Let Me Sleep On It

Filed under: baby's progress,thoughts — by Lex on April 19th, 2007 @ 9:07 pm

Anya has not historically been a superb sleeper.

For a long time, Anya needed to be swaddled tightly to sleep. She didn’t “sleep through the night” by any stretch; she often requested two feedings during the night.

Eventually, at our pediatrician’s recommendation, we tried to segue away from swaddling. Anya was less enthusiastic than I was about the process. We swaddled her with two arms out (i.e., swaddled only the torso/leg region), and that didn’t really work well. After 10 or 12 days, we tried one arm out, which worked a little better. But usually, by early morning hours, she needed the full swaddle for those last few hours of sleep.

Whether she one arm out or two, Anya needed a lot of help falling asleep without the full swaddling. This generally involved holding down her various wanting-to-flail appendages. (Sometimes, this could remind me of an old Daffy Ducky cartoon. If you held down her left arm, the right would pop up. Switch to the right arm, and the left pops up. Hold down both, and up the legs would fly.) Anya required a full court press to fall asleep; any flailing appendage would quickly rouse/startle her, and she’d start to cry.

This was no good.

After much debate, as Anya neared the 6th-month mark, Lauren and I decided to try a modern, adapted version of the Ferber method. The process began this past Sunday night.

That first night, we decided we wouldn’t hold her down. We’d say goodnight and leave the room, and allow her to cry for five minutes before re-entering, reassuring her we loved her and that she was safe and that flailure was not an option… And then leave the room again. And inevitable, reset the five-minute timer as the crying restarted.

After about 90 minutes on Sunday night, Anya fell asleep. During the night, she had several rough spots that were (of course!) rough on us as well — just waking up, reminding your brain how to work a timer, and understanding how one must move his legs to maneuver from our room to Anya’s takes considerably effort at 3am.

And it goes without saying that listening to your precious baby cry without rushing to comfort her is mentally, emotionally, and aurally challenging for any loving parent. So I won’t say it.

The first night was tough, but Anya did eventually fall asleep, and she got a decent amount of sleep during the night. And she went from about 11pm to about 6am without nursing.

The second night, we upped the timer to 10 minutes. Anya fell asleep in 45 minutes or so, and slept a little better overall. There were still several bleary-eyed crying bouts during the night, and Anya actually convinced her sleep parents to feed her even earlier than the day before. But on the whole, it was an improvement from the first night.

Since then, we’ve been upping the time before we go in to console her when she’s crying, and we actually increase the intervals during the night — she starts at 20 minutes tonight, and then it’ll be 25 minutes after that.

Last night, she fell asleep in about 20 minutes, awoke once during the night, and didn’t need any consolation — falling asleep on her own within about 8 minutes. And she went from 11pm to 7am before nursing.

We were pleasantly amazed with last night’s progress. You hope and hope and hope when you attempt something like this that it’s going to work. The only thing more guilt-inducing than letting your baby cry, is letting her cry and then having the sleep training not work. But things are definitely improving.

Lauren is not a fan of this process at all. She agrees that it’s working, but wishes it hadn’t come to this — that we had been able to train her to have good sleeping habits some other way. For the most part, I agree with Lauren. But what’s reassuring to me is the fact that each morning, Anya greets us with big smiles, and she is her happy laughing self all day long.

It’s not true, but I like to tell myself she’s thanking us for helping her to master sleep instead of “babying” her in that department. Lauren, on the other hand, thinks Anya is trying to woo us with cooing so that we won’t send her to the Crib-Time Torture Chamber again. 😉

One Response to “Let Me Sleep On It”

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