Sleep training, our story.

So it's 3am and I'm writing about our sleep training, of course. I'd like to preface by saying that this is OUR story, and whether you choose to breastfeed/bottle feed/co-sleep/CIO etc etc, that's absolutely great, because that's what's right for your family. I wanted to share our insights of 'sleep training' because I was inspired to do it by someone else's post, and if I can inspire someone else then great, because we all need our sleep, amiright?! 

Joshua was never a good sleeper. I wrote about it a few times, actually. After 18m of broken sleep though, I decided enough was enough. I had thought it for a while but there was always an excuse. Whenever I decided I would put my foot down, poor guy got ill with a cold or cough, without fail. Weird. 

I started off by reading Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution which I would definitely recommend to anyone not willing to cry it out. Don't get me wrong, we let Daniel CIO and it was the best decision I could have made FOR HIM. He started sleeping through the night within a week, and ever since we have never had problems with him sleeping, he will just go and lie down and put himself to sleep, no fuss. Joshua, however, is a whole 'nother ball game. Jeez Louise this kid is stubborn. I can't even think where he got that from. If he wakes and he's not quite in the right mood (like if he's still EXHAUSTED because it's 3am!) he will scream. He will scream and scream and scream, like he's stopping himself sleeping. He will stand in his cot or bang his legs, like he will not allow himself to relax and fall asleep. Even now he's lying down, almost asleep, he's fidgeting and crying out. I'm sure this 'talent' will come in very useful when he's a Uni student who is pulling an all-nighter to get his work finished, but right now it's pretty darn silly. So, I was grabbing him out of his cot whenever he woke, bringing him into our wonderfully warm, cosy bed and feeding him back to sleep. Where he would usually stay, all night. Which I wouldn't have minded in the slightest if he slept any better, but some nights I barely slept because he wanted to feed ALL NIGHT and would fuss when he stopped. Sometimes I could pretty much sleep through it and it's pretty easy to get back to sleep with a little snuggle hot water bottle next to you, snoring gently, but there is only so much sleep you can loose without becoming an actual zombie.

I should probably mention that I have let Joshua sleep on me for almost every single nap since he was a newborn, occasionally he would fall asleep in the pushchair, but about 90% of the time I was feeding/snuggling/singing him to sleep. This was really useful when we were out, say at my Mum's when he needed to nap, and OH. MY. GOSH. It was just the sweetest. I absolutely treasured those moments, watching his little eyes grow heavy, his lips puckering in his sleep, feeling his chest rise and fall. Almost everyday though, I was using his nap as an excuse to nap myself, because I was SO TIRED. Quite honestly, I was too lazy to sleep train. Which sounds mad, but it's true. I didn't want to spend longer than I needed to getting him back to sleep, because I didn't want to miss out on any more sleep, despite the fact it was better in the long run. 

I started by putting him down awake in his cot at bedtime. We have always had a pretty solid bedtime routine - bath, pyjamas, milk & book, bed - which Elizabeth Pantley suggests. I still stay in the room while he falls asleep, with some classical music on, but he is self soothing (YAYY!) and falling asleep. 

When he wakes in the night I wait a minute or so, I can often tell by his cry if he's really awake. I go into his room, pick him up for a quick cuddle to calm him and tell him "It's nighttime, time to sleep" (Pantley suggests using the same phrase as part of the routine), then pop him back in his cot and tuck him in. I do still have to pat him sometimes, and the first night he screamed for nearly an hour, refusing to settle which was absolutely horrible but after that it's got easier and easier. He likes me to lie on the floor next to his cot, and sometimes play with my hair, but (especially if he has a good nap during the day) his wakings are less frequent. Woohoo! 

I would definitely recommend this style of sleep training, I tweaked it a little to suit us but I'm happy to answer any questions if you have any. 


  1. I need to sleep train my 14 month old already... It's just so hard because I don't want her to wake her big sis and have them both be up all night! :(

  2. Joshua and Alex are so similar! Alex has stopped daytime naps now but he always slept on me apart from once or twice, he slept much better and longer that way.
    We did a very similar thing at bedtime, just sitting in the room, low lighting and soft music and it also worked really well for us. He now sleeps from around 6-6.30pm through to around 7 or 8 am and sometimes later.

  3. How did you get him to be able to go to sleep on his own - how long did it take? I've read No-Cry Sleep Solution, but I'm still stuck in the way too lazy phase to actually put it in practice and make it happen. Addie will be the death of me, her sleep quality is just terrible! It seems that if I stay up and try to get her to sleep in her own bed, though, I won't sleep at all! I'm glad to hear that J is sleeping a little better for you, finally!