Sunday, May 22, 2011

cry it out

I admit that I have always judged sleep-training. Why on earth would you let your baby cry just so he/she can fit your schedule of when you think they should be sleeping. After all, parenting isn't a "sometimes" job. It is 24/7. And I have seriously questioned a mother's instincts who can sit and listen to her baby cry. It is unnatural and lazy.

Well...I've changed my tune. I have a six month old who won't nap unless he is being held, you are rocking him in the dark blaring white noise, and holding a pacifier in his mouth. It doesn't work. I guess if I had only him, I could do that. But this can't go on. He gets huge bags under his eyes, fusses in the evenings...I know he is tired and needs his sleep.

It dawned on me yesterday that I am doing him a disservice by not helping him learn how to get good daytime sleep. I was being a lazy parent by not buckling down and doing something about this. I Have been taking the easy way out by going in there and rocking him. It seemed like the natural thing for me to do, but it isn't getting either one of us anywhere. I have only 1 goal: teach Jack how to get good, meaningful daytime sleep. That is all. I don't care when or where he does it. I don't care if all 3 nap at the same time and give me a "break." I just need him to learn how to sleep.

So yesterday I started. With his naps, I rock him to sleep (I know Fer.ber says drowsy but awake. Doesn't work for Jack). When he wakes up crying (less than 5 minutes in), I let him cry for a few minutes, see if he will settle himself. He never does. Go in, pat his back, settle him back in, leave. With his next waking (normally 10 minutes or so later), let him cry again, a little bit longer than the first time. Go in, pat his back, settle him back in. This went on for 2 hours yesterday.

And right now, I'm in the middle of doing it again. I don't pick him up when I go in, just pat his back. It normally takes just a few minutes of me patting him for him to settle back in and fall asleep. But he isn't getting MEANINGFUL sleep. 10 minutes at a time with spurts of crying over the course of 2 hours is not meaningful sleep. It isn't helping him.

I can't understand why he just won't stay asleep like my other children will. He is comfy, fed, dry, clean, in a soft and cozy place, dark, white noise, cool but not cold...I just don't get it.

Am I doing the right thing? Will going in and patting him make things worse/better?

Anyone is welcome to chime in. I need help.


Alyssa said...

(not sure if my first comment posted; I got an error)

First, some babies are comforted when someone goes in to shush and rub their back, but some aren't and just get worse.

Second, here's what we did for our kids. Not necessarily what you HAVE to do but this worked for us and I recommend it.

1. I took away her paci. I think this is key, because it had become a sleep prop where she absolutely needed it to fall asleep. We gave her a winnie the pooh stuffy/blanky thing for her to cuddle, hold, etc. Books I read say this isn't a sleep prop but is rather a "transitional" object. Like, we have pillows and blankets to help us fall to sleep comfortably.

2. Not picking her up. Some people (not Ferber) say to pick up till they stop crying and then put them back down. This seems weird to me. She got visibly angry when she realized we werent going to pick her up, and for a few days, she cried everytime we neared her room. But she's gotten so much better, and doesn't cry at ALL anymore.

3. We used the Ferber idea of intervals. The first night, we went in after 3 minutes of crying, then 5 minutes, then 7 minutes (it took about five additional 7 minute intervals of full out crying to get her to sleep that first night). The second night moved to 5, 7, 10 minutes. The third night was 7, 10, 12 minutes. Etc. The intervals are slightly different than in the book, but Ferber says to do what feels right and that's what worked for us.

4. At night time, we let her CIO / fuss as long as it took for her to fall asleep.

5. In the middle of the night, we didn't go in immediately upon her crying, we just started over with the intervals. Sometimes she fell back asleep before we even had to go in. Sometimes she didnt fall asleep. If she was still fussing/crying at 6 am, we got her up to start the day even though it's earlier than usual.

6. For naps, we use the same intervals. This is where we used a second CIO method (not ferber) for naps. She says to let them fuss/CIO for 1 hr 10 minutes. If they havent fallen asleep by then, take a break and pick them up for 20-30 minutes, giving a bottle if necessary. Then try again. If they havent fallen asleep after ANOTHER 1 hr 10 minutes, it's a "nap emergency" and you are to take them for a stroller or car ride to get them to fall asleep since they need sleep. We never had to do this. She fell asleep some time in the second 1 hr 10 minute wait.

7. If she woke up in the middle of a nap (i.e. after anything under one hour), we waited for, again, the same intervals. If after 25-30 minutes she still wasnt asleep, we ended that nap, and moved up her next naptime to earlier.

8. We also make sure she's not over or under tired, by keeping a close eye on her awake times (which includes everything awake, like feeding, diapering, playing, and the time it takes for the baby to fall back asleep). It's been amazing how her sleep has gotten better resulted in her being able to stay awake closer to her suggested awake time based on age.

Guideline for Awake time for babies
Newborn 50-60 mins
1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
2 months 1 hour and 15 - 20 mins
3 months 1 hour and 20 - 30 mins
4 months 1 hour and 45 - 2 hours
5 months 2 hours - 2.25 hours
Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
6.5 - 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
8 - 10 months 3 - 4 hours. Some are getting more.
11 - 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap

EC said...

I think one of the purposes of any form of sleep training is to teach them important skills like learning to fall asleep and comfort themselves in the night. If you go in and pat his back until he falls back to sleep he won't learn to do it on his own. That's just my 2 cents.

I honestly can't say enough good things about Ferber. Ferber DOES NOT mean leaving your child to scream alone in a room for 3 hours. You do what he calls prolonged waiting, which means, short intervals of letting him cry and try and sort it out on his own. You are there and continually going in at the intervals to remind him that Mommy is here and Mommy loves you but now it is time for sleeping.

Learning how to fall asleep on your own is such an important skill, so you should think about it as one of the first really great things you are teaching him.

Best of luck with whatever methods you use. Sleep is tough work!

WantWait&Pray said...

What kind of a nap schedule are you on? 3 naps a day? With the twins, we were on 3 naps until around 8mos where we transitioned to 2. Maybe he's SO overly tired that he can't sooth himself to sleep at all? Could that be the case? They say sometimes if your child is waking really early in the am, to try putting them down a little earlier at night. Seems SO mixed up, but somehow it works! So maybe he's needing to be put down a little earlier. If my twins were up at 7am, they'd go down at 9ish for a nap. Nap for 1 hour. Down again around noon for an hour and then down again around 3ish. This keeping them up for 2-2.5 hours meant they were ready for a nap but not so overly tired that they were unable to sooth themselves.
Last bit, we did the method of giving them time to try to sooth themselves but not crying it out for any extended amount of time. We'd go in after 5 mins and rub theri back, give them a paci or just shhhhhhh them. No picking up. Then we'd let them be. If they started again, we'd go in after 10 mins.
They are REALLY awesome sleepers and that could just be their nature or maybe what they learned? Who knows......
But I do wish you luck! You need your time to regroup and so naps are just as important for them as they are for you!

charla & barry said...

All I can offer is my own experience, and that is that Henry was never a good napper no matter what the heck we did. We did CIO with him for naps and bedtime at 10months and it worked beautifully for bedtime, but not for naps. He would go to sleep on his own, but would still wake precisely 30 mins later. We tried putting him down earlier, later, drowsy, asleep, swaddled, unswaddled, white noise and no white noise. Nothing we did ever worked. He was clearly tired when he went down and clearly tired when he woke up, but he never slept more than 30 mins during the day (after CIO he was a GREAT nighttime sleeper and still is when he's not sick).

Once he learned to roll to his belly things got a bit better--he started napping 45 mins at a time instead of 30 mins. He eventually outgrew it and once he was able to stay awake for 4-5 hours he started taking one good nap a day, which is now typically 2-3 hours.

All this to say the only thing that worked for us was TIME. I almost drove myself insane trying to make him a better napper, insisting that it was my duty as a parent to help him learn to sleep even when it was clear nothing I was doing helped. My husband begged me to let it go and try to go with the flow, but I couldn't. In hindsight I wish I'd been able to be more relaxed about because it would've allowed me to enjoy that time in his life more.

So I totally know what it's like to want so badly to help them and not be able to. It's terrible and I feel badly that you're going through it. I wish there was something I could tell you to make it better.

Eleanor is also a terrible napper and this time I'm learning to embrace it. I'm looking at is as an opportunity for us to be more flexible as a family...since she won't nap for more than 30 mins either I don't drive myself crazy and just let her catch a nap in the car, etc. I'm not chaining myself to the house this time in some futile effort to make her nap!

I hope it gets better for you, but if it doesn't try to find some silver lining and go with it!

Dana said...

I honestly think it would be easier on Jack to just do the Ferber method. Obviously, I'm a huge Ferber fan, but having read it and most all the other 'big name' sleep books out there, he still gets my vote. He will learn such a valuable lesson, and a well rested baby is a happy baby. For most babies, its a three day process...Whatever you do, good luck!

charla & barry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

We had a similar problem with our son. We tried everything and nothing worked. CIO wasn't even an option because he would cry for hours (literally, hours!) on end without falling asleep if we'd let him. We didn't. I ended up crying too and then there were two inconsolable people in our house instead of just one! It's essentially trading one evil for another, but have you tried letting him sleep in his swing? Will finally got to the point where he couldn't sleep unless I was rocking/holding him (his first choose, by far) or he was swinging. At least in the swing he was asleep and I had free hands for a minute. I'd like to think I had something to do with it, but I think eventually nature just ran it's course and he was finally able to get substantial sleep in his crib. Hang in there! When you're struggling through something like this I think it helps to know others have been there too!

OrangeChoc said...

Did you ever try having your baby sleep in bed with you? Thats all they want for a good night sleep, to be with their mother. I wouldn't like to be sleeping on my own in my own room away from my mother as a baby.
Even now, would you prefer to sleep with your husband or on your own? Why let a baby sleep on their own?
We as animals are not meant to be born and detached like that at any time of the day from our mothers.