Three nights ago, Valentina, almost 3 months old, just wouldn't settle. Nothing seemed to help. I changed her diaper, I fed her, I burped her, I rocked her and shushed her and walked her. Inconsolable crying anyway.
And in the preceding days, it felt like it was getting harder and harder to put her to sleep. Or I would get her down and she would wake up a few minutes later. Torturous.
And I've been traveling without my partner so I don't have a reliable source of help. (Friends and family have been amazing but I don't like to count on them.)
So I made the spontaneous decision to start sleep training right then. If nothing I was doing was helping, and she was miserable anyway, it might as well be productive misery.
So I did one last check of her diaper and one last attempt at swaddling and popped her into her little travel bed.
I'm not going to lie. It wasn't easy. I had planned to wait until we returned to Mexico. But it seemed like my previous strategy wasn't helping her. And my friend was keeping me company, so I didn't have to do it completely by myself.
I want to be absolutely that even being a sleep coach with hundreds of success stories under my belt, this was NOT easy. It still feels scary and hard.
Nonetheless, I decided to do "cry it out" because I was confident that checking on her or worse, staying with her and patting and shushing her, would only stimulate her and make sleep more difficult.
She only cried hard for a few minutes, to my amazement. Then there was intermittent crying for another 20 minutes or so. Then, to my astonishment, silence. She did it!
An hour later, I went up to bed and found her making little squeaking noises. Not crying until I came over and checked her. Then she began to wail. I lifted her up and her back was really hot and the back of her head was soaking wet. I felt terrible, but confused, too, because it wasn't that warm in the room and she was only wearing cotton pajamas and a cotton swaddle.
I rocked her back to sleep guiltily.
And since that night... I have swaddled her and laid her down awake with her pacifier and turned on the white noise and turned off the lights and... silence. For every nap, too. It feels like a miracle.
I am not weaning her at night yet so she still wakes up to eat at night whenever she chooses -- I want to do a weight check first. But she's self-soothing for sleep during the day! And apart from last night, she generally gives me a 6-hour stretch at night and wakes for the first time at around 4:30 am. She also usually eats around 9 pm or so.
If you need help guiding your own little one to independent sleep, set up a free consult and let's chat about what that would look like.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.