We started on the adventure of Sleeping Through the Night.
I'm using the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby" and I've become convinced that this is the way to have Faith sleep through the night. There may be other, less abrupt methods of sleep training, but the book makes sense. I am going to adjust it accordingly, though, because in spite of it all, I am the mom and I know what's best for my baby... On to the book -
The author is Dr. Marc Weissbluth, a pediatrician who founded the Sleep Disorders Center at the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Impressive resume.
The author teaches more than just getting the child to sleep through the night. It also teaches about age-appropriate naps and how napping contributes to better sleep in infants, toddlers, school-age children and teenagers. The first chapters of the book talk about the importance of sleep in infants and children, and how sleep deprivation and "low-level chronic sleepiness" in infants can lead to emotional or psychological problems, learning difficulties, and even obesity later in life.
Better sleep is a product of sufficient naps, consolidated sleep (sleep through the night; nap for more than one hour), regular and consistent schedule of waking up, wakefulness,and sleep, and sleeping early. The author prescribes the following -(from 4-12 months) to wake the baby up at 6-7 in the morning. Take a 1-2 hour nap between 9-10 a.m. (or one to two hours after waking, depending on how sleep deprived the baby was). Take a 1-2hour nap around 12-2 in the afternoon (or 3 hours after waking from the first nap). Take a late afternoon around 4 p.m. but not let the baby sleep more than one hour and not after 5 p.m. (around 9 months, this last nap starts to disappear). Start the bedtime routine at 5-6 in the evening and put the baby down (or lie with the baby) sleepy but awake, around 7 p.m. Emphasis is definitely given for a consistent, regular schedule of sleep. In each sleep, have 10-30 minutes of soothing down the baby to a point of drowsy calmness, but put the baby down in bed or crib awake.
Crying to Sleep? When a baby's temperament is easy, there may be no crying when sleep starts. For temperamentally difficult or post-colic babies, there may be some crying involved. The author says there are several ways to put the baby down - either lie with your child until sleep happens (Method A), or put the baby in the crib (method B). For those of us who've used method A and want to transition to B, there may be some crying involved. Should we decide to use method B, we can leave and let the baby learn to sleep alone unassisted, until either the nap is over (about one hour) or the next morning. This is the cold-turkey approach or the extinction method. There is a gradual extinction as well, similar to what Ferber says. However, the author points out that with the gradual methods, there is a longer training period and hence a greater potential for the parent to be inconsistent because of changes in daily routines and schedules, or give up because it's taking too long for change to happen. In the end, he says the extinction method is the most effective, fastest way to train a child to sleep... That there may be a lot of crying is the most difficult part of it on the parents. Dr. Marc Weissbluth says we're not making the baby cry. Instead we are training the baby to sleep; crying is a way for the baby to protest. He reminds parents that this is not the first or last time we're letting our baby cry. There are many times in the future where we'll have to be tough on our children for their own good, cry though they will... In this, I realized, sleep training my children is also training me to have tougher stubborn love for them.
So, here's to my own saga of training Faith to sleep.