Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sleep training 101.

It's ridiculous that this information is not available to new moms. Sure. You can go buy a book, but why the hell are we paying for information that experienced mothers should be passing down?

I'm fortunate. My good friend, Jessica, has 4 girls so she has been around the block so to speak. I went to her in tears after a night where Quinlon refused to go to bed until 2 AM and then woke up hourly. Before we started the training, it was normal for Q to nurse to sleep for hours before he would let me put him down around midnight. The hours were killing me and I finally couldn't take it anymore.

The method we used was a version of the "Happiest Baby on the Block" but minus the crying it out. I refuse to let my child scream alone in the dark. It just seems so cruel especially since this is the age where many babies develop separation anxiety. Quinlon is very very attached to me and it breaks my heart to even think of not comforting him when he is upset. With his temperment, CIOing is just not a good option because he has such a short temper that even brief crying without response turns into all out SCREAMING.

But, I digress.

The important points were this:

-Establish a bedtime routine that will signal to him that it is bedtime and give him some winding down time.

-Break the association of eating with sleeping. He was so used to nursing when he was sleepy, he had associated sleeping and eating as one feeling.

-Watch carefully for baby's sleepy signs and start naptime/bedtime routine at the early signs. Waiting to long will just make them harder to put down to sleep.

-Be consistent.

The first 2 days, Donnie was in charge of naptime and bedtime because as a breastfed baby, I smell like food to him.

Our routine was lay him down, give him the paci and his blankie and then pat until he settled dozed off. For the first day or two, naps were tough right along with bedtime.

After day 2, naps got much easier, but were only 45 minutes long because that is how long a sleep cycle is and Quinlon had not yet learned how to soothe himself back to sleep.

Bedtime was still harder, but the prep for it was much more intense. To get him "tanked up" so he would sleep, we would cluster feed from about 2 hours before bedtime until just before we started our routine for bed. So every 30-45 minutes I offered the breast and even if he just nursed for a minute or two, let him nurse as he wanted.

Then, 15 minutes before the time we wanted him in bed, we start our routine of singing to him as we change him into his night diaper and pajamas, then we read a book, then he gets hugs and kisses from Ba-ba(Donnie) and hugs and kisses from Ma-ma. Then lay him down, give the paci and blankie and pat until he falls asleep.

At first, he would wake up so many times. We never picked him up unless he was really upset. If just fussing, we patted until he settled back down and then left the room. The first week, it was soooo hard. He woke up constantly and he would cry because he wanted to nurse himself to sleep.

Now, he still wakes up sometimes, but it's usually because he lost the paci and will go right back to sleep with minimal patting, and naptimes now usually last at least 90 minutes, but as long as 3 hours because he can soothe himself back to sleep in between sleep cycles and are fairly fight free.

It turns out that nursing to sleep is a bad idea because milk in the tummy at bedtime can cause gas and increased spitting up. Sure enough, he is so much less gassy and spits up almost never now.

Because we co-sleep, Quinlon still nurses 3x a night (he sleeps nearly 12 hours, though). Since we have a routine, when I do decide to cut out a feeding, the transition will be smooth.

I think that is everything... LOL


Colleen said...

Thanks Jessi. I am going to try this. I too am not a fan of CIO, but do need to find a way to get Aaliyah on a better schedule. She's become a night owl.

Poltzie said...

This post is too funny! I've been doing this since day one with Lawson (I got the Baby Whisperer book when preggo) and he is a great sleeper. We have never nursed him to sleep at night, always cluster fed him in the evening and used a suckie as well. Lawson sleeps 13 hours at night but I nurse him twice in that time.
I do a dream feed (wake him up and nurse him when I go to bed) and then he's usually awake around 6am to nurse again.
I'm looking to get him to drop the 6am feed though.

I'm also not a fan of CIO and will be doing the Baby Whisper's PUPD after we start solids if he's still hasn't dropped his 6am feed.

This sleep training info is wonderful though and I'm glad you posted it. I agree that babies should not nurse themselves to sleep because they don't learn how to self soothe and they also don't get as much milk because their tummies can't really get full.
Anyhoo, thanks for the info and check out the Baby Whisper for more info on the PUPD, I think it's a great alternative to CIO!

Christina said...

Wow, great information!