Friday, September 26, 2014

Sleep Habits - The Cry It Out Method

Happy Friday, babes!!!

Let's talk about something touchy for a change, shall we?

SLEEPING HABITS (or lack there of!)

I was blessed with an amazing newborn.  From birth, Amelia slept in 4 hour stretches between night feedings.  Yes, you read that correctly... a newborn sleeping for FOUR hours at a time!  At about 5 weeks, she started sleeping for 6 hour stretches overnight.  The best part, she put herself to sleep for naps and at bedtime!  There was no rocking and cuddling my baby to sleep (sometimes this made me sad!); this little girl was independent and wanted her space in her crib!  I thought I birthed the best, sleep loving baby in the whole wide world.

At about 3 months... Amelia pulled a fast one on me and went from these glorious, uninterrupted 6 hour stretches to waking 2-3 times a night to feed.  This meant that I was up every 2 to 3 hours, sometimes LESS, to feed her!  Amelia would no longer put herself to sleep; instead I spent a huge chunk of time trying to get her to fall asleep.  Sometimes it would take over an hour of rocking, walking, singing, bouncing, cuddling, you name it to get her to go to sleep.  This wrecked complete havoc on my system and made for one very cranky momma.  The pediatrician told me she must be going through a growth spurt and to keep up the night feedings.  Turns out, pediatricians aren't God and can be wrong! (Who knew?!)

Finally passed out after a good hour of fighting sleep

ENTER: My older sister Kim.  Our first night on vacation in Baltimore, Kim was shocked when I told her I was still feeding Amelia every 3-ish hours at night.  Naive, first time mom and all, I did what the doctor suggested and went with it.  I thought suggestions for the "cry it out" method my friends were doing were way too harsh and I couldn't fathom doing it to Amelia.  Thank God for my big sisters help and guidance!  She offered to handle the first night of putting her to sleep for me and listening for her first cry to see if she could hold off ONE night feeding for me.  Massively sleep deprived for months on end, I happily agreed.

Yes, Amelia cried for a good 14 minutes the first night before she fell asleep.  I remember the sound very distinctively and the exact amount of time she cried (so happy I didn't have to go through this alone!).  Our agreement was that I could go in and check on her every 10 minutes to give her pacifier back and comfort her that I was still there and it was "night-night" time.  I went to bed a short time after she fell asleep, anticipating my usual wake up call a few hours later.

Around 8:00 am the next morning, I stumbled downstairs to find a STILL sleeping baby!  In a recap from my sister, Amelia woke up around 2:15am, fussed for a few minutes after receiving her pacifier back and never made another peep.  She didn't wake up that morning almost 8:45am!  My sister also mentioned that she checked on her around 5am and 8am to be safe (yes, she is just as paranoid as I am!).  I literally cannot remember the last time I got that much consecutive sleep!  We haven't looked back since!

I will be honest, doing the "cry it out" method was extremely difficult on me the first few nights.  Listening to Amelia cry was so hard!  But as her mother, I can tell the difference in her cries.  She has the "hurt" cry, "pissed off" cry, "scared" cry and "overly tired" cry that are all pretty distinct.  On the occasions she has cried before sleep, she starts with the "pissed off" cry for maybe a minute or two and quickly moves on to the "overly tired."  I knew crying it out was the right solution for us when I went to pick her up from her crib and she immediately stopped crying and buried her head in my shoulder to sleep.

We use the same principle for nap time.  I wait for her "tired" cues, which include being overly fussy and rubbing her eyes, before putting her down.  Most naps don't involve any crying (can't figure that one out...)!  Amelia is also taking longer naps since she started sleeping through the night which is a huge bonus!

How I found her after a TWO HOUR no fuss (cry it out method!) nap
***Her crib was immediately lowered!***
***Yes, she has her fingers through a holey, crocheted blanket.  I had one too and turned out fine.***

Consistency in the routine has been crucial to our success.  For every sleep, I make sure to use the same blanket and say the same phrase ("It's night-night time, Amelia Grace.  Mommy loves you.  Sweet dreams.").  I also rub her back while I'm saying the phrase.  After I am done, I bend down (more like fall into her crib it is so low now!) to give her a kiss, make sure her pacifier is in her mouth, walk out of the room and shut the door.  If she is still crying 10 minutes later (this doesn't happen often), I go back into her room, search for her pacifier and start the routine again.  I will also mention that if I go back in, I do not pick her up out of her crib. Edited: This does not ALWAYS happen this way.  I do not neglect my daughter in any way!  I do my best not to pick her once I lay her down.  But sometimes, I know when she actually needs me.  This is why it was important for me to know her tied ques and the differences between her cries.

We also have an amazing video monitor so I can always see what she is doing.
***Her crib has been lowered since this picture was taken.***
One last trick that is working for us is keeping Amelia's nursery pitch black and quiet.  This meant getting rid of the sound machine we used (I think I liked it better than she did, oops!).  Currently, I have some old black curtains tacked up in her windows until we get room darkening shades!  We keep it classy in the Koch household!

This might not be the solution for everyone.  I totally get/respect/understand that!  I was completely skeptical and hesitant at first!  It really does sound quiet awful when I read back through this post... But, at the end of the day, it worked for us and I really felt this was best for Amelia and myself.  Three cheers for sleep!!!

I would LOVE to hear what sleep solutions have worked for you and your babes.  Maybe you are struggling with sleep habits like I was?  Ask me a question!  I am by no means an expert, but am more than happy to try and help!

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. I saw your post on instagram and had to read this. I did CIO with both my kids (I currently have a 4 month old) and it worked great for us. Agreed, it's really hard to hear but the benefit of a rested baby trumps that (in my opinion). People are amazed that my 4 month old goes down in his crib wide awake and falls asleep on his own. When I tell them I did CIO, some say no thank you but there are some that are willing to try it. You're right, it's not for everyone.....but it definitely worked for us and looks like for you too! Thanks for sharing.