Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Sleep Plan

Houston, we have a plan.

We have decided to try a slightly modified version of the sleep plan Nicole at The Kavanaugh Report posted awhile back.  She got the plan from a behavioral therapist when they were having trouble with her son, Henry's, sleep.  It sounds like Henry and E have a lot in common in the stubborn personality and sleep departments, so I am hoping we will have some measure of success with this plan.

We have two things we would like to ultimately accomplish with this plan:  1) cut back on E's night feedings and 2) get E to fall asleep on her own, in her Pack-N-Play, and get her to stay there all night.

Our official sleep plan looks like this: 
  • Strict wake-up time of 8:00 every morning.  E can get up earlier than this if she is ready, but we will not let her sleep any later than 8:00 a.m.
  • First nap 2.5 hours after she wakes up. 
  • Nurse her before her nap.  Then, put her down for her nap awake and do not return for 60 minutes.  If she is still awake after 60 minutes, the "nap" is over, and we try again at her next scheduled nap time.
  • Repeat same routine for her afternoon nap at 2:00 p.m.
  • Regular bedtime routine and have her in bed by 8:00 p.m.  I will nurse her before bedtime, but we will put her down awake.  At night, we can go in to reassure her/soothe her as often as needed, but we cannot pick her up until 60 minutes pass.  After 60 minutes, we can pick her up and rock her, etc., but must put her back down awake.  
  • Only allowing her to nurse twice per night.  Since she is used to nursing all night long, I hate to just cut her off cold-turkey, so we decided to cut her back gradually.  For the first week, I will let her nurse once after midnight and once after 4:00 a.m.  Next week (assuming she is still waking multiple times...) she will only be allowed to nurse once, and only after 2:00 a.m.  Each time she nurses, she must be put back down awake. 

In addition to what I outlined above, we will also be making a real effort to ensure E eats plenty of solid foods during the day, so that she won't be hungry/trying to make up calories by nursing during the night.  

I'm not expecting miracles with this plan, but I am hoping to at least improve on what we've got going on right now... which, as you all know, is pretty dismal.  If she will just go to sleep on her own, and only wake a few times and eventually be able to get herself back to sleep when that happens, I will consider this a great success!  Anything beyond that would be a fantastic bonus.

So, all of that said... We decided to implement this plan yesterday.  S and I are both off from work on Monday, which will give us some extra time to be tired with minimal consequences.  It will also give me until Friday to be home with E before she goes back to the babysitter, so we will have almost a full week to hopefully get into some kind of groove.

Day one of The Plan went almost exactly as I thought it would.  I rocked her to sleep for her first nap, so that we weren't starting out with her already extremely overtired.  For her second nap, we put her down at 2:15 p.m. We let her cry for 60 minutes, then went in to reassure her every 30 minutes after that.  She was awake and crying until 5:15 p.m., when I went in and patted her chest until she fell asleep.*  She slept 30 minutes.

Bedtime last night wasn't any better.  I nursed her and we put her to bed at 8:00 p.m.  She cried and fussed until 11:45 p.m. (with us checking on her periodically), when S went to check on her, and found her sleeping standing up in her Pack-N-Play.  He tried to lay her down, and she woke up, so I nursed her and patted her chest again until she fell asleep.  She was then awake at 2:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m. (nursed), and 6:30 a.m.  I am proud to say we were able to get her back to sleep in the Pack-N-Play at 2:00 and 4:30, which I consider a small victory in itself.   I tried to soothe her back to sleep for about 45 minutes once she woke up at 6:30, then gave up and decided to just get up for the day. 

She is now fussing through her 60 minutes of morning nap time.  I'm really, really hoping today goes better for us!  I know it will likely take at least 3-4 days to see any real improvement, so I'm not holding my breath.

Wish us luck!

*After hearing her scream for three hours at that nap attempt, I emailed Nicole to find out what they did after Henry failed to fall asleep after 60 minutes.  I had assumed E had to stay back there, so she didn't think she had "won" by fighting sleep for an hour, but Nicole told me that after 60 minutes they considered the nap to be over, so we modified our plan accordingly.  It sounds much more manageable to me than listening to E CIO for three hours every time she has to take a nap!


  1. Good luck! One other thought I had is maybe she's transitioning from two naps to one, and if you have her take only an afternoon nap she'll be a bit more tired iniitally and go to bed a bit earlier (maybe she's overtired which is why she doesn't fall asleep right away at night?). ANd maybe she'll sleep longer at night? Who knows, they are drunk midgets, right?

  2. I was going to suggest the same thing. Maybe she is transitioning into one nap. At Max's school they are going to be transitioning them next month to one nap. By the way, he skipped his morning nap today and is currently taking his afternoon nap. We are also trying to figure out how to get M into his own crib. He is just so used to snuggling with either DH or I all the time.

  3. Glad you have a plan! I think it's realistic not to expect miracles. Slow but steady wins thvrace!

  4. Jen and Mary, I did actually think of her being old enough to drop a nap. However, the way she's been sleeping (forever, not just recently) combined with the fact that she never naps longer than an hour, I just don't think she's ready for only one nap just yet. She is an absolute monster if she doesn't get her morning nap before noon. Maybe once she gets her nighttime sleeping under control, and is getting more and better sleep, I will try to transition her to one nap. Good thinking though! :-)