Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Tired Desperation :: Sleep Training RG

**Dear Sleep-deprived Mama who found this while googling at 2AM.  Scroll down to the underlined part.  That's the crux of the matter, as far as you're concerned.  I love you.  Good luck.**

Let me tell you about my friend. Her name is 2AM-Google (yes, hyphenated). She had taught me so much these past 6 weeks. Things about breastfeeding and cloth diapers, napping habits (or lack of habits) of newborns, when to introduce a pacifier (once bf-ing is established, as early as 3 weeks if all is going well) and how to get my pre-pregnancy belly back (hint- not happening any time soon).  She's kept me informed regarding foods I may want to avoid (pineapple and chocolate) and foods I should eat the heck out of (oatmeal, ginger, and spinach).

I'm sure my search history would be humorous.
I'm also sure glad no one will ever see it, save for those people at google analytics.
You're welcome, google geeks.

Sometimes, though, 2AM-G (as her friends call her) didn't have all the answers. Sometimes, the answer was "that depends on your baby".  That made things difficult as RG & I had only known each other a short time.  I hated that answer, although it did remind me to pay more attention to my primary source (RG) than any secondary sources (everything else).

Things came to a head when I began trying to figure out when to start teaching RG her first big skill, soothing herself to sleep. One source recommends starting at one week old while another suggests to wait until month 4. What?! So now, not only was 2AM-G telling me that it depended on my baby, she was also giving me conflicting advice.  That was a problem.

So 2AM-G and I took a much needed break from each other. Things had gotten too serious too quickly.
I consulted some other sources, such as successful mothers and my own family and as previously mentioned, we started RG's education around week 5.  Things are going fairly well now, but there was definitely a learning curve.  I've put together some bullet points here of what we did, (a) for remembering purposes, and (b) for other mothers still relying on 2AM-G to find.
NOTE: You have to be ready. We started between weeks 4 and 5.  Week 3, I was still a hormonal mess. For us, although it depends on your baby, there was a good bit of crying the first 3 days. I wouldn't have been able to handle that when I had all those hormones coursing through my veins.
We loosely follow Baby Wise, so our routine looks like: RG wakes up. I feed her. She is awake (in her bouncy seat, on my lap, on a blanket on the floor, etc.) for a while (about an hour from wake-up to fussiness). She gets fussy. She goes down for a nap.  That's where things get interesting.

To put baby girl down for a nap, she is first changed, then swaddled. I close the curtains, turn on her white noise machine (a lifesaver), and sit down in the rocking chair with her. I sing her our little its-time-to-sleep song, hold her sideways with our bellies against each other, and give her her pacifier. She fusses for a little bit, fighting sleep, and then her eyelids stay to droop. This can take anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes. When she's almost asleep, I take her pacifier away, and hold her a minute longer. Then I take her to her crib (she usually wakes up a bit more here), kiss her and tell her I love her and to go to sleep, then put her down.  This is my version of putting her down "drowsy but still awake" as a lot of the sources I read suggested. Then I leave the room, and she starts yelling, which I hate.  Makes my heart wrench.

Here's the thing, though. I know she's full. I know her diaper is clean, and I know she's warm enough. I know she's comfortably swaddled, and her hands have not broken free (thank you, Woombie!). I know she was active and stimulated and alert.  I know she's kissed and cuddled and loved on. And, most important for this to work, I know she's tired.  Saw it with my own eyes.  So the only thing she needs now is sleep.

We watch the clock.  The first few days, she'd cry for a while.  After 10 or 15 minutes, I'd go in, and try to shush her to sleep, holding her little fists and putting my lips close to her ear and shushing.  If that didn't calm her, I'd pick her up, give her her paci, repeat the rocking-to-almost-sleep, put her down and leave again.  Let her go another 15.  Repeat until she falls asleep or its time to feed her again. After the 3rd day, it never came to this.  And it didn't happen every nap, even then.  

At night, we do a similar thing, with a little different order.  Wake, change, feed, rock, down.  All done with as little stimulation as possible, so she knows its nighttime and doesn't get too fired up.  Crying at night has been minimal, even from the first night.  

Now, she still cries every nap.  Nine times out of ten, its for less than 10 minutes.  Three times out of five, its for less than 5 minutes.  Once (and yes, it has only happened once so far), she didn't cry at all.  Sometimes at night she doesn't cry at all.  I'm looking forward to the day when she its a rareity for her to cry for naps.  In the meantime, my girl is getting good rest, and she's waking up happy.  She still loves me.  She still smiles for me (although rarely for the camera), and she does not in any way seem damaged.  I'm sure her daddy and I will do plenty of psyche-affecting things between now and when she moves out at 18, but this doesn't seem to be one of them.

Sweet, tired baby.
She's not this little anymore!
If you have any questions, my new momma friends, comment below and I'll try to get back to you quickly!  If anyone else has tried similar things, or didn't try sleep training at all, I'd still love to hear about your baby sleep stories.  Sharing in the victories or commiserating in the insomnia, its always good to be part of a community!
<3 M.


  1. We did Baby Wise with our first one and it worked like a charm. Warning, though, she cried every time we put her down for nap or night for the whole first year (at least). Just fussing, like you said, for a few minutes (usually 10-15) and she is still not the happiest when it is time for bed because she does not want to miss anything (she is 7 now). But it worked for us and she was sleeping through the night by the time she was 8 weeks old (of course, "through the night" means very different things at that age! 10pm to 5am). She is well adjusted and sleep traning her saved our sanity and she is just fine in every way.
    Our second one would NOT be trained. Different baby, Mr. Baby Wise. So we adjusted to his schedule a bit more. He is also well adjusted and fine.
    Moral of the story: do what your momma's heart tells you and be as flexible as you need to be.
    Love you!

  2. Ya, so I am a horrific schedule/routine kind of person. I've tried, believe me, I've tried. I can't seem to happily live that way, so for me, I basically held them until they fell asleep and then ever so gently placed them in the crib. I would then need to pat my son's back for 5 minutes or so, but my daughter transitioned from arms to crib well. It worked out ok for me. I guess. Those years are a bit of a blur, probably because I didn't sleep on a schedule.

    I'm way impressed with your baby whisperer prowess. Nice job mama.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to be in this place any day now so it's great to hear how you handled it.

  4. I'm friends with 11p-Google, who gets to search for a lot of interesting things, considering at 11p, my sister and I are quite exhausted laying in our bunks and our sleep-deprived minds come up with some interesting questions that the other can't answer, so I totally understand your relationship with 2a-Google!


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