So there's a ten week old baby at our house and she is NOTHING like my first child in any aspect other than those big doe eyes and skinny little legs. From the time Elsbeth was a few weeks old, I could swaddle her and put her to bed wide awake and she would put herself to sleep and sleep for several hours at a stretch. That was during the day. Sleeping through the night took awhile longer for us, I think because she was breast fed and I've heard breastfed babies need to eat more frequently. This wasn't a problem at the time though, because Jeremy was in Kuwait and I just let her sleep in bed with me and eat during the night whenever she became hungry. As any Mom who's done this will tell you, it's pretty awesome to nurse in bed. It's comfortable for me and the baby and I can pretty much drift back off to sleep.
Well, I thought the same method would work with this baby and that's when I realized that just like snowflakes, no two babies are alike. And this one is causing me some pretty big headaches. During the day, if we're out I carry her in a Mei Tei, an Asian style front carrier from baby hawk. She routinely falls asleep in this carrier which is kind of nice when I'm having lunch with a friend or shopping. Occasionally I can slip it off and put her in her cradle, but she usually doesn't stay asleep for very long that way. I feed her on demand which is usually every two to three hours although sometimes, especially in the evenings it's quite a bit more.
And then there's the evenings. She is very fussy at night and for a couple of weeks I wondered if she had colic. Nothing I did seemed to stop her crying. It wasn't an "I'm in pain" kind of cry, it was just an "I'm pissed" cry. Recently though, the evening crying has lessened but I'm still having much trouble getting her to fall asleep. I feed her, swaddle her, and then lay her down in a dark room with a relatively loud fan, and shhhhhhhhhh her until her eyes start rolling around in her head. Then I try to make my exit. It usually always ends in crying. I go back in, give her her pacifier which has most often fallen out, and try shhhhhhhhhing again with a combination butt pat. It has never worked. The crying escalates to the point where I think she's going to choke and I inevitably get in bed with her and nurse her to sleep and if I don't fall asleep myself, I make as quiet an exit as possible.
I have read The Baby Whisperer, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and Dr. Sears baby book. The only one I haven't read is Babywise which came recommended by a few friends. Here is where my struggles lie.
Dr. Sears is an advocate of attachment parenting, which encourages co-sleeping, babywearing, and other such methods of keeping baby physically near you. He makes the point that babies were near us physically for nine months and then we force them to lie in a dark room by themselves and push them around in strollers far from our bodies and this is not natural. He also points to cultures that routinely wear their babies and breastfeed several times an hour stating that there is little instance of colic and prolonged periods of crying. To that I say, it's all good and well to have your boobs exposed all day if you live in Africa, but it might draw some unwanted stares here.
From what I've heard, the Baby Whisperer is similar to Babywise in that they both advocate a schedule and a little "cry it out". Some things about the Baby Whisperer I like, but I am just not OK with crying. I know people who can let their children cry for over and hour, and I just can't. The thing that some may call Mother's intuition or the Mothering instinct sends up red flags when I hear my babies cry. I think when they're a little older short periods of crying are OK with "check ins" if needed.
So, here I am, torn between how to handle this needy baby while not betraying what my heart tells me to do. They're only small for so long; I don't mind rocking or holding her to sleep. I just want her to stay asleep for longer than 15 minutes without me having to lay next to her.
Here is what I propose to do. I plan to get serious about a schedule with her while still feeding her on demand during her awake periods during the day. For naps and during bedtime, I will swaddle and do the same sleep routine every time which will include the five S's of The Happiest Baby on the Block. I would truly appreciate any shared experiences from other Mother's (or Fathers for that matter) or advice. And it is my hope that if I am successful, this may benefit someone who is experiencing something similar.
UPDATE: As I have been in the process of writing this post, it is naptime and I decided to use it as my first attempt at my new plan. I fed her, swaddled her, gave her her pacifier, bounced and shhhhhhhed her until she was sleepy but not asleep. And then I put her in bed. She was quiet for about 10 minutes at which point she started crying. I let it escalate slightly and then went in and gave her the pacifier and shhhhhed her; she fell back asleep. She awoke a couple more times and I repeated the process, and to my great relief, she has now been asleep for over 30 minutes. This just may work. Now, we'll just have to see about night time.