Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hopping on that Sleep Train and our 5 month sleep regression

Well it happened to us.  The 5 month sleep regression.  I had heard about this.  Babies that previously slept through the night all of a sudden stop.  It can really happen at any month but ours was at month 5.

Hardcore attachment parents believe in doing nothing.  Just deal with it basically.  On the other end of the spectrum, some say baby will never sleep unless you sleep train aka. "cry it out".  Again, I believe I am somewhat of a moderate.  I'm not comfortable with any of the crying methods but I do think that it's valuable to help a baby to sleep and to self soothe.  Well, there's exactly one book I could find about a no cry sleep training method.  The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  I naively thought that since we had a 'sleeping through the night' baby I wouldn't need this.  I couldn't just set her in her crib wide awake and have her go to sleep but once I got her down, she was a great sleeper.  I really don't mind rocking my baby to sleep.  I love it in fact.  That's one of the best parts of our day.  It's when things started getting worse and worse and I felt like I had a newborn again that I realized we had to do something.  I broke down and bought the book.  I sacrificed yet even more sleep to stay up and read.  I implemented the schedule right away and started on my journey.

This is NOT a quick fix.  It's a process so it takes commitment.  I was fully prepared for this.  My only other options are listen to my baby cry (possibly all night) until she could potentially vomit, choke, and scream for her mommy who had abandoned her OR deal with this sleep deprivation for both of us for potentially years.

Here's how to do it:

Log your progress every 10 days to look for improvement.

There's a lot of room for flexibility and forgiveness if you revert to old ways out of desperation.  That's one thing I love most about this method.  It's NO GUILT and there's no pressure to rush things.  Go at your own pace.

Start a schedule.
We now have a wake up time of 8am.  Blake gets 2 naps, one in the morning about 10am and one in the early afternoon about 2pm.  I try to watch for her cues and put her down when she's sleepy so I am flexible with the times.
Bedtime is tricky because of my work schedule and Blake being at her grandma's until I'm off.  Some nights I don't get done until 10:30 or 11.  This may need to be adjusted if the plan doesn't start working. When I'm home, bedtime starts about 8pm.

Naptime and Bedtime routine.
I was actually already doing this and didn't even know it.  I added a few things just to make it official and I have been keeping it consistent at every nap and every night.  It is about 30 minutes and consists of diaper change, pjs, story time, nursing, and rocking.  I tried to do bath time in my routine but her bath is not always relaxing as much as fun and active. She loves to kick and splash.  :) I also tried a massage but she really doesn't like it.
The naptime routine is a shortened version of the bedtime routine. About 10-15 minutes.

Other things to try:

  • whispering "key words" to her as she is falling asleep so they become a sleep association.  I'm shocked at how well this worked.  I mostly just use "ssshhhh it's sleepy time". The shushing noise really calms her.
  • trying to not use her pacifier when I put her down, although she has a really strong suck-to-sleep association.
  • putting her down drowsy but still awake and staying with her and helping her to fall asleep while in her crib
  • doing some calm playtime and story time in her crib throughout the day so she knows that is a positive and safe place to be.
  • make sure she gets plenty of naptime.  I try for 2 2hr naps per day but at this point I don't always get them.
There are lots of tips in the book but these are the first ones I am trying.  You don't have to do all of them, just try things out and see what works.

I am also weaning her from being swaddled right now so that makes the sleep training harder.  She really loves her swaddle and still startles when she sleeps.  I am starting with one arm out for a while and then I will try two arms out and/or the Zipadee Zip.

I am planning to go in phases, starting with putting her down almost asleep and drowsy to progressively putting her down more and more awake.  Some people stop when they get to a phase where both baby and mom are comfortable and getting enough sleep.  I'm not sure where we will end up but we have already had enough progress to be rested and mentally sane again :) 

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