I know it has been much longer than the week I promised! My apologies. I love blogging, but my life with 7 children just doesn’t allow me to do it nearly as much as I would like. We have had some sickies/health stuff to deal with lately. Our kids are super-healthy for the mostpart, so I am very spoiled. One thing I am dealing with is trying to track down the cause of A.’s eczema. It seems few people have any really good answers for us. Right now, I am on an extremely restrictive diet which should give us an answer as to whether or not I will be able to do anything diet-wise to help him.
Anyway, onto gentle sleep teaching!
While I think the Lull-A-Baby sleep plan was good in theory, it didn’t seem to be working that well, so we moved to the stages of settling in this post. I like these stages because I felt like in the learning stage, A. needed some more hands-on help. Having him howling for 45 minutes while I tried to sweet talk him, I thought, reinforced that this was unpleasant. I prefer to help him enjoy going to sleep, so I worked hard to walk the fine line between minimizing crying and unpleasantness and offering too much help. I was very pleased to see that I was able to back off a little bit at a time. It was not a linear progression. Sometimes, he needed no help and sometimes he needed more, but overall, he was moving toward more independence.
I have been so happy with our progress. I can’t say that I just plunk A. into bed and walk away and he happily babbles himself into sleep-bliss in a few minutes, but it isn’t too far from that most days. I have continued to make the getting-to-sleep-part my focus and haven’t worried too much about the middle of the night. A. is not sleeping right through the night, but at his age (nearly 5 months), I think that nursing 1-2 times a night is age-appropriate and he mostly just wakes once.
I am continuing to do our little routine which is outlined in this post with the addition that I say, “Nighty-night” as I lay A. down. (This is just an extra step in re-enforcing that it is time to go off to sleep.) I like our routine because it is nice and short and do-able. It also doesn’t include reading a story, which I would feel very silly doing with a 5 month old or giving a bath, which I would never keep up every night. I also like our routine because I can do the same thing for naps and nighttime. I am at the stage where he really doesn’t seem to need me most of the time as he falls asleep. I always stay in the room out of sight, just for my own comfort, but I rarely need to attend to him anymore. Sometimes, I need to repeat, “Nighty-night”, our special cue words for time to sleep, from across the room, but otherwise he doesn’t usually need much of anything. One thing that I find helps to keep me from jumping in too early to offer help (robbing him of the ability to fall asleep independently) is that I bring a book to read into the room. This allows me to be there if he needs me, but to be slightly distracted. I find that no matter how quiet and how well he goes down that it normally takes him about 8-10 minutes from the start of the routine until he is asleep.
On a typical night, A. goes down somewhere between 6:30-7:30pm. I don’t have a set bedtime for him at this point because I am working with the 90-minute sleep cycle. He seems to be transitioning to a longer awake period in the evening as some nights he lengthens his awake time from 90 minutes to 3 hours, so I just go with how he is acting on a particular night.
A. continues to sometimes struggle around 11-12pm. I think our coming to bed disturbs him a little. This seems to be when he has a cold or is getting a tooth (he just got his first one!). Most of the time, he resettles himself quite well, but if I am needed, I don’t nurse at this point and he always goes back to sleep for a few hours. Often however he sleeps through.
Most of the time, he wakes for the first time somewhere around 2am. I haul him into bed and nurse. Feeling wide awake at the start of the nursing, I think I’ll just nurse him for 10 minutes and then put him back in the co-sleeper, but this never happens. I fall asleep everytime and then put him back in his bed two hours later. This is usually it for the night, but if he does wake at 5am, I nurse him again because I just want to sleep! This hasn’t seemed to be habit-forming at all, so I’m not worried at this point.
I just love sleep.