How’s that for a title? Doesn’t it sound like I should be selling something? Well, I’m not. It is only that I have discovered a great little book that has shed some light on a most frustrating aspect of parenting.
As attachment parents, we have always co-slept with our children. I love the security (including the diminished risk of SIDS), the closeness and the ease of night-nursing co-sleeping affords us. The only thing I don’t love is the fact that the majority of co-sleeping babies I know seem to sleep a 4-5 hour stretch at night as brand-new newborns and by the end of the second month or so, are ‘needing’ to nurse with each waking, sometimes 6 or more times a night. This has been a source of frustration to me, though I felt helpless to know how to change it. It seems few co-sleeping advocates want to discuss this occurrence and those who do say that it is not only normal, but healthy. Deep down this has not felt quite right to me.
With each baby, I am bound and determined to prevent this from happening by gently teaching my babies to get back to sleep without nursing every time, but with each baby, I find it much more difficult than I imagined it would be. In the middle of the night, I am too tired to do anything other than lie there and nurse and I end up resigning myself to the same old pattern. I have known that it has something to do with helping our babies to fall asleep without nursing, but I find that I never know for certain whether or not they are sleepy and my efforts again end in frustration and just nursing seems to be the easiest option.
Someone recently recommended an excellent book written by a sleep research doctor and mom of two. As usual, I was very leery since I find doctors who specialize in sleep research generally recommend strict programs intended to ‘train’ a baby. The training involves a lot of tears and baby being suddenly left alone. This never sits right with me, either.
I am simply thrilled with Dr. Polly Moore’s book, The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program. It is truly unique information that I have never heard anywhere else about the normal biological rhythm of babies. The BRAC (Basic Rest Activity Cycle) had been studied and noted in children and adults. Approximately 90 minutes long, this cycle appears to be universal. It is a rhythm our bodies cycle through each 90 minutes where we have a peak energy level and then a natural decline into a more restful state. Until Dr. Moore had her first baby and discovered all her fancy education and studying on sleep was not helpful to her, no one had studied the BRAC with babies. She found that while it was commonly accepted that babies slept at random, in reality, this was not the case. Their sleep, she found, was highly governed by the BRAC.
Her book is about noting this powerful rhythm in our babies and working in-sync with it. While she does later advocates some self-soothing training (with a non-cry-it-out option), I still believe the book is invaluable. Knowing when our baby needs to be helped to go to sleep has made a drastic difference. When I know his 90 minute cycle is done, I take him upstairs to our room and, literally, within a minute of some rocking, his little eyes are shutting. If we are not at home (or sometimes when we are at home), I put him in a wrap and he immediately goes to sleep. Bliss.
I will write more about our nighttime discoveries in a later post. For now, I encourage any moms of babies under a year who have ever really struggled with sleep to find a copy of Dr. Moore’s book at a library or bookstore. It is short and easy to understand and very simple to implement.