This post is about infant sleep, and sleep training, which is a particularly touchy subject. I welcome any stories about what worked for you and your family, but any comments asserting that any method is the “one true way” or damning others for the choices they made will be summarily deleted.
Bitmap has crossed the 4 month mark, and is now officially no longer a newborn. And for a while there, her sleep was getting progressively better and better. 4 hour stretches, 5 hour stretches, and then we experienced the magesty of 8 hour stretches of uninterrupted baby sleep! It was incredible!
And then it all stopped. We were back to 5 hours, then 4, then 3…
Nothing changed as far as I can tell, but for the past few weeks Bitmap has been waking up every two hours. And it’s killing me. I’ve gone from coffee-fueled-but-functional to an angry zombie, biting off the head of anyone foolish enough to talk to me (i.e. RevolvingDork). And suddenly I’ve gone from “cry it out is cruel, Dr Ferber is a jerk who hates babies” to “I am a jerk to who hates babies, this has got to change.” And so I got a copy of Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems.
I did not come to this conclusion easily. First, we set up a veritable paradise of sleep. Perfect temperature, nice and dark, comfy clothes, white noise machine, etc. Seriously I get sleepy just walking into that room. We tried more food at the bedtime feeding, less food, swaddling, no swaddling, pacifier, no pacifier, loud music, soft music… if it was listed on the internet as a baby sleep aid, we tried it.
The second important thing is that Bitmap has shown us she’s developmentally ready to sleep through the night. Although she wakes up and cries, she’s no longer nursing at night and her diaper is often dry. In fact, half the time she doesn’t even need to be picked up; popping the pacifier back in her mouth is enough to get her to go back to sleep. She also has shown the ability to self-settle on the odd occasion I can’t respond to her right away. And most importantly, she’s slept 8 hours straight on multiple occasions.
The third thing is the fact that our sleep situation wasn’t working for us. Some people can handle getting up in the night, some people co-sleep and that works great for them. In fact, RD co-sleeps beautifully with Bitmap, but I can’t sleep with a baby in the bed. I’m not just tired, I’m bordering non-functional. As in, due to my zombie-like state, I put liquid hand soap on my toothbrush. Let’s not enumerate the number of stupid things I’ve snapped at RD for this week.
So tonight we begin Ferberizing. I do think it’s important that anyone considering doing so actually read the book, because it has a number of differences from the nickel tour I’ve read on the internet. This is about coming up with something that works for our baby. Not all babies, not most babies, our baby.
I have little tolerance for crying so we’re starting with 1, 3, and 5 minute intervals. At bedtime we bathe her, swaddle her, feed her, give her a pacifier, and read her a story. Then it’s into bed she goes, protesting or not. Naptime is similar, except instead of bathing and feeding I rock her while singing a song. At the end of the song, bed.
When I put her down for her nap this morning, she was not pleased. But I also knew she was very tired. After a minute of whining I went back in, replaced her pacifier, and sang her a song. She was still cranky when I left. Not really crying, just sort of complaining. About a minute later she was quiet, and shortly after that I snuck in to check on her. Sound asleep.
The pacifier is an issue, because if she wakes up and it’s fallen out she gets upset. But we have to cut down on her daytime pacifier use before working on that. And she’s getting too big for swaddling, so we’ll need to phase that out too. Maybe after tonight I’ll decided this is horrible and I don’t want to do it any more, but we’re trying it out. If it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else- just like everything else in parenting.