I decided that with Elliott I wasn’t going to be a sleep nazi that had my baby on a schedule from day one because it wasn’t very effective with Reagan and caused me tons of unnecessary stress and anxiety. This plan worked out pretty well for the first 3 months, she slept really well at night and took naps on the go or in her bassinet during the day and I thought that was going to be the end of it. But behold–the dreaded FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION. It came hard and fast and knocked us off our feet!
Those of you who have been through it know what I’m talking about, and those that haven’t will probably know soon. Around four months of age, baby’s sleep cycles change and they no longer enter REM sleep at the beginning of their cycle, meaning it’s suddenly harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. It’s hard for them, because it’s a new skill they have to learn and it’s hard on us because our babies who used to sleep so well are now up all night long.
Elliott went from waking up once or twice a night to being up four or five times a night. Sometimes it was every hour, and as soon as I’d start to nurse her she would fall asleep. I was so exhausted that I would wake up in the middle of the night to discover that I had fallen asleep nursing and been in that position for over an hour. I was getting maybe four hours of sleep a night, then having to parent all day, work at night, and there was zero time left to blog (or shower, or eat, or clean!)
So in desperation, I decided to try the cry it out sleep training method when Jared left town for the week. I did no research, just asked some friends and decided to see what happened. The first two nights were BAD! Elliott cried and cried and would not go to sleep unless I nursed her (even thought I knew she wasn’t hungry). I turned to Instagram (seriously love this community) and my old college roommate told me her sister was a sleep consultant, and suggested I check out her resources and blog.
I started talking to Marietta and it turns out I was making quite a few mistakes with my approach to sleep training! Since I had already started, she emailed me a generic sleep plan for Elliott’s age (she offers fully customized plans!) to go over and start following. This plan covered wake times and lengths, nap lengths, when to feed before bed time and nap time, how long to let baby cry in different situations, routines to go through, expectations, sample schedules, sleep environment, schedule guidelines, literally everything that you can think of, is answered.
When it comes to my babies and sleep, I have SO much anxiety. I constantly question every decision I make, I worry about baby waking up my husband or my neighbors or my toddler. Ten minutes of crying feels like an hour, and I start worrying about if they’re stuck in their crib or too hot/cold or whatever else my tired brain can come up with. So while I can google search a sleep training plan, I need answers to every little question and scenario to feel peace, and that’s what Marietta’s plan did for me.
Once we corrected the mistakes I was making and started again, there were a few rough nights but a good one mixed in every now and then. There were definitely a few nights where Elliott cried for over an hour while I waited for it to be time for me to feed her (following my pediatrician’s guide). But slowly, we started to notice her sleeping longer stretches at night, and getting on a really good nap routine during the day! It took about 3 weeks of trial and error, and addressing my concerns and anxiety for us to really nail the routine and see an improvement, but now she sleeps 6 hours straight at night no problem! When implemented correctly and consistently, the cry it out method should only take 1-3 days. Once we started doing everything correctly the change in Elliott’s sleep was very quick! I feed her once before we go to bed, once in the middle of the night, and then when she wakes up in the morning. This is a huge improvement from the 4-5 night time wake ups, and everyone is much happier and more functional because of it. She naps at the same times every day, and is able to put herself to sleep without me nursing her every time!
The most helpful resource during this whole endeavor, was being able to call or text Marietta anytime with any questions or concerns I was having. I am a major worrier, and she successfully talked me off the cliff of giving up several times! If Elliott was having a weird day, I’d text her and ask how I should adjust our schedule. If I felt like something was off or Elliott wasn’t responding well to the schedule, Marietta talked me through it and suggested little tweaks and changes to improve. She had me track Elliott’s sleep every day so she could review her patterns and adjust our schedule if needed. We had a scheduled video chat where we talked about the successes we were seeing, the concerns I was still having (serious anxiety you guys), and how to overcome them. I never thought I would be the type to need a sleep consultant, but I cannot stress how much I loved having her help us on this journey! It was so worth it to have her guidance and advice and to now have a baby who sleeps long enough to allow me to functionally complete everything I do during the day.
You can book a FREE 15 minute phone consultation with her here. If you don’t want to take the plunge on a fully guided sleep training experience (although I seriously believe it is worth every penny!) she has an amazing blog with tons of resources and advice that you can research on your own! You can follow this link for a FREE comprehensive newborn sleep survival guide that sums up everything you need to know about sleep development for newborns and preparing them for sleep training down the road. She also hosts a FB live every week where you can submit your specific questions and have them answered directly! If you have any more questions about what we did, or what I thought about the cry it out method, feel free to comment or message me on Instagram!