When we had our second girl, one of Mike’s coworkers (who has three children) semi-jokingly said “the only thing worse than people without kids are parents with one kid.” I sort of wondered what he meant by that, but now I know.
Everything you do successfully with one kid is THE way it’s done. Here’s how you give them a bottle. Here’s how you teach baby sign language. Here’s how you sleep train.
I admit I was this way with Louise. Around three and a half months, we were not getting any sleep and decided to sleep train Louise using the graduated extinction method. We’d put her down and go in after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, etc. until she went to sleep on her own. After three nights and not having to go past the 15 minute mark, Louise was officially sleep-trained. There were hiccups here and there, but she almost always slept peacefully through the night – 6:30pm until 7am – and we were ecstatic. I assumed parents could resolve most children’s sleep issues by doing just what we did.
And then we had Celine.
There was one major difference between our two girls – that Louise drank formula and Celine is breast-fed. Formula fed babies tend to grow a little bigger earlier on, drink more per serving, and it takes them longer to metabolize the formula versus breast milk. I think this difference is the main reason why it was easier to sleep train Louise.
There are other differences too. For example, Celine still isn’t a huge fan of sleeping on her tummy, even though she can roll over. Her ideal setup is to be swaddled and set on her back, and over the course of the night she wiggles her arms out of the swaddle and usually ends up kind of on her side. That’s how she wants it and my attempts to change things up always ends disastrously. Louise, on the other hand, preferred to sleep on her tummy and did so much more peacefully than a swaddle (but even when swaddled she didn’t wiggle out).
With Louise, the biggest problem was we were putting her to bed too late. Any later than 6pm and she would wake up repeatedly at night. With Celine, I assumed she would be the same way. She does appreciate an earlier bedtime, but it did not have an impact on her night waking.
We tried sleep training Celine around 17 weeks, which we thought was working until she hit 18 weeks and regressed. For a couple of weeks she would wake up at least twice at night, and the burden was on Mike to manage her since we were trying to eliminate any feedings and she would work herself into a frenzy if she smelled me and could not nurse. Finally, we decided to go back to square one since Mike was exhausted and Celine clearly wasn’t changing her habit.
At this point, we’re still at one night waking/feeding, usually around 3 or 4am. She’s almost there – just another couple of hours and we would be good. I would even take a 5:30 wake-up if it meant she was sleeping soundly between 6:30 – 5:30. We’re thinking about trying the cry-it-out method full force, but we know from a couple of test runs in the past few days that she can really keep things going for upwards of an hour. I think it’s our best option though, and we’re going to try it soon.