When Erin was born, many people suggested the book, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. He is a world renowned pediatrician in the Chicago area (wish he was in NYC) who specializes in sleep disorders in children. I ordered the book on Amazon along with a few others: Baby Whisperer, and Baby Sleep Guide. Out of the three, I like Weissbluth the best. It was the hardest of the three to read, but made the best sense to me. Weissbluth tells you that you can begin sleep training and putting your child on a schedule at around 6 weeks of age at the earliest. This is only to be done when you are DESPERATE and going back to work. Ping and I weren’t desperate at that point and decided to wait until Erin was 3-4 months to sleep train her. Weissbluth says that for the common fussy baby, the best time to sleep train and nap train is between 12-16 weeks of age. The first 3 months of a babies life, many parents are sleep deprived but also find their babies VERY portable. They sleep in the stroller, the car seat, while at the grocery store, through a fire drill and other loud obnoxious things. But, somewhere around 3 months, that same Mom is at the grocery store looking for the best deal on pasta sauce and suddenly looks into the car seat (that takes up more room in her cart than the food does) and is surprised to see that their child is NOT sleeping! Rather, she is laughing and cooing at the stupid ad on the cart’s seat! For me, the revelation took place while Erin and I were out for our morning run. Erin was pretty good at sleeping through this and for an additional hour when we got home. This made for perfect timing for me to shower and enjoy some time to myself before she woke. That Thursday morning, as I finished a running interval, I heard a sound, “OOOOOHHHHH!!!” I looked down and saw Erin enjoying the trees passing by above her! Now, Erin has woken up a few times before this and then has dozed back off a minute or two later. But today was life changing….she did NOT go back to sleep! CRAP! What do I do now? I got home, and found myself at a crossroads: do I put her in her crib and try to soothe her back to sleep or do I put her in her bouncer to play while I shower. At the second “agoo” and third smile, I decided to put her in her bouncer. I didn’t have time to soothe her (who knows how long that will take!) and get out the door with a shower in the next 40 minutes!
Just as I turn the shower off, I hear Miss “fussy pants” emerge. Oh geez. Here we go. I had NO time to deal with this. We had to meet my counselor in 30 minutes! I put her on the bed under the playmat to entertain her, the hairdryer scared her. I kept talking to her to calm her…not working. I finally got her in the car seat to go. Of course, she fell asleep in there, but only for 20 minutes before I had to feed her! I noticed that our morning walks/runs were not going to happen again for a while a few days later when the same thing was happening each day. That’s when I decided to throw in the towel and…..
Dr. Ferber is also known for his sleep training methods. He, however, advises not to do it before 4 months. But my plan, I have to try it now. Nothing else will soothe Erin to sleep for a quality nap anymore, I have to let her CRY IT OUT a little.
Dr. Ferber’s method is a “graduated extinction” method of cry it out. (Dr. Weissbluth outlines this method in his book as well) This means that you go into the room at set intervals to soothe the baby until they fall asleep during one of those intervals. The intervals gradually get longer and longer each time. The intervals can go as follows: 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes. For naps, the longest interval should be 20 minutes and the nap should be considered a failure at the one hour mark from putting them down. For Bed time, as long as it takes or what you are comfortable with.
Tuesday, 1 day shy of Erin’s 3 month birthday (Happy 3 months, Erin!), I took the plunge. Here is my plan: Naptime routine will go as follows: go in room, change diaper, turn on sound machine, sit in rocker and read a book, rock a few minutes more (get that cuddle time in) with her pacifier until she is drowsy, then lay Erin in the crib with her blankie. I will then sit with her for 5 minutes with her pacifier (it soothes her, yet she can’t keep the stupid thing in her mouth yet), then leave the room. Nap time routine totals about 10 minutes. If Erin begins to cry, I will set the clock for 5 minutes. If she is still crying at that 5 minute mark, I will go in and soothe her WITHOUT picking her up for ONE minute. Erin lasted 20 minutes before she started crying. After 5 minutes, I went in, gave her a kiss on the cheek, gently told her that it was nap time, and I rubbed her belly while “Shhhhing” for 1 minute. I then quietly left the room. She began dozing off at the end of the minute. Naps 2 and 3 yesterday went without any crying!
Yesterday, Ferberizing day 2:
Nap 1: routine done, 20 minutes later, began crying, after 5 minutes, I went in and soothed, the moment I closed the door, she began crying again. Because Erin is a little on the young side, I decided the next interval would be 7 instead of 10 minutes. At the 5 minute mark of that interval, she stopped crying and fell asleep. Little worse than yesterday, but still pretty good.
Nap 2: routine done, started protesting 16 minutes later, she began crying 4 minutes after that. I set my timer for 7 minutes. I went in after 7 minutes, soothed 1 minute and left. Crying started again the moment I left the room, I set my timer for 10 minutes, went in and soothed 1 minute, crying started again when I left the room, I set my timer for 15 minutes. She stopped crying after 5 minutes.
Nap 3: routine done, started crying after 15 minutes, went in at 5, minutes, 10, minutes, 15 minutes. At the 15 minute interval, I gave her the pacifier back since she was so worked up that just me rubbing her belly was not calming her. She actually kept the thing in her mouth at the end of a minute so I just left it there. She fell asleep, but only got 15 minutes in before I had to get her up at 5:30 to preserve her bedtime at 7:30.
Today, nap training day 3:
Seemed to be worse than yesterday a bit.
Nap 1: complete fail. Routine done, started crying after 10 minutes, waited 5, 7 and 10 minutes. After the 10 minute mark I had to get her up because we needed to leave to see my counselor. She dozed on and off in the carseat for 1.5 hours. I don’t consider that a good nap.
Nap 2: Complete fail. This could have been a success. After I finished with my counselor, we went to Starbuck’s for Erin and I to eat. Erin was quite gassy and there was no changing table there, so I decided I would change when we got home. She smelled like she pooped. We left at noon, giving us an hour to get home before nap 2 began. 12:30, she falls asleep in the car. DANG IT! This was really bad…that diaper change was going to wake her up! But I didn’t want her to sit in her crap and get a diaper rash! I tried the best I could to change her without stimulating her too much, but no dice. I opened the diaper and was shocked to see NO POOP! AH man! I could have completely avoided this!!! So, routine done, started crying the moment I left the room. waited 5, 7, 10, 15 minutes and nap failed. I got her up to play a little and try again within the hour. Well, that hour would be up at the time her next feeding was due, so I fed her early…she is falling asleep at the bottle, or course! By the end of the bottle, she’s totally awake though, and now it is usually the time for nap 3.
Nap 3: I begin our routine again. This time, I cut out the book because I know she’s just so overtired! I just rocked her for longer with the pacifier until she was VERY drowsy. Then I laid her in her crib at while point she wakes up. I offered the pacifier again, but she wouldn’t open her mouth for it and she started to drift off again. I stayed one minute to make sure she was really drifting off, then quietly left the room. Over a course of 20 minutes I heard two short wimpers and then nothing. She’s still sleeping I hope.
They say you should start sleep training with the nights first and then once the nights are mastered, to move on to naps. Erin has never had a problem with her night sleep (she’s been sleeping through the night for 4 weeks now) so this is why I started nap training. Experts also say that nap training is MUCH harder than night time training and can take longer to get down. It’s starting to get harder for me to hear her cry, but I have to do it…NOTHING else will soothe her anymore! I hope Erin learns quick, but for now, I’m sticking to my guns.