Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let's Talk About Sleep

When we first brought Monkey home from the hospital, he would sleep so hard that I had to wake him up every 3 hours for him to eat.  This continued for probably about 8 weeks until he started to wake himself up when he was hungry.

Then, at around 10 weeks, Monkey decided to sleep through the night in his bassinet in our bedroom.  The first time he did it I woke up consumed with fear that he had died at some point through the night... but he was just sleeping.  Even when we moved him to his crib in his own bedroom in Texas he continued to sleep through the night.  There was the occasional fussiness when we put him down to sleep but he was good.

He was following a fabulous schedule that my sister had given me and there was sleeping harmony in the house.

Then we moved to Atlanta.  We spent the first 10 days in a hotel room and I'm sure the move did something to his schedule because he started to wake at night.  And for some reason, my immediate reaction was to give him a bottle when he would wake up.  He continued to be a super duper napper (as long as we followed the schedule) but had figured out that a bottle at night was a good idea.  This continued for a few weeks until I wised up and realized I was creating a monster.  At some point in February I stopped giving him his bottle, he barely cried, and was sleeping through the night again.  Then, and I don't know when and why, he started night waking again.  We went back and forth about the bottle because some nights it was the only thing that would put him back to sleep and at 3:00 AM that sounded good to me. 

A few weeks ago things started to get really bad.  He started to protest naps, bedtime, and he started waking two times a night and wouldn't always go back down.  But there was never any pattern.  Here are his "schedules" from last Thursday through Saturday:

Yeah, Saturday night was a killer.  And the night that made me start to think about the bad sleeping habits I've taught Monkey simply because it was easy for me.  And then, horror of all horrors, I started to think about an episode of Supernanny where 3 and 4 year olds had hell bedtimes because of their bad sleeping habits... taught to them by their parents. 

So, after I had a pity party about what a bad mother I've been and how what I was going to do would be the best thing for Evan but would also hurt him for the moment (not in the long run) I decided it was time to Ferber.

If you don't know about the Ferber Sleep Method then you can find out more about it in detail here.  For my purposes you need to know two things about it, 1) it is a way of getting children to soothe themselves to sleep without parental intervention, 2) you do this by putting your child to sleep, letting them cry for 5 minutes, soothing them, letting them cry for 10 minutes, soothing them, etc.  I particularly like the way Baby 411 explains it (an amazing book - if you know anyone with a newborn or about to have a baby, buy it for them) paraphrased below:
1. Put baby down.  Your child will start complaining.
2. Wait 5 minutes before returning to soothe. 
3. Make the soothing short and sweet.  Leave room.
4. Your baby cries louder (no surprise here).
5. Wait 10 minutes before returning.
6. Repeat step 3.
7. Your baby sounds possessed.
8. Wait 15 minutes before returning.
9. Repeat step 3... continue.

So on Sunday night I'd had it and was ready to try the method.  Here are the outcomes:

So it isn't perfect, but the two nights where we kept a schedule he slept through the night.  My goal is to get him to sleep for a week like this and THEN start to attack and night wakenings if there are still some (as in take away the bottle and deal with it).

I think if Monkey had been a difficult sleeper earlier I would have listened to my sister and done this from the start. But he never needed it, so I got spoiled.  Now I actually have to parent... and it stinks - listening to him cry... it's not easy.  But I'm hoping this will translate to a happy well-rested baby.

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