Svea sleep training, complete.

One week ago Dawn and I bit the bullet and launched into our first try at sleep-training our 19th month old daughter Svea. For her first year and a half of life she hadn't slept through the night (and by default, neither had we).

Her usual pattern was like this: Drink a warm bottle at 8 or 9PM, go to bed. Wake up crying at Midnight or 1AM. We'd wake up too, and give her another bottle while changing her diaper (if we didn't change her at this point, she'd pee out of her jammies by morning). Occasionally she'd wake up AGAIN at 3 or 4AM for more of the same. The only way we could get her back down was to bust out the warm bottle of milk. That always knocked her right back out, so we used it, just to get her out of our hair.

Now of course, we were just totally enabling her bad habits of drinking milk at night, and playing us like a violin. Here's why we continued the bad behavior:
+ we knew that breaking her of these bad habits would take about a week of uninterrupted focus, which we felt like we didn't have...with people visiting us, and family road-trips and vacations and music tours, we didn't lay low enough to give it a try
+ we knew that breaking her of these bad habits would require at least one night of horrible sleep for all, as she wailed and fussed for hours on end. We're all so tired and spent in our normal life we just couldn't bring ourselves to endure a night (or more) of torture. It was just easier on everyone if we gave her some milk...the ordeal would be over in 5 minutes, and everyone would be happily back to sleep (except me, who would frequently launch into serious insomnia after waking up at 1AM to feed Svea....hence my forthcoming album title, Insomniaccomplishments).

SO, this is how it's been for Svea's life since birth. When June rolled around, Dawn and I saw a chance to break the negative cycle. No house guests on the calendar, no road trips or music tours on the schedule. Just a few weeks of quiet, mellow time at home. This was our chance! In order to survive the coming ordeal, Dawn and I left our upstairs bedroom which is so close to that fussing girl that we hear every screech and squawk. We made a special Mommy & Daddy campsite downstairs in the quiet, dark basement, farther away from Svea's crib.

One week ago, Thursday night, was our first try at sleep training. We gave Svea her milk at 8PM or so, and she went to bed. Dawn and I went to bed downstairs. Sure enough, at about Midnight, Svea woke up crying, demanding her bottle. We woke up too. This was the moment. We were gonna let her cry it out. No more bottles. No more picking up. Svea wailed for two and a half hours. Dawn and I laid downstairs listening to her. In the middle of the fuss, Dawn went into Svea's room and gently rubbed her back, just to let her know we hadn't abandoned her. By 3AM or so, everybody was back to sleep. The first night.

The next night we expected more of the same. Again, Dawn and I escaped to the basement. Svea whimpered a bit for just a few minutes, but soothed herself back down. In the past week, a couple nights have featured brief fussing, but we've never gone back to the bottle solution. AND, most of this past week Svea has slept THROUGH THE NIGHT, and so have Dawn and I. Hallelujah! I think we've succeeded.

Dawn and I are still sleeping in the basement. It's darker and quieter than our normal bedroom, and I'm lobbying to move downstairs permanently. We'll see how that works. In summary, it took only ONE night of serious crying to sleep-train our little girl. And man, is it ever nice to sleep all night long, uninterrupted.

Oh, and if you're wondering about Paavo during all of this: even though he has shared a room with Svea for the past 19 months, he's slept through all her crying and fussing, snoring happily through it all.


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