Monday, January 24, 2011

sleep training and giggles

I mentioned many moons ago that I was attempting to help Emily learn to fall asleep without props so that down the road (she was only 5 or 6 weeks) she didn’t need a soother, or to be rocked to sleep.  In some ways, I failed at this (she REALLY likes nursing to sleep), but I’m slowly trying to wean her off of that prop, and we’re working on sleep training her now that she’s 5 months.

And can I say *knock on wood* that it has been going really well?

Emily goes down within about 5 minutes now when we’ve completed her bedtime routine and finally laid her down to sleep.  Most night she’s sleeping 8-9 hours straight and her naps have gotten more consistent as a side benefit.

A few months ago (i.e before the dreaded 4 month sleep shift) Emily had been sleeping 8 hours a night consistently every night, and then all of a sudden stopped cold turkey right before her 4 month birthday.  Quite a few people have told me that their babies also stopped sleeping through the night at 4 months, so I would assume that around that age marker babies become significantly more active and have higher caloric needs and it can take a little while for baby and mom (read: milk production) to start producing more during the day.  The fact that Emily slept through the night prior to this point is through no effort on my part; she just started doing it.

Sleeping through the night seems to be an important stage in the eyes of many parents but in our household the struggle has always been getting her down in the first place.  Emily’s very first night in the world she would fuss and cry any time she was set down in her isolette beside my bed.  She wanted to be cuddled and rocked, and I think we may have gotten about 3 hours sleep total that night (none too fun after 20 hours of labour and 36 hours awake).  Little did we know that this would be the norm for our little baby.  She LOVES to cuddle and fall asleep in people’s arms.

All this to say that until the beginning of January we were spending most of our evenings nursing and cuddling her and every time we would put her down she would wake up and cry. Soon came the day that I said enough is enough and I pulled out the sleep training resources again. 

Below is the routine that has been working for us, and we usually start it between 7 & 8pm.

- Bath: Craig and Emily’s time together while I prep her room; fan and humidifier turned on, curtains closed, swaddleMe laid out on her bed, wall lights turned on (low light)
- Nurse: Usually only a quick one but sometimes she drags it out.
- Cuddle and reading: usually we’ll read Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, or On the Night You Were Born (my favourite).
- Sit: probably the most important part of Emily’s routine; we don’t talk or rock, just sit there with her body upright until I can feel her muscles relaxing and she’s yawning and staring into space.  Takes less than 5 minutes.
- Sleep: lay her down, swaddle her while she’s lying in crib

The sitting part seems to be important for her as she gets to stay in our arms while she becomes un-stimulated, but doesn’t fall asleep there.   Once we’ve laid her down we follow the sleep training guidelines laid out in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.

If she starts crying we pick her up only until she stops crying and then set her down again.  The first night I had to do it about 10 times at bedtime then she slept throuth the night; 4 the next two nights.  Ever since that time she will sometimes need us to go pick her up and calm her once, but otherwise she goes to sleep by herself.  Usually she’ll spend 5 or so minutes fussing or doing her sleepy moans, but sometimes she falls asleep when I’m swaddling her or once I’ve laid her down she turns her head and closes her eyes. 

As we move forward she’s needing less and less time to soothe herself and fall asleep, and luckily she’s never needed it at night.  We’ll hear her wake up, cry, then go right back to sleep.

I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to sleep train a baby and it has to be what is right for the baby AND the parents.  Allowing her to cry wasn’t right for us, not because it is bad for her, but because she does not stop crying once worked up, and because I didn’t want to have to listen to her cry.  If a no-cry method works just as well, why not use it, right?

Anyways, like I said, there’s a million and one ways to sleep train and I know this method probably wouldn’t work for some babies as picking them up would start the whole cycle over again.  I’m just glad we didn’t need to move it to the next level!

What sleep training method worked for you?


Want to know the best result of the sleep training?  A happier (didn’t know it was possible) and more well rested baby!


1 comment:

Melinda said...

Jen (also my daughter's name!)
I am so happy you found that our sleep routines worked for you. Keep up the good "whispering"!
You'd have made Tracy Hogg proud.
Melinda Blau
co-author, the Baby Whispering books


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