Here's a little story, for anyone who's interested. After reading my post a week and a half ago, in which I mentioned that I wanted to start reading the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, my fantastic friend, Sarah, mailed me her copy and I received it a little over a week ago. At first I was a little overwhelmed - it was a heftier volume than I had imagined - and then I was a little frustrated, because I wanted it to give me an exact pattern or method or list of rules to follow. I do well with rules ... a blessing and a curse. Anyway, I pored over the book, and once I started to understand how it was laid out, I really enjoyed it. I loved reading all of the research regarding baby sleep, and then I started to appreciate that Dr. Weissbluth doesn't necessarily give "5 Easy Steps" or something along those lines because one-size-fits-all plans rarely do.
I followed his advice and started really focusing on getting Cora down for a consistent first nap of the day, just an hour after she woke up. I was able to transition her out of her vibrating bouncy seat so she now sleeps solely in her Nap Nanny (because he recommends working toward motionless sleep), and throughout the rest of the day I would watch her like a hawk and try to get her to sleep as soon as she started looking/acting drowsy. It was still taking forever to get her to fall deeply asleep enough for me to put her down, and bedtime was still about an hour long on and off again process, but I was just trying to get her as rested as possible.
I knew that at some point I would probably need to let her do some form of crying it out, but I felt confused about when and how to approach it. I had tried letting her cry for about 20 minutes a few different times when she woke up early from naps, but she just screamed the whole time. That brings us to yesterday. We were going about our normal routine in the morning: I fed her, pumped, and put her down for a nap while Liam drank his milk and played, and then I got him settled at the table for breakfast. Ten minutes later, she was crying again. Ugh. I really didn't want to leave him at the table on his own while I went to rock her for whatever endless amount of time it would take to get her back to sleep, and I knew she would be really fussy and tired if I got her up, so I let her cry. Twenty minutes later, she was fast asleep. For an hour! I was SO shocked. I decided that if this was some window where she was learning to settle herself down, I didn't want to miss it, so we did the same thing for the rest of the day: when she was sleepy I would swaddle and rock her the way I always do, but as soon as she started to fall asleep, I would put her down. She never cried more than 25 minutes, and then she napped better than she has in weeks.
My sweet parents offered to let Liam spend the night with them so we could let her cry at bedtime (since that is when our biggest battles occur), and last night she cried for 19 minutes after I put her down and then slept through the night for the very first time! I did get her up a little after 10 to feed her, like I always do, but other than that she slept from 8:00pm until 7:30am! Then, for her nap this morning she only cried for 6 minutes!
I know this sounds dramatic, but I already feel like a new person. Now that I know she's capable of falling asleep on her own, I feel like it is going to be so much easier to get things done around the house and to devote more time to Liam. I feel like I can finally start thinking about things like potty training and fun activities for him that involve more than just markers and coloring books. I know we'll have good days and bad days and that all of our sleep woes aren't just magically going to go away, but I do believe we have made HUGE strides in the right direction. It's so great to see my little girl getting a bit more rest, and she is so happy today! Way to go, Cora!