I have a question regarding my 5 month old baby girl. We are currently co-sleeping because I decided early on not to fight it like I did with my son. My plan was always to sleep train at 6 months. Well, she is 5 months old and I am dying. She nurses all night long, she wakes up for 2-3 hours at a time and just wants to be cute, and the worst problem- she is ready to go to bed around 7, but doesn’t want to sleep alone. I was able to lay down with her or just put her down asleep and walk away, but not anymore. So, I’m basically carrying her around while she fusses at night until I can go lay down around 8-8:30, which is still earlier than I would like to lay down.
We have already arranged for my 2.5 year old son to be gone for 3 nights the weekend my daughter turns 6 months old but is there anything I should be doing until then? I’m so worried that she’s not going to have a clue that she’s supposed to sleep when we put her in the crib (we will do Ferber), and I also don’t know if I can survive another 4 weeks of keeping her up late in the evenings. Should I start putting her in the bouncy chair to sleep at 7 just to get her used to a bedtime routine and sleeping alone?? She goes to daycare full-time and naps in a bouncy chair there and naps on me or in a bouncy chair on the weekends. We were much stricter and had a bedtime and routine with my son by this age, but with 2 kids, it’s just been so chaotic. And sleep training him was a nightmare. I’m dreading it with her, but I know it’s necessary.
Please help! Thanks!!
Yep. Yep yep yep! I hit this EXACT wall with co-sleeping, every time. Around 4/5 months, it abruptly stopped “working,” so to speak. In the beginning, it really was the easiest way for us all to get the most sleep with a newborn who needed round-the-clock access to boobs. And then a couple months later I had a baby who no longer needed to nurse that often, but hey, since they’re RIGHT THERE, he might as well start demanding them every hour or so. Plus all the wiggling and grunting and moving and noise-making! Gahhhh, nope. Sorry, baby. Bed eviction notice SERVED.
And so we did. I would say stop looking at the six-month mark as some super firm, serious deadline for This Is When We Shall Sleep Train And Not A Minute Before. Just…try putting her in the crib and see what happens. Tonight! Or during her next naptime! Go for it!
The worst thing that can happen is that she doesn’t go to sleep and you take her back out of the crib and co-sleep another night. But it’s still worth trying.
You don’t have to go Full Ferber. You just need to start putting her in the crib whenever she’s tired. If she fusses, touch and talk to her (maybe turn on a mobile or crib soother) but try to refrain from picking her up. If she amps up and really starts screaming, pick her up and rock her or sing to her until she’s calm, then put her back in the crib. Rinse and repeat as necessary, or until you’re like, eh, that’s enough for tonight, back to our bed I guess.
She might totally surprise you. Or you might spend the next couple weeks in a weird sleep-training limbo, but I still think it’ll make “real” sleep training easier if you ease her into it rather than try to just flip a switch at six months.
And yeah, she needs a consistent bedtime routine. Believe me, I totally get how messy and chaotic the second (or third!) kid bedtime routine thing can get. What worked for us was splitting up the bedtimes, either by actual time or just by parent. Baby either went to to bed earlier or later than the older ones, or we did a strict division of kid duty where I put the baby to bed and my husband handled the rest. Instead of trying to get sleeping training done all in one weekend at six months, commit to creating a consistent routine for her NOW and prioritize it in spite of the chaos. Ferber is definitely one of the gentler methods of sleep training, but you can make it even gentler on her with 1) a consistent, familiar, cozy routine in place BEFORE attempting extinction, and 2) introducing the crib ahead of time.
I would definitely enlist her daycare in this — she’s really too old to be napping or spending much time in a bouncy seat, anyway, from a safety perspective. She could start sitting up independently at any time now, which can make a bouncer tip over. Ask them to start having her nap in a crib instead. Same at home. Six months is the top age limit for most bouncers, so she should ONLY be in it at this point if you’re around and watching her. If you think she needs a middle step between co-sleeping and the crib, I’d suggest a pack-n-play in your room instead of a bouncer or swing.
Good luck! And may the Sleep Be With You.Published July 13, 2015. Last updated October 29, 2017.