Monday, June 13, 2011

Sleep Training

I figured today I would share with you Mommies how we are "sleep training" Nathan. We have our nightly bedtime routine down and it works! (Hooray!) What is it? Simple.

Bath. Bottle. Bed.

The bath calms him down and I like feeding him right before bed so he is full, calm, and sleepy so I'll have more time before he is ready to eat again. It helps!

Once we got that settled, the next problem we had was getting him back to sleep in his own bed after his midnight feeding. I had been having trouble getting him to stay asleep for more than 10 minutes in his cradle after I finished feeding him. He would wake and cry and, after checking his diaper and making sure everything was fine, I would eventually just get him out and put him on my chest and sleep that way. The same would happen with his 3 a.m. feeding. But after watching him carefully, we figured out what he likes - his tummy! And I am ever so glad that Nathan is big enough and strong enough for this to happen. At three and half weeks old, we let him sleep on his tummy for the first time. Many would be quick to jump and argue, but I have a rule of thumb to go by as a mother: Pray and follow your God-given instincts. YOU know your child. Professionals can have plenty of opinions and usually they vary according to their own beliefs. So, be smart, know your child, and decide for yourself as to how you will train them and raise them. For us, this works. Nathan, from day one, had a strong neck and back. After three weeks, I noticed him lifting his head up constantly when he was on my chest. After watching him closely, seeing how he was sooooo much happier on his tummy and, more importantly, able to lift himself up easily, Grant and I prayed about it and began letting him take naps from time to time on his tummy. Now, at two months old, that is the way he sleeps 80% of the time. Since we began turning him over to his tummy after his midnight feeding, he started putting himself back to sleep by himself.

Another area of sleeping that we have established is teaching him to put himself asleep....alone. There are plenty of times Grant or I will cuddle him and put him to sleep while we rock him or hold him close. But there are also plenty of times when we will deliberately lay him down while he is awake, giving him the opportunity to teach himself to be self-sustained. There are times when this works wonderfully...and there are times when it is difficult.

This is particularly hard when Nathan is tired but adamant about NOT sleeping. One night in particular, Grant was late coming home and so I would be putting Nathan down alone. We did our "bath, bottle, bed" routine and I laid him down when he was awake. Needless to say, he was not happy about it. I picked him up and tried to rock him to sleep. Still not happy. Still not cooperative. In this case, I felt it was time to teach him that bedtime was bedtime. I laid him in his bed, kissed him, and walked out. He cried and screamed and, from time to time, I'd go in, talk to him calmly, pull his covers back over him and leave again. I was not going to rescue him from his bed. It was time for sleep. After quite a while, he finally settled down and put himself to sleep. I have had to do this two other times but I have noticed that the amount of time he cries is less every time. It works. :)

One area of sleep training that I jumped on immediately is teaching him to sleep anywhere. Since we travel, I knew that he would have to be able to sleep in his car seat, in his bed, in people's arms, in various other mats and beds, etc. So with each nap, I would try to put him somewhere different. On the his his my lap...etc. He has always been able to sleep in his car seat so I have never spent time putting him in there while at home. So far, I haven't had any trouble. Every baby is different, but I would recommend trying this technique to see if it works for your baby. One different place per nap. I'm not sure if my training is the reason behind it or if it is his personality and temperament, but Nathan can sleep pretty much anywhere.

Training, training. training.

Nathan schedule has changed in the last few weeks. Where he was taking many naps each day and waking every three hours to feed, now he usually takes two long naps and two short naps during the day. And for the past week, he has slept all night, waking each morning at 7 a.m. I am waiting to see if this will be consistent. If so, it will be wonderful! Due to Grant's and my schedule, and the fact that we travel, sometimes it is hard to give him the naps he needs during the day or put him down at 8:30 or 9:15 p.m. Sometimes we have to toss our routine out the window, but I actually like that we do this every now and then. I want Nathan to learn to be flexible. As a general rule, he has a schedule and will always have a schedule. Grant and I believe it is important for our children to have a routine. But I am glad that a little spontaneity will be had from time to time, teaching Nathan that, sometimes, plans change and we must go with the flow. That's good life training!

So there is what I have learned so far in regards to sleep training. :) Hope it is helpful to you mommies as well!


Rachelle said...

You are doing GREAT with this!! :D

Lisa said...

Praying for you...and I am sure you are a fantastic mother! <3

Anonymous said...

I am a Mumma of 6, and my sixth baby, who is now 8 months old doesn't sleep through the night, while my first 5 were all sleeping through by the time they were 3 months old. And I scheduled them.

But the surprising thing for me, is that although I greatly miss a full nights sleep, I actually have milk for this baby. This one is demand fed, (more or less), and I have a milk abundance, while I lost my milk for all my other babies, very early on. I'm still leaking this time - (sorry for the graphic).

I can't figure out what is 'the' way to go, so I guess I'll just reiterate what Kristen said... We know our own babies..... good for you Kristen, I think you're doing great.

Stephanie said...

I'm glad to see another Mommy who isn't freaked out completely by tummy sleeping. When my son was in the first stages of sleep training he took one great nap a day and the rest were just awful. And he had a hard time getting to sleep at night. I finally figured out that the one nap that was great he was sleeping on his tummy. As soon as I let him sleep on his tummy 100% of the time, he became a dream baby, and slept SO great! Once he learned to roll over he of course had some trouble with naps because he wasn't used to sleeping on his back, but it only took him a few days and he got to where he preferred his back. Anyways, just wanted to say you're doing it right, keep up the good work. I've sleep trained both my kids and it works wonders and sets the stage for their behavior in the upcoming months.

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