Monday, January 27, 2014

Teaching your baby how to fall asleep & tips to avoid CIO

It is a very fine balancing act between creating good habits and getting your baby to sleep. If you have read my post on the basics of Babywise, you know about Eat, Wake, Sleep and about making a schedule. The first section I'll go into depth about is getting your baby to sleep- because for tired parents- getting them to sleep is of upmost importance.

The dream is giving your baby a full feed, seeing the drowsy signs, swaddling them, putting them down for a nap in which they don't cry and fall asleep for hours. But at the beginning- that seems impossible!!

So, I'm going to tell you the system we (my husband and I) created to get there. At the time, it didn't really seem like a "system" but by the time I got to sleep training my third child, I realized that I had been doing the same steps & it works!
Sometimes- you have to use everything in your
mom toolbox to get them to fall asleep!

1. Create your schedule and know the sleep times-  Each naptime in your schedule you have a goal for the length of time you want your baby to sleep. For Chatham, it's 2.5 hours. By knowing this, we're able to have a start time, an intervene time, and a give up and try again time. The 2.5 hours starts from the moment the baby is put down for a nap.

2. Know your baby's fuss cry vs. need cry- When we get into bed, we don't just turn the lights off & fall asleep- so we can't expect our babies to do the same. We usually toss & turn a little bit, fluff our pillow, maybe watch a little TV, and finally we fall asleep. Think of that when you put your baby down. Let them explore with their senses that it's time to fall asleep. Ideally, it should be cool, dark, and quiet. Give them a few minutes of fussing to settle in and try and get to bed. I've learned if I've put Chatham in for bed and she's not overtired, it takes about 10-15 minutes of fussing before finally falling asleep. A need cry is a cry that isn't going to go away- your baby needs you for something- diaper change, hungry, too hot/cold, etc. Listen intently to your baby to be able to decipher fuss cry vs. need cry. If you are hearing a need cry- you need to intervene right away and fix the need. Update: How to tell the difference between the cries 

3. Intervene time- So we've put the baby down, given them sufficient time (this is YOUR decision- for me it can range from 10-45 minutes depending on situation/cry) to settle in and fall alseep and they're screaming- now what? It's intervene time and the way I do is to keep myself out of it as much as possible. I use the swing next because I know the motion will help her get to sleep and I'm not involved (avoiding myself as a sleep prop). It could be something like a rock n play, the bunny seat, something that you know it's easier for your baby to fall asleep. Remember to turn any type of rocking or swinging off once your baby has fallen asleep. If the swing doesn't work, I then hold her and pat her bottom with the paci in. And lastly, if that doesn't work, I feed her while holding her. The reason I do these things in this order is because I know how crucial sleeping is to a baby. And it's very difficult to continue on with your day when you've missed an entire nap. To me, hold and rocking while feeding my baby is last on my intervening list, but if she gets an hour and a half long nap, I'm okay with it and she'll be well-rested which gives her the ability to fall asleep on her own for the next nap.

4. Give up & Try Again time- This is always my last resort. As a mom, it's easy to feel guilty and like we failed. But that's not it at all. Just as we are moms, we are teachers and we're teaching our babies the amazing ability to sleep and self-soothe. And it's hard- really hard! So, you've tried the swing, holding her, even feeding your baby, and they are just not going to go to sleep. It's ok!! There's always next time. Unswaddle them, pick them up, cuddle, and tell them (and yourself)- we'll try again next time. Now just adjust your schedule- if you haven't already fed them- feed them, do a small amount of waketime, if any, (because now they're overtired) and start right back at step 1. One thing to keep in mind- feeding them now may start to put them to sleep, do whatever it takes to give them a full feed so that they don't wake up hungry after all that work getting them to bed.

**Side note- If my baby did not fall asleep and I had to give up & try again, I now know they're really tired. This is when I generally do CIO- I avoided it the first nap and tried to get them to go to bed. But I also know how CRUCIAL sleep is for a growing infant/toddler. I'm going to do an entire post on Cry It Out because I know it's a very emotional subject and one that Babywise moms get a lot of grief for. But, because of the importance of sleep, after a missed nap, I let Chatham cry for up to 45 minutes (knowing it's not a need cry)**

In time, the intervening & the give up & try again times, diminish and more and more your baby begins to fall asleep on their own and we can finally achieve the dream- putting them down in their crib, little to no crying, and falling asleep for hours!

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