My Take on Sleep Training

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CadeSnooze

For me, it was less about training Cade (he figured it out pretty quick) and more about training mommy. All the sleep training methods I’ve read about, from Ferber to “gentle no cry” have one thing in common: They guarantee success with every child. I am here to debunk ALL of those theories. You can’t tell me that coinciding with “every baby is unique” there is a failsafe, tried and true, will always work method for ANY training. Do all children respond to discipline the same? Do all children learn the same? Do all children meet milestones the same? Do they like the same foods? Say the same first words? Potty train the same? No. No, no, no, NO!

(I could go on a rant about how not only the babies are different but so are the parents, but you just have to fill in a lot of irritated huffing and sarcastic comments and you’ve got the gist.)

Sleep training Cade was a necessity. I could not maintain the level of sleep deprivation and remain emotionally stable. If there is one thing I have done enough research on to be leery about, it is the permenant developmental effects maternal depression can have on babies. I refused to take that risk. Not only that, but my poor little guy was simply not sleeping and tired all the time. He wasn’t figuring it out on his own (or, really, I was doing things that were causing problems), and sleep is pretty crucial to babies, we had to try SOMETHING.

This is where mommy training comes in. Mommy was bound and determined to do sleep training and have it work. She felt like she just couldn’t listen to him cry so she tried every single method she could find. She decided bed time routine would be bath, pajama’s, book, boob, bed. Then she tried The pick up put down. The five S’s. Slowly weaning from sleep crutches. With the pacifier. Without the pacifier. Back patting, shushing, infant massage….NOTHING worked. If I put Cade down and picked him up the instant he fussed, he SCREAMED for 30-40minutes. There was no calming. Just a lot of mommy rocking, singing, cuddling, and desperate praying while Cade blasted her eardrums. Cade hated being swaddled. He wouldn’t sit still for a massage. He didn’t sleep well with the nightlight on. The back patting seemed to work a little on putting him down, for maybe two weeks, and then he started getting mad about it again. When mommy managed to finally get him to sleep he was up every 1-1.5 and the whole thing started again…

Desperate, she tried the Ferber method of incremental crying. No dice. Cade would be winding down after a few minutes of crying, she’d walk in to “reassure” and he’d wind up purple in the face yelling for another ten minutes. It was miserable. So what finally worked? ….Mommy training.

Bathtime wound Cade up, so I nixed that before bed and instead put it first thing in the morning.

Not only did the nightlight make it hard for Cade to sleep, ANY light could be a problem. We got drapes and blinds and blankets and made the room as dark as possible for nighttime and naps.

A 20 minute bedtime routine wasn’t enough, and Cade had a strong food/sleep association that meant he couldn’t fall back to sleep on his own when he went through a “light” part of the sleep cycle. And babies go through “light” sleep a LOT. So wind down time got longer and longer until now I start the bedtime routine an HOUR before he goes to bed. I call it the “pre bedtime routine” and then the “bedtime routine.” I feed him 15 minutes into the pre bedtime routine-or later. The latest being 30 minutes before he’d go down.

The winddown is critical. If I fudge and let him get all excited when people visit or when Remus wants to play and only give him a few minutes of winddown time, bedtime is a nightmare.

I dim the lights an hour before bedtime to help him wind down, and I let him play what he wants, but I try to limit him crawling as fast as he can up and down the hallway.

And the biggest thing? I let him fuss. By himself. No interruptions. Cade was getting so mad every time I tried to “comfort” him at bedtime or in the middle of the night. I let him cry at just bedtime first, and it was heartwrenching to not go in, but it was STILL quicker and LESS crying than any of the other methods I had tried.

Now? Some nights he’ll babble to himself, walk around the crib for a few laps, sometimes he’ll cry a bit. Mostly he just moans and burrows his face into the mattress until he gets comfortable and passes out. These past two nights he’s fallen asleep almost instantly, with no noise at all.

And in the middle of the night, half those times I was picking him up I was actually WAKING him up! He’s a noisy little booger when he sleeps, and he’ll actually sit up, cry, and then faceplant without opening his eyes. Usually that bit of movement and subsequent change of position is enough and he’ll go back to snoring. Sometimes he moans and grumbles and whimpers as he rolls and squirms and kicks until he ends up in an awkward looking position that must somehow be comfortable and he stops making noise.

The rest of the wake ups were because he was used to getting calories during the night, so we slowly dropped feedings one at a time. We started with 5 and last night was the first night we didn’t have any (his choice, he didn’t want the bottle).

I don’t want to make it sound easy. For us, it has taken MONTHS to get where we are (mostly because you have to try every method for a week before discarding to make sure it’s not just a learning curve). It was AWFUL listening to him cry and not scooping him up to snuggle. But I am not exaggerating when I say he actually ended up crying LESS when I left him alone. And now he wakes up happy, and rested, and full of laughter and energy throughout the day.

And now that’ve I’ve started to pay more attention to what works for my little man, nap time has become easier, too. The same thing applies with the wind down. I have to pick Cade up and carry him around for 10-15 minutes before nap time to force him to wind down. If I let him play up until naptime, he screams. If I let him play until he’s exhausted-he screams less, but he still screams. And is cranky when he wakes up.

He sleeps till 4am now without waking. 7pm-4am! We’re still working on getting that last little bit of sleep until 6am, last night he was awake and grumpy from 4-5 (while I held him and bounced and rocked and sang) and then slept in until 7. I don’t know what’ll work to get that last wake up to disappear, but it’s ok, we’ll figure it out-mommy is finally getting the hang of sleep training.

The point is, most of the training were things I, the mommy, needed to adjust specifically for CADE. I’m sure all of the sleep trianing methods work. I’m equally sure they don’t all work on every baby. I’m also sure some babies don’t need sleep training at all and figure it out without a bit of intervention. I’m ALSO sure that sleep training has probably been around since the beginning of babies as desperate parents everywhere tried different ways of getting their offspring to sleep. It’s only in this day and age that it has turned into another mommy war battleground as everyone shoves their all encompassing solutions onto babies who frankly don’t care that there have been so many books published on the issue.

So there you have it: I am a sleep trained mommy. And Cade is thankful that I finally stopped being such a nuisance when he just wanted to snooze!

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