I've mentioned my frustration with Micah's sleeping habits before on this old blog of mine, like here for example. It's been a bit of a struggle to figure out the best way to get him to go to sleep and stay asleep, without me having to nurse him until he's knocked out. A lot of times, I would set him into his crib as gently as I could, fearing he would wake up. Then he would do just that and cry and cry until I picked him up and we started all over.
Well, I have some good news! I finally feel like we've established good sleeping habits (or at least, much better than before)!
A few weeks ago I was reading "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby," and I was really feeling guilty. The author, Dr. Weisbluth, tells that children don't just grow out of bad sleep habits, they continue on into adolescence and adulthood. This is why it's so important to establish good habits early on. He recommended (this is a paraphrase, of course) following a bed-time and nap-time routine, then putting the drowsy baby into the crib, saying "Good night" and leaving. And not going back in.
For naps, he says you should let the baby cry for an hour! I can't do that. At first I could only let him cry for about 5-10 minutes. Then we would go in and try to calm him down, but I always ended up picking him up. (That was the problem... me or David going into his room got him all riled up!)
I finally decided we were just going to do it. I was getting miserable because Micah wasn't getting good naps, he was always tired, and I was frustrated and feeling like I couldn't figure out how to get him to sleep! David and I talked about it and decided we were just going to go for it.
|only five days old, sleeping|
I tried it first at nap time. I laid a sleepy Micah down and let him cry for a while. After about 15 minutes, I was starting to get anxious, and I told myself that if he was still crying in 5 minutes I'd go pick him up. Then, just before I was going to go in, he stopped crying.... I looked in and he was asleep! He slept for over an hour and a half, which was much longer than his usual naps at this time. Plus, he woke up happy.
So, we tried it that evening. Same situation; same response. Sleepy Micah went down for bedtime with a kiss and a "Good night." He cried pretty hard. After 15 minutes I was having a hard time letting him cry. David stopped me from going in and reminded me that all of his needs were met - he wasn't hungry, didn't need a diaper change, didn't have a fever. He was just tired. So we waited, and at the 20 minute mark, he was asleep.
Not every nap time and bed-time have been perfect since we started this, but I've definitely noticed a change in all of us. I don't dread bed-time. Once Micah's sleepy, I feed him and then put him into his bed awake but drowsy. Sometimes he cries for a minute, but not usually longer than 30 seconds or so. Tonight he just rolled over onto his tummy and went to sleep - which is now a pretty common occurance. The same goes for naps!
The best part of this is that now, Micah can self-soothe! He can wake up and go back to sleep on his own, without needing to be held, cuddled, or fed. When we put him into his crib, if he's sleepy, he will go to sleep!
|at 7.5 months, sleeping|