Two weeks ago we shared our sleep troubles. Avery hadn’t been sleeping through the night in over a month, and we were running out of ideas and thinking about trying a new ‘method’ or ‘tactic’… and soon, because the lack of sleep was really getting to me. So, what progress have we made since then? Well, right about the time we shared our troubles, Avery came down with a cold. He was congested and having trouble sleeping because of it (only recently. It wasn’t the ’cause’ of our month of sleepless nights). We gave him a week and a half for it to subside before we tried our new strategy out.
Sleep Routine Changes:
1. Earlier bath time. Now that Avery is older and can ‘play’ during his bath, it’s not really a soothing activity to do before bed. So, on the nights he has a bath (every other night), he takes it right after dinner (6PMish), instead of right before bed.
2. Earlier quiet-down time. Right before bedtime, Avery gets in his PJs, nursery lights are turned off, nursery music put on, and he has his bedtime bottle at 7:15PM, while he is rocked and softly talked to.
3. Limit sing/rock time. After his bottle, he is sung to, and rocked, for a short period.
4. Put Avery down, AWAKE. Before he falls asleep, we put Avery down in his crib and say good-night. This way, he will learn to put himself to sleep… in hopes that he’ll soon learn to do that when he wakes in the middle of the night too.
5. Check on him. If Avery cries, we wait 3-5 minutes (while we listen to make sure it’s a normal cry and not a ‘hurt’ cry) before we go in and check on him. When we check on him, we readjust him (he rolls over or rotates in the crib), give him his pacifier, rub his head, don’t make eye contact (making eye contact gives him the impression that he’s missing something so he won’t want to go to sleep), and whisper ‘it’s nite-nite time’. We don’t pick him up. We typically only need to do this one or two times before he falls asleep.
6. Middle of the night. Avery will sleep for 4-5 hours before he wakes up in the middle of the night. When he does, I don’t rush in anymore. I wait 3-5 minutes before checking on him (repeat #5). A couple nights now, he’s cried for a minute or two, then put himself back to sleep! And he hasn’t needed to eat in the middle of the night for a while. Improvement!
7. Naps. Avery typically has 2 naps during the day… 1 morning & 1 afternoon, that last 1-2 hours. At daycare, they use the same method, so we are consistant.
8. Clutch-toy. I have been searching high and low for this toy/blanket that would be perfect as a ‘clutch’ bedtime toy (we have one somewhere…just can’t find it!). We’re supposed to have me sleep with it for a couple nights before giving it to Avery and that way it’ll have my ‘scent. ‘ Then if Avery wakes in the middle of the night, he can cuddle the toy and be comforted.
I hear that it takes a while, but after a bit, Avery will learn to fall asleep on his own when it’s bedtime and when he wakes in the middle of the night. How did we decide on these changes? Well, we used some great advice from friends and family, and implemented some of the tactics in the book ‘12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks.’ It preaches similar tactics as the Ferber Method and others I’ve read about.
Are we getting more sleep? Right now, no. I still wake when Avery cries, and lay awake listening to him cry, to make sure it’s not a ‘hurt’ cry and waiting the 3-5 minutes to go in. But hopefully this will pay off in the long run. I know it’s very important to teach a baby to fall asleep on their own and not have to rely on rocking and singing for a long time every night. So, we’re hopeful that we’re on the right track. Baby steps. Soon I’ll get more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep