Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rocking/Singing/No Cry/Cry it Out/Co-sleeping and Everything Else: Part III

After that period of sleep fighting, Ty slept almost perfectly the next night. The sleep sacks I'd ordered for him had just arrived, and for awhile there it seemed to be the cure to all his problems. The daytime naps went terribly before the sleep sacks arrived, but the night was great.

October 25th, 2013
Today was a bit of a failure as far as sleep goes. He took short naps driving to and from Bellevue, but he fought fought fought the morning and evening naps. The morning one lasted about 5 minutes, the evening one only lasted in my arms. I'm going to try holding him still and not rocking for a couple minutes before putting him in the crib. We're still having periods of fussiness when he simply needs to calm down. I bought sleep sacks today and am hoping they help him.

He went to bed fine at 9:10pm. I had to wake him up a little to get him into his sleep sack, but I was able to soothe him back to sleep pretty easily. I wish it could always be that easy. My goal is to get until 5am before I need to feed him again. 

October 25, 2013 (10:00pm)
I risked waking him up to get this picture. I just bought him this adorable tuxedo sleep sack. So cute! I have the problem of him kicking off a blanket or playing with it and pulling on it in the middle of the night, both of which I think have been contributing to his not being able to soothe himself back to sleep. Hopefully this helps.

Part of what causes him to work himself up in the middle of the night is playing with the blanket and pulling it over his head and sucking on it. It stimulates him, and I come in to find him totally awake. I'm hoping this will resolve that problem. This gives him warmth and stability like a swaddle but with the freedom to move his arms and legs.

October 26, 2013
Tyler slept through the night last night for the 1st time in weeks! He slept 6.5 hours, then needed only a 2 minute comfort rocking, then slept another 2.5 hours, nursed, and then slept 1 more hour! Plus 3 naps today and both wake ups from last night all transitioned smoothly from arms to sleeping in the crib. I even heard him self soothe a few times about 10 minutes after being put down. This sleep sack is magic! My boy just wanted to feel warm and snug but didn't like the tightness of a swaddle or the mobility of a blanket. 

If I'd seen any indication that crying it out would help him sleep better, I would have let him do it for the sake of my own sanity. I was going crazy being woken up 10 times a night on top of his falling asleep in our arms but then waking up and rolling around  shortly after he's put down in the crib. All that time he had a genuine need that needed to be taken care of. I read an article yesterday saying "don't believe people when they say crying it out is natural. Back in our caveman days, a baby crying it out would have signaled to a predator that a tasty morsel was nearby along with its family of entrees. Mothers did everything to prevent their children from crying at night." I'm glad I thought about that and figured out what was causing the problem and how to fix it.

The sleep sack helps so much with the transition from arms to crib. He'd start kicking and doing leg lifts when we'd put him down, and if I didn't get a blanket wrapped around him quickly enough, he'd wake up. This way he can move his legs all he wants and he still feels snug and warm so he doesn't freak out and wake up. Plus he doesn't have the ability to kick it off while he's sleeping or start playing with it. I should have gotten one of these a long time ago!

For awhile things began going better, largely thanks to the new sleep sack. Ty's initial chunk of sleep before his 1st wake up went from an average of 3 hours to an average of 4.5, and when he did wake up, it only took a little laying on of hands to get him to fall back asleep. But then everything got thrown up in the air again once Tyler started rolling over while sleeping. He'd wake up horrified to find himself in self inflicted tummy time. He could be completely asleep and then wake up as early as 5 minutes after being put in his crib. Once again I was out of options. If I let him go down awake, he'd spit up everywhere. If I put him down asleep, he'd roll over, get upset that he couldn't roll back, and spit up. Even when he did learn how to roll back a few days later, he wouldn't do it in the crib. There are harnesses and tricks to prevent baby from rolling, but everything I'd read said to avoid them since they were suffocation hazards. I was also advised that the baby needs time to figure out what his most comfortable sleeping position is now that he's gained more mobility, so I shouldn't try to force him into laying on his back for the entire night. For several weeks we were simply stuck dealing with frequent wake ups again. I asked for help on the Sleep Lady's wall again.

Oct 28th, 2013
My 5 month old can self-soothe. I've heard him self soothing on the monitor and seen it from his bedside. There's no question that he knows how to do it. The problem is that I can not ever leave him awake to self soothe. If I put him down anything less than completely asleep, there are disastrous consequences. Most typical is that he gets so worked up that he completely wakes himself up. I come in later to find him playing around and giggling and smiling when he sees me. 

Just last night he woke up as I was slipping his sleep sack on. Since he didn't seem unhappy, I thought it'd be the perfect time to leave him to self soothe. Wrong! He rolled over onto his tummy. Since he can currently roll onto his tummy but not the other way, he gets stuck in self inflicted tummy time and gets very upset about it. If I don't get him turned back over, he spits up tons, even if it's been hours since he last ate. Last night it was so bad I had to change his sleep sack, his sheets, and wipe down his mattress. This morning he woke up alert and ready to start the day, but since he'd only had about 7 hours of sleep, I knew he needed more (he's had as much as 11 total at night). This time I stayed to watch him self soothe and to turn him back anytime he rolled over. Though he eventually stopped rolling, he never came close to drowsy in 30 minutes. I had to rock him for about 10 minutes to remind him it was still sleepy time. Now he's asleep, but he had a couple wake ups every few minutes after being put down that were dependent on me to lay my hands on him, prevent him from turning over, calm him, and remind him it's still bedtime. This of course completely wakes me up and I have a hard time getting back to sleep even after he is completely out. Any advice? I was hoping to try the sleep lady shuffle once he's 6 months, but if he's still having these problems, I don't know if it would be at all helpful. He can self soothe, but nothing less than being in my arms will convince him to sleep.

Also, I read that at this point he should be getting 2-3 naps of at least 90 minutes. Instead he gets 4-5 naps of 45 minutes to an hour, and he always seems tired shortly after waking up and begging for another nap. I've tried rocking him back to sleep but to no avail. Fortunately it's not difficult to get him to go down for the naps except for the final one of the evening. That one he practically begs for but then fights it so badly I can only get him to take it if it's motion induced (swing, carrier, stroller, car). What can I do to lengthen out his naps so I don't have such a grumpy baby all the time?

Unfortunately the only response I got to this (from another one of her various sleep coaches) encouraged more drowsy but awake time so he could learn to self soothe and stay asleep and giving him lots of tummy time throughout the day so he could learn how to roll back over. She basically ignored the fact that he would fight his drowsiness and spit up everywhere when I would attempt drowsy but awake (which I thought I had spelled out pretty clearly), and it left me nothing to do at night when he would roll over except wait for him to learn how to roll back the other way. But even a few days later when he did learn how to roll back, he wouldn't do it in his crib. A few days later the sleep coach was switched out, so I appealed for help again.

Nov 4th, 2013 
I plan on trying the sleep lady shuffle in a couple weeks once my baby's six months old, but for now I'm trying to give him more "drowsy but awake" time. The problem, though, is that my son fights his drowsiness. He isn't necessarily upset, but he rolls over and plays and spits up (even if it's been hours since a short feeding). It's been particularly bad since he started rolling over since he gets mad about being in self inflicted tummy time. He can roll the other way but he rarely does and never has in the crib. He gets himself so worked up that he misses his sleep window and I find myself working that much harder to rock/sing him back to sleep. Only once has he ever initially fallen asleep drowsy but awake, but there have been times during the night that I've heard him rouse only to soothe himself back to sleep. He seems to have good coping skills, but only rarely do those translate into sleep. I hear he's stopped fussing and I think "hoorah he's asleep," but I come in to find a giggly, smiley baby who 5 minutes later is throwing a tantrum because he's overtired. What can I do to give him opportunities to self soothe without letting him make himself overtired?

This one actually responded with something useful. She was sympathetic and recommended putting him in the crib tired but awake. She thought maybe he had a negative association with the crib as a scary place he wakes up to find himself stuck in. If he was put down in it tired but not quite super sleepy with mommy nearby, he could learn to associate the crib with a pleasant place to lay down in. I couldn't get him to fall asleep in it awake, but I did start incorporating "awake in the crib" time before rocking him to sleep. I'd put him in there and sing him a few songs, but he only remained happy in it as long as I was singing to him and stroking him. Since I couldn't keep that up forever, I'd still have to pick him up and rock him to sleep. This did help teach him that the crib could be a happy place, but it didn't teach him that it was a place he could fall asleep in.

The next night there was a new development. 

November 5th, 2013
Ty is just determined to prove me wrong whenever I think I've found something that works. After 2 weeks ago's fiasco of him constantly waking up every 10 minutes, buying a sleep sack and soothing him while he stayed in the crib gave us much more peaceful nights. Then he decided to start rolling over and now absolutely refuses to be consoled in the crib while he's on his tummy. At first Ty could roll over and stay asleep, but in the last few days he's started waking up screaming as soon as he turns onto his tummy. I've tried to soothe him in the crib while letting him remain on his tummy, but once he's throwing a fit there's nothing I can do short of rocking him back to sleep. If I turn him he just rolls immediately back over. Since I have no idea when he's going to roll, this has had me up at all hours of the night trying to get him back to sleep. If he starts rolling soon after being put down, I can soothe him during the roll and he's fine, and other times he rolls after sleeping for awhile and then goes on sleeping, but it's very inconsistent. The biggest problem is when he's only been asleep for a few minutes and then rolls, and the completely random ones in the middle of the night. Even if I run to him as soon as I hear him, it's incredibly difficult to convince him it's still time for sleep. He'll still thrash in my arms if he's gotten too upset. 

Last night he was screaming and thrashing so much in my arms that I didn't see a reason to keep holding him. I let him cry it out (which I never do) while I came in every 5-10 minutes to pat him on the back and tell him I love him. This actually worked and it only took about 20 minutes. It worked again over just 10 minutes when he woke up an hour later, and then worked again over just 5 minutes for one of his naps today. Then for the final evening nap today it didn't work at all and reminded me why I've never had any success with crying it out in the past. He just worked himself more and more awake, spat up a bunch, and would not calm over 40 minutes. Since it was his evening nap and I didn't want it messing up bedtime, I decided not to let the crying it out go beyond that and rocked him to sleep. It only took a couple of minutes. While it's true that "no one method of getting a baby to sleep will work for every baby," it's also true that "no method of getting a baby to sleep will work every time for the same baby."

Although cry it out had finally worked a few times, it was no more effective than simply rocking Tyler back to sleep. He didn't sleep any better or longer, it took him longer to fall asleep than with rocking, I'd had several catastrophic failures with it and only a minimal amount of success, and I missed the bonding time I had when I'd hold Tyler until he fell asleep. They say if you're going to do cry it out you have to be consistent with it or the baby will get mixed signals. Since it wasn't helping him sleep better, I didn't see a reason to continue doing it consistently.

November 6th, 2013 
Sleep training is going very poorly. He would not sleep once he was on his belly, which was anywhere from 2 - 45 minutes after being put down in the crib.

Third nap went down at 3:52pm after 2 attempts to lie him down in the crib in succession. He would not calm in the crib, so I held him for a few minutes. He would not calm near the crib so I sat down in rocker but tried to rock for as little time as possible. He woke up 3 minutes later in my arms, so I repeated the process. Even just the 15 seconds it took me to get upstairs while he fussed were enough to wake him up for several minutes. It was more difficult to get him back to sleep again than getting him to fall asleep initially. He woke up after about a half an hour. I was unable to soothe back to sleep or CIO back to sleep. 

For the evening nap I put him down too early. He started to fuss so I held and rocked him again. He started to scratch his face and squirm when I put him down again, but I was able to coax him back to sleep with laying on of hands. 6:15pm started sleeping in crib, woke up three minutes later, sleeping in crib again at 6:27pm.

(10:17pm) What's hardest is the inconsistency. It makes it difficult to analyze what I can do to help him. Just now he was asleep on his back for over an hour, then turned to his tummy and has even adjusted his head position several times without waking up. But all of his naps today were horrible.

It was a difficult night after the first 5 hours, but I was able to keep him from having tantrums. On a positive note, Oscar was able to calm Ty in the crib today when he started to fuss after rolling over. This is something I've yet to have any success at. Last time we were having problems, figuring out how to calm Tyler without needing to take him out of the crib helped immensely. Just knowing he can be calmed on his tummy in the crib gives me hope.

November 7th, 2013 
Napping well today. The 1st nap was nearly 2 hours. Oscar put him down and helped soothe him once he was on his tummy. The 2nd nap was short. On the 3rd nap he rolled onto his tummy after 30 minutes. He wouldn't calm in the crib so I held him again and then helped him soothe over onto his tummy while gently rubbing his back. This looked like it was going to work, but then it ended horribly with him only being willing to sleep in my arms in spite of how tired he was. 

I found out that Dr Sears and his doctor sons also have a Facebook page that addresses parents' concerns. Dr Sears is very big into attachment parenting and no cry methods. Since at that point I'd decided that cry it out was useless and that I would have to stick with no cry methods, I decided to ask for advice from them

November 7th, 2013
After several nights of frequent night waking, my 5 and 1/2 month old son was beginning to sleep so much better when we purchased a sleep sack to prevent him from kicking his blanket off. We also figured out how to calm him in the crib using your "laying on of hands" approach. Recently, however, he's learned how to roll over. Sometimes he rolls to his tummy and continues sleeping, but more often than not he wakes up screaming. I've tried patting him and rubbing his back, but I can't seem to soothe him without taking him out of the crib. The more he gets worked up, the harder it is to convince him it's still time to sleep. I have to get to him as soon as possible or he decides it's time to be awake. He can roll back the other way, but he rarely does and I've never seen him do it in the crib. I then hold him and rock him a little and he falls back asleep relatively easily if I get there before he's thrown a fit, but then he fights going back into the crib. Even if I manage to get him back down, he often rolls over a short time later and then it's time to repeat the process. Last night I was up for nearly 3 hours with him after he'd initially slept for 5 hours. I thought maybe I could calm him better with nursing (though he's a chunky boy and can easily go through the night without eating these days), but unfortunately that makes things worse. He falls asleep happily nursing, but once it's crib time he rolls over and spits up everywhere once he gets worked up on his tummy. Right now I'm exhausted and my husband and I have to sleep in shifts. What can we do to improve the situation? I've never minded waking up for my son if he needs me, but this is getting out of hand.

This was their response

This is a common problem at this age as children begin to roll over in their sleep. In most cases, infants will eventually adjust to this and stay asleep after rolling over. There are various products available such as sleep positioners and harnesses, but we don't routinely recommend these as most infants will adjust on their own. Self-soothing techniques will work but can take some time. Trying to gradually increase the length of time spent soothing with gentle patting and gentle words before picking up should eventually result in helping to teach him to go back to sleep with soothing alone without being picked up. A great book on the topic is called "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley

I decided to check out Elizabeth Pantley's book from the library, but there were many holds on it. By the time it became available, it was January and Tyler was sleep trained. I hope to read a copy of it before we have another baby.

Nov 8th, 2013
I tried setting up an airbed next to Ty so I could respond to him immediately, but I'd finally get him down only to have him wake up to the sounds of my getting back on the bed. I've started sleeping on the floor next to his crib. It's uncomfortable, but at least it guarantees I can get to him and ideally keep him in the crib before he gets too worked up. Hopefully I won't need to stay sleeping on the floor for too long.

Fortunately he managed to roll over and stay asleep for 2 of his naps today (though not for the other 2), so I'm hoping he will eventually adjust to staying asleep after rolling and I can sleep in a bed again. 

In the middle of November, Tyler finally began sleeping well. He still couldn't put himself down, but his wake ups decreased, the time we spent comforting him was minimal, and we were all getting plenty of sleep in our own beds.

November 9th, 2013 (4:00am)
Ty's sleeping through the night tonight (over 7 hours so far) for the first time since beginning to roll over in his sleep. I'm thrilled, but after the week I've had, my body doesn't have the vaguest idea what to do with all this uninterrupted sleep. 

He ended up getting 10 hours with only 2 wake ups for a quick comfort patting on the back before falling back asleep.

Success! He's started responding to being comforted while on his belly in the crib.

Nov 12th, 2013
The 4 month sleep regression was harder to cope with than when he was a newborn, but I think we officially have a sleep through the nighter! It's now been 4 nights in a row of at least 10 hours of sleep. They're not soundless yet. We still have to go in 2-6 times to comfort him, but we stay only a few minutes or less and he never leaves his crib. The naps still need a lot of work, but it's a lot easier to deal with a grumpy, tired baby that's fighting sleep during the day than it is at night when I'm sleep deprived.

Of course the same evening I write that post, Ty had a horrible time going to sleep for the night when falling asleep at the start of the night had never been an issue. It seems we'd solve one problem only to have another one crop up.

During this time of difficulty, prayer made such a difference at helping me maintain my composure. I started praying before I went in the room to console him, not just complaining to God in the difficult moments. Even if I weren't a religious person, I think reminding myself to stay calm before going in was a good idea. Instead of feeling sorry and upset for losing so much sleep, it helped me enjoy bonding with my baby. I wouldn't always have that chance, so I might as well enjoy it while I did. 

From November 18th-21st, we met up with Oscar's parents for a short vacation in Lincoln City, Oregon. Putting Tyler to sleep there was very difficult because we didn't have a rocking chair. We'd gone out of town to Utah before, but our parents each had recliners for us to rock Tyler down in. In the hotel I had to take him into the pitch dark bathroom to hold and walk him to sleep. He wailed for about 30 minutes before his little motor started calming down and he finally fell asleep (we like to call this "the little engine that couldn't"). It was incredibly draining on my arms. This was another time that if he hadn't had the spit up issues, I would have let him cry it out in the pack and play. If I'd had a rocking chair, it would have taken much less time to put him down, and I could have had him relaxing on the boppy while we rocked. Oscar had to put Ty down a lot that trip since I simply didn't have the arm stamina to hold my 21 pound boy until he would fall asleep. His parents helped out too, but usually ended up just letting Ty fall asleep on them since transitioning him to the pack and play was just as difficult for them as it was for us. Sometimes Ty would let me sit down and sway him back and forth, but it was still hard on my arms. As enjoyable as the vacation was, I longed to get Tyler back to his rocking chair and back to his crib.

In December Ty slept pretty well, but we still had the occasional difficulty.

December 3rd, 2013
Apparently there's nothing I can do to get rid of this 4am wake up. Even though Ty's had many nights of 10-12 hours without eating, he's been consistently waking up hungry at 4am for the last week. I tried waking him up for a "dream feed" at 10pm and letting him eat as long as he wanted, but he still woke up hungry at 4am. Last night I woke him up for the dream feed again, but this time fell asleep in the recliner and let him nurse freely for 2 hours before putting him back in the crib, but he still had the 4am wake up. He was clearly not hungry, but it took about 1/2 hour of convincing him it was still time for bed, which has the opposite effect on my own body of convincing me it's no longer time for bed.

December 8th, 2013
The silver lining to Ty and I both being sick - Ty's self soothing skills are getting considerably better and he's sleeping better. We thought his being sick and having a congested nose would mean some difficult nights, but it's been the exact opposite. Normally he'll just work himself up and awake if we don't go in to calm him quickly enough, but lately we'll hear him cry and by the time we've gotten into the room he's already self soothed or needs nothing more than a 10 second back rub. I'm assuming he just doesn't have the energy to get too worked up. It's nice to have him sleeping well since that gives me the chance to sleep off my own sickness.

December 11th, 2013
Ty went through a growth spurt recently where he was hungrier than usual, but stuffing him more in the evening was much more effective than feeding him at night. He doesn't even act hungry in the morning. When he wakes at night, what he wants is comfort and to stay as sleepy as possible. If I feed him, even if I do it on the recliner with the lights out so ideally we can fall asleep together, he completely wakes up. A feeding takes more energy out of him and wakes him when he needs to be sleeping. My husband co-sleeping with him works since he just holds him close and lets him fall back asleep, but even then it doesn't stop Ty from waking at night. He’s quicker to comfort since Oscar’s right next to him, but the wake ups don’t stop simply because he’s now co-sleeping.  

December 13th, 2013
Lately Tyler needs Oscar to co-sleep with him for just those final hours of nighttime sleep. Oscar will take him into the guest room bed and lie down with him, and I come in once I've woken up to find them looking adorable together. Only once has Ty been willing to sleep with me in that bed, and it only lasted 2 hours.

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