I have been trying no-cry sleep training for morning naps only for 1 day short of 3 weeks now. I have chosen to do this because Avery is outgrowing her bassinet, her crib won’t fit in our room, and she needs to get used to spending sleeping times in her crib, in her room for necessity’s sake. Before we started this gentle form of sleep training, she cried and cried and cried when I put her down in her crib. 3 weeks later, er… she still cries and cries and cries when I put her down in her crib.
Now, it’s not been completely useless. There is some improvement to be seen. 3 times in the last 3 weeks she has put herself to sleep in her crib by sucking her thumb. We are doing the pick up – put down (PU/PD) no-cry method, so when she cries I shush her, if she still cries I put my hand on her chest, if she still cries I pick her up until she calms down (usually only takes 2 or 3 minutes), then I put her back down again when calm. Repeat until she either soothes herself to sleep or is tired enough to give up the fight and just passes out when her head hits the mattress. Its often an hour of this up and down, cry and sooth. It’s exhausting (for both of us), but supposedly this method gives them reassurance that you are there for them if they really need you without turning you into a sleep prop.
The challenge we are having is with consistency. Because she is so young still (some would argue too young for sleep training), I can’t be certain that she doesn’t legitimately have needs that are unmet when she cries in her crib. Sometimes I honestly believe that she is feeling really hungry, and I let her nurse during a pick up, and she falls asleep nursing. Or I have good reason to believe that she is gassy and lying on her back in the crib hurts, so I give in and let her sleep on me where my body heat and pressure on her abdomen helps her tummy. We are consistent with time of day, soft lullabies that she clearly associates with sleep (she starts yawning when she hears them), and with the fact that we try the first nap of the day in the crib every day. But the more I read (and contemplate back to my behavioural psychology classes on conditioning and subconscious associations), the more I wonder if we need to be consistent in that ALL sleep attempts need to be without me as a sleep prop. I can’t remember for sure where I read that starting with the morning nap is often easiest – maybe in The No-Cry Sleep Solution? – but if she is still enabled to nurse herself to sleep at bedtime and be rocked to sleep and spend all of her other naps sleeping on someone, will she really understand that the morning nap is consistent with itself each day?
I plan to keep trudging away with this until January when we plan to move her to her crib for nights (because the bassinet just won’t be an option anymore). In the meantime I worry that the hour of fussing and PU/PDs and severely compromised morning nap duration are all for nothing…