Monday, October 5, 2009

Back Again and How We Got Our Baby to Sleep Through the Night

I fell off the updating wagon for a while there. Ace is now eight months and a lot has happened in his development since July. But it also seems as though not too much has happened and things are still kind of status quo, which is kind of nice.
Let's see what Ace can do now: roll over both ways, sit up unassisted, chew with his one bottom tooth, eat solid foods - both purees and chunks of things, stands pretty well with support, army crawls a bit, can grab things easily and is working on his pincer grasp. I think that's about it.
Oh, wait, the biggest thing: Ace sleeps through the night. At least he did until a week ago when we took a trip to NJ and messed up his sleeping routine a bit. At about five months I realized that he cried whenever he got tired, no matter if he was in his carseat, crib, or in my arms. I did some internet research and read on AskMoxie that some kids just need to let off some steam before falling asleep and will cry. You don't know if you have that kind of kid unless you let him cry a bit. So one day, I did. I let Ace cry for five minutes and after those five minutes he was so close to sleep that all I had to do was put the pacifier in again and he rolled over, grabbed his baby and fell asleep. I was besides myself with glee.
That is the super simplified version of what really happened. I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, The No Cry Sleep Solution, Sleepeasy Solution, The Sleep Lady, and Happiest Baby on the Block. I didn't follow any of them to the letter.
We have had a bedtime routine since three months: bath with dad, pyjamas, last nursing or bottle, books, bed. But he was still not letting us put him down awake. He would scream the moment we put him in the crib. We eased Ace towards falling asleep on his own and staying asleep through the night by following suggestions from The No Cry Sleep Solution. This involved a lot of participation from B. I think it is key to take Mom and the boobs out of the sleep and night time equation. B spent a few nights with the baby in the nursery to get an idea if the baby was really hungry or just waking up and wanting someone with him. The baby would go back to sleep with B comforting him, so we felt confident that it was not hunger and we could wean him off his night feedings and work toward a full night's sleep.
Then we used the night time weaning method from the SleepEasy book and used a modified Ferber/SleepEasy cry it out method. We got to the point where I could put Ace down in his crib, drowsy but awake, without him immediately starting to cry. Then we would leave the room. He would usually start crying and we'd give him five minutes. Then we would go back in and make sure he had his pacifier and his lovey and give him a pat and then leave. B would never let me stretch the time for Ace to cry longer than five minutes. Luckily Ace responded well to this and has been, mostly, sleeping through the night ever since. Occasionally something will happen that will interrupt his sleep schedule and he'll wake up screaming and won't go back down without being fed and maybe even rocked a bit, but it usually only lasts a few days and then he's back to sleeping from 7:30 pm until 7 am. It used to be closer to 7:30 am, but that stopped with daylight savings just recently. Up until just the last week I'd been doing a Dream Feed at 10:30, but I felt that Ace was ready to let that go and I didn't wean him from it, just dropped it and he did not have any reaction to that at all. Just kept sleeping.
Ace sleeping through the night changed my life - or changed it back to being more like it had been before baby. I find that I am a much happier, better mom and wife and person, really, if I am well rested.