I got a new book by Elizabeth Pantley called The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Out of the three books I've read to help with sleep, this one seems to be the most practical and useful. Instead of telling parents that in order to change a habit, you have to break the child's spirit by letting them cry until they realize it does no good, Pantley instead gives parents a variety of tools to use when teaching their baby to sleep. I have devoured this book in about a day and a half! She even gives suggestions on how to teach a baby to learn to go to sleep WITHOUT SUCKING!!! I'm SOLD!
Pantley's main idea is that we need to understand sleep patterns, that babies (and adults) don't stay asleep, they go through sleep cycles where they have periods of waking. And if your baby falls asleep while nursing or close to you and snuggly and warm, then they wake up by themselves, in a bed, in a room without you, they are confused and become upset. They want you back, so they can be comforted back to sleep. Once you understand this, you can help your baby learn to self soothe. You can help your baby put themselves back to sleep when they reach these waking periods, just like you and I do when we roll over, pull those blankets up a little tighter, and go right back to sleep.
Sadie is learning these things. I've taken what I learned in the Dr. Sears Sleep Book and the book by Dr. Weissbluth, and actually started a lot of the things Pantley suggests...but she has MORE ideas. And she advocates trying your new routine for AT LEAST 10 days, then re-evaluate, renew if needed, and try again FOR ANOTHER 10 DAYS. And keep doing this until you get your child sleeping 10-12 hours at night, without your help to fall back asleep.
Our Sleep Plan starts tonight (provided we don't have a screamy teething episode).
*Sadie's bedtime is 8:00
*We will begin our bedtime routine at 6/630
*Our nightly bedtime routine:
6/630 - bath, jammies, read a story (or bounce in the bouncy seat)
7 - medicine and nurse
8/830 - asleep, move to her own bed
*We will follow a flexible, but predictable daytime routine:
730/8 - wake up for the day
830 - play therapy (Mondays with Claudia, daily with me)
930/10 - Nap #1
11 - OT or PT
1230/1 - Nap #2
play, run errands, swim, spend quiet play time in crib, etc
4/430 - Nap #3 (if needed)
5/530 - playtime with daddy while mommy makes dinner
530/6 - mommy and daddy eat dinner
6/630 - bath, jammies, read a story
7 - medicine and nurse
8/830 - asleep in her own bed
*Nap times will be: 930/10, 1230/1, and 4/430 if Sadie is showing signs of needed a third nap
*I will encourage naps by nursing, swaddling or wrapping tight in a blanket, lullabys, bouncy chair.
*I will help Sadie learn how to fall asleep without help by 1. spending daily quiet time letting Sadie "play" in her crib so she becomes comfortable and knows it's a safe place, and 2. encouraging her to fall asleep for naps in various places and ways. ie. nursing, bouncy chair, swing, wrap or ergo, car (?!!!), etc.
*I will introduce a lovey: pink cow blankie animal. We will snuggle with the lovey for naps and Sadie will have it when she goes to bed.
*I will make night sleeping different from daytime naps by keeping nighttime quiet, dark, and peaceful.
*I will develop key words as a sleep cue: "shh shh go to sleep sleepy girl"
*I will use the Baby Einstein lullaby CD also as a sleep cue.
*I will change Sadie's sleep association by attempting the "Great Pantley Pulloff" This involves teaching Sadie to fall asleep without sucking. Instead of always letting Sadie fall asleep nursing, let her suck for a few minutes, or until she's done actually eating, until her sucking slows and she's getting sleepy. Then break the seal and gently remove the nipple. At first I expect her to protest, and that this will be repeated SEVERAL times the first week or so, but eventually (I hope) she will learn to fall asleep without sucking.
*I will help Sadie fall back to sleep when she wakes while transitioning her to her own bed by attaching her crib as a sidecar to our bed. (We did this yesterday and I LOVE it!) see picture above.
*I will help Sadie fall back to sleep step by step when she wakes in the night:
1. If Sadie is truly awake, I will pull her to me gently to nurse. Once I feel her stop drinking and switch to comfort nursing, or go limp like she's fall back asleep, I will gently remove the nipple, keeping her close to me. Keeping this connection will help her fall back asleep without sucking. If she stirs, turn on the music and whisper my sleep cue words. When I feel like we've got step 1, move on to step 2.
2. When Sadie wakes up and is actually hungry, pull her to me to nurse. Once she's done nursing, and she's showing signs of falling back asleep, gently slide her back to her crib. Pat and touch her, whispering my sleep cue words and turning on the music until she's back asleep. If she's not hungry, just awake, skip the nursing and just pull her to me to cuddle until she shows signs of falling back asleep, then gently slide her back to her crib. If she gets upset or cries at any time, revert back to step 1 and try again next time. When we feel that step 2 is working, move on to step 3.
3. When Sadie starts to make wake up sounds, turn on the music, pat or touch her and whisper the sleep cue words until she falls back asleep. If she wakes or gets upset and cries, revert back to step 2, or even step 1 and try again next time. When we've gotten step 3, move on to step 4.
4. When Sadie starts to make wake up sounds, turn on the music, pat her gently once or twice, then whisper the sleep cue words without touching her. If she wakes or gets upset and cries, revert back. When we've gotten step 4, move on to step 5.
5. When Sadie starts to make wake up sounds, first determine if she needs the music, don't move closer to her, but turn towards her and whisper the sleep cue words from where I'm laying. If she wakes and cries, revert back, but keep it brief. When we've gotten step 5, move on to the next step.
6. Don't move or turn toward her crib when she makes wake up noises. Just say the sleep cue words from wherever I am, barely letting myself wake up.
*I will keep in mind that we may never make it through all the steps before Sadie is sleeping through the night on her own.
Now, we start implementing this plan, and pray hard that it works. I understand that with Sadie's hyper sensitivity she may take longer to "train," but I am confident that if we're (I'm) consistent and keep at it, eventually we will see the results we desire. Check back with me in 10 days and we'll review how it went!!