Our first daughter was a very bad sleeper. How much of it was my fault I am not able to tell. I can however state certain habits which I believe may have not helped the situation. But before I just put myself and my very best intentions down and blame my fear of letting go and such, I would like to walk the proactive path and try to undo some of these “mistakes” with my son.
He is now almost 1 year old and we have yet to sleep through the night. We must add though, he was sick for almost all the first 6 months of his life, thanks to his preschooled sister and her friends, as well as to our trips to friends' houses and birthday parties, playgrounds and of course, let's not forget the unbelievably long, cold and snowy New England winter this year.
So thanks to snot-noses, fevers, coughs, rashes (and yes, sadly a little burn on his hand), thanks to gas and spit-ups and similar issues, my little boy has had a very hard time sleeping. And we barely have grown two teeth so far. Mostly he sleeps for about 2-3 hours a piece and then wakes up. Guess how (if at all) he goes back to sleep...only if he nurses. Obviously at one point in the last year he has figured out that mommy will obey if he just whimpers enough.
Now here is my question: How else do you soothe a baby? I rocked him, sang to him, walked him, but I must admit, yes nursing is the easiest way to calm a crying infant. What a powerful tool, and why not use it.
Yes I am aware of that he shouldn't associate nursing with falling asleep, very painfully aware, since I am the one to blame. And yes I pay for it too. I do though also believe that this will not last forever, I have a 4 year old, I do know. It also is a very nice feeling to be able to help your little one with such small effort, especially when he is not well, which again he wasn't many times in his short little life.
Currently we are fighting a now four day fever, during which I broke down again and let him into my bed, nursing while sleeping. I am just too week at 3am, my legs don't hold up anymore, I fall asleep constantly, so why not lay down.
Well I think the only reason to speak against that would be the question on how to get him back to his bed to sleep by himself as soon as I can't take it anymore.
I guess I will just start again, which I have several times in the past months to follow a technique that I found out about in a book called the Baby Whisperer. The author did not believe in the very famous Ferber method, because she thinks it is too cruel, which I myself actually agree with. And please do not feel bad if you rather Ferberise your baby, everyone has their own ways, strengths and ideas and I am not the one to judge!.
The Baby Whisperer basically stays with the baby several nights, picks him up when he cries, and puts him back down after he calmed down. You can end up picking up your child many, many times during the first night. The author spoke of cases where she repeated that for about 50-60 times. The second night it was less and the next night even less then that. Up until the point that the baby understands, that he will be taken care of and not left alone, and feeling safe he will go to sleep learning to sooth himself.
I lucked out when I tried this method for the first time a few of months ago, after a sick period and bad developed habits. I only picked him up 24 times and then he decided not to cry and to go to sleep. The problem here was though that he woke back up again at 2 am and I couldn't handle the procedure again so I nursed him back to sleep.
I have failed, I am not recommending this method at all anymore. It's just not working for me. I would be interested if it is working for anyone else out there though...Several nights of picking up my son and putting him back as soon as he calmed down resulted in a very very hurt lower back, sore arms and no patience whatsoever. I think if you start wanting to scream at your child you need to leave and change plans...so Mr. Ferber, where are you, I am compromising now and it seems to help a little.
I basically have a nighttime routine, which we follow pretty precisely every night. Book reading, at the moment we stick with “Good Night Moon” which he seems to LOVE. We tickle and sign a little at things I actually know, such as lamp, bears, moon and cow and he just digs it and giggles...Then we nurse and bottle feed, yes I am trying to wean, but we are on a very yucky formula because he has to be dairy and soy free for now. Has anyone tried it? It's called Alimentum and it tastes like it...it's because I believe it's sort of pre-digested so the body doesn't need to break down the proteins which he seemed to be having trouble with...but more of that another time...we are back on sleep routine. After the nursing we sing and I tell him it's bedtime. Kisses and down he goes.
Guess what, 75 percent of the time he actually goes to sleep within 5 minutes. I stay with him by his bed. Sometimes he has a harder time to fall asleep and wants to be held and nursed, but I don't give in. I pet him, "shshshs" him and if it takes longer I lay down next to his bed, so he sees me and I can rest my legs and back.
Now that we covered the going to bed problems we have to tackle the nights...I just don't know how to be consistent, I plan to nurse only once at night but after 1am, he just seems to be too persistent and I seem to not be able to stick with any routine, because to be honest I sometimes don't even realize what I am doing anymore...Too exhausted. I wake up and don't know what time it is and when he nursed last;0) So now I decided to go to bed every night at 8pm so that I can catch up and be more rigorous with the late night routine.
Wish me luck and let's hope we can celebrate his birthday with a good night's sleep;0) And if you have ideas or want to share your experiences just write. Always happy to hear from you.