William goes to bed at 20:00 and sleeps through the night until 06:30. When people ask me how we did this, the first thing I always say is that I prayed it over him before he was even fully formed. When I found out that I was pregnant, I was terrified of two things: giving birth and sleepless nights. I constantly prayed that God would give me a baby that was a so called ‘good sleeper’, but I also prayed that He would give me the courage and guidance do deal with tiredness and sleepless nights when they came. He gave me both.
New babies need to feed about every three hours so there’s no such thing as sleeping through the night. For the first two weeks, I woke William up for his night feeds, but after that I left him to wake up on his own. He started having one long stretch of sleep after his bath and then fed every three hours after that. My mom suggested that we bath him later, feed him and then all go to bed at the same time. That way, we all have a long stretch of sleep before waking once or twice (which really isn’t that bad).
As he got older, we started bathing him earlier and I started dream feeding him, just before we went to bed. Some nights, we only woke once and other nights we woke up a few times.
Once he started solids, I thought that he would begin sleeping through the night because protein is supposed to fill them up. The total opposite happened. Instead of waking once or twice at night, he woke up four or five times and when he turned six months old, I was over it. I was nervous every single night and my heart sank into my shoes when I heard William cry for the first time.
One night, just before bed, I Googled sleep training and I read precisely two articles about it before I decided to try it. I want to emphasise that sleep training and the controlled crying method is not for everyone and I adjusted some of the ‘rules’ to fit my baby and my personality.
I’ll call this the I&J sleep method:
The first night, after giving William his bottle, we swaddled him and put him in his crib AWAKE. We said, “goodnight baba”, stroke his head and walked out. After a few seconds, he started screaming and crying and I felt like I was going to die. After ten minutes, Jacques went in and without picking him up, just put his hand on his head and said goodnight again. Again, he started crying and so did I. For ten minutes I could hear his little heart break. Jacques went in for a third time and we could hear him begin to settle after that. Just before going in for the fourth time in 40 minutes, there was silence. He slept through the night until 07:00 the next morning.
The next night, Jacques went in twice and on the third night, William was asleep five minutes after we had put him down and he slept through every single night.
When he started waking up in the night, I would leave him for ten minutes before going in and I never stayed more than 30 seconds. Some nights we still had to do the occasional feed, but as far as possible we don’t do any nappy changes or feedings at night. When he’s sick or teething it’s a total other ball game. We then take every night as it comes. When babies are about twelve months old, you start to hear the difference between habit and pain cries and you can go from there. A baby that’s used to sleeping through the night won’t suddenly wake up screaming for no apparent reason so listen to your baby.
This method might not work for everyone and you might want to change some of the times, but all in all, it’s a controlled crying method that worked wonders for us.
Also, the I&J sleep method isn’t patented yet, so feel free to share.