Sleep Training 2.0 - Realities of Sleep Training Your Second Kid
I was really really hoping we wouldn't have to do this again. I was hoping Olin would figure it out on his own, learn to string sleep together into gradually longer intervals. But here we are, Olin turned a year old, and was still only sleeping 2 hour stretches in his crib. Sleep training Breccan was a nightmare. He came into this world with no natural Circadian rhythm and a serious aversion to the end of the party. Winding him down for bed was often a 3 hour ordeal. We tried every recommendation, every gentle approach, we even switched him into a toddler bed at 15 months. In the end, he was 18 months old, and we were at the end of our rope. He was biting me when I would put him down to sleep. He was still awake every 2-3 hours, and it would take 30 minutes at least to calm him back to sleep. We used "extinction" cry-it-out with Breccan, which means no going in. I can't sugar coat it, it was awful. He screamed a lot. The methods we read about said it would take 3 days to a week. It took at least a month. We couldn't follow one single program because he was over a year and out of the crib, but he wasn't developmentally old enough for some of the toddler sleep situations that matched his situation more. We had to wing it. Eventually, his sleep settled down. Now, aside from the occasional fight about not wanting to go to bed or stalling for more songs and stories, Breccan sleeps well and all night. I don't regret our choice, I was just hoping to get an easier shake out this time. Once again, we're facing the need to do a cry-it-out type approach. Olin has always had a natural circadian rhythm, so he is ahead of Breccan there. But from his earliest days he's been like clockwork about eating. When he was little, nothing would soothe him except nursing. Even my baby-whisperer mother-in-law would hand him to me at the 2 hour mark, unable to calm him no matter what she tried. That never changed, and because I needed all my energy to deal with Breccan's threenager behavior and the move, I just coslept. But Olin started showing signs that he was ready to learn to sleep on his own. He was resisting "tricks" to get him to doze off, and it was taking him longer to get to sleep. And I am tired of cosleeping. I need my evenings and mornings back to be able to get into some kind of routine, to plan for the day not under the gun of a child with one pressing need or another. About 2 weeks ago, we began using the Sleep Wave Method from The Happy Sleeper. Olin is apparently just as stubborn as his brother, and we are still working on it. It will probably be another month long process, maybe longer. But it is definitely easier the second time around. We've seen results faster, and while it is hard to see him upset, being consistent has helped. Some of this is due in part to temperament; Breccan would get way more upset than Olin has gotten. But some of it is employing the method. The trickiest part has been that we have the boys set up to share a room. Letting Olin cry and not compromising Breccan's sleep has been a challenge, one there are no good answers to. Here are some tips for sleep training your second kid. 1. Don't Expect It To Take 3 DaysIn reality, it will probably take longer. You'll go with a program, adjust, and then lock in. Remember, you are communicating with actions and patterns instead of just words. It may take some time for the message to get through. 2. Go Gradually If Weaning Is Involved When I first started this, we went hard with sleeping in the crib. Then we had to dial things back because we realized Olin was going from on-demand eats all night to nothing! Now we're slowly trying to cut out and shorten feedings. 3. Have a Cheerleader and Mantras You and your partner will probably get battleworn after awhile. It's HARD. The Happy Sleeper has a great list of mantras. You'll need things to tell yourself to remember why you are doing this. I use their "sleep bank" example a lot: if you waver, you are withdrawing from the sleep savings, and it will take longer to get to your goal. One point that I remind myself of is, even though we aren't at the end of the journey, I already have more consistent time with Nick in the evenings.A friend of mine has also been a great support for the sleep training. She's been checking in regularly, and she took me out for coffee when we were in the thick of it. My mother in law has also taken the kids so I can get a nap. Reddit has a sleep training forum if you need encouragement in the middle of the night too! I'm seriously considering hiring a sleep trainer. I've scoffed at them before, but it appears I have stubborn children. Books have not answered my questions thusfar, and I feel like I need some more expert, tailored advice. I'm looking into if my extended medical will cover it. 4. Prepare and Protect Your Older ChildBreccan doesn't like hearing his brother cry. Seeing Olin get his 12-month vaccines was almost more upsetting for him than for Olin (It's totally that weird brotherly "I can shove him around, but don't you lay a finger on him" phenomenon, because he is not perfect!). We talked with Breccan about Olin crying, and we told him stories about sleep training him. That said, Breccan has been spending a lot of nights in our room. So cosleeping hasn't ended, it's just switched. And if B's in a mood to stall and avoid bedtime, things can be very frustrating. Bedtime will probably be chaotic for awhile. It feels like you're doing two routines that frequently clash. Eventually I am confident they will line up. 5. Choose Your Timing Wisely Choose a stable time. Choose a time when you gave steady routine but no pressing deadlines or major events. The chance that one or all of you will get sick is high. Plus you won't be in the mood to do them when you're battling keeping your eyes open! Meal plan, making sure to keep things simple (protein + fruit/veg + starch) Getting outside helps. Be gentle with yourself!