Falling off the sleep train
June 29, 2012 6:30 AM   Subscribe

After four days of sleep training our 7 month old, we've had good results for night sleeping, but day time sleep has gotten progressively worse. We are on the verge of giving up on the day time routine, but don't want to stop just before things turn around. Help?

We are in the process of sleep training our 7 month old daughter. She had been refusing to nap without being held and had been waking every hour through the night. We've been following the Sleepeasy Solution which recommends putting her down with periodic check-ins at night and for three 1+ hour naps during the day.

Four days in, we've had immediate results in night sleeping and are very happy with how that has gone. However, the nap times have gone horribly. Each day, she gets less sleep than the previous one and is now napping less than before we started. Yesterday, she cried through three naps then slept for 30 min only because we put her in the car (okayed by the book for some emergency rest). After four days, our daughter is hoarse and listless and we are raw, on edge and worried that we will derail the progress we've made at night. We are considering stopping the day time training. When we started, we were committed to trying this for a week but we feel like there has to be some improvement in napping to justify continuing to put ourselves and our daughter though this. Of course, we don't want to lose any progress we may have made especially if there is a breakthrough around the corner.

Previous threads mostly address whether to sleep train at all, and are really focused on night sleeping. I guess we're looking for moral support and some confirmation that we're doing the right thing. Specifically, for people with personal experience sleep training (especially those familiar withe Sleepeasy), we'd like to know:

-When you started sleep training, did you make incremental progress each day? Or did it get worse before it got better? When did it turn around?

-Did you sleep train for night and day sleep at the same time? How long did napping take to sort out relative to night sleep?

-Alternatively, did you sleep train for the night and then do day separately? How did that work?

We realize that some people are opposed to sleep training at all. That is obviously not us, and we'd like to keep away from general arguments about the merits of sleep training. Thanks.
posted by gimletbiggles to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We didn't do that program, but I will say that our night sleep? Amazing; totally independent baby who sleeps from 6:30 to 6. Napping? HA HA HA NO. He has always been like this no matter what I've tried. Your sleeper might be the same. Hoarse and listless sounds really bad and I don't think I'd stick with it if I were you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:33 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's possible she is moving to a two nap a day schedule. I think ours went that way around the 6-7 month mark. Ours wakes at 5:30, and naps from 8:30-10 and 1:30-3.
posted by sanka at 6:44 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I second the two nap suggestion. Sounds like around the right time for that.

In general, routines sometimes take longer than a week to take hold, and do not show consistent progress during the time they are being established. But I wouldn't force a routine if it is clearly not working at all for you guys.

Also, I think it's fine to work on both night and day time sleep. If the kids know what to expect from their day, they will generally behave much better.
posted by haykinson at 6:56 AM on June 29, 2012

Didn't do this specific sleep training, but here to say don't give up. It's worth sticking with it!
posted by jennstra at 6:59 AM on June 29, 2012

My experience has been that when babies get more solid, longer sleep at night, their daytime naps diminish significantly. Keep doing what you're doing at night, and don't force the day naps, see what baby settles into naturally.
posted by katypickle at 7:01 AM on June 29, 2012

People will provide good advice here. They’ll tell you about whatever appeared to work for them, you'll try it, maybe it’ll work, or then again maybe the kid just decided to change on its own. A seven month old does what it wants. All your ideas and plans for the kid will be ignored by the kid and the kid will do whatever comes naturally, because it’s a kid and not a robot that you can reprogram (that really reads really nasty, I know, but I don’t mean it to be, I just think what we try as parents doesn't do much, especially at that age). Just keep trying things, one of those things will agree with the kid and that’ll work... until it doesn’t, and then try something else. The only real answer is it'll sleep when its tired.
posted by Blake at 7:01 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm thinking even one afternoon nap at this point. Two naps at the most.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:05 AM on June 29, 2012

We actively began sleep training with Baby Shmoobles V2.0 at probably eight months of age. His doctor recommended the Ferber Method. We tried diligently for a god damn six weeks before we gave up, at which point we gave up and resorted to abandoning him in his crib with and telling him sternly "NO." "GO TO SLEEP." It was just as brutal as the six weeks of visiting him round the clock and we had mixed feelings of neglect and him getting what he darn well deserved if he wanted to be awake at night.

But it worked and it worked within maybe two days or so.

I think the main thing with any sleep training method is patience, but from our example this clearly in not the case. It's our job as parents to help our children learn. Teaching them is not always going to be comfortable or easy. Lessons learned will often be hard ones. Go ahead and sensitize yourself to this and make learning how to sleep one of those hard lessons (they won't remember anyway). Not only will they learn how to sleep but they they then get an introduction to learning hard lessons. Might as well sooner than later, eh?

13 months old and sleeps through the night now except when he's teething.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:06 AM on June 29, 2012

Agreeing that 6-7 months is when a lot of babies go to a 2-nap schedule. When we sleep trained, we had more success focusing on one thing at a time--in our case, eliminating night waking-- and then letting the naps sort of work themselves out.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 7:09 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the nighttime sleep has improved so much that less daytime sleep it needed. I'd try to consolidate three naps into 2. We didn't ever really do daytime sleep training but it seems like three naps a day (and why specifically one hour?) is too much.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:15 AM on June 29, 2012

Nthing the 2 naps thing. I've read this on AskMefi before and it works for us - when my son was 6-7 months I started using the 2-3-4 rule: go down for first nap 2 hours after morning wake up, second nap 3 hours after that, bedtime 4 hours later. This helps me keep him on a reasonable schedule without having to stare at the clock too much - instead of "He goes to bed at 8 every night!" I just make sure he's awake from his second nap by 5pm at the latest.

We did modified sleep training a few weeks ago, starting with his daytime naps first (instead of 50/50 nursing him to sleep or putting him down for a nap, I started putting him down for naps on his own) then progressed to doing the same at bedtime with a more solid bedtime routine. For about two weeks, his daytime naps SUCKED. I don't know if it was teething or cognitive (he was figuring out how to crawl during this period and his treacherous little legs would wake him up often) or food or illness or what, but it took about two weeks for his daytime naps to settle back down into the 2-3-4 pattern once he was falling asleep on his own at night (and only rarely waking up once to eat). For awhile I thought he was switching to one nap per day, but he was so tired in the afternoons that it was clear he still needed that second nap.

Hang in there, and see if two naps of her own duration (meaning, don't wake her up after an hour) help settle her into a pattern. Good luck!
posted by annathea at 7:37 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you do give up on the sleep training for nap time, than use the car or stroller to get the baby to sleep. If you start snuggling her during the day, the night time sleep may get worse.

Definitely try switching to 2 naps each day. Now that the night time sleep is getting better, it is very likely she doesn't need as much sleep during the day, and forcing 3 naps a day may be the main issue. Maybe try waiting for the first nap until she seems really really tired, so your sure the reason she's fighting sleep isn't because she's not tired.

If the sleep training is working for you, keep at it, I'm sure you'll get it figured out soon. We decided not to sleep train, and it has been... less than good... I wish I could convince my wife to do it, the lack of sleep does manage to wear you down after a while.
posted by markblasco at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses. I should say that listless was probably an exaggeration, more like subdued and clingy.

Also, we'd love it if she got 2 solid naps. The issue is more about getting her down for at least one when she clearly needs it. Of course, exactly when that should be is a bit of a moving target as her night sleep improves...

Markblasco, despite our daytime difficulties, the night training was an immediate success. She slept better the second night than she had in weeks.
posted by gimletbiggles at 8:32 AM on June 29, 2012

I think sleep training for both night and day is a lot to ask. If the night training is going well, maybe you could follow her lead during the day, or make an exception to your usual routines and take her for a walk so she can sleep in the stroller for daytime naps?
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:25 AM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: That sounds exhausting for everyone involved!

We found naps harder than nighttime sleep too. And it's no fun entertaining a tired baby or serving as a baby mattress for hours every day.

For what it's worth, at least one of the books I read (Mindell's "sleeping through the night") strongly recommended tackling one thing at a time, with a couple weeks or so in between--first get them going to sleep on their own at bedtime, then pick whichever nap seems most reliable and work on that, etc.

So why not continue using whatever works for daytime naps (rocking, walking, ...) until the nighttime habits are well-established, and then start working on daytime naps? Are you worried the "bad" daytime habits will somehow undermine the nighttime progress? That sounds unlikely.

(Speaking as the dad of a 15-month old who sleeps very reliably at night but still has trouble with naps.)
posted by bfields at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2012

How did you get her to nap before?

I rocked our baby to sleep for naps for a few months after I stopped rocking for nighttime. When it was time for him to start napping on his own, I just copied most of our nighttime routine onto naptimes.

Really, it's ok to give her some help with naps for a while. I'd wait a few weeks at least, until she's really secure with her nighttime routine and being put down awake.
posted by that's how you get ants at 1:46 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not necessarily about sleep training per se, but to chime in a little about when to put her down for those two naps. I have followed the 2-3-4 guideline with both my daughters with great success. The guideline is this:

2 hours after the morning wake up, baby goes down for nap 1.
3 hours after wake up from nap 1, baby goes down for nap 2.
4 hours after wake up from nap 2, baby goes down for the night.

That means a typical day at our house would be:
6:30 morning wake up
8:30 nap 1
9:30 nap 1 wake up
12:30 nap 2
2:30 nap 2 wake up
6:30 bedtime

Your times will vary, obviously, but if you can keep them relatively consistent (like within a 1/2 hour) from day to day, then your baby should settle into a routine pretty quickly. It gets a little sticky again when they go from 2 naps down to 1, but by then you will probably have a better handle on things.
posted by fancyoats at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2012

or, basically what annathea said :P
posted by fancyoats at 4:35 PM on June 29, 2012

We did that program. My LO gets more worked up when we do check-ins. So we stopped doing check-ins. He isn't verbal yet, but I make a point of saying the same thing to him everytime I put him down: "It's naptime (or bedtime) now, take your nap, I will come and get you when you are done napping..." and then of course make good on that promise.

Bear in mind, he isn't screaming for us when he goes down, he's more whining. I know that he is protesting, as opposed to being hungry or in some sort of other distress. I view the whole thing as the preverbal equivalent of "you don't have to go to sleep, but you do have to stay in here and be quiet for a while".

Stay consistent. I know it is so hard when you first start the program, but it will get better. And Congratulations on success with nighttime sleep!
posted by vignettist at 5:13 PM on June 29, 2012

we made one miserable attempt at sleep training, and the kiddo resisted it so much that we backed off -- I guess my thought was that sleep was the ultimate goal, and that if that method wasn't working we'd try something else. Which is what we did, and she did sleep. Eventually. :)

I don't remember my kids taking 3 naps a day -- maybe when they were newborns? By 6 or 7 months they were in a 2-nap mode, with one nap being longer than the other (usually afternoon). If it was a busy day they might catch a catnap at dinnertime. Maybe check a child development reference to see what's normal for this age...
posted by hms71 at 8:02 PM on June 29, 2012

Also, nap length varies a lot for kids. Some of my friends got 1-2-hour naps each time (3 to start, then 2, whatever), while my kid napped for exactly 25 minutes every 2.5 hours and then trimmed the number of naps without ever making them much longer until she was down to one nap (which is an hour or two at last). So take the hour as a general guideline and see what your kid can actually manage. The variance can be mind-boggling, even within one family!
posted by acm at 8:38 PM on June 29, 2012

What acm said -- nap length really varies. At that age, my sin was doing two 45-minute naps. A friend's son took three two-hour naps. (I kind of hated her.)

If the daytime sleep training isn't working, there's nothing wrong with giving it a break and letting your child do what she needs to get a successful nap or two.
posted by linettasky at 7:42 AM on June 30, 2012

Response by poster: I think the reasoning behind doing both night and day time training is rip-the-band-aid-all-at-once-is-less-painful. I any case, while it must work for some people, it was clearly too much for us and our daughter. We're going to hold off on nap time training and try to establish a consistent nap pattern however she'll sleep.

We thank everyone for their responses for for providing some perspective. The focus on trying to be consistent through training can make you distrust your instincts. As soon as we decided to let the daytime training go, we felt very relieved.
posted by gimletbiggles at 7:25 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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