I’ve taken a few days off from blogging to reflect on my parenting style and make some changes. My baby is now about five month old and I’m noticing some pretty bad habits developing. I nurse her to sleep and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It can take a couple of hours rocking her, nursing her, wearing her only to find that she wakes up as soon as I put her down in her crib. She is a horrible napper and will only nap with my nipple in my mouth or being worn. Cosleeping has never worked for her either. She’s starting to get heavy and my back is paying the price. And she’s getting heat rash from being held constantly. I’m exhausted by this going to bed dance.
Two nights ago my husband came home and the baby was hysterical. I had nursed her to sleep and she woke up screaming bloody murder. My husband suggested we try putting her in the crib and staying with her until she fell asleep. It was really hard so I picked her back up and she was crying worse than ever! We put her back down and she fell asleep. We actually had a fight that night about what to do. I’m worried about the long term affects of crying it out where as my husband thinks she needs to be broken of her bad habits. Thanks to my husband I finally had an epiphany. She’s going to cry whether I nurse her, drive her, wear her, walk her in a stroller, or let her cry in her crib. I might as well bite the bullet and sleep train her. It’s the right thing to do at this point. I know it’s not for everybody but for our baby we think it’s the right thing to do at this point.
I got my hands on the book Sleeping through the Night It was suggested by a friend who swears it worked for his daughter. It’s sort of a modified Ferber approach. You try to break baby of all sleep associations like nursing, being rocked etc. You should set up a bedtime and a bedtime routine at the same time every night. Our baby gets sleepy around 7:00 so I try to get in her bath, feed, and book before her bedtime. It’s important to stay consistent as much as possible. Then comes the hard part. You must put the baby in the place she sleeps sleepy but awake. This involves some crying. However, it wasn’t that bad. You can check on the baby as much as you like. If you feel the need to pick her up, do it. Just try to get her to sleep in her crib so if she does wake up she’s not freaking out going, “Where the heck am I?” I combined this with Ferber’s graduated extinction. I left the room and checked on her on a graduated timescale. I started with three minute, five minutes, seven, then 10. The last time I went in and patted her and she fell asleep in a total of 25 minutes. I feel like I might have slipped up with the patting but it worked. She slept really well. Better than ever in fact. I’m only on day two but so far so good.
However, I have a few issues and I can’t find any suggestions anywhere. My biggest problem is nighttime engorgement. I literally wake up in a puddle and I feel like I’m going to explode around 3AM. This does not work for me. I suspect that my daughter might be ready to drop her night feeding but I don’t want to jump the gun. I’ve tried dream feeding but that seemed to mess everything up. Should I pump or just feed her? If I feed her am I sending mixed signals to her? This is where bottle feeding has breast-feeding beat.
Another problem is naps. The author of Sleeping through the Night, Jodi A. Mindell, says to wait two weeks before starting nap training so you don’t totally freak your kid out. As I write, I’m wearing her in my Ergo. I’ll just have to let napping go for now.
Finally, there comes the guilt. I started to really doubt myself the third time I checked on her and l even picked her up for a minute which infuriated her even more. I can’t help but wonder if I’m hurting her by doing this but I’m realizing that sometimes we have to do what’s best for our kids even if it involves crying. I have to vaccinate her even though she cries. Sometimes she cries in her carseat and it’s impossible to nurse her but if I take her out and hold her it could be much worse if an accident happened. Unfortunately, there will be some crying but at the end of the day, even though it sucks, I know this is the right thing to do. I hope I can get through the third night of sleep training