Friday, September 30, 2011

Sleep, Sweet Sleep!

I need sleep. Always have. Always will. It is just a way of life for me. Ideally, I'd get 9 hours every night. I survive on 7 to 8, but would be in sleep heaven if 9 hours could happen each and every night. With 3 small children, I often get asked if, or how, or what I do/did to sleep train my kids. Here's how we did it:
Buy the book 12 hours by 12 weeks. It is by Suzy Giordiani. She's amazing. If she walked into my house, I'd give her a great big bear hug. Yes, a huge hug for a stranger!
When Blake was 3 1/2 months old, I took him in for his baby check up. One of the questions the pediatrician asked was if he was sleeping through the night. At the time, he wasn't. He was still getting up twice to nurse. It was fine. He was our only child and I was okay with a little snuggle time with our little man.

Who could resist this little man when he was up in the middle of the night waiting to be nursed to sleep? I sure couldn't.

However, the pediatrician said we were being "worked" by our little man. Yep, he was beginning to own us. He said by 4 months, all babies can sleep through the night on their own. No extra formula or rice cereal, just sleep through the night. The key was to get them to eat all their food during the day. During waking hours.

I always thought I'd be a laid-back mom who just let her kids kindof dictate their own sleep/awake schedule. As long as it didn't interupt my life, it wasn't a big deal. Go to bed at 10? No biggie. Me having to wake them to go to work? Not a problem. He was happy and smiley, so it worked. Wrong.

I read the book and started to sleep train Blake.

Here are the keys:

  • 12 hours of sleep at night

  • regular feedings during the day

  • 3 hours in naps during the day

Not a problem. I read the book in a day. A few hours at most. It's a small book, but is SUPER helpful for training the parent how to train the child to sleep.

We were ready. I immediately "put" Blake on a sleep-awake-feed-sleep-awake-feed schedule. It says a child can be trained in a week to sleep 12 hours. For us, it took about that long, but by this time Blake was almost 4 months old. I remember the first night we put him to bed. It states to give the child 5 minutes of crying. Then if the child is still crying and hasn't calmed down at all, go in and reassure them by rubbing their back and talking quietly. No picking them up, no turning on the lights, etc. Easy-peasy. NOT.

Having your 1st baby scream bloody murder for 5 minutes is torture. Pure torture. Mike and I had to sit out on our front steps while he screamed so we wouldn't hear it and feel like the worst parents in the world. It was awful. But that was the 1st night.

Night and day #2 was better. Less crying, less tears, all was better.

By the 3rd night, miraculously he fussed for a bit, then fell asleep. He was still getting up at night, but I was working on getting him on a daily routine and trying to force him to eat more during the day. The nighttime feedings soon followed suit and dwindled down night by night. From 2 to 1 feedings and from 1 feeding for a few minutes to 1 feeding for 2 minutes.
It was working! We were succeeding at this parenting thing and it felt A-MA-ZING to sleep more than 3 hours at a time!

Literally, by the 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th night, he was sleeping through the night. It was insane. It was all us...parenting. Life lesson #1. Reflect on what you are doing and try to see if you are the cause of your child's behavior.

Boy, have we learned from this lesson as our children have gotten older

So...for 12 hours by 12 weeks. Makenna was 11 weeks and was sleeping through the night. Sleeping through the night to me means that the baby DOES. NOT. GET. UP. AT ALL. 12 hours. No waking. Fussing/fidgeting=okay, but I don't want to go in their bedroom for an entire 12 hours. Unless I want to see major cuteness!

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