Baby Sleep!

 

So I don’t usually post “controversial topics” but I do like the idea of sharing what works for me with those out there reading along. There are some topics I’d like to write about that some might consider “controversial”

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.55.18 AMI’d like to start with my ideas on sleep training. I must say however that in no way am I judging those out there who do it differently than what I am about to share, I am a firm believer in doing what works for you and your family and I’d also like to note that I most certainly am not an expert in the subject of baby sleep or sleep training. We didn’t co-sleep, and we did use a cry it out method for all our children. I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, many of my good friends have done it differently and I certainly do not judge them for their methods! This is purely a “what worked for us story!” That being said, I will not be offended or sad if you stop reading now because what we did doesn’t align with your methods or beliefs!

Sleep Training our Twins and Singleton!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.55.43 AM

I’ve recently spoken with some new moms and new moms to be who asked about my sleep training methods. I believe because we (not exclusively) have great sleepers they want to know how we did it! Our son heads to bed around 5:30pm and our girls’ head to bed between 6:30pm and 7:00pm and Mr. man awakes between 6:30am – 7:00am, and the girls between 7:30am – 8:00am.

Note: Henry is still only 4.5 months old and wakes to eat thru the night generally only 2-3 times but then some nights up to 5 times, when he wakes he is changed fed and laid back down. We have struggled with naps recently but we will continue to work on that!

How did we get here?

It was a journey; it was tough, we all cried – well maybe not Steve!

I read a lot, I read blogs and if I could remember in my haze of new baby sleep deprivation I would surly share those other moms and dads stories with links but much of it is a blur. So my apologies and thanks go out to those who paved the way before me and left breadcrumbs of suggestions in form of their own blogs!

Many of my expectations had to be modified along the way! The girls were the toughest because we had no idea what we were doing or what it should look like all I knew was I was bound and determined to have them sleeping in their cribs in their own room. I was and still am a firm believer that our bed is ours and that children should have their own beds. This was the expectation I went in with. My modification was that many nights Steve and I did not spend together nor did we sleep in our own bed! Couches became our sleeping space, waiting for the next cry to feed or change. Much of the night spent trekking between the couch and the nursery and some nights just the couch in the nursery was as far as we could get. Sleeping in shifts and tending to the needs of our newest additions! Time went on and so did the sleepless nights until I knew something had to change. We couldn’t continue to jump at every squeak, squawk, and noise coming from the nursery; we needed sleep just as much as our babies needed sleep! So we began “cry it out” my mom tells me this was just the “way” when I was a baby, that there was no special title for it but today we know it as cry it out. It is hard, it hurts the heart, but in the end we are all better for having gone thru it. Steve and I slept, and eventually the girls did too. Once they started going to sleep on their own at bedtime they started sleeping longer and falling back asleep immediately after changes and feeds. The girls continued night feedings until 11 months at least once a night in the end but because they were great at going back to sleep and I had “perfected” our feeding and changing routine by then it was a quick intermission from my own sleep, and actually enjoyed the quiet time with them!

Henry was different, for one there was only one baby,shortening the time it takes to feed and change. But I made mistakes with him too in my tired zombie like state; twice I even attempted to co-sleep. However waking up tired and terrified quickly modified that choice for me, and back to the bassinet he went! For 5 weeks I tended to his every need the second he needed it, I slept on the couch in the nursery – this time it didn’t bug me as much because I had modified my expectation of sleeping in my own bed with my husband right off the get go. Finally at week five I’d had enough of the daytime tired toddler tending and decided it was time to start the cry it out method. The girls were heading for a sleep over with grandma and grandpa so I knew I wouldn’t be disturbing their sleep and we used the couple nights they were gone to get started. It was so much easier with Henry, I could see the end result (how well the girls sleep) and I knew we were starting to work towards some good nights sleep.

What Cry it out looked like for us – perfected to our tastes after the third child!

Not every night was as effective, not every step did I follow perfectly, I am human, I struggled, I broke my own rules but it worked best when I stuck to it; that’s when I saw the results!

Nighttime routine! We complete our night time routine, of which I wont go into full details on, everyone’s nighttime routine will look a little different, whats important is to have one! We didn’t do things like have a bath because that wasn’t something I wanted to commit to doing every night before bed. We wanted something that was short and sweet but indicated to the children that it was time for bed! Once they were lying down awake, drowsy but not fully asleep. It would begin!

I must add these are only used on nights where they didn’t go to sleep right away, of course this was most nights in the begining, but some nights they would fall asleep right away and so these techniques weren’t needed!

Once baby starts crying I set timer for 10 minutes. Baby cries for 10 minutes. I enter nursery and check for dry diaper and extra burp needed? Calm baby lies back down.

Once baby starts crying I set timer for 10 minutes. Baby cries for 10 minutes. I enter nursery and check for dry diaper and extra burp needed? Calm baby lies back down.

Once baby starts crying I set timer for 20 minutes. Baby cries for 20 minutes. I enter nursery and check for dry diaper and extra burp needed? Calm baby lies back down.

Once baby starts crying I set timer for 20 minutes. Baby cries for 20 minutes. I enter nursery and change feed burp then calm baby lies back down.

Repeat these steps until baby falls asleep!

Night 2,3,4,5 and so on I would adjust my time according to my findings, was baby typically gassy and needing a burp after the first ten-minute interval? I would keep the first ten minute interval as is then add more time to the subsequent intervals. Was baby typically wet at a certain point? Keep those times. How about hungry, was baby needing to eat at the hour mark? Adjust the times according to what they need! Then as the days go on allow more and more time to pass before intervening allowing baby to self-sooth, until baby is able to go to sleep when laid down with little to no intervention.

What Worked?

1) Distinguishing night and day. Early on in life my children all napped in the living room with the drapes open on the big south facing windows, which began the process of distinguishing between night and day. Then after naps in the brightly lit living room changes feedings and playtime are interactive with lots of chatter, singing, eye contact, and play. Nighttime was dark; I used only a nightlight or dimmer switch to guide me. Changes and feedings were silent with little interaction, talk, or eye contact helping to indicate that it is sleep time and not play time.

2) Naps. Lots of naps during the day hours, (Although now Henry would strongly disagree with this! Haha) the more sleep my babies got in the day the better they slept at night. I’ve read it many times and I’ll say it here too, keeping a baby awake to “tire” them out for the night will only create over tired babies who cannot go to sleep or stay asleep at night! And over tired babies become chronically over tired babies, and that starts to pose health and developmental risks so nap, nap, nap, and nap some more during the day and then go to bed early!

3) Sleep Consultant! Check in with a sleep consultant if you are feeling hesitant on your techniques, I touched base with one when I was still putting my girls to bed “early” I was catching slack about the bed time and starting to feel pressured to move it back, instead of caving to pressure I checked in with someone I knew to be an expert in the field and she eased my mommy mind knowing I was doing my babies good and right. There are two main reasons I choose an early bedtime:

  • Happy well rested children
  • Time for me

I know early bed time = happy energetic wonderful children the next day so I stopped feeling guilty about putting my kids to bed early and had some me time, a glass of wine, a bath, or a movie night with Steve. Then we all felt better the next day!

I know that some people have told me putting their children to bed later has them sleeping in later, this was never the case for any of my children; they wake at the same time every day regardless of what time they go to bed. There are nights they got to bed later than “bedtime” because we are out or something is happening that moves it back a bit. I find that when this occurs if it is sporadic doesn’t effect moods too badly!

What didn’t work?

1) Putting Baby to Sleep Before Lying Down AKA Rocking to Sleep! This is a bad idea! I laugh as I write this because of course I did it with all three, and what parent hasn’t. It was around the 4 week mark with Henry that I read a blog and again I apologize for not being able to promote these other bloggers because in a haze of sleep deprivation I was simply reaching out to the search engines for some sort of answer, typing in obscure things like “why wont my baby sleep” so I know I cant take credit for the analogy because it is one that I couldn’t have said better!

“When a baby awakes after being laid down asleep it is like us going to sleep in our warm comfy beds and awaking in our back yards.”

How true right! Warm and cozy in my arms my children would fall asleep then I would lay them down and moments or even hours later they would awake in a different place all alone. Yes, disorientating for sure! So I advise to lay the baby down drowsy but also not fully asleep, not only do they learn the all-important self-soothing techniques but also awake in the same place they fell asleep in!

2) Sleep associations. Henry hasn’t ever taken a soother, it wasn’t something he liked right from the beginning so although I’m happy I’m not going to have to wean soothers there are some days where I think it would be nice to have the option! The girls both took soothers until 5 months when they just became uninterested. I am a fan! Trust me this is not an anti-soother tip! In the beginning though for the girls soothers were sleep associations and because they were so little they couldn’t put them back in when they fell out, it became one more reason for me to go in and “rescue” them when they woke up or were trying to fall asleep. Eventually I had to let them self soothe after the soother fell out or I would have been doing the soother dance all night! Sleep associations can be anything, a blanket, a stuffy, or a soother, whatever is helping soothe baby to sleep! And they can be great tools as long as they don’t start to disrupt sleep! Both my girls have their favorite sleeping blanket and stuffy now but when they were younger, not only does it increase the risk of SIDS to have those things in the crib but I didn’t want those things to be the only way they could go to sleep! Henry has a stuffy he loves to chew on, but that’s a daytime thing and we play together with it right now!

Other tips!

1) Phone a friend! Have someone come sit with you, don’t try to be alone, listening to your baby or babies cry can make time stand still. Having someone to talk to was crucial during this time. Someone to talk about the weather, celebrities, the upcoming holidays, his or her own lives, or mundane trivial things was so important. This allowed me to listen to the children’s needs but stay distracted enough for the time I’d chosen to wait without getting too upset.

2) Set a timer. Chose an amount of time that works for you I outlined above what worked for me but maybe that’s too long or too short a period of time again its all about using your parental instincts to determine what you and your baby needs. But once you choose a time stick to it (unless an emergency occurs – obviously!) if you choose to wait 10min of crying wait the full 10!

Why sleep is important

Sleep is important not just for mom and dad but for babies and toddlers too. Growth happens during sleep and not just height and weight, developmental growth too, sleep is good for the brain!

I know there are a great many articles, blogs, and researches conducted on development and the negative effects of the cry it out method. But for us it worked, it created some great sleepers and some happy healthy toddlers!

Happy Sleeping!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.55.34 AM

One thought on “Baby Sleep!

  1. Pingback: Why I stay up “ALL” night | Livin' the Country Life

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