Thursday, February 5, 2015

In Praise of Sleep Training

Look, I know we all feel differently about sleep training, and just about everything else to do with mothering.

Ole Golly, in Harriet the Spy, said, "There are as many ways to live as there are people in the world."

That's about right with parenting.  There are as many ways to parent as there are mothers and children.

But I did want to share what we've been doing lately, in case it helps someone else!

With Jack, we were  Babywise followers.  I used for all of my problem shooting.    The main things we followed were:

- eat, play, sleep (basically, never using nursing or bottle feeding as a way to get your baby to sleep, except for, obviously, middle of the night feedings)

- teaching your child to self soothe, by laying him in the crib awake (and watching sleep cues very closely so that he was sleepy when that happened) and, sometimes, using cry it out

- getting your child on a schedule

Babywise gets a lot of grief because some parents think it means not feeding your baby when he's hungry.  But the book says that if your baby is hungry, even if it's not "time" to eat, feed him.  But you work on getting full feedings so that rarely happens (or at least for us).

Also, cry it out gets a lot of bad press too.  But you don't cry it out when your baby is hungry.  And you go in periodically to comfort your baby and let him know you are here, whether its by rubbing his head, back, or tummy, or sometimes by picking him up to help him calm down.

So anyway, back to Gil.  We have been loosely following Babywise with him.  It's so much harder with the second because I can't protect his naptimes in the same way.  Sometimes we have to be in the car during that time, and it can throw everything off.  Plus, I wasn't good about creating a bedtime routine.  Any book you read about infant sleep will always say to create a regular bedtime routine, so that your baby knows that it is time to go to sleep.

When we got back from Mississippi in early January, we both knew that it was time to do some serious sleep work.  And then the sleep regression hit and Gil started breaking out of his swaddle.  So we just decided to conquer all three things at once.  Tear off the bandaid one time, right?

Also, in the midst of the sleep regression, I took Gil in for his 4 month visit.  I was talking to my pediatrician about his sleep issues, and I told him that we still had Gil in our room because I didn't want his crying to disrupt Jack.  He said that I should put the boys together and Gil's crying wouldn't wake Jack.

I could hug that man right now.  Best advice EVER.  We moved Gil in that night and that has helped so much.  I don't think Gil has woken Jack up once!

We worked on a set routine and a set time, 7 p.m., just like Jack.  And we stopped rocking Gil until he was asleep and putting him down asleep.  The first night, Gil cried for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  I know, miserable, right?  But my sweet husband did that while I was at bible study, so I actually got to come home to a sleeping baby.  

He cried for a couple of other nights, but never that long.  I think the longest was 45 minutes?  And now we lay him down awake every single time.  Thank goodness!  Sometimes he will fuss for a few minutes, but he usually goes right to sleep.

And in the middle of the night, he wakes to eat then goes right back to bed.  We give him a pumped bottle at 10 or 10:30 every night as a dream feed.  He will sleep for about 4 hours (he's still not back up to his 5 hours pre sleep regression).  Most nights he will wake up twice after the dream feed to eat, although he is moving toward only waking up once.  I think he is ready, but I don't want to push him too much because he is so little!  But no more waking up in the middle of the night every hour or crying.  

Also, he is sleeping unswaddled in a little fleece sleep sack.  And I think he loves sleeping in the same room as his big brother.  Jack and Gil got a light up firefly for Christmas.  Jack turns it on at bedtime, and they both go to sleep looking at the stars.  It's pretty cute.

So anyway, that's what's been going on with sleep.  I am still fairly exhausted and would love a full night of sleep.  But, I am thankful for my 3 and 4 hour stretches again.  And I know that I will get sleep again someday!

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