Friday, July 17, 2009

Baby Books and Sleep Solutions

All right guys who read this blog, you may want to turn away now because unless you have children, you're probably going to be lost. I promise to write something amusing and mildly controversial for you in a future post.

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.


Amanda said...

Okay, I didn't realize that babies like Ellie truly existed! What a dream!

Olivia has only ONE time put herself to sleep without being swaddled and rocked, worn, nursed, or put in the swing and that was at the restaurant in Baltimore when I was carrying her. And, I too, have battled with myself and David over how to fix that "problem." I read The Baby Whisperer and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I liked that TBW had a schedule, but wasn't extremely strict. (I have heard nothing but bad things about Babywise from our pediatrician, our childbirth educator and friends. Although, my SIL and another friend used it and loved it.) The HSH,HC book was a little more my speed, probably because it said that I could nurture my child with nursing, swinging, wearing, etc...all the things that FEEL like the right thing to do when my baby cries. The book also seemed to say that most babies don't have that ability to put themselves to sleep until they are about 4 months old.

When I went in to see my pediatrician for Olivia's 2 month check-up, I talked to him about Olivia's sleep habits. I told him that I was currently using the "rock her to sleep and place her in her crib tip-toeing out of the room" method. And, much to my surprise, he said that was a great method to use for at least the first 6 months. (He also mentioned that he is a big softie.) And, you know what, I am okay with that. It's rough, and I can't say that if I had another one to look after that I could do the same thing, but for now, I feel like she is so small and so needy and that it's MY job to make sure each of her needs are met. If she's crying, something is bothering her. Like my doctor said, she doesn't have the capability to manipulate us yet.

That being said, there are DEFINITELY days/nights where I question if I am doing the right thing or even how much longer I can keep this up. Olivia has had 6 nights where she slept through the night and it was glorious. She used to sleep for a good 4-5 hour stretch and is now back to sleeping no more than 2 hours in her crib at night. (I blame that on the fact that we have traveled so much and she was used to sleeping in the bed with us and is now on her own. That, or she is going through a growth spurt. Or, maybe she just loves my milk.)

HSH,HC also talked about how it wasn't necessarily a good sleep for a baby if their sleep was "motion" sleep. (Sleeping in a stroller, a swing, or carrier.) My pediatrician told me it was totally fine for her to sleep in any of those...she particularly enjoys sleeping in her swing and will take a nice long nap in it in the mornings. It has become a lifesaver for us on nights where she won't sleep in her crib. So, I highly recommend getting one off of craigslist. (We have the FP Cradle swing that swings both ways.)

So, I can't really give you any advice on anything...I'm actually hoping I can learn something from what others post. I've emailed you a white noise track and will email you a couple more if you want. I'm going to try to play those tonight when she sleeps and see if that helps.

But, I do agree with you on the "cry it out" method. I just can't do it. It breaks my heart. I hope that by the time she is 6 months old, she will be able to put herself to sleep easier. Jill, Ari is ten weeks old. TEN WEEKS OLD. She's sooo young. Think about when she was inside you - 10 weeks old and so fragile. It's the same now that she is in a new home. One that's even bigger and more stimulating and scarier. I wonder if we already ask too much of them?

I love you and your babies. I'm glad that I know I can text you during those night feedings and we can commiserate together. Good luck.

Cassie Knepp said...

I know I don't normally leave a comment, but this is something that I am passionate about. I have been doing the Babywise schedule with Owen. Only I am doing the "Preparation for Parenting" version. Same authors Gary and Anne Marie Izzo, but this version has bible verses that explain the scheduling method they have outlined. I started Owen on this schedule when he was around 7 weeks. By 9 weeks he was sleeping through the night! Of course it was only 5 or 6 hours through the night, but it was still better then when he was getting up every 2. Now he is 15 weeks and sleeps 7 to 10 hours at night. He was also breastfed. The book says that until they are 12 weeks they shouldn't go longer than 5 hours without eating anyway when they are breastfed. But, its no joke that this scheduling method works. I love it. And Owen is a happy baby. He doesn't cry when he is awake. He simply gets fussy when it is time for his nap. Babywise does want you to let them cry when you put them down for a nap, but never longer than 15 minutes without checking on them, and it teaches you what crys sound like that you should check on immediatly. The first time I put Owen down for a nap on this schedule he went to sleep on his own after crying for exactly 15 minutes. And he slept for about an hour and a half!! You really need to look into at least reading the series. I love it.

Jillian said...

@ Amanda, you are truly one of my nearest and dearest and I love you to tears. I am so thankful that we are sharing this experience together! That being said, I will share any information with you that I find helpful.

@Cassie, HEY cuz! Thanks for commenting. I have heard so many people swear by BW that I feel it is worth giving it a read. So, I will. But on the same token and with the utmost respect to your opinion, do you ever wonder if he just cried so long and when no one responded he gave up and slept out of sheer exhaustion? When I try to put myself in their tiny, little shoes I would not want to go to sleep that way, but I understand how it works for many parents.

On another note, after my efforts today, she ended up sleeping for over two hours! I had to go and wake her up, now she is playing happily in her seat. YAY!

Marissa and Scott said...

Hi Jillian,

I'm Marissa, Amanda and Lauren's SIL. I used Babywise with both of my boys and they were both sleeping through the night (well, 5 - 6 hour stretches) really young (10weeks). That being said, I didn't follow Babywise exactly, but just took the basic principles and stuck to them. The cycle they use is Feed, Wake Time, then Sleep. They say not to feed a baby to get them to sleep b/c then they won't know how to go to bed on their own. I let them cry it out (checking on them every five minutes or so and soothing them, but not picking them up). But if they cried for too long I just scrapped it and picked them up and tried again later.

I just kept them on the feed, wake time, sleep schedule for a while and one night they just didn't wake up for their night-time feeding. It was like magic. Some people don't like it, but I've found the Babywise thing to be the savior of my sanity both times I had children. My friend gave it to me after my oldest was born (she already had 4 kids by then) and she told me that she'd wished someone had told her about it before her 3rd child.

After the night sleeping came around, putting them down for naps got easier too. Sometimes they would whimper or whine for a few minutes, but soon they'd just go into the crib without complaint and fall asleep on their own. Can't say enough how much this saved my sanity.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.