Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sleep training, schedule, etc. - for real this time

I went to a Baby Bites luncheon today. A woman started this company to have weekly new mom luncheons with guest speakers. Today's topic was getting your baby to sleep. I thought it sounded worth $35 and a trip to the UWS. It was sort of worth it. The lunch was not so nice...a roll, a small plate of mixed greens, and a small bowl of penne with tomato sauce. And water to drink. I might have paid $5 for it. But I guess Baby Bites has to make some money, plus whatever they pay the speaker.

The speaker was interesting, but I was hoping for more time to ask questions. She only spoke and took questions for about 45 minutes. The lunch was 2 hours and 15 minutes, so it seems to me they could have had her for at least an hour and a half.

Here's what I learned...my instincts to try to get Leah on more of a schedule at 3 months were right. She said babies are able to be on a sleep schedule starting between 3 and 4 months. Some sleep training may be needed and she said she doesn't go in to specifics except one on one because people have such strong opinions about different ways to do it. But between 3 and 4 months babies should be able to go 12 hours at night with 1 feeding in the middle. They should put themselves to sleep and self soothe if they wake up at other times in the night.

We are on the right track with a bedtime routine and early bedtime (7:00 p.m.). Now we just need to get Leah to sleep from 7 to 7. Once we get the nights worked out then we should be able to schedule the days better...but she'll need to be better rested for that to work. She also suggested doing the full bedtime routine in the baby's room (following the bath that is). So tonight I'll try feeding her in her room instead of my room.

Also someone asked about swaddling. She says to stop that between 3 and 4 months. This one I'm not sure I agree with, as I've read elsewhere that babies will reject the swaddle on their own by 6 months or so and that's fine. But this woman said they need their hands free to help them self soothe. We've found that when Leah gets an arm free she wakes herself up, but maybe she just needs more practice. We'll have to test it out and see what happens.

The one thing I didn't get to ask was whether we should swaddle wean first or sleep train first. Swaddle weaning involves still swaddling but with arms out and then removing the swaddle altogether and using a sleep sack or sleeper.

The sleep schedule should then be something like:
Start bedtime routine about 6:30 p.m.
Bed about 7:00 p.m.
Feed about 1:00 a.m.
Wake about 7:00 am.
Nap about 1.5 hours later (8:30 a.m. or so) for at least an hour
Nap again about 2 to 2.5 hours later - approximately 12:00 p.m. for at least an hour
Cat nap about 2 to 2.5 hours later - approximately 3:30 p.m. for about half an hour
If needed may take 2 cat naps - but should be awake by 5:00 p.m. - this may mean waking her up by 5 or 5:15

So Shafi and I just discussed all of this and here's our tentative plan:
Tonight we're going to experiment with swaddling Leah with her arms out - but if we can't get her to sleep then we'll reswaddle and save the swaddle weaning for later.

Later this week we're going to experiment with putting her down drowsy but awake at bedtime and see if she'll put herself to sleep. We'll use a Ferber-type method of going in to comfort her every 5 minutes or so, but just a quick pat on the belly and "Mommy loves you. Go to sleep."

Then we'll wait until his parents are away (next Tuesday they're going to Atlanta for 10 days) and we'll work on getting her to sleep through the night with just 1 night feeding. That will mean following a similar Ferber-type method if she cries during the night.

Once we get that down we'll work on getting the nap schedule set up.

So hopefully by 4 months (June 7), we'll be all fixed up. Might take longer...but I'm being cautiously optimistic.

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