January 21, 2011

Sleeping Through the Night

Category: Baby Milestones

[Silver Bullet was not too keen with my plan of sleep training Spud initially but he went along (uncomfortably) with me on this one in his support to *try* to get Spud to sleep through the night. Luckily for Silver Bullet (or for me!), he had to go on a business trip on the 3rd night of our sleep-training session. And so, he was pretty much spared the doses of Spud crying bloody murder and the intensity of her heart-wrenching wails]

The decision to embark on this technique, officially called “controlled crying”, was nothing but a calculated one based on my own observation in demystifying Spud’s cues. Indeed, I am aware that this may sound brutal and that there are people who may strongly disapprove what I ventured. However, while it might not work for (or approved by) everyone, I certainly can attest that it worked for us. Hence, I am just sharing what I did, and I hope I will not be judged for my (lack of) parenting skills in getting my child to sleep through the night.

Let’s just start with a list of essential ingredients:

  • A bagful of persistence
  • A ladle of consistency
  • Truckloads of patience
  • Sheer willpower the size of Mount Everest
  • A dash of heart-wrenching sobs in between
  • Sprinkles of hope to get through (the night)


Night #1
Spud was in bed before 7pm per her usual bedtime routine.

She was given a smaller feed where we just shove a bottle with about 60-70 ml of breast milk while she was still asleep at 8pm and a big feed (about 120 ml) at 10.30pm before we hit the sack.

At exactly 1.30 am, she cried. It was agreed that Silver Bullet was to ignore her cries and not pick her up immediately. I let her whimper for about a minute or so and then went to her cot to pat her, stroke her back gently and shushing her till she calmed down. About 5 minutes later, she went back to sleep. No feed.

She kept this up till about 3.30 am every 10 minutes. Every time she whimpered, I let her cry a little bit more before going over to her cot and did the same thing. (and oh! My back!) No picking her up. No feed. And each time, she calmed down and went back to sleep.

It was tiring, but also encouraging that she was able to get back to sleep with the way I was comforting her. (That surprised Silver Bullet to no end. If only you can see his surprised reaction each time she went back to sleep after I tried calming her down!)

At 5am, she started crying again. This time a loud angry cry which sounded like a hungry cry. I nursed her and after a good proper feed, she was lulled back to sleep.

She woke up crying again at 6am and after another feed, she went limp and continued slumbering. She finally woke up at 7.30 am, smiling away when she saw me. I gave her big slobbering kiss!

She was in a pretty good mood throughout the day, and showed no signs of distress from last night’s ordeal.


Night #2
Continued giving her the 8.30 pm and 10.30pm feed.

At 3 am (this was extremely encouraging! 3 am, not 1.30 am (!) since she last went to bed at 7pm and her last feed was at 10.30pm!!), she started her cries, and we repeated what we did the night before. When she wouldn’t stop, we would let her cry and then go over to her every 10 minutes and leave her again. Both Silver Bullet and I took turns to calm her. She finally went down after 45 minutes.

At 4.30 am, she let out a real loud hunger cry. Convinced she was hungry after a 6 hour stretch, I nursed her and she walloped everything in 15 minutes before going into a deep slumber.

She woke up at 6am for another feed and ready to start the day.


Night #3 (The night Silver Bullet was out of town)
Last feed at 10.40 pm.

This time, she “woke” up at 4.am where she fussed a little. I was able to calm her down doing what I did in the last few days. No feed.

She went down at 4.40 am and slept though till 6.30 am!

I can’t help but gave her a big cuddle, and loads of slobbery kisses before I nurse her in the morning,


Night #4

Last feed at 10.30pm. No fuss.No whimper. No feed. (Extremely encouraging!)

She slept thru till 5.15am with a hunger wail. I fed her, she fell back to sleep and woke up 2 hours later!


Night #5
Last feed at 10.30pm

She fussed a little at 2.30 am but managed to get herself to sleep soon after. I did not even have the time get out of bed to soothe her.

At 4 am and 5 am subsequently,  she started whinging and whining in her sleep. Both times, I let her whimper herself to sleep while I kept vigil in my own bed.

She slept pretty soundly thereafter, but I thought I’d wake her up at 6am for a feed. She took it all and fed ravenously.


Night #6
Still last feed at 10.30pm.

At 1.30 am, she started fussing away intermittently for an hour before falling back to sleep.

No feed.

She seemed restless throughout the night, whimpering constantly. She then went full blast at 3 am and somehow, my technique of calming her down did not work very well this time. Nothing I did could calm her down as she wailed her loudest wails in angry, ear piercing screams.

This little imp threw me a curveball again. I thought the last few days went pretty well! What happened?!

I bade goodbye to having some decent sleep and after about 45 minutes, I teetered on the brink. This time I felt the strain.

I was alone, I was tired and I was a wrecked. (and I have an 8 am training to start my day the next day. Super fantastic!)

My back suffered and it felt like it was breaking in two as I had to bend over to her cot over prolonged period of time so I could comfort her without picking her up.  I cried along as Spud cried. I was a total mess and I was almost convinced I could never ever get her to sleep through the night. I thought I had failed and I am such a bad mother for starving my child at night!

I almost buckled and little voices in my head told me I should just frickin’ feed her. At the same time, another voice told me that we have come this far — I had no reason to bail now since she emerged unscathed in the last few days. (Yes. I tend to talk to myself alot these days!). In my mind,  if this had worked before, it can work again. I had to persevere.

She continued fussing, whining and crying. I continued the soothing, the comforting and (my) sobbing. She did this for 2 whole hours till 5.30 am.

I changed her nappy instead and battled through her cries till she went limp.

At 6 am, she woke up and breastfed for a good 20 minutes. She greeted me with her megawatt smile. ( I could offer a weary smile back, eyes barely open, exhausted as hell!)


Night #7 (The night Silver Bullet came home)

She slept through till 2.30 am. We left her to her fussing which lasted 20 minutes while I kept vigil in our own bed. She continued sleeping till 6am, woke up for a feed and slept again.

She finally was wide awake at 7am. Still flashing me her contagious toothless grins.


Night #8

Another curveball. She decided to fuss every hour from 1am – 3am. No crying. Just fussing away. So we left her to her fussing again before giving her a change of diaper.

At 5.30 am, I fed her as she woke herself up with a hunger cry. She finally woke up at 6.30 am after falling back to sleep from her last feed.


Night #9

Fussed for about 10 minutes at 1.40 am and 4 am – No feed!

6.30 am – Wake. Feed. Sleep.

Full alert at 7 am. All smiles!


Night #10
Slept through till 6.20 am!

(She had a 4th month vaccination the day before, so I wondered if that was the reason she slept through)


Night #11
Slept through till 6.15am!


Night #12 onwards (until now more than a month later)
Despite small whimpers at least 2x a night, she manages to get herself back to sleep without any intervention from us and only waking up at 6 am for a feed. (She may or may not go back to sleep after her first morning feed)

We were on to a nice start. She is finally able to sleep through the night!

This took us all, but almost two weeks of perseverance.

It was also at this time (12th day onwards) that I started wondering if our upcoming trip to Singapore then may just screw up her sleeping through the night routine (strange place, strange bed). Fortunately for us, she kept it up and since then, she pretty much manages to get through the night without any feed.

Fast forward today, she fusses less and less at night, waking up earliest at 5.30 am for her first feed of the day (of which usually, I will nurse her and then put her back in her cot and she’ll go back to sleep again for at least another half an hour – Spud permitting). Other times, she is able to sleep though till 7.30 am.

So, is everything all fine and dandy now that we get Spud to sleep through the night and we finally have uninterrupted sleep at night? Well, not entirely as she still has her bouts of night waking from being stuck in the bars of the cot or perhaps, a nightmare.

Call me paranoid, but what you don’t know is that I have also seen her smiling her cheeky grins in her sleep (I’m not making this up!) and I reckon she might already have some tricks up her sleeve, too.

This method is certainly not foolproof. I’m sure she’ll be throwing us another curve-ball sometime soon!

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