Baby Sleep Training – 5 Months Old

In a moment of desperation the hubs and I decided to sleep train our little man last weekend. Before I became a mama I swore I would never use the cry-it-out (CIO) method. I even bought The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night to prepare for helping Liam to sleep well and be happy. Unfortunately day-time sleep never came easy to our little guy, nor has he been able to easily settle himself. I’ve spent hours and hours bouncing our little guy on an exercise ball, and shushing. We got it down to a science and he liked it! He liked it so much those moments getting him to fall asleep bouncing on the ball turned into bouncing naps – where he would only sleep with mama holding him, while bouncing on the ball. Needless to say it was exhausting and I knew I couldn’t keep it up long-term.

Before Sleep Training:

  • Liam would take 3-4 naps a day, 1.5 to 1.75 hours apart
  • Most naps lasted 35-40 minutes (one sleep cycle) before he would wake up crying
  • If we needed him to take a longer nap (before his swim lessons on Tues/Thurs), I would hold him through his entire nap, and he would sometimes sleep for 1.5 hours
  • Going down for a nap usually involved quite a bit of crying from being over-tired after only being awake 1.5 hours. I would spend 20-30 minutes bouncing him on the exercise ball, nursing him, and playing pacifier pick up
  • At bedtime he would cry most nights too – with the same soothing routine
  • Nighttime sleep was from about 7pm to 7am with wake ups at 10, 12, 2, 4 and 7. Exhausting! Wake-ups were often fixed pretty quickly with a short nursing session, but he definitely didn’t need to be eating that often.

I was so exhausted on Friday from bouncing and holding him through his three 40-minute naps, that when it came time to put him down for the night I couldn’t take anymore. I asked the hubs for help, and he couldn’t get our little man to settle. So we decided to go ahead with sleep training after I had been asking to try for about a week or so. We dove right in using the Ferber method, and I wanted to share our results.

First of all, I want to mention before this Liam was still being swaddled using the Miracle Blanket, and a sleep sack to keep him from escaping. Because we wanted him to be able to soothe himself by sucking on his hands or holding his little lovey, we quit swaddling cold turkey. I know – call us crazy!

The Method:

We followed the Ferber method with comfort checks starting at 5, 10, and 15 minutes the first night. These checks increased by 2 minutes every night.

The basic guidelines are:

  1. The 1st comfort check occurs at 5 minutes of moderate to hard crying (light fussing doesn’t count).
  2. If baby quiets and starts up again, the clock starts over at whatever time interval you were on.
  3. The parent comforts for 1-2 minutes (max) with touch and voice to let the baby know they are still there and tell them they are just learning to go to sleep on their own.
  4. If the baby continues to cry after the 1st comfort check, you reset the timer to 10 minutes for the 2nd comfort check, and 15 minutes for the 3rd comfort check. For night-time sleep you continue to do checks every 15 minutes until they fall asleep. If they wake up in the middle of the night, you start again with 5 minutes, and increase accordingly.
  5. For naps, it is very similar, except if baby doesn’t fall asleep within 30-45 minutes, you end the nap and try again within an hour.

baby sleep training

Here are our results:

Night 1:
7:06pm Put to bed
He was quiet at first then started crying off and on from 7:45-8:50pm
The first night we did checks at 5/10/15 minutes
7:50pm 1st Check In (after 5 minutes of crying)
8:00pm 2nd Check In (after 10 minutes of crying)
8:10- 8:14pm Stopped crying
Stop & start fussing
8:50pm Quiet
12:42am fussing, back to sleep after 1 minute
2:24am fussing, back to sleep after 8 minutes
2:37am fussing turned into crying at 3:08am
3:15am 1st Check In (after 5 minutes of crying)
3:25am 2nd Check In (after 10 minutes of crying)
3:43am 3rd Check In (after 15 minutes of crying)
4am 4th Check In (after 15 minutes of crying)
4:28am Crying stopped

Day 1:
7:05am Woke Liam up, as we didn’t want him to sleep later than his usual wake up time or make up lost night hours during the day.
9:10am Put him down for a nap & started fussing
9:21am Crying
9:25am Quiet
10:15am Woke him up from Nap #1 after 40 minutes as we didn’t want him to sleep longer than his usual naps (yet)
11:46am Put down for a nap – crying
11:51am Quiet
12:05pm Check In #1 (after 5 minutes of crying)
12:22pm Quiet
12:27pm Ended nap period with no sleep
1:08pm Down for nap
1:14pm Check In #1 (after 5 minutes of crying)
1:18pm Quiet
2:05pm Awake after 47 minute nap
3:54pm Down for nap
4:01pm 1st Check In (after 5 minutes of crying)
4:24pm Ended nap – heavy crying

Night 2:
6:42pm Put to bed – no crying
Slept through the night

Day 2:
7:00am Awake
8:49am Down for nap
9:02am Check In #1 (after 7 minutes of crying)
9:20am Check In #2 (after 12 minutes of crying)
9:41am Ended nap period with no sleep
11:08am Down for nap
11:15am Check In #1 (after 7 minutes of crying)
Off and on crying
11:40am Check In #2
Noon Quiet
12:29pm Awake after 29 minute nap
2:26pm Down for nap – no crying
3:08pm Awake after 42 minute nap

Night 3:
6:45pm Put to bed – no crying
Slept through the night

Day 3:
6:56am Awake
8:52am Down for nap – no crying
8:55am Quiet
9:33am Awake after 38 minute nap
11:45am Down for nap – fussing
11:47am Quiet
12:25am Awake after 38 minute nap
2:30pm Down for nap – no crying
3:12pm Awake after 42 minute nap

Night 4:
6:40pm Put to bed – no crying
2:37am Heard some fussing, but fell right back asleep
Slept the rest of the night

Day 4:
6:49am Awake
8:50am Down for a nap – light fussing
8:52am Quiet
9:32am Awake after 40 minute nap
11:17am Down for nap – crying
11:37am Ended nap period with no sleep
12:07pm Down for nap – crying
12:40pm Ended nap period with no sleep
1:40pm Down for nap
2:23pm Awake after 43 minute nap

Night 5:
6:30pm Put to bed – no crying
1:00am Heard some fussing, fell back to sleep within 5 minutes
Slept the rest of the night

Day 5:
7:08 Awake
9:08 Down for a nap – no crying
9:45 Awake after 37 minute nap
12:40pm Down for a nap in Zipadeezip – no crying (I waited longer between naps today, as the day before didn’t go well when I tried to put him down earlier. It seemed to help as today’s nap went much better.)
2:13pm Awake after 1 hr 33 min nap

Night 6:
6:30pm Put to bed – off and on crying (We didn’t do any checks because he would stop crying for moments longer than 30 seconds. It was so hard for me not to go back in tonight, because he hadn’t been doing any crying when we would put him down for bed the last few nights. I’m not sure what happened tonight.)
6:52pm Quiet
Slept through the night

Day 6:
6:50am Awake
8:22am Down for a nap in Zipadeezip – fussing
8:30am Quiet
9:07am Woke up crying – waited a couple of minutes, and it was quiet again at 9:10am
9:19am Awake
Noon Down for a nap in Zipadeezip – asleep after walk in our carrier
12:50pm Awake after 50 minute nap
3:40pm Down for a nap in Zipadeezip
4:20pm Awake after 40 minute nap

Night 7:
6:40pm Put to bed – no crying
Slept through the night

Day 7:
6:10am Hear Liam up with the hiccups – wait until 6:30am to go in and get him
8:00am Down for a nap in Zipadeezip – no fussing
9:26am Awake after 1 hr 26 minute nap
12:37pm Down for a nap
1:25pm Awake after 48 minute nap
He also took a cat-nap in the car around 3pm for about 30 minutes

I am SO glad we decided to do this. The first night was really hard, but I kept reminding myself that he was crying out of protest, not because anything was wrong. He was learning how to fall asleep on his own, and in the end that’s what was best for him and for our family. His sleep improved so quickly, and I think it will only get better (he’s already taken two 1 1/2 hour naps this week, which has never happened before, and today he took three 1 hour naps)! The books that helped us the most were Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (Ferber’s book) and The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5. We did lots of research beforehand and I would definitely recommend doing yours before deciding what method is best for your family.

Sleep Training Books We Recommend:

3 comments

  1. Allie says:

    I tried this method last night for my five month old son. My question is, on the first night were you feeding him when he woke up? Or were you having him go the night without feedings? Also when you say to restart the clock for the time interval when they stop crying – is there a time limit to how long they should be quiet before you do that?

    • Ashleigh (Mama K) says:

      Hi Allie, During sleep training with my son I did not go in to feed him at night. I felt he was ready to night-wean, and we worked on cutting out those night feedings during sleep training. However, with my daughter (now 6 months) I did/am feeding her during the night. She goes down at 6/6:30pm and nurses approx. every 4 hours.

      As far as when to restart the clock, most of what I’ve read says to restart the clock once they’ve been quiet for a minute. Remember fussing doesn’t count – just when they are crying. When they start settling and crying less it’s exciting because you can be reassured that it’s working & they are learning to fall asleep on their own. Good luck to you mama! Hope this was helpful. Feel free to check out the newest sleep training post I wrote for my daughter as well. http://westcoastsisters.com/sleep-training-second-baby/

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