Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sleep Training

So we started sleep training with Isis yesterday. She's almost 6 weeks old and some people may have strong opinions against sleep training an almost 6 week old baby, but I've been reading & reading about it & Lewis & I both felt that she was ready. She'd been doing a few things lately that made us feel like she was ready and she had also been having a hard time going to sleep and staying asleep which led to her being overtired & fussy all the time. So we decided it was time to help her out. We started sleep training last night, but I started doing some different stuff with her naps on Monday & the difference in just the last 2 days has been CRAZY!

First of all, I thought I should share the books I've been reading. I'm going to share thoughts on them in my next post. I'm also going to share the order I read them in.

On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam, M.D.
Twelve Hours Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano
Baby 411 by Denise Fields & Ari Brown, M.D.
The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan by Cathryn Tobin, M.D.
Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D.

These books all have different specific opinions, but some have very similar general positions. They generally agree that once a baby is at least 6 weeks old, it's okay to start sleep training to a certain degree. They all have a limited-crying sort of plan. I am not a big fan of the total cry-it-out method, especially at this age. But I do think that a certain amount of crying is okay when you know the baby is fed, diaper changed, warm, hugged & kissed, etc. And especially if - like we've been having with Isis - you know for a fact they are tired and they are just flat out fighting it! Now, maybe it's because she's my baby, but I think she's just really smart! Because she always wants to be looking around & checking everything out! If there is something that could possibly be going on, she wants to see it! She's been so alert since the day we brought her home! Maybe all babies are like that, but I tend to believe that mine is special - don't we all??

So anyway, we decided to start the sleep training. And by sleep training I mean this: we decided on a specific bedtime and waketime, we started a bedtime routine and we put her down in her crib sleepy but awake. We hadn't done a specific bedtime and waketime yet because I'd just been going for more of a routine rather than a schedule. I was feeding her every 2 1/2 - 3 hours and just letting the specific times of that fall where they may. And we hadn't started a specific bedtime routine partly just because we just didn't & partly because I wanted it to include a bath, but I didn't know if I should be giving her a bath everyday or not. Some people say to do it and some people say not to because it can dry their skin out. But we decided to just do the bath because she seems to really enjoy it and it seems to relax her. Then putting her down sleepy, but awake is the big thing. I'd sort-of unintentionally gotten into the habit of nursing her to sleep. I didn't really notice I had done it because I was getting up at night, nursing her & putting her back down, but then all of a sudden she started falling asleep right after she nursed during the day too and I couldn't get her to wake up. So this is our routine now:

8:00am - wake up & nurse
I've still got her eating every 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours during the day just depending on if she seems super hungry or when she naps, but I make sure it works out so that I feed her...
7:00pm - final daytime feeding
7:40pm - bath & bedtime routine
8:00pm - bedtime

It's gone okay so far. Last night it took her about 50 minutes to fall asleep, but she cried for about 35 minutes of that. We went in & patted her & kissed her & comforted her for 1 minute every 5-10 minutes, depending on the intensity of her crying. She did great! None of her cries were frantic or distressed sounding, just really tired kind of sounding. And then when she woke up in the middle of the night for feedings, she did great too without us having to do anything! I'd been nursing her to sleep in the middle of the night like I told you, but last night I made sure to put her in bed sleepy but awake even in the middle of the night and she didn't every cry, just coo-ed and made sweet baby noises before falling asleep ON HER OWN! Now, I don't know what was different about the middle of the night, but that was pretty awesome!

Tonight, we put her down at 8:00. She still isn't asleep and it's 9:00, but she's been completely silent or making sweet baby noises (what we call her coos and stuff) for at least 20 minutes of the past hour. We've only had to check on her twice and both times it completely calmed her down for at least 10 minutes. Tonight she got fussier when we did our bedtime routine because I think she knew that bedtime was coming - again, smart baby! And some of her cries have been a little louder tonight, but she's had a lot more time calm & quiet & I can tell she's learning to self-soothe.

Anyway, maybe you disagree with sleep training at this age, but I'm so happy with how she's doing! And she slept SO much better today during the day for her naps! And when she was awake, she was happy & not fussy unless something was actually wrong like she was hungry or needed a diaper change!! My fussy, tired Isis has gone to a well-rested & happy Isis in less than 2 days! We don't have the self-soothing down yet, but I can definitely tell a difference! I've read that this can go up & down a little, but that generally after a week the baby has learned what's going on. I'll keep you updated.

What were your experiences with sleep training or sleep routines with your baby??

Sleep Training Night #2
Sleep Training Night #3
Sleep Training Night #4
Sleep Training Night #5

1 comment:

TulipGirl said...

I found it is much easier to set good sleep patterns, create an environment conducive to sleep, and not worry about sleep "training." Research on infant sleep and development indicates that crying to sleep train is not beneficial, and in fact may be harmful. I did use CIO with some of my babies, and didn't with others -- and I found that in the long term there was no difference in how they slept. All children slept fine when they were ready to do so. . . And the CIO was stressful for them AND me. Encouraging sleep in non-crying ways is better.

infantsleep.org has a great summary of the research on infant sleep to date. And I have a lot of friends who have found the No Cry Sleep Solution to be a good resource, as well.

Best wishes!

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