Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Adventures in sleep training

If you read our blog regularly, you’ll remember this post from last week about our adventures in the land of no sleep. Well, I guess that’s not really fair. Little E would go down great for the first sleep cycle (usually from 7:30-11:30ish), wake to eat and then back to sleep. For about an hour. and then she’d wake up for no reason (not hungry, dry diaper, etc.) I’d go in and rock her back to sleep and we’d be in the same boat an hour or so later until she woke for her next feeding (usually around 3:30am) and then fall asleep again until around 5:30am.  I’ve read a decent amount about habitual night wakings, and it seemed that we were firmly planted here. Since B and I are both working full time, this "schedule" she had worked herself into wasn’t working for mom & dad so we set about trying different methods.
First adventure: the dream feed. For those that don’t know what that is, you put the baby down at their normal bedtime and then feed her before you go to bed, in the hopes that they sleep through their normal wake up time of needing to eat. You quietly pick them up, feed in silence and as soon as they are finished, lay them back down to sleep. In theory this is great, but when you have a hyper-aware wide eyed child, trying to keep her asleep proved to be a challenge. Esp. for B since he had to feed her a bottle. She’s always eaten well from a bottle, but with these awake dream feeds, the milk would come out of the bottle so fast that it would wake her up and the whole process was for nothing. We did this song and dance for 5 days and B told me one morning that we weren’t doing it anymore.  and that was the end of that adventure! (to be honest, it wasn't working so this was the right call!)
Second adventure: un-swaddling. Since she was born, E has been swaddled into a tight burrito every night. Only recently has she started to protest, and a few times a week she’d work one or both arms out of the swaddle. I had done a decent amount of reading, and everything said that once they started to break out of the swaddle on a regular basis, it was time to transition out of it. The thought of this made me nervous though, because instead of being in control of her arms, she flails them around like a human windmill, often hitting herself in the face. We had tried to unswaddle one arm when she was 9 weeks old and after multiple hits to the face and waking herself up, we gave up and made her into a full burrito again.  Our most recent attempt at un-swaddling one of her arms was this past Friday and we were surprised with what happened- she did great! However, on Saturday night, she still broke her other arm free, so I (with GREAT trepidation) unswaddled both arms for the rest of the night. Again, she did great! I wrapped the swaddle around her bottom half (see photo) and she slept like this for most of the night.  
To continue with the transition out of her swaddle, we decided to give the sleep sack that we got from Aunt Stephanie a try.  I was nervous bc it looked so big, but after the velcro on the swaddle wouldn't stay put on her tiny mid-section, i didnt have a choice. We used it for naps on Sunday, and she did great through all of them and into the night, and we haven't looked back!
Third adventure: moderate CIO (cry it out). This whole CIO method is a heated debate for a lot of people, but i think that in the right situations, it can work well.  I know in the grand scheme of things, E is way to little to let her cry for any extended period of time.  Again, i had read that letting them cry a few minutes and then going to check/soothe quickly and then trying again was beneficial in some cases.  Given her age, B and I talked about it, and decided that 5 minutes was long enough to let her cry and then go and soothe her.  We prepared ourselves for the heartache of watching our precious baby cry (and watching through the video monitor) but it was soo hard!  the first night she cried for 45 minutes (in 5 minute incriments) and then fell asleep. (yes i cried the majority of the time as well)  Each night wake that she had (not food related) we did the same process, and with both wakings, she needed to be soothed twice and then fell asleep.  Saturday night, she fell asleep with little protest and her night wakings each required two soothing times.  on Sunday, her naps had begun to follow the same suit, but only required one soothing. She fusses/cries for 5 minutes and then falls asleep with little issues.  Last night, was drowsy after eating and then fell right to sleep when i laid her in the crib!
I have heard of babies who like to fall asleep on their own, and it seems E is rapidly becoming one of these.  When she is done eating, she wants nothing to do with me (and makes it known. loudly.).  when i put her in the crib, she may fuss for a few minutes but puts herself to sleep easier each night. 
As hard as these changes have been for us to make, we know they are necessary steps to take for E to develop good sleeping habits, and for us to regain our sanity. While we have made great strides in the sleep department, we know we still have a ways to go.  But believe me, I say thankful prayers each night that things have gone smoothly thus far, and that things will continue to get better.
As a result of her better sleeping at night, we are greeted with a happier baby in the morning.  And really, lets be honest, who doesn't love a large grin from an adorable baby? ;)

our adventures in sleep training haven't been as painful as i anticipated, and i know that we can still have sleep regressions, but I am so thankful for the progress that we've made so far.  And as a mommy, I'm so proud that E is growing up and starting to develop habits on her own!
I'll update again soon :)


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