Just over a year ago I chronicled our journeys with getting Galen to sleep better in the Tiger Lily newsletter. I got tons of response and questions to that series – it was obviously a hot topic! At that point Galen was a young toddler, just over a year old. Now Galen is a hearty, happy, and always-on-the-go 2 year old. Did the Baby Sleep Solution system we did with him a year ago stick? How are the nights going?
What We Did Last Year
I still think we made the best choice for Galen and for our family last year. We decided to do some intense sleep training to help Galen get to sleep and sleep better at night. The method I picked involved me being close to Galen – he wasn't being left alone. It also didn't involve Galen crying.
I just don't feel comfortable letting babies or toddlers “cry it out” for hours. But I was comfortable with some fussing and Galen being generally unhappy that he wasn't being picked up. He could still see me and that I was right there with him. I felt fine with this at his age, and would probably have felt comfortable with it even with him slightly younger. I would not do this with a young baby that doesn't have a lot of awareness yet. For tiny babies I seek other sleep solutions.
The sleep training that we used was from the Baby Sleep Solution and we used each of the steps in the guide and in the audio course, choosing one of the major techniques. The author of the course made the first several steps of the system available digitally for Tiger Lily readers – you can still download that by clicking here. It covers the basics of getting a sleep system started.
I've found that any major changes to a sleep routine/habits for babies and children takes at least 2-3 weeks to really start settling in. It's not something that you're doing for “quick results.” With Galen it took a couple of weeks, but soon he was going to sleep well, without getting upset, on his own.
In a couple more weeks he was also sleeping well at night, and we dropped a night nursing around 10pm. He still woke around 5am to nurse, but at that point he was sleeping in his own bed in our bedroom until that nursing session. Then he came to bed with us and nursed. I did not encourage him to drop that nursing session because at that time I still felt strongly that he needed the milk more than I needed the uninterrupted sleep.
After the Initial Work
Several months later, in the late spring of 2010, Galen began eating more solid foods and did drop that 5am nursing session in favor of nursing during just our waking hours.
In August of 2010, about 8 months after we did the sleep training to help him get to sleep on his own, we moved Galen into a toddler bed in the room with siblings. This was a pretty smooth transition for us, without any night waking or insecurity on Galen's part. I think that part of this is because Galen went into a room where he can easily see loved siblings around him at night. With an only child or first child I may have chosen to keep him in his own bed in my room longer.
Now, in early 2011, Galen is still sleeping well in his own bed in the room with his siblings. He goes to bed around 15-20 minutes before them. I cannot say that going to bed is always smooth. Galen doesn't cry, but he does often sit up and babble and chatter before falling asleep. He will occasionally get out of bed too. We return him to bed if he does that, but generally if he's only babbling we let him do so until he falls asleep.
Once he has fallen asleep he sleeps soundly all night, and awakes ready to go almost every morning! We've taught him to stay in bed until it's time for the children to get up (7am in our house). Some mornings he wakes a few minutes before 7 and proceeds to chatter and babble – again, if he gets out of bed he is returned to it. Most mornings he sleeps until just around his time to get up.
I feel like the Baby Sleep Solution we used for Galen was very successful – he is sleeping peacefully through the night, and he goes to bed well every night. Even though he occasionally gets out of bed before he falls asleep, we put him back and he stays in bed. He may babble for a few minutes or sit up, but he's not crying – and he DOES fall asleep shortly after being put to bed. No drama, no fuss. And once he's asleep, he's asleep! Galen kept up his sleep routine well even while we traveled out of state and returned home. I'm very happy – and Galen is always a bundle of energy!
You can click here to listen to a sample of the Baby Sleep Solution!
In a few days I will also post an update on how naps are going for Galen 🙂