Sleep Training and the Baby Tranquilizer

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I apologize ahead of time for the text-heavy lack of picture post, but sleep related pictures are hard to find. I make up for it with a funny video though.

Sleep.  It is probably definitely the most concerning, most talked about issue among parents old and new.  Anyway, it is safe to say that my opinion on “sleep training” (i.e. the process of getting your baby to sleep well both at night and for naps) has changed drastically from before my baby actually got here 😉  Before, I thought “Ferberize him!  Let him cry it out!  We ALLLLL need to sleep.”  haha.  Turns out my approach to sleep training is a little different. and a bit more gentle than this.  I read a LOT about sleep training, especially when I would be up for endless hours many times throughout the night.  My Google history was pretty much as follows: how to get baby to sleep more, how to get baby to sleep, when will damn baby sleep.  Anyway, I did not end up going with any one method of sleep training. As I have mentioned before, all of “those books” are great but in reality, my child is MY child.  He is certainly not like any other child, because no children the same, nor did he come with instructions relatable to one of those books.  So I basically thought about my own values and perceptions regarding sleep, and tried a few things. I had to make sure that I was comfortable with what I was doing, that I was CONSISTENT (so very important) and that it was the best thing for everyone involved.  So here are the things I had decided:

– My baby is small (in terms of percentile) so I really wasn’t and am still not ready to not allow him to eat during the night.  He also is very distractible and as much as I try to limit distractions and get him to eat as much as possible during the day, I felt he still needed a bit in the night.  I also know that sometimes I wake up thirsty and want a drink (I know, I’m a sucker).  But, I was done at five months with having this be an open-ended thing.  Based on literature and what I feel to be true about Zach (from experience) he CAN go about 6-7 hours without food.  So, if he went to bed at 8, he would not need to eat until about 2.  So I decided I would feed him twice during the night AT THIS POINT (once after the long stretch, and then the second time ends up being around 5.  Anyway, I decided to institute a dream feed (feeding him while he is asleep) at about 10 or 1030 when I go to bed so that the stretch corresponds more with my sleeping schedule.  So he normally eats at 1030 dream feed then gets up only one more time (again knock on wood) at about 5.

– I was not against helping him soothe IF he tried it on his own for five minutes.  This is for if he woke up other than the two times I said I would feed him.  So if he “cried” (fussed, etc.) for five minutes, I would send my husband in to simply pat him, so he knows we know he is there (and love him and have not abandoned him; something I was super concerned about) and then leave.  He almost always (knock on wood) goes back to sleep after that.  I send my husband in so it does not confuse him (he won’t think it is time to eat).

-Zach IS a really good self soother (knock on wood hehe- i have to say this because as I have said before, babies change so often!) so if he continues to cry is IS usually because he is suuuuper hungry and it tends to correspond to the times above.

-One of the things that MOST sleep training experts/books speak of is the idea that baby should be put down “drowsy but awake” which helps babies get used to “putting themselves back to sleep.” This is due to object permanence which babies can develop around 4 months.   When they develop object permanence, if they fell asleep in your arms, they wake up in their crib and are suuuuper confused (like if you woke up on your front lawn).  Up until about 4 months, I nursed Zach to sleep.  Not a good idea.  When he woke up with the boob gone from his mouth he was not only confused but pissed.  I weaned off that but was still rocking him to sleep at about 4.5 months.  At this point I knew I needed to stop because of object permanence.  So, I began putting him down sleepy but awake to avoid this issue.  Sometimes actually, he is WIDE awake, as you will see in the video until the “tranquilizer” sets in. It is HYSTERICAL!  I don’t know what it is but he will be talking, razz-ing whatever and just all of the sudden ZONK!   Too funny!  Excuse the white noise in the background.

-Importance of routine. So we have an exact routine for nighttime and bedtime sleep. I really think it helps cue Zach in and tells him “time to sleeeeep!”  Nighttime routine= bath, goodnight to the room/mommy/baby, swaddle (only waist down, generally in a sack), white noise, nurse, song in rocking chair, put in crib.  Nap time routine:  5 minutes quiet crib time on back looking at mobile with classical music on, brown bear brown bear book, white noise,  swaddle, nurse, put in crib.

-We have started waking him up at a consistent time every day (730) because I think his erratic wake-up schedule was throwing off his nap schedule (more on this below).  He goes to bed between 745 and 815.

OK, now for NAPS.  Naps seem to be more influx than night time sleep.  I mean the schedule changes far more often.  For instance, he takes three naps now (it used to be five at first, then four) but I think is phasing into two.   His am nap is most consistent.  It happens from about 930-11.  The other nap(s) are less consistent.  As I said he is working on consolidating those two.  We used to, and still do sometimes,  have trouble with the 45-minute nap intruder.  Click to read more about it.  But the idea is that the nap is cute short, only lasting one sleep cycle, for a variety of reasons.  We are aiming to have two two-hour naps, so a 45-minuter stinks.  Anyway, I am just letting the nap thing happen; I think there will be more of a schedule soon.  It can be challenging to make plans though!

So, tell, me:  what are your experiences/thoughts on sleep training?!


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