was back in her crib, sleeping through the night! But our little girl likes to pull pranks on us and within a few weeks she was back to her old tricks again.
Then we traveled. Then she had ear infections. Then her teeth started coming in. Then I was at a loss. I tried to let her cry again and the first night was tough. The second night wasn’t as difficult. She cried for six minutes and slept through. I told myself that I could take six minutes of crying. The next night didn’t go so well. I noticed that every time I tried to lay her down (naps included), she would get rigid, cling to me, and start to cry even before she was in the crib. I realized that I worked so hard to make her crib a cozy place and now she was resisting it because she was afraid that I was going to leave her. That broke my heart.
So, I reached out for some advice and Kim West’s book, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight was recommended. I downloaded a copy and started the “Sleep Lady Shuffle” that night. Kim West takes you through a series of steps that you need to take every single night in order to get your infant (or toddler) more comfortable with sleeping on her own. As you gradually leave the room, you are building your child’s confidence (and your own!) as she learns that she doesn’t always need to be in your arms to settle back down.
It’s been about six weeks and our daughter has shown so much improvement. In fact, we began to see a better sleep pattern after just one week. She has slept through the night multiple times and has learned to (sometimes) put herself back to sleep. When she does wake up, she usually needs a quick pat for reassurance.
Her naps have improved too. And even though she still isn’t the best sleeper, I will take these changes over five wake-ups in the middle of the night. Will she be the toddler who can lay down, wide awake, and fall asleep on her own? Probably not. Will she ever consistently sleep through the night before she is….5?? Who knows?! I am still excited to see the progress she has made over the last month and a half.
I want other moms to know that Kim West’s, The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, is worth the read. I have tried the methods from a variety of well-known sleep training books and “The Sleep Lady Shuffle” has, by far, proven to be the most successful and gentle sleep solution for our family.