Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parent Challenge #62: Sleep

BG is 4 months, 1 week and 6 days old.
Sleep is one of the hardest things to teach a baby. Funny, if only a baby could learn by example, I’d happily demonstrate how to take a nap.
Essentially, parents need to work as a team to setup good sleep habits which I believe makes it a good relationship builder.
15 minutes into my sleep teaching and BG has now begun to cry.
Here is my game plan.
Her night time going to bed ritual includes:
Change to pajamas
Wash face, mouth and hands or Bath/Massage
A cradle to bed
A song while lying in bed
Prayers with a tummy rub in bed
Say goodnight.
This all should begin around 7pm, give or take.
During all this, DH lowers the lights in the house and lowers the volume of the television. We all lower our voices to present a calming atmosphere.
According to the experts at four months of age, we should start by giving her 30 minutes to try to soothe herself to sleep.
10 minutes into crying, there is silence in the bedroom.
If by five months she's still not able to soothe herself, we can try to teach her to sleep using Ferber or another method.
Today, I begin her sleep training starting with the naps.
At this stage she should have 2 naps a day, the morning 1 being the shortest and the afternoon nap being the longest. Her last nap should start no later than 2pm. Our daughter seems to like her naps and usually has 3 of them a day but at the same time the naps usually happen on me which we need to transition out of.
For me, this is tough because 1) I’m going back to work so I’ve up’d the skin to skin contact out of personal guilt and 2) I try to take her out often to get her used to being social and to avoid claustrophobia.
When we’re out and about she’ll take her nap while I’m wearing her. It’s not like I can have her lying on the grass at the park, especially on brisk autumn days.
Essentially, it's pretty tough to do, especially with daily schedules of events so we need to adapt without too much compromise.
5 minutes after silence, the murmured crying has begun again.
With work looming and her age, I suppose this is the right time to work on this together as a team. In order for this to go smoothly, quickly and with as little pain as possible, we need to stick to the plan. Of course, according to the books, this is much harder for the working parent, emotionally and physically. This goes double if the working parent is also the mom and is breastfeeding.
I'm not sure how this will work but I'm sure we'll get through it, it's just tough. I'm not sure if this is the right approach or not but I'm trying what I think is appropriate at this time. I’ve developed the plan on my own as when I discussed the topic of sleep to DH, he said that he wasn’t the expert and that I was the one that read the books so I know better. Personally, I think that’s the cop out but I am the mom so I am stepping up to the plate.
It’s hard though as last night when I tried to start this plan my husband didn’t like the idea of 1) our baby crying it out in the bedroom disturbing our neighbors 2) he kept picking her up out of the crib to try to soothe her and 3) he felt after 2 hours of periodic crying, she needed to eat. I tried to explain that this isn’t easy for me but that she doesn’t need a bottle or a breast as this would only prolong the agony as it essentially resets the clock but he said his child shouldn’t go to bed hungry. “I don’t understand it. If she wants to eat every 2 hours during the day, logically, wouldn’t she need to eat at night?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that but I wondered what he thought about her sleeping 8 hours without a meal meant.
So now, while I’m home alone with BG, I’m trying to teach her to sleep by herself starting with her day naps. 1) DH isn’t around so we’re not ping ponging the guilt, 2) our neighbors are at work so I don’t have to worry about DH’s concerns about our neighbors being disrupted and 3) I’m alone.
Right now, I fed her and swaddled and placed her in her crib for a nap with her lovey 30 minutes ago. She protested about being popped off the breast after her meal. The bedroom is a bit light which probably will make it hard for her to nap but my goal this morning isn't to get her to nap by herself immediately. I'll be happy if she stays in the crib for 30 minutes without too much protesting.
It has now been over 30 minutes and as you can tell from the italics above, she did cry but not until 15 minutes into her being left in the room alone.
She didn’t sleep at all. I guess I’ll be going in there now to check on her, change her diaper, wipe her eyes and clean her nose. Still no nap. What now? I think I’ll try to soothe her and as she heads toward the land of nod, which we all know she will after all that crying, I’ll try to get her back to bed again.
Wish me luck.