Sleep Training: Our First Actual Half-Assed Attempt

Friday, March 1st (Day One of sleep training):

(Ed Note: The fact that I called it the “first” attempt should indicate whether or not it was successful)

I had come to terms with the fact that the intimacy I had with Mabel last night would happen again on occasion – during naps, trips and again tomorrow night when we decided we couldn’t go through with this kind of torture. But it was time to test our baby’s resolve and actually put her down in her crib before she was asleep.

And then leave.

It was 9pm and she was facemashing my leg through my sweatpants. It was time to take her upstairs and start the process. Really, an hour passed time to start it.

Phase One – Feeding: I started feeding and she was almost asleep before the end of it. But she managed to turn one of her pillow facemashes into a full body twist and found herself on her knees and crawling over me to get her favorite toy, the remote on my nightstand. On to Phase Two.

Phase Two – Story Time: I read her favorite story, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, by the good doctor. This took about three minutes. She was, as she always is, attentive during the entire story. I tried to read her another book. After opening the cover and failing to see the circle of birds from her favorite book, she again went for the remote.

Phase Three – Last Chance Feeding: It was time to force her back down to feed again. She typically fights lying down about three times before finally realizing that daddy is indeed going to win this battle of strength. She finished up the better part of seven ounces and took a small break before once again going for her remote, this time grunting her tired grunts. On to Phase Four.

Phase Four – Nighttime Serenade: Normally, I’d put her in the swing and sing to her. But this was to be the night to put her in the crib. So I put her down in the crib and sang my requisite four songs for her. Mostly Billy Joel, but I’ve found The Weight by The Band is boring enough to put her to sleep. During every song, she’d stand up and hang on the side of the crib, grunting. Between every song, I’d put her back down on her back and shove one of four pacifiers back in her mouth. She protested more than usual, likely because she wasn’t strapped down to a swing like a Nascar driver. And because this was abnormal. After the four songs were up, it was time for the final phase.

Phase Five – Leave: We had done this dance in the swing many times. She had learned how to fall asleep on her own in there. I would leave her awake and she would grunt loudly as I left. The grunts puttered out in under five minutes 90% of the time. I found that if I just left and did something like change out the laundry or poop that by the time I returned, she would be magically asleep. But this night would be different and confusing. I kissed her on the head, put her back down on her back one more time and left.

The screaming started within seconds. I went downstairs. Jenn and I wondered if this was going to ruin our heretofore perfect baby. She smiles all the time, has reached every milestone early and doesn’t hate her mommy and daddy. Would this strategic neglect ruin her?

I had a contingency plan. Keith had mentioned that he and Meghan didn’t feel comfortable leaving Grant to cry it out, so they used a technique in which they’d pick him up without saying anything until he stopped crying, and then put him back down. Seven minutes into Mabel’s crying fit, I implemented the contingency plan. After all, they had been right about the epidural. I went in, picked her up, didn’t say anything, kissed her on the head, and put her back down. The screaming took a few seconds to start this time, but this time it died down after another three minutes.

Seriously? Day One of Sleep Training and she was asleep in 10 minutes? I checked on her to make sure it wasn’t just the blanket pulled down on top of her muffling her screams. Nope. She was out. She was curled up and clawing at the corner of the crib like the skeletons you see that were accidentally buried alive. But she was asleep. Of course she was. As Jenn said, she can do anything we ask her to do. Sleep training is easy.


Saturday, March 2nd (Day Two of sleep training):

Not so fast, Dustin.

This night went more as expected. I’d pick her up and she’d stop crying momentarily, but started right again as soon as I put her back down. Eventually she started crying on the way down. After an hour, my wife and I hated books. “What the hell do books know? We know our baby! Who gives a crap what they say in books? Fuck books!”

And thus ended our first half-assed attempt to sleep train our daughter. And our crusade against Barnes & Noble. Instead, it was back to the swing. Hell, she won’t be 25 pounds for another two or three months.

5 thoughts on “Sleep Training: Our First Actual Half-Assed Attempt

    • Mabel didn’t start going to sleep before midnight until she was about 4 or 5 months old. But I’m glad your baby likes the crib. We took too long to teach her that the crib isn’t just for playing. It would be like somebody bringing a 10-year-old to Disneyworld and expecting them to go to sleep.

      Good for you and the bedtime will come down soon enough. Hopefully. 🙂

  1. Do you have her flat in the crib? For Micah, we put some blankets under one end of the crib mattress to angle it (a bit less than a swing, but still angled). Then we rolled a towel length-wise and made it into a U shape. Next, we’d swaddle the guy and plop his baby butt went in the base of the U. Somewhat like the photo linked below, but we have a photo somewhere with him when he was several months older and his legs hung over the base of the U.

    • She’s 9 months old now and hasn’t been swaddled since before Thanksgiving. We thought about angling her crib (really a Pack N Play), but now that she can roll around, sit up and pull herself to standing, I’m not so sure that’s a great idea. Also, I put her flat in the crib, but that lasts as long as it takes me to let her go. This is why I urge all parents to start their sleep training – if they choose to do it – before their child can crawl, especially before they can stand.

      Thanks for the advice. I’ll let you know soon enough how the second foray into sleep training is going. And I’m glad Micah has parents willing to go the extra mile and a half.

  2. Pingback: REAL Sleep Training: Day One | Daddy Needs a Nap

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