Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Baby’s Sleep Diary – Day 1 (and a book review)

As some of my readers (meaning those who are family) most likely already know, we have been having sleep issues with Joey for some time now. Up until now we have taken the wait and see approach, hoping he would start sleeping through the night again sooner rather than later.  This has proven to be a rather useless approach to solving the problem.  I was reading an article the other day online about Dr. Richard Ferber’s techniques and I was very surprised to learn that, contrary to popular belief, he does NOT endorse  leaving a child to “cry-it-out”.  As I read more about his methods, I began to wonder of maybe they would work for us. 
So I went to Border’s and bought the book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems and read it.  It is a very involved, lengthy read to get the most out of the information covered, but it only took me 2 days to get through it and develop a plan of action.
The first thing I learned was that Joey had developed some detrimental sleep associations which were preventing him from falling asleep on his own and going back to sleep on his own when he woke at night.  I also learned how to take care of those issues by using the “progressive waiting approach”.  I also learned about sleep cycles and circadian rhythms, and how they can affect how a child sleeps.  Then I went on to find out that all those nighttime feedings we have been treating little Joseph to were doing more harm than good.
So I plotted a course.  Our goals were to:
  • teach Joey to fall asleep on his own, in his crib, at roughly the same time every night, and as a result wake at roughly the same time each morning.
  • teach Joey to fall back to sleep on his own when he wakes at night so that he doesn’t wake as fully.
  • as a result of the above goals, teach Joey to take his nap(s) at the same time(s) each day and to get to sleep on his own in his crib.
  • develop a healthy bedtime routine and new sleep associations.
  • gradually eliminate feedings until morning
  • to develop and overall healthy sleep schedule.
We decided on this nighttime routine:
Routine starts 1 hour prior to bedtime, around 10-10:30 pm. Start with a warm bath (20 min), followed by playtime with mom or dad (25 min). Then cuddle in bed with mom or dad and a bottle for a story or song (10 min). Then lights out. Say goodnight to mom and dad. Go to sleep. Sleepy time environment is lights off, nightlight, fan running, and pacifier nearby.
So we started implementing these new approaches last night, and I am happy to report that it went very well! It is hard to believe that we are already seeing a great improvement!  Even though it was really, REALLY hard to let him cry at bedtime, it was only for short periods of time.  It helped that we had such a good time with our new routine.  He had lots of giggly, tickly playtime with Daddy, splashed in the tub, and then read a story with Mommy while he drank his nighttime bottle. 
The first time we left his room we had to wait 3 minutes before going in to comfort him.  That was pretty easy.  The next time was 5 minutes and was a bit harder because he began to really cry after the first couple of minutes.  That doesn’t happen very often around here so it was hard to sit and listen to.  The third time we had to wait 10 whole minutes until we could comfort him!  But we never had to! He was asleep within a few minutes!
As for the feedings, our plan required slowly increasing the minimum amount of time between feedings as we slowly decreased the amount we allowed him to have at each feeding.  Lately he has been drinking anywhere from 8 oz to 12 oz of formula overnight.  This was in small amounts ever 1.5 to 2 hours.
So how exactly did the evening play out?  Well I am pleased to report that after falling asleep on his own at 11pm (25 minutes after laying him down) he stayed asleep until 3:45am, when he was given 2 oz of formula and went right back to sleep.  He woke again at 6:20 and had another 2 oz and again went right back to sleep.  He then slept for another 2 hours and woke up around 8:30am.  So he slept a grand total of 9.5 hours, waking twice and eating 4 oz of formula.  That is a huge improvement!
Right now he is taking his second nap in which, like his first, he was laid in his crib and fell asleep on his own, without any fussing!  He has been a relatively happy boy all day and has been a joy to be around.  Not that he isn’t usually, but I am usually exhausted and not as able to enjoy him!
Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend this book!  Do not let what you may have heard about Dr. Ferber’s methods scare you off as I did at first.  The only way to know if his recommendations could work for your child is to read the book then decide if you are willing to try them out for yourself!  There are a lot of once desperate, exhausted parents who will swear by his methods!
I am really excited to see how things go tonight!  I will keep you posted!



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