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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Year of Sleeping

It is incredible how much and how fast babies develop! Nearly every month Eddie's sleep habits changed. Recognizing this early on, I decided to make one adjustment each month to ease him into my ideal sleeping situation.

My goal has been for him to put himself to sleep while in his crib, in his own room. Nursing him to sleep was ideal as a newborn, but I wanted him to learn that being alone and in the dark was okay.

He first started out in a bassinet placed in our bed so he'd be super close to me, but protected from the dogs (and Dave's flailing arms when he violently turns over in bed about a million times every night).
Eddie on his first night home:Over the next few weeks we moved his bassinet next to the bed, then to the foot of the bed...... and finally put him into the bassinet part of the Pack-n-Play at the foot of the bed when he got too heavy for the pretty bassinet.

December was my month to get Eddie to sleep in his crib, in his own room--he was about 3 months old by then. I wanted to get him sleeping in his own room before I started school again--but since the thought of possibly not hearing him from the other room until he REALLY started screaming, I decided to buy a baby monitor first. I figured the change of rooms might upset him because the temperature, smells, and sounds would all be different.

He amazed me and did just fine with the transition to his crib. Poor kid, sometimes I don't give him enough credit for how well he'll do. I let my own insecurities get in the way. (Isn't that the hallmark of motherhood? Or is it just me?)

For the first week or so I didn't sleep well at all because I kept worrying that I wouldn't hear him and he'd have to really start crying before I'd wake up. But those monitors (even the cheapest available from Target) work really well! I keep a small fan blowing in each of our rooms at night and I can still hear his breaths on the monitor.

My goal for January (4 months old) was to get him to put himself to sleep, rather than letting him fall asleep while nursing.

When he was a newborn I'd nurse him on one side, go change his diaper, then nurse him on the other side so he could fall asleep on the breast. But then I wanted him to be awake when I set him down so I nurse both sides and THEN changed his diaper (it wakes him up a bit).

There were only two times that he really cried for a long time (25 minutes and 43 minutes). Usually he'd cry or whimper for 5-15 minutes before crashing.

I know they say not to pick babies up even if they cry for a loooooooooooooong time but I just can't do that. The 43 minute episode just about killed me so I went in after about 30 minutes, took him into the bathroom to change him (he was soaked...no wonder he couldn't fall asleep), and then held him in my arms by the crib until he recovered his normal breathing from the gulping he was doing while crying. It was as unemotional as I could get--no kisses, no back rubs, no talking to him. Once back in the crib he whimpered for a bit and then slept through the night--TEN AND A HALF HOURS!

Praise the Lord, it was a miracle. (My breasts, however, were not so amused. They really missed his nighttime feedings.)

At his 6 month check up, the doctor was alarmed that I was still nursing Eddie when he woke up in the middle of the night. So that very night I started only changing his diaper when he woke up at night. The first few times he was not happy about it and cried for like 20 minutes before falling back to sleep. But it took only 4 nights before he consistently slept through the night.

By the end of February (6.5 months old) my goal was to get him to stop associating eating with sleeping. At this point I nursed him before any of the other bedtime stuff happened: he'd nurse, take his fluoride drops and a bath, change into his jammies, brush his teeth/gums, read 1-3 short stories and finally be put into the crib. His bath alone can take 20 minutes because he really likes playing with his yellow cup, sucking water out of the washcloth, chewing on his plastic books, and splashing water out of the tub. At this point we still bathed him in the kitchen but then we moved his baby tub into the big bathtub so I didn't have to worry about flooding the kitchen anymore.

After our trip to France in April (8 months), he started pulling himself up on things--so we stopped using the baby bathtub all together because he started standing up in it! So we started using a seat that securely suctions to the bottom of the bathtub. Otherwise the bedtime routine remained the same.

Sometimes we find him sleeping in the weirdest positions. Here he is in April:But usually he looked like this:
Now we do dinner at about 6:15-6:30pm, followed by playing until nursing at 7-7:30pm, then finally the bath/bed routine around 7:30-8pm. He usually sleeps from about 8pm through to 6:20am. Once he started sleeping through the night and going to bed consistently at 8pm or earlier, Dave and I began to feel like a couple again. When he's home we can eat a leisurely dinner or snack, watch movies, or whatever. On nights when Dave is at work, I use about 2 hours of my "baby free" time to finish cleaning the house, getting food prepared for the following day, etc.

Here he is on a WONDERFUL but rare Saturday morning in July (11 months old) when he slept in until 9:15am. Dave actually went in there and poked him to make sure he was still breathing...it is an eery feeling to wake up naturally as a parent--we've become so used to being awoken by an alarm or a baby fussing.On the very rare occasions that he wakes up at night now, I'm always alarmed. About 99% of the time I think to myself, "I'll give him 10 minutes and then I'll go in there." And I wake up hours later and think, "Ah, he must have put himself back to sleep because I sure fell back to sleep!"

I'm hoping he'll remain a good sleeper and that his future siblings are the same way. When I hear other parents tell me that their 2 year old still wakes up at night it breaks my heart--I have a feeling that most sleep training is really training the parent to let go and deal with listening to some crying while the child transitions.

2 comments:

Team Roy said...

Here's to good sleepers!

steph.kelley said...

Bravissima, Julie and Eddie and Dave, all three. It is a triumph to train both kid and parents to sleep through the night! xoxo