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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    277

    New Mom- What Worked For You- Sleep Training

    Hello mom berries! I am a first time mom, and I am quickly discovering that there are very differing opinions on pretty much everything as far as babies go. I am also discovering that it is largely not a matter of what the books say (since there ARE so many opinions) but what feels right for me and my baby personally. I am just trying to fin my own groove here. I have a but of an advantage, because I've been a nanny for years and have experience with infants. So ive seen many different styles of parenting, what works and what doesnt, etc. However, most of the babies ive watched have been at least three months old (my little man is a month old). So I do feel a little lost and scared with this tiny human entrusted to me! Especially now that I'm pondering sleep training!

    First off I will say that I was SO against co sleeping from the very start. With all the scary SIDS risks. But I am exclusively breastfeeding (except one bottle a day with breastmilk given by daddy), and I found thay everyone sleeps so much better with him in the same bed. I know everyone has strong opinions on this, but this is just what has worked best for us at night.

    Now here is where I am lost. At Jems well visit yesterday, the dr said that now is a great time to start sleep training and cutting down on night time feeds. He said that we could start cutting down nighttime feeds one at a time, and that since his weight gain has been fabulous and he is a bit older now, he is capable of going 8 hours without snacking. Currently our night is something like this (on a good night). Jem eats around 7:30, goes to sleep around 8. Wakes to eat around 11, 2, 5, and 8, give or take an hour or so. So we will start with the 11 feeding and go from there with cutting them down/out.

    Once he is sleeping longer at night and I'm not having to feed him every 3 hours, I'd like to transition him to his crib. The trouble is, he has gotten so used to being held and rocked to sleep, and then sleeping cuddled up next to me. I tried to start him napping in his crib today, but I just don't know how to do it. I put him in a sleeps sack, rocked him, gave him a paci, and set him down. He would cry a few minutes, then quiet down, cry a few minutes, quiet down. After a while of this I jut went in and picked him up. I read onlin about how if you don't respond immediately to a you'd babies needs (under 3 months) that it will cause all kind of emotional damage to them and they will feel neglected. Ugh. I also read that babies should feed on demand for the first three months. But our pediatrician said otherwise as far as cutting out night time feedings! There is just so much conflicting info! So I am curious- what has worked for everyone? Sorry for rambling, I hope it all made sense! I look forward to reading all of your responses!

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    677
    What worked for us was getting our son on a routine- just like discipline is not just about punishment, sleep training is not just about the actual sleeping part. It was never a rigid schedule, just a routine. We went with EASY (eat, activity, sleep, you-time) as outlined in the Baby Whisperer book. As with any book, we didn't agree with every word, but we took the parts that made sense and left the rest.

    We did (eventually, after first trying it the other way and having to start over) start putting him down awake but sleepy. A huge key for us was NOT feeding him to sleep or rocking him to sleep. This really helped him stay asleep all night (or rather, stitch his sleeping cycles together without our interference, which is what is really happening.) He was sleeping 7pm to 7am by five months. We had to switch him to a bed at eighteen months and it took some time to get him back sleeping all night again. At two, he sleeps 12 hours a night (7-7) and takes a nap from 1-3. I really believe good sleep helps with his health, disposition, and ability to learn.

    We never did CIO, or any variation of it. I know some people find that CIO works for them, I think this depends on the baby a lot. Some babies release stress by crying, others increase it. Our son was definitely a stress-increaser. I liked the Baby Whisperer book b.c she goes over the different temperaments and tells you how to deal with them.

    I think with the responding to crying thing, that just takes time to figure out what your son's cries mean. If he is just fussing in his sleep, let him be. If he is crying for a minute, then stopping, then crying a tiny bit again a while later, let him be. Sometimes the crying is almost like talking in their sleep, you know what I mean?

    Those studies about babies being emotionally damaged by non-responsive parents are talking about really extreme situations. Headlines blow this kind of thing way out of proportion. They are not talking about you waiting a few minutes to see if your son will go back to sleep or if you need to go get him. You are creating a pattern of responsive parenting and attachment throughout the whole day and throughout his whole life.

    Anyhow, figuring out sleep was a lot of work. I am glad that we did it, because we have friends who are still up all night with two and three year olds and I don't think I could do that. On the other hand, all kids are different. I do think that some babies are predisposed to be better sleepers than others. That doesn't mean that there is nothing we can do to help, just that there are limits in how much we can fix another person's ability to sleep.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    717
    It is such a confusing time, but you are absolutely right, it is all about what you feel is best. I know its hard to trust your instincts when you're new to it, that's completely natural, but you'll find that your confidence grows and grows as time goes on and that makes it so much easier.

    The one thing I quickly realised with my dd is that there are no absolutes when it comes to babies. Other than with the obvious safety issues, I would be very dubious when you are told that you should always do something one way or never do things another. For example, all the books say that you should never let a baby feed until they fall asleep because they will never learn to sleep on their own or sleep through the night- well, I let my dd feed to sleep for 7 months and she was sleeping through beautifully from 4 months and puts herself to sleep just fine. She and I enjoyed the last cuddle of the day, so I just kept doing it til I stopped breastfeeding, no problem. I found white-noise really helpful and a relaxing bedtime routine at the same time every night made her all chilled out and ready to go down.

    As far as the advice from your doctor goes, 1 month sounds awfully early to start sleep training and cutting down feeds. It might be fine, its definitely worth a try, but don't be afraid to go back to a routine that you felt comfortable with if you find that Jem doesn't take to it. The night feedings that you are doing sound about right to me for a 1 month old. And if it doesn't feel right to let him cry at naptime, then don't do it- it'll just stress both of you out and I see no benefit in that.

    The resources that I found really helpful were Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare- this book really helped me find my confidence, and I still refer to it now that Juni is 25 months. There is also a great sleep blog called troublesome tots which I found super helpful in the first year.

    Good luck! It does get easier, honestly. And the fact that you are here asking these questions shows that you are doing an excellent job!
    Last edited by freya55; April 2nd, 2014 at 04:27 PM.
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  4. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    491
    Your son is very young to start cutting out nighttime feedings! What I would do is try to soothe him back to sleep without a bottle (patting/rocking and the paci) but if he continues fussing/crying, I'd feed him. My doctor didn't suggest we cut out night feedings until 6 months old, and I still didn't feel she was ready until just now (9 months).

    FWIW, bed sharing hasn't been proven to be more of a SIDS risk than crib sleeping if its done safely!

    Right now (at 9 months) we're using the methods described in The Sleep Lady books, after gently introducing methods in the NO Cry Sleep Solution. I can't tell you how it works first hand, but many friends said it changed their lives.
    Lillian Elizabeth 6.16.13

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    4,588
    Hi Babylove-- hope you're both doing well.

    If I can interpret your pediatrician's statement: what s/he meant is that after four weeks or so of age, a baby has the metabolic capacity to go without eating for up to 8 hours. Previously they do not-- their livers cannot release enough stored sugar to keep them going for that long. So what s/he means is that now Jem physically can start sleeping for longer, and no longer needs to wake to feed every three hours like he has been doing.

    Please know that this does not mean that every baby will do this, or that there is something wrong with Jem if he still awakens frequently. All it means is that his liver has reached a certain stage of maturation.

    All humans-- adults and babies-- have a natural two hour sleep-wake cycle, around the clock. If you plot brain wave activity in sleeping adults, you will see cycling from light sleep to deep sleep still on this old 2-hour schedule. What babies learn to do is to stitch those two hour cycles together, bit by bit, so that instead of waking all the way up, they continue to sleep until they reach their daily quote of restorative sleep. You will find that as Jem begins to do this, his awakenings will be briefer and shallower. For example, as tarynkay alluded to above, you might find that at his normal 2 AM wakeup instead of crying full-tilt and being wide awake, he might just fuss and whimper. If you leave him be during these fuss/whimpering times (instead of picking him up, turning on the lights, feeding him, or otherwise stimulating him) he will self-soothe and go back to sleep. Eventually, instead of fussing and whimpering, he'll just turn heavily or evince some other kind of burst of activity, but won't even open his eyes. If, however, you continue to attend to him fully, it will be much more difficult for him to stitch those sleep cycles together. This is where you hear horror stories of 2-year olds that still awaken 4 times nightly for a quick cuddle and nurse before they drift off again.

    Obviously, if he awakens and is crying full-tilt, he's hungry and you should tend to him. He is unlikely to self-soothe or settle except out of pure exhaustion, which IMO is quite cruel. Give yourself a nice rule of thumb regarding how long you will wait when he's fussy/whimpering before you will tend to him (5 min? 7 min? until he starts really yowling?).

    Regarding the cosleeping thing: yes, indeed, babies like cosleeping. No question about it. They enjoy being cuddled and are soothed by their mother's breathing and warmth. As someone keenly professionally interested in SIDS I do feel a duty to say that yes, it is quite dangerous, particularly for babies under 2 months, to share a bed with an adult (the best studies show a risk of death 9-11 times higher in babies < 2m when 'doing everything right'-- no drinking, no smoking, no adult bedclothes even). Regardless of your decision, though, it will be difficult *at first* to switch him to his own sleeping space. Even though he is so very tiny he will still obviously know something is different and miss you. Do you have a small Moses basket, bassinet, cradle or-- best of all-- attached co-sleeper so you can keep him in your room? That is the safest place for him and the logistically easiest for you. You will need to 'wean' him in stages-- a sleep sack is best, with him swaddled and warm. Firstly, get him used to the sleep sack (continue nursing him to sleep and cuddling him in your bed while he wears the sack). Then nurse him but put him down before he completely falls asleep, so he actually sleeps in his own space. Rub his back, croon to him, be there for the entire process. Once he sleeps like this, step back a bit more, and a bit more, and a bit more, until he can fall asleep independently in his own space.

    Personally I would try to drop the 2 AM feeding first. Stretch out the 8 PM - 11 PM awake time so he is really tired. Go a bit longer between breastfeeding times (perhaps make that 7:30 PM feeding the bottle one by daddy) so that you have a very rich supply at 11 PM. Nurse him in his sleep sack at 11, put him down in his sleep space, and when he awakens at 2, let him fuss and whimper. Your breastmilk supply peaks in the wee hours of the morning so whenever he does wake up, you will again have an abundant supply. This will hopefully help him take two adjacent 4-hour naps (11-3AM, 4-8 AM) and give you the semblance of a normal night. When you nurse him in the night, keep the room lights low, don't change his diaper or unwrap him unless he pooped, and don't talk/sing to him.

    And remember-- you're putting the baby on a *routine*, not a schedule. A schedule is an ugly inflexible thing not meant for tiny babies, but all humans can benefit from a routine. It's good for him, and it's definitely good for you (and don't forget, you count!)

    Just personal anecdote-- I did these things. My son began sleeping through the night at 8 weeks, and by 10 weeks consistently did so for 9+ hours. My daughter has been even earlier-- she started at 7 weeks, and has been sleeping through the night very consistently since she turned 2 months. From four weeks- 7-8 weeks, they both gradually stretched out their nighttime naps in the manner I described. From 0-4 weeks, I tried to establish a version of circadian rhythms for them by making the day/night distinction very obvious, even if of course we were still on a round-the-clock routine. I probably got lucky in terms of genes and temperament and these might be idiosyncratic results, but I really did work at it and it paid off handsomely.

    And good lord, please do not read any nonsense about attachment disorders and sleep. The work on attachment theory was very valid and important scientific work, done originally in the second world war in children raised in environments of severe trauma and deprivation. It does NOT apply to normal children with normal, loving parents. Period. Full stop. Jem will enjoy a deep, loving bond with you both even if you let him fuss in his bassinet for a bit.
    Last edited by blade; April 2nd, 2014 at 04:52 PM.
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