Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sleep Training Update and Things to Come

We came. We Ferbered. We slept.

It took five days - one of which was a waste since I was Ferbering wrong and I probably screwed up my kids more than I helped them. On day 2 the book arrived and I took a break, read 400 pages of everything you need to know about sleep, started again on day three and by day five we were golden.

The babies now go down for naps and bedtime without a single peep. They look forward to bedtime (seriously, I am not lying). Having a schedule and adhering to it seems to have helped them understand what's coming next and they are (or at least seem to be) thankful for the routine and knowing that we're building in time for both play and sleep.

Reese has always been a good sleeper; she sleeps nine to eleven hours uninterrupted on a regular basis. Her issue was that she was fussy at bed and naptimes - definitely overtired. She also only napped in her swing. Sleep training and having a more defined routine has eliminated her fussiness and she now does all sleeping in her crib.

Ryan was a total nap refuser and he'd scream like hell at nap times. Additionally, he was waking up 3-5 times per night. I stopped nursing him to sleep during nighttime wakings about two weeks before we started sleep training. As a result of sleep training he now naps/sleeps without fussing and is down to 1-2 overnight wakings. He also does all sleeping in his crib now.

In reading Ferber's book, I learned a ton about the sleep associations we, as parents, created for our kids' sleeping environments (i.e. mobiles, pacifiers, sound machines, etc.). From there I chose the associations I (and they) can live with, and which needed to be eliminated immediately (the mobile). Others, like the pacifiers and the sound machine, are the next to go and we have a plan in place for eliminating them.

I also had a major ah-ha moment with Reese. For a while I didn't understand why Reese couldn't stay awake more than an hour to an hour and a half in the mornings. I would struggle to keep this kid awake, never understanding why - after sleeping 10 hours - she couldn't stay awake for 90 minutes. So I tried a little experiment and put the baby monitor in our room (we don't use it normally because the nursery is so close to our room that you can hear the kids without it). Lo and behold, the little stinker wakes up and plays in her crib for 30 to 45 minutes before she starts to fuss for us to come get her. So by the time I was putting her down for her first nap the poor peanut had been up for almost three hours. No wonder she was a hot mess.

So what does our day look like now?

We run under the premise that at 4-5 months a baby can sustain an approximate wake time of 2 hours before needing to recharge. Each baby takes one long nap usually about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours long, two short naps around 45 minutes long and the last nap of the day is usually around 30 minutes long.

We are getting ready to go on our first family vacation, so I am waiting until we get back to make any changes to this schedule. Once we get back, I'll give them a week to adjust to being home and then we are on to sleep training phase 2 (also known as Operation Pacifier Elimination).

There are a few things I'd like to start establishing with the babies now that they are 5 months old, in hopes that by 7 months we will have a new normal.

Not on this list, but something I'm hoping will emerge as a result of these things, is Ryan sleeping 8+ hours uninterrupted. We think eliminating bedtime pacifiers will play a huge part in aiding his overnight sleep.

Also not on this list is the fact that the babies will be transitioning from breastfeeding to formula feeding at six months. This transition will allow us to have a bit more control over our day by fully scheduling feedings as opposed to feeding on schedule and on demand.

I'm hoping that all of this will allow us to create a schedule that others (read: grandparents and baby sitters) can follow easily, allowing Joe and I a much needed break. It will be fantastic (if it works) for us as well because we'll know when we can get stuff done around the house, run errands and live life instead of flying by the seat of our pants.

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