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Fighting the Sleep War

By January 20, 2011No Comments

by: Emma Aguirre
January 20, 2011
Week 13

We have the won the sleep war. Well, for this week.

We were back on the 7:30-4:30 schedule following the holiday hooha. But this week, my daughter became nap resistant, fussy before bed, and was waking up again at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3:30 a.m.…it was not pleasant for anyone involved. My husband & I started bickering at 4 a.m. and woke up a few hours later angry and exhausted several mornings in a row. So, I bought my first parenting book. We all know how I feel about parenting books.

What grabbed me was the subtitle – “The Exhausted Parents Guide To Getting Your Child To Sleep From Birth to Age 5.” Sold.

It’s called the Sleep Easy Solution, and hailed by actors Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor and Greg Kinnear and many pediatricians. The book was written by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, both psychotherapists, and co-founders of Sleepy Planet, a sleep consulting company. They are the sleep experts on Jim Henson’s Pajanimals, and have appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America. I hadn’t heard of them, but it sure sounds impressive. A close second was Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I have a friend who bought the twin version of his book and her 10 month old boys are now happily sleeping through the night and it took about a week.

It doesn’t condone one method of sleep training which I like, but wants you to perfect the “Least-Cry Approach” as opposed to the “Cry It Out” & “No cry” approaches. It has worksheets so the parent can see what the child needs to sleep and what is preventing that from happening. It has a Crying 101 section specifically for the middle of the night wake ups/crying episodes, which I also liked when you just need to know why it’s happening and how you can get it to stop. And it’s so simple…the authors explain how important it is to put the child down sleepy buy not asleep (which I did know, but it’s easier said than done!). They also explain that a baby might begin to associate sleep with food, if she gets fed every time she wakes up in the night. Eventually, they will wake up earlier and earlier expecting food, which is exactly what was happening in our house. If they fall asleep at the breast, or on the bottle and they wake up, of course the child will scream in shock – last time they were awake they were safe & warm lying in mommy’s arms eating dinner and now they are in a dark room alone. I would probably be mad too. It has a wonderful section for working parents, for co-sleeping families…and it’s honest. In the intro the authors say, if you need help now, chapters two and three will tell you everything you need to know. It’s just a very well rounded book & I believe there is a website too.

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So, last night I started the routine early. I decided what needed to happen in what order and simply did it. We started about 30 minutes earlier than usual so I could take time to read a story or two, to give that sweet baby massage (thanks to the tips learned in Tara’s Mommy & Me Yoga class!), and really enjoy winding her down. It was pleasant and I was calm, which I know she picked up on.

The time came to actually put her in the crib. She drained her bottle, the white noise was on, the room was dark, she was semi-swaddled (another thing we’re working on, and is working very well. I think she was fighting to get out of our perfected-straight-jacket swaddle and waking herself up. I read that babies after four months don’t really get the same benefit from being swaddled as a newborn, so I think this is a good thing. One “expert” even went so far as to say it can be detrimental to their development after four months because they need to move around and work those muscles. I think that’s a bit extreme. She seems happy.) … I put her down, I gave her the pacifier, kissed her good night and left the room. She was so calm. But, within 10 minutes she was moaning so I decided to nip it in the bud before it became a full on crying fit. I did not give her the pacifier back, as the book says if she wakes up without it, that will cause her to be upset (makes so much sense to me now!). If she needs soothing she will find her fingers (her fingers spend more time in her mouth these days….).

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At 11 p.m., before I went to bed, I made a little 3oz bottle for the “dream feed”. Because she’s only thirteen weeks she still needs that extra night feeding, but the book covers how to wean an older child off of a night feeding completely. I gently lifted her out of the crib and fed her. She was a bit shocked at first, spat up a bit, but she quickly realized it was there for the taking and finished it. I gently burped her and put her back down.

And at 7:30 a.m. this morning we decided to wake her.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am/was to get a solid block of sleep! The things it does for morale ☺! She may have won a few battles this week – we were picking her up, rocking her, giving the pacifier all night etc., etc., – but we have definitely won the war. I’m learning that flexibility is so important with babies. Bath & bed time used to be my husband’s job, and while he’s sad that he won’t get to spend so much time with her in the evenings, as she’ll be going to bed when he gets home, the time he does have with her will be so much happier. And just as when things get tough, we as mom’s have to remember “This is just a phase”…the good times are also “Just a phase”…as parents we’ll be presented with all kinds of trials and tribulations, moments of utter bewilderment and panic. But for now I’m just going to revel in my success (and pray for another great night of sleep!!).

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