Friday, April 20, 2012

What Did I Do Differently?

Sleep watch 2012 update:
Ayden is totally back to his 3-4 hour sleep sessions and I feel great! It must have been a growth spurt after all because around the same time of the hourly night grunts, Ayden out grew his Gymboree 0-3 month sleepers. Now he's working on outgrowing his Carter's 0-3 month sleepers. It's a little funny to go back and read all the posts in which I complained about getting only 3-4 hours of sleep at a time... Perspective my friends, it's important to have the right perspective :). Getting 3-4 hours at a time is much better than only getting 1 at a time. That is all...

Keeping with the topic of sleep, Ayden took the king of all naps today, and practically on his own! This week I've been working really hard to get him to start falling asleep on his own. That is, laying him down sleepy but still awake and letting him take it from there. According to The Baby Whisperer, you have to modify "bad" sleep habits gradually. In her book, she listed a few common problems that clients come to her with and Ayden falls in the, "He won't 'let' me put him down" category. Our baby loves to snuggle and be bounced to sleep, preferably on our exercise ball (and yes, I am well aware that this is my own doing...).

In an effort to slowly wean from my soothing him to sleep and move him toward self soothing, I decided that I would do what I always do (bouncing, walking, patting, etc) until he quiets and gets what The Baby Whisper calls, "the seven mile stare." Then I stop all movement and just hold him until he gets to the "letting go" stage when his eyes start to get heavy, and that's when I'd try to put him down. I say try because this would wake him all the way back up and cause him to cry and fuss and then we'd have to start all over again... Needless to say, after repeating this process 3-4 times it starts to get frustrating. I'm not so much frustrated with him as I am with myself for teaching him to depend on me so much for getting to sleep. But, I digress...

According to The Baby Whisperer's theory, if a baby is under 3 months old, it will only take 3 days to modify this behavior. Ayden will be 3 months old on Saturday... If she's right, we're cutting it close but there's definitely hope! Keep in mind I have been working on this all week, so more than 3 days already, but only in the mornings. In the afternoons I still put him in the Moby so I can get some other things accomplished by day's end...

Fast forward to today:
Ayden was playing on his play mat while I was getting ready and I noticed he got pretty still and quiet. When I looked at him, he was rubbing his face (a new sleepy time development) so I decided he was signaling that it was nap time. I picked him up and started the above mentioned routine and after 20 minutes he was still holding his head straight up and looking around. He would look sleepy every couple of minutes but mostly just looked happy as can be to be chilling on my shoulder. I said, "Okay Ayden, you obviously can't be too tired or you'd have fallen asleep by now so your going to play some more while I finish getting ready." I put him back on his play mat and got back to work on myself. After about 15 minutes he got all still again and started vocalizing his sleepy, half whiny sounds. He was yawning and rubbing his face. I decided that this was definitely it! I picked him up, put him up on my shoulder, patted him and sang to him for about 5 minutes, put him in his crib on his belly where he let out one little fuss then fell fast asleep.

Okay... My first thought was holy cow, this was amazing, how do I make it happen again? My second thought was, "What did I do differently today?". The answer? I fed him.

When he started his hourly grunts last week the Baby Wise recommended "consistent first feeding time" that i had been doing went out the window. I was so tired that if he was sleeping, you bet your britches that I'd be sleeping too. As a result, we've fallen into this habit where I pull him into bed for his 5am(ish) feeding during/after which we'd both fall back to sleep for an hour or so. When we'd wake around 6 or 6:30 I never really knew what to do because it wasn't "time" for him to eat again, yet he had slept after his last feeding which was starting our EASY routine off all wonky for the day. So today I decided to ignore the clock and give him a "first morning feeding" so we'd have a starting point.

Now the next two questions are, "was that feeding really what made the difference? Or did all the work we've been doing all week just magically click today?". It's also very possible that today's king of all naps (it ended up being TWO hours!!) was just a fluke...Only time will tell!

Either way I was reminded of two things today:

1) It is so important to intentionally parent so you can answer those "what did I do differently?" questions and have something to work with/build upon.


2) Having him fall asleep on his own so easily and peacefully felt SOOO good which reinforces the fact that this goal should remain a priority for us. Even if it takes a little longer to become permanent, Ayden is a smart baby who is capable of learning and it is my job to support, teach and encourage him. I shall not give up on our tiny wonder!! Even if it is super tempting to do whatever is easiest in the moment.

Nap #2 for the day :
Another peaceful, fightless slumber in the stroller at the mall...
How do you get your baby to sleep? Did you ever have to modify "bad" sleep behaviors? What ended up working for you?

He's rockin' tummy time these days!

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