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Our Sleep Diary - How We Got Baby To Settle In Her Cot Without Using Controlled Crying

I'll hold my hands up. We've neglected our night time routine for far too long. It's not that we haven't been sleep deprived. Believe me, we have. We've not really be confident with how to tackle night times. We've been really unsure about trying controlled crying. Rocking Baby Girl to sleep when she was a newborn used to work a treat. Put some music on, rock for a few minutes and put her in her cot asleep. Then it started to take longer for her to fall asleep. Then some nights she didn't want to be rocked but she didn't know how to fall asleep any other way. Then it was too late to easily put her down in her cot sleepy. And the putting to sleep process got longer and longer. The night wakings got worse and worse. We could never put her down in her cot without her already being asleep.

Things started to improve a bit but then as soon as Baby Girl turned one it went downhill rapidly. We had regular refusals to sleep until midnight, waking every hour, refusing to go into her bed, waking and then wanting to play, refusing to sleep anywhere but our chest. We were parenting 24/7 without time to reset ourselves. There was no time to wind down at the end of the day or even for a stretch of sleep for longer than 3 hours most nights.

J and I decided that for our sanity, we had to make some changes by doing things differently at night. We had to teach our girl that her bed is her bed. That is where she goes at night and that is where she stays. Most importantly we had to teach her how to fall asleep in her bed and settle herself when she woke.

I'm really quite proud of how far we've come in 2 short weeks. I kept a sleep diary to track our progress and I thought I would share it.

The breaking point for us and deciding to start this diary was 4 nights in a row where Baby Girl refused to sleep until 11pm (sometimes 12am), meaning that we were trying to get her to sleep for 4 hours. It could not go on. We made small changes and messed up some nights but in the end persistence and structure is working.

Saturday 24th October- Baby Girl has a cold so I chicken out of any changes to the rocking techniques I normally use. She refuses her night time milk. She doesn't do this often. She is super tired. I put her down at 8pm by rocking her to music and she was out like a light. At 9.15pm she wakes, I try to give her more milk but she refuses. She's tired and very irritable but refuses to go back down. Daddy and I take it in turns. We rock, we play music, we lay down next to her in our bed, we even let her play. She's crying. She just wants to sleep but she is fighting he sleep and before we know it, it's 12.30am. I try to offer her milk again, this time she gulps it down and by 1am she's fast asleep. She sleeps through until 8am but it's technically 9am by her body clock as the clocks have gone forward.

Sunday 25th October - Baby Girl has been out with her Daddy and get's home quite late. I'm hoping her playing with her cousins has tired her out, she looks tired. She has her milk at 8.50pm and as normal after her milk I brush her teeth before I attempt to rock her. At 9.15pm she has been fighting sleep for 15 minutes so I decided to have a go at placing her in her cot as she's frustrated being in my arms. She thinks it's a game and this hypes her up. She runs from one side of the cot, to the other. Repeat, repeat and repeat. I play her favourite 'sleeping' song, lay her down, cover her with a blanket and leave the room. She keeps getting up. By 9.20pm Daddy is anxious that she has nursery tomorrow and so opts to rock her. This takes him some time. By 10.30pm he puts her down asleep in her cot. At 12.25am she wakes screaming. Something has happened. Possibly a night terror? She is inconsolable. It feels like it takes forever to settle her but she's back down at 12.40pm. A sight of relief but then she wakes up within 5 minutes. At this point I'm shattered and Daddy insists he's got this. I get some sleep and she ends up next to me in bed at 5am. She has a sore throat so I give her calpol and cuddles. She snoozes next to me until 8am but stirs a lot.

Monday 26th October- We bathe every second day and this is a bath day. She still has a cold and has refused her dinner and everything I've tried to offer her. I sucessfully get some muesli down her before she goes to bed. At 7.30pm I start to rock her to sleep and she is down within 10 minutes. She wakes at 9.30pm, and goes back down after a cuddle. Wakes again at 10.30pm and down again after a cuddle. Up at 4.30am and this time won't settle. I think she's hungry so I give her some milk and let her get in bed with me. She sleeps until 9.30am.

Tuesday 27th October - This evening she is exhausted. She has only had a 40 minute nap so she goes down by 8pm with minimal rocking. By 8.30pm she wakes with a terrible cough. She really want to sleep but she can't. Her cough is keeping her awake. At 9.40pm I get her settled in bed with me and by 12pm when she is fast asleep I put her back in her cot. At 4am she awakes and she's unsettled but sleepy. At 4.30am Daddy takes over and works his magic while I go back to sleep. Baby Girl wakes for the day at 9am.

Wednesday 28th October - Baby Girl goes down in her cot after some rocking at 7.30pm and she wakes pat 10pm with a temperature. I strip her down and give her Neurofen. She doesn't seem to want to settle after this and doesn't want to be held. I don't want her to get too hot in my arms so I put her down on the lounge room floor and she plays with her toys. She's up until 12.30am and at this point she is extremely tired so I try rocking her again and she falls asleep. I put her back in her cot but by 2am she is up again and won't let me put her back in her cot so I let her sleep in bed with me and we both wake up at 9.15am.

Thursday 29th October - The previous night was so bad that I realise I have forgotten to record this night. I can only imagine it wasn't pretty but I have no recollection of it.

Friday 30h October - We have friends over tonight and Baby Girl's cold seems to be really improving so we decide to just let her stay up and socialise with us in the hope that she really tires herself out. I take her up to bed at 11pm. She stirs at 1am and get's a quick hug from Daddy before going back down. She cries out at 2am but settles herself after a few minutes so we don't go in. After this she sleeps through the night and wakes up at 9.30am. What  nice family Saturday sleep in!

Saturday 31st October- We have been out today and in the car at the end of the day. After missing her naps, all she wants to do is sleep in the car at 7pm. I hate to wake a sleeping baby but it makes me nervous that she is sleeping so late in the day. I let her nap for 15 minutes before waking her. We try and get her to sleep by rocking her at 9pm but she won't settle and just wants to play. We let her loose on the lounge room floor with her toys for a bit and then she let's her Daddy rock her and he puts her down asleep in her cot at 10.30pm. By 11.30pm she is up. She is in pain. It must be teething. She is screaming like we haven't heard her scream before and we can't console her. She is not happy unless she is sleeping in one of our arms all night. At 7am she wants some milk so I give this to her and she continues to sleep in my arms until 9.30pm.

Sunday 1st November- She's been sleepy during the day, most likely due to her terrible sleep the night before. She has an afternoon nap and she's still fast asleep at 4pm after more than a 2 hour afternoon nap. I get her down to sleep in her cot at 8.30pm by rocking her. She is up at 9.30pm. She is tired. She is crying. She won't settle being rocked in either of our arms. She won't settle if we leave her on the floor as she just wants us to pick her up. She is crying no matter what we do. She is crying because she is tired. She just wants to go to sleep but she doesn't know how. We always knew we were against sleep training that involved crying and we have avoided it but it is ironic that as much as we haven't wanted to do it, we are all shattered after months of bad sleeping and Baby Girl is still crying. At this point the penny dropped and I knew now was the time to really try something different. At 11.30 I get her to lie in her cot, put her blanket on her, give her a kiss and leave the room. She is crying. She is standing up. She is calling out for me. I sit on my hands and I leave her for 5 minutes and watch her on the monitor with tears in my eyes. After 5 minutes I head back into her room, lay her down, cover her with the blanket, kiss her again, say goodnight and leave the room. She cries again for 5 minutes. I time every second. By the time I go back in the room again she is laying in a heap in her cot. She's so tired and she's just happy to have me in the room next to her that she doesn't try to get up again. I place two big cushions next to her cot. I lie down, place my hand on her stomach through the cot bars, sing to her and she is asleep in 2 minutes. Here is our turning point. She has gone to sleep in her cot for the first time in her 14 month life. It's just after midnight and she is asleep. And the best thing? She sleeps until 9am!

My little make shift bed

Things get easier from here - I promise!

Monday 2nd November - Thinking that I am the baby whisperer I put her in her cot at 7.45pm but she just won't settle. Daddy doesn't like that she is crying and wants to be taken out of her cot and cuddled so he takes her out and rocks her and she is asleep by 8pm. Baby Girl stirs at 1.30am and starts crying. I lie next to her cot, pat her and sing to her softly and she settles after 10 minutes without me having to take her out! Woohoo. She's up again at 4am. Daddy can't settle her in her cot so he rocks her back to sleep and she wakes at 9am.

Tuesday 3rd November - Today I introduce a book to her night time routine, straight between teeth and bed. She enjoys the 5 minutes we have snuggled up on the bed and settles really easily in her cot when I put her down. At 8pm, I pat and sing to her and within 10 minutes she is fast asleep. Baby Girl wakes up at 3am and Daddy tends to her. He's still not use to this settling in the cot business and makes the mistake of taking her out of her cot and then struggles to settle her for 40 minutes. He is struggling but remembers to stick to our new approach so puts her in her cot asleep taps her and within 10 minutes she is asleep. She wakes at 5am and I lie on the makeshift bed next to her cot and hold her hand. I am so tired I fall asleep myself. We both wake up at 7am. She appears to be teething so I give her bonjella and snuggle in my bed together until 9am.

Wednesday 4th November - Baby Girl has refused her dinner tonight. I put her in her cot at 8pm and after patting she is asleep in 5 minutes. At 9.30pm she wakes and I'm struggling to settle her. I am in the middle of doing some work so Daddy takes over and after 25 minutes he thinks her gums are hurting so he takes her out of the cot, gives her some bonjella and then rocks her back to sleep #weakdaddy. Baby Girl wakes at 1am. I pat her in her cot and she goes back to sleep within 2 minutes. I know we're really on to something! She wakes up for the day at 7am.

Thursday 5th November- I put her in her cot at 8.25pm. It takes awhile to calm her down. After I've tapped, rubbed and sung, she is quiet but not asleep. I hold her hand and start to drift off myself. I realise I have fallen asleep and check the time. It's 8.55pm. Baby Girl is fast asleep so I make sure she is covered and quietly leave the room. She sleeps through until 5.30am. I can't settle her and she is asking for milk so I give her some. She scoffs down a whole beaker in approximately 60 seconds, nods back to sleep in her cot and doesn't make until 9.30am.

Friday 6th November - BG is in her in her cot by 8.30pm. After 19 minutes she is not settling and keeps on getting up in her cot. I leave the room for 5 minutes. There is a bit of crying but when I come back in the room she knows I mean business so she puts her head down. I hold her hand and sing to her and she is asleep within 2 minutes. She sleeps through until 8am!!

New bedtime routine/ night time rules:
  • No day time naps after 4pm.
  • Hot milk downstairs before saying goodnight, teeth and then we read a book together.
  • Settle Baby Girl in her cot, make sure she is well covered. Lie down next to her and tap and sing to her.
  • If she isn't settling in her cot and keeps getting up, leave the room for 5 minutes and come back in. Repeat until she has calmed down.
  • No taking her out of her cot when she wakes in the night, repeat the settling process lying down next to her cot.

Things we will work on soon:
  • Having a more consistent bed time. I think we will aim for 8pm.
  • Getting her to settle herself in her cot by not having to lie next to her. I think we might do this by stopping the tapping and slowly getting further from the door as she settles.
I'm so happy that what we are doing is working. I can't believe we didn't do it sooner. I had visions of us facing crying and being unsettled for hours on end but in reality it took less energy than what we had been dealing with and Baby Girl has adapted so quickly! There's still more for us to improve on but I feel happy that we are heading in the right direction.

If any mummies out there are reading this and in the same boat as we were don't be afraid to tackle sleeping issues head on. Make sure you are comfortable with whatever you are implementing, have support and persevere. It will get better! Every baby is different and is not a one size fits all but the key is being able to get them to self settle. We are not completely there but we are well on our journey. If you have any questions at all or can offer you any more advice on how we went about things please do reach out to me.

Have you faced sleeping issues? How have you managed?

Kat x

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17 comments

  1. Ahhh sleep issues. I have to admit I smiled a bit where you wrote that Baby Girl turned one and things went downhill rapidly! DITTO. I could've written that. Our issue is not getting her to sleep (she's pretty much down and out between 8 and 8.30), its the waking up again and again in the middle of the night. Some nights its up to 4 times! Each time she needs milk or to be rocked or she will not go back to sleep. Needless to say I feel EXHAUSTED the next day. Hope this was somewhat therapeutic for you to write! #sleeplessmumsunited ;-)

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    1. Argh. The dreaded sleep regression! Every baby is different which is why there is no maniacal sleep solution but there is a general theme of sleep deprivation amougst us mummies! It's so tiring waking up that many times isn't it? I hope you get some rest soon x

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  2. It's all a drama isn't it. We've major sleep issues in our home too. Routine and consistency seems to be the call of the day, I mean night. Try and get sleep when you can though I was rubbish at that. http://rainbowsaretoobeautiful.blogspot.com/2015/10/5-ways-to-get-more-sleep-when-you-have.html Remember what its like if you decide to have more too, though ours is a bit more complicated http://rainbowsaretoobeautiful.blogspot.com/2015/11/understanding-autistic-siblings-its.html

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    1. Oh it does sound like things have been tough for you! I'm lucky that I can fall asleep pretty easily so I can have little cat naps here and there. Sometimes I even have one as soon as Daddy gets home from work to ensure I have stamina for the night to come x

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  3. We went through various sleeping issues with both our girls but our son has been a sleeper since the day he was born. Like literally I would have to wake him to nurse him for he would sleep and sleep and sleep. Even now...he goes right to bed and sleeps through the night and has been that way since he was born and he is now 5. My middle child, a girl, 4, is the problem sleeper...she refuses to sleep in a bed and prefers blankets on the floor where there she realizes in the middle of the night she doesn't like it and then wants to come sleep in our bed...I take her back to her room and after about 3 times of this I finally just give in cause ....well...I NEED SLEEP! I am visiting from #BabyBrainMonday 💋Trista

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    1. It goes to show that every baby is different even in their sleeping habits. It's lucky that you only have one not so great sleeper, imagine if you had 3? That's one of my fears about expanding the family. Thanks for popping by x

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  4. An interesting read, the #weakdaddy made me laugh, it's exactly the same with my husband! We've had so many issues with Lizzy sleeping/waking and have tried the controlled crying method (which did work!) but then when we moved house when she was 6 months and it was back to rocking to sleep again. Then she'd fall asleep if I'd hold her hand, until we temporarily lived with my parents and I lay in bed with her til she fell asleep! Now we've moved into our own place and she has her own room, she will go to sleep by herself and 5 nights out of 7 she'll stay there until morning (yay!) I definitely think routine helps.

    Well done you and I'm sure it will only get better - until she falls poorly again!

    Carolyn
    http://www.stylishmemories.com

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    1. Haha, yep Daddy regular melts. Baby Girl yells jump and he says how high? Awww bless Lizzie, she must have been confused. I'm glad she's settled now. You're so right! As soon as they become poorly (which is often in this house) night times are 100% worse x

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  5. This is wonderful! I'm always quizzing mums on their sleep routines. We too rocked R to sleep but now at two he's too heavy for me to rock him for long enough to sleep. Now I get by on a combination of stories, cuddling, head rubbing, begging and exhaustion. It made me giggle about you falling asleep my hubby does this almost every time he puts him down, I think the child picks up on the parent relaxing and the rhythm of their breathing it helps them drift off. Thanks for sharing #fromtheheart

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    1. That's so true. I often think Baby Girl and I are really in sync. I nearly fell asleep a few nights ago and she was nearly settled and then I woke up quickly and so did she! The best feeling is when she is crying out and I go in to see her and just rest my hand on her and she goes back to sleep instantly. I love hearing about other mums routines too, I implemented this when one of my close friends dos something similar with her baby and they had a break through x

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  6. I love that you followed your instincts regarding cry it out. I always thought I'd found the holy grail of baby sleep by breastfeeding baby boy to sleep and then we hit the 8 months sleep regression when NOTHING would work. I think there's good times and bad times and I hope your good spell lasts ;) thanks for sharing #fromtheheart

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    1. I was the same with the breastfeeding to sleep, but she would wake up every 2 hours through the night for a feed. Then it was a whole other struggle when I stopped at 6 months x

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  7. Zach used to be a terrible sleeper so I really do feel for you. We are at another stage now where he throws his covers off and then requires us to cover him back up again! It's a ruddy nightmare! I am glad that you found a way through the worst of it. Do be prepared for it to all change up again though in the future.. Consistency is not something children are good at haha!

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    1. These kiddies constantly change don't they? On the most part night times have got so much better although we have had a challenging few nights. Here's hoping that with consistency things don't get out of control again x

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  8. Ooo meant to say - Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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  9. Ah hun i can COMPLETELY relate! Esp as we got NO sleep last night. Arjun was in our bed and given he's getting bigger and bigger, it's getting harder and harder. Neither of us seem to have the energy to get back in to a routine :( I need to try again. I can totally relate. Hardwork being a parent! But always helps that we have each other! Thanks for linking up to #BabyBrainMonday x

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    1. Awww bless you! Gone are the days when I used to be able to settle Baby Girl instantly through breastfeeding. It is hard but your right, we have each other for support and that helps x100 xxx

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