Posts Tagged ‘controlled crying’

Baby sleep update

June 17, 2013

So three days after we started sleep training with Baby how are things going? No clear conclusion at the moment. There are some great times when he settles in the cot very happily. And some crappy times when he gets very frustrated and upset.

I’m kind of making this up as I go along but what we are doing is:

– A brief bedtime routine prior to going in cot.
– Then into the cot.
– Hopefully falling asleep easily and calmly.
– Me or his daddy staying with him if he gets upset. We’re in the room but not in his face and murmur soothing words from time to time so he knows he’s not alone. If he gets very upset we pick him up (a la the Baby Whisperer) but this hasn’t been needed yet.
– At nap time if he’s not settled after an hour I get him up and try to get him to sleep in the sling or car. Anything but feeding to sleep really.

This last rule came from this website. I’m actually not convinced it is helpful. His falling asleep was rapidly improving till I did this today. And then the day was totally rubbish. I fear that he’s now just waiting on the sling as his preferred option. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it?

He has fussed a lot and cried a fair amount too. But not as much as I’d feared. He seems frustrated and tired but not desperate or scared. He has settled himself to sleep in the past and has done so this week. So I know he can do it. He also seems fine in his awake time and not upset or anything. I’m therefore reasonably ok with this approach we’ve adopted and we’re going to stick it out a bit longer.

In terms of breastfeeding I’ve been feeding him when he is hungry which has worked out to be 3-4 hourly. At night he’s gone 8-9 hours without food but then he’s not resettled after what should be a middle of night feeding. So some very early starts! I have resisted feeding before naps as they are usually only an hour or so since he last fed. He doesn’t seem hungry at that point bit prior to our change he would have fed to get to sleep. However my foremilk/hindmilk issues seem to have returned almost immediately I dropped these pre-nap feeds – he did four poos today (after doing only one a day all last week.) So I may need to do a pre-nap feed after all (waking him up after of course!) This might help relax him too which would be good so long as he doesn’t feed to sleep.

What I really need to get sorted is feeding him from a bottle. My milk supply is poor in the evening and his final feed takes about 90 minutes. This is ridiculous and means he’s missing out on valuable sleep time. If he would only take a bottle this would help enormously. But despite trying nightly so far we’re getting nowhere.

So that’s the latest. Hopefully my next sleep post will contain better news

Crying to sleep :-(

June 15, 2013

Well that was unexpected. We ended up using a form of controlled crying last night to help three month old Baby sleep.

It is astounding how quickly he became totally dependent on breastfeeding to sleep. Last night I fed him for an hour before he dozed off and went to bed. And then woke up and wanted more food. And then woke up etc etc. He also woke within minutes of being rocked to sleep too. It was gone midnight when I decided we needed to do this as otherwise I think it’d have happened all night. He had been feeding/sleeping/waking in a cycle for three hours with at most 45 minutes sleep and usually five minutes. Given the feed to sleep history of the last week or so I knew this was the issue. And didn’t want a night of on off feeding/sleeping to reinforce it further.

He has fed to sleep from birth with the exception of a few weeks where he would self settle after I helped him transition in a virtually cry free way. But very soon old habits crept in and this no longer worked. I would have liked to use a more gentle method but his ‘addiction’ was rapidly destroying all his good sleep habits. Naps were shortening. He was exhausted. And when his night sleep (previously good at one or two wakings in a ten hour stretch) went I wanted to act quickly.

So we did it. Having read this excellent blog, which I wrote about yesterday, I knew that I didn’t want to leave him. I wasn’t going to let him cry alone. But I also wasn’t going to feed him to sleep. Or rock him. I put him in his cot and lay on the bed next to him. When he cried ( and he did!) I spoke softly so he knew I was there. And occasionally stroked his tummy. I was going to pick him up for a short while should he get hysterical but didn’t feel this was needed in the end.

He cried for an hour and fifteen minutes poor love. A long time and it wasn’t nice. But I was surprised that it wasn’t truly awful either. At no point did he seem desperate or fearful. He was angry and no doubt very unhappy. He was tired and I wasn’t doing the usual thing of feeding him. What was going on? But what I felt from him was frustration not despair and that is an important difference I feel.

This was never about him sleeping through the night. He has been waking once or twice a night since being a month old. And I would have happily fed him from 3.30am which is his usual wake up time. But actually this wasn’t required. He slept from 1.30am to 9.30am with no waking. This was probably due to exhaustion and being full from three hours of on-off feeding. But I felt vindicated in retrospect that he wasn’t hungry – just tired and unable to sleep without a boob in his mouth.

So what next? He’s a big and growing boy and I don’t want to deny him any milk he is hungry for. But I can no longer let him feed to sleep. I like the EASY routine but think it might take us back to the hindmilk/foremilk imbalance issues we had. So for now I will also offer the boob before a nap if I think he might be hungry. But with this subtle change in routine. After the pre-nap feed I’ll change his nappy and wipe his face to ensure he is awake. We’ll then get into sleeping bag, have a quick story and then get in bed. So absolutely no risk of feeding to sleep. For bedtime this is harder. My supply is rubbish then and I need to feel confident he is well fed. I’d love to introduce a bottle of formula for bedtime. But (like his brother) he is being very resistant at the moment. But we’ll keep offering and hopefully one day soon he’ll take it.

Argh! What a night. Am knackered. He slept ok (at last) but I didn’t. It was too stressful and unpleasant for that! Here’s hoping he soon gets back on track.

Applying science to Baby’s sleep

June 14, 2013

Have been reading around the web in an attempt to solve our baby sleep issues. For now I am feeding Baby before each nap. However he is only taking super short 45 minute naps (cos when he stirs the boob isn’t there.) Plus there are times he is tired but not at all hungry which mean no sleep… The overall result is a tired and grouchy Baby who is getting about three hours less daytime sleep than he needs. Plus the prospect of even more night feeds as he unlearns how to sleep longer nighttime stretches. So this isn’t a long term solution.

In my Internet travels I’ve come across a fab blog by a mum who is also a scientist. She has read lots of studies on baby sleep and shares her views on her blog. I particularly liked her post called ‘6 little secrets of a sleeping baby’. I won’t re-blog it all but a couple of bits stood out for me.

On crying and self-soothing…

I believed that my success as a mother was tied to my ability to stop my baby’s cries, as quickly as possible. If she cried, I felt that I was failing…. There is a significant body of research that shows that infants will learn to self-soothe if given the chance. As a new mother, I wish that I had paused to listen before jumping to stop BabyC’s cries and, in doing so, perhaps given her a chance to develop her own ways of soothing. I wish that I had thought carefully about what my soothing techniques were teaching her about sleep. And I wish that, at least occasionally, I had given her the chance to try to fall asleep without my intervention. After all, she might have surprised me. It would have been easier for me to think clearly about these things if I had thought of my job as being to support my baby in learning how to sleep rather than being to stop the crying….BabyC cried because she was tired. I responded by distracting her with bounces until she was lulled to sleep. I now realize that what she needed was to be heard, not hushed. I am not suggesting that we should ignore babies’ cries – not at all – but simply that we be thoughtful about responding in a non-intrusive way that is consistent with how we want the baby to eventually learn to sleep. In reality, this may be just a small shift in our actions, but it is a huge shift in our intention, and it actually requires greater attention to our babies. I believe that this simple shift in thinking may have prevented the sleep problems we found down the road.

And on parental presence during sleep training…

Many sleep experts advise that extinction – letting babies cry-it-out without any reassurances – is the fastest way to good sleep and results in less crying in the long run. They’re probably right, but again, I think we need to stop measuring our success by minutes of crying. A more gradual approach may take longer and require more patience, but it is likely less stressful to the baby. A crying baby may be protesting, struggling to fall asleep in a new way, or frustrated by the change, but she is not necessarily in distress or despair. When we let our babies know that we hear them and acknowledge their emotions, they’ll probably keep telling us how they feel for a while, and that’s OK. Every baby is different, but I now believe that most babies benefit from a gradual approach with more parental support.

The author did use a cry-it-out approach with her baby and this clearly colours her views. Plus this seems to have involved only a few hours of crying in total. I think we went through that with Baby last week! Not to mention the bad experience we had with big brother Bub who cried for hours through weeks of sleep training. Ultimately there our success lay in preventing crying, not ignoring it, but only after he HAD learned to fall asleep without intervention at least sometimes.

I am still undecided about what we’ll do but this has given me some food for thought.

Feeding to sleep – no more (and no tears too!)

May 29, 2013

Am so pleased with our progress on three month old Baby’s sleep. I’ve gone from having to always feed him to sleep to popping him onto the bed awake and walking out after a very short time. His naps have also lengthened from 40 minutes or so to much longer – today he had one that was over three hours.

I was also very keen to avoid him having to cry it out. I tried (in desperation) a controlled crying approach with his older brother. I hated it and felt so disempowered. Having to ignore my instincts made me feel helpless. I really wanted to find another way.

So what did we do?

Firstly a few useful sleep facts which informed our approach. These are things I’ve read (mostly in the no cry sleep solution) and were reinforced by my experience with my two boys. Babies (and all people) stir frequently in their sleep. Usually this is between sleep cycles which in babies are around 40 minutes in length. The way babies fall asleep is often how they seek to go back to sleep when they stir between sleep cycles. So if a baby falls asleep in their bed on their own steam then after 40 minutes they’ll stir a little and almost always drop off for another cycle. All good. However if they are fed or rocked to sleep they are likely to stir after 40 minutes, wonder where they are, fret about where the boob/rocking has gone and wake up.

So armed with this knowledge I firstly tried to introduce a dummy. I hoped Baby could happily transition to falling asleep though sucking. But he wouldn’t take a dummy so this was not going to work.

Instead I started to rock him to sleep on my shoulder. I did this alongside introducing more of a routine so I could be assured that Baby wasn’t hungry when he was sleepy. At first he fussed A LOT before going to sleep. It wasn’t fun and took about twenty minutes for him to fall asleep in my arms. Once asleep I’d then put him down and he’d nap for (usually) 40 minutes.

Each time we did it he fell asleep faster. However it was back breaking stuff as he’s rather heavy. I had intended to gradually reduce the time I spent rocking etc. However after a week or so I was keen to move onto something else. By now he wasn’t looking for the breast to sleep. But he was still only taking a 40 minute nap.

It was more by luck than judgement that I found our next step. After rocking him for a while my back was aching and so I lay Baby on our double bed. I swaddled him and lay down next to him. When he fussed I put my hand on his tummy (whilst he was still in the swaddle) and rocked him gently back and forwards (more like side to side really.) Again he wasn’t all that happy but he fussed a bit, calmed down and eventually dozed off. My arm ached dreadfully but we’d done it – he’s fallen asleep on the bed!

Having done it once I was determined to carry on. Each time he went to sleep like this is was easier and he went to sleep with less fuss. I would swaddle him and jiggle him when he fussed. When he was calm I reduced the jiggling and just left my hand on his tummy. If for whatever reason he was fussier than usual then I found doing the jiggle and a shh-ing sound helpful. (Rather like the Baby Whisperer’s shh/pat.)

After about a week of doing this for all naps at home we’ve reached a new stage. When he is tired I carry him into the bedroom and swaddle him on our bed. I stay for a minute or so with my hand on him and then leave. He’s still awake at this point. He looks around and then dozes off. And sleeps for AGES – usually at least 90 minutes and sometimes more.

Am so pleased with what we’ve achieved. He is getting the sleep he needs and I have time to focus on his brother. And no tears! Or backache!! Plus I can always revert to the earlier stages if needed. So if for whatever reason he is cranky and struggling to doze off I can do some jiggling or even rocking. All safe in the knowledge that there is a path back to him falling asleep unaided. Very unlike ‘cry it out’ and the main reason I found it so disempowering.

My next step is to put him in his cot rather than on our bed. Now he’s regularly falling asleep virtually unaided this should be fine. I used the bed to save my arms but now he barely needs my help and so I hope this will be ok.

Our bigger future challenge is to remove the swaddle. I intend to do this when he has better arm control and will no longer bash himself in the face after each sleep cycle as he tries to suck his fingers. I hope to do the transition gradually. However my fear is that his naps will shorten considerably. Any tips on doing this gratefully received!

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