Friday, August 26, 2011

Sleep "Tips"

Emms asked in a comment a few posts back whether I had any tips for helping her Bug learn to fall asleep on her own. And I simply laughed out loud (for real). But it wasn't one of those funny-haha moments. It was more of a really bitter, "sleep, what the hell do I know about sleep" kind of moments. And so I've been stewing about how to respond to her. Because I realized that I do know a lot about babies and sleep. And either I'm not using what I know with baby E, or it's simply not working. But maybe it could help her, and others.
So, Emms, here's the not-at-all short answer to your seemingly simple question. I have several suggestions, things you could try, and they may or may not work. Okay, so here are a few, and my thoughts on them all. First, there's the whole CIO it out thing, but you know my stance on it, which I think actually lines up with yours as well :) So, screw CIO.

Second, a bedtime routine is really important. The kid's was way better and more consistent that baby E's (which is something that we need to look at in dealing with his sleep issues). It looked something like this - around 7pm he got a bath (if it was bath night, though sometimes if he was riled up for some reason he got one just because), then a good 5-10 minute massage (now this was really important and seemed to make a huge difference with him getting calmed down and ready for sleep), then we'd sit in the rocking chair and I'd nurse/give him a bottle, followed by reading 2 books, then singing 2 songs. We'd then head to his bed. The whole thing was less than 45 minutes. Any longer than that and it seemed to not work as well.

Third, there's this sleep sweet spot, for lack of a better term, when baby is tired, but not overtired. This is what you need to look for. Beware, though, it's not the time to start the bedtime routine! It's the time for baby to be in bed. So you have to know about when baby will be ready to go to sleep and plan backwards to start the bedtime routine. Yawning and fussing are super late signs of baby being tired. Look for those early signs. With the kid it was pulling at his ears and hair and starting to become overactive. With baby E, it red-rimmed eyes and a general goofiness.

Lastly, and this is, I think, where we're headed with baby E because it's what worked with the kid. It is kind of a modified/non-CIO method. Let me explain what I mean by that. The premise of CIO is that you put  baby in the bed, and walk away, not picking his/her back up. Now, you're "allowed" to go in at increasingly longer time frames to check on baby, but you can't pick him/her up (and frankly, you're not really encouraged to go back in at all). So, here's what we did with the kid. I'd do the whole bedtime routine, then lay him down in his bed awake. The first several nights, he'd scream as soon as I put him down. I would stand next to the bed, with my arms around him, while he stood up, patting and verbally reassuring him (often singing). Now, after 1-2 minutes he only was crying a little, but not really crying I guess. It was more fussing than anything. Eventually, though, he'd sit down, then lay down. Through all that, I was right there, in physical contact with him, so he knew I hadn't abandoned him and I knew he was okay.

After a few nights, he would lay right down as soon as I put him in there. I patted him through the crib bars til he fell asleep. After several more days of that, I laid him down and just sat near the crib, but didn't touch him. I eventually worked my way out of the room and he's been good to go ever since. All in all, it probably took 2-3 weeks. I remember he also started sleeping through the night more consistently around this time, too. And I have to think the two are probably related.

I've started this with baby E, though I'm not being as consistent as I was with the kid. But, this momma is desperate for some sleep (I think it's finally started to catch up to me!) so we're going to start hardcore this weekend. Pray for us, y'all!

So, those are my thoughts. I'd love to hear those of others - both what's worked and what hasn't (because just because it didn't work for your kid doesn't mean it won't for someone else's!). Seriously, I really would because - again - I'm exhausted here.

Today's lesson - I think we often rely too much on the "experts" and forget to follow what our own guts tell us to do. Parenting - good parenting - is about listening to that "expert" and non-expert advice, filtering through it all and, through trial-and-error, doing what works for us and our individual kiddos.


Motleymommy said...

Hi Becky, I started following you a bit ago and had a bit to add to your sleep thoughts. I too was exhausted with but with #1. I was working as a full time dance teacher at the time, split shifting my days and it wasn't working. We were really good about getting him down. Snuggle for 2 songs and then leave the music on and walk out. Saying "I love you so much I will see you in the morning" Worked like a charm. He still likes to fall asleep to the music (he's 6 1/2). Where we fell down was to let him sleep with us after the night feeding or early wake up out of desperate need for a few more minutes of shut-eye. He is a snuggler and was quite willing. We finally broke him of that last winter when I was pregnant and there just wasn't room for him.

#2 is such a different beast. He is just not a snuggler and needs to be put down awake or he just wont give it up, ever! Leading to a more tired baby and a more frustrated mommy. I was never a fan of CIO, BUT, it is seriously the only way this baby can settle himself sometimes.

I just realized that none of what I said was possibly not very helpful. But there you go. Get some sleep mama, you deserve it.

Camilleta said...

The bed time routine is really helpful for us. I start an hour before she's gonna be ready for sleep. When we put it off, bed time ends in meltdowns and tantrums. We also did the whole modified non-cio thing. We put her down and pat/rub her back until she settles down. She doesn't like it but I can not walk her to sleep anymore, she's already 28 pounds!! I'm planning on doing that with our next baby a lot earlier to save my back hahah. Good luck!

Emms said...

Thanks so much ive got some new ideas now. Ill let you know what works!