Navigating The Mounds Of Assvice

There is a lot of assvice directed at mothers. It comes at you from every angle and about every conceivable topic relating to a baby. From formula and bottles to sleep routines and non routines. I watched in amusement as my mother in law and another family member actually had an argument right over me about what was better, to bath Ava in the mornings or the evenings. Helloo???? I’m Ava’s mother, I’ll decide what’s best for her thanks!

The one hotly debated topic is sleep training. There are literally thousands of books out there on the topic of getting babies to sleep. Some advocating rocking baby to sleep, some advocate simply putting baby down and teaching baby to fall asleep by herself. Some say swaddle baby, some say don’t. Some say baby should only be awake for 45 minutes at her current age, some say an hour and twenty minutes. Some say put baby on her back, some say put baby on her sides and alternate sides. Some say play music to block out outside noises, some say don’t play music, baby need to get used to the generally sounds and learn to sleep through them.

Its all really confusing. I mean, at the end of the day, I want to be the very best mother I can possibly be to Ava. But I also want a happy, rested child. I recognize that sleep is very important for her growth and development, I also recognize that its important for my sanity to. So we finally finished our 6 sessions at the chiropractor on Friday. The change in Ava is dramatic, she is now able to go into a drowsy state and could, at a push go down for a sleep but not for very long periods, and it took major effort on my part to get her into a drowsy state.

I recalled how on of my BF’s battled with her first child, she started a bad sleep association habit, she’d lie on the bed with her child till the child fell asleep. The result, she couldn’t go out in the evenings and if we were there for dinner, we’d eat very late, because bedtime involved a lot of screaming and my friend lying on the bed with her child for up to two hours. My sister in law has the same problem currently with her 2 year old. I really really want to avoid developing these types of habits and I really started to feel that the best thing I could do for both Ava and I was to implement a little bit of gentle sleep training.

I did a lot of research first, because I know this is a hotly debated topic and its spoken of with utter dread amongst the few mommies that I do know. I’m also not pro just letting my baby cry indefinitely. So I was very apprehensive and very nervous about putting what I’d read into practise. Thankfully, Ava is quite the intelligent little girl, and after only one nap, her morning nap on Thursday morning, we seemed to have got it right. Granted, that morning nap was painful for both her and I. She could not understand why I wouldn’t rock her to sleep, she also couldn’t understand why I wasn’t picking her up every time she cried. It took 41 minutes but we got it right.

My sleep training involved the following:

  1. Swaddle baby with hands free
  2. Lie baby on side with warmed bean bag for comfort
  3. Pop in a dummy
  4. Cover babies eyes with taglet (totally necessary otherwise she spends her entire nap time having a fat chat with her sunflower on her cot)
  5. Play Majors for Minors sleep CD (I only play this during day time sleeps as her bedroom backs onto the road and can be quite noisy)
  6. Switch on Angel Care so I can be alerted should the unthinkable happen
  7. Walk out the room
  8. Close the door, using a door stop so the door is still open a crack and she can hear and be comforted by the sounds of us moving around the house.

On the dreadful Thursday morning nap, she cried a host of different cries. First it was the short sharp type that I’ve come to recognize is her way of calling me, and this stops as soon as I enter her room. Then we she realized that wasn’t working, she went to heart wrenching sobs, which almost broke my heart. And then she finally got really really really angry with me, and was literally shouting to tell me how cross she was. This cycle took 10 minutes and at the end of the 10 minutes I went into her room, without picking her up or making eye contact or talking, I calmed her down, settled her, made sure she wasn’t too hot or too cold or that there were any other issues like a dirty nappy and then I walked out again. I had to do that 3 times and eventually she went off to sleep.

Since then, her daytime sleep routine has gone back to the way I think it should be. She’s 7 weeks old today. All the literature I’ve read says a 7 week old should only be awake for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes at a time. Anything longer than that and she’ll get over stimulated and go into a hyper alert state and will then go back to being unable to sleep. Now she’s gotten used to the routine and when I start implementing the 8 steps above, she immediately starts getting drowsy and now puts herself to sleep with no crying and she’s sleeping for between two and a half to three hours at a time.

Lets hope we can keep this up and that this is the start of healthy sleep associations. I’ve read everywhere that the earlier you do sleep training with your baby, the better as the older they get the harder it gets because the more wilful they become.

I hope we’re well on our way to healthy sleep associations that Ava can use all the way through childhood.

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  • Reply Hanneke C

    Thanks for the post. Good on you for getting the sleep routine sorted now. From experience (mum of four blessings) you can’t start a sleep routine early enough. Now 8 years down the track, all the hard work has paid off with regard to sleep routines. It makes it soo much better for everyone!! My babies have slept through the night by 12ish weeks as a result of sleep training. Keep up the good work with regards to AVA. Thank you so much in sharing your infertility journey, I can not personally relate to this and it has given me a much needed inside to be able to understand infertile friends.

    January 31, 2010 at 10:55 am
  • Reply Daryl

    Well done Sharon! I should have started earlier with the good sleep habits, and am kicking myself now, but I think there is a slight improvement. Glad to hear that Ava is finally settling into her daytime sleeps. I so miss those longer daytime sleeps. Dylan now doesn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and you really can’t get much done in 30 minutes.

    January 31, 2010 at 11:28 am
  • Reply Lea White

    By 6 months they form habits, so yes, definitely the sooner you teach them these kind of things the better. I’ve seen some parents whose kids had terrible sleeping habits only because they always took the “soft” approach. Always remember your baby is not a book baby and you are her mother and you are able to do what is best for her and you (even when others have arguments over what is right for you). You keep doing what you are doing – you are doing a great job!

    January 31, 2010 at 12:30 pm
  • Reply Denise

    You’re doing the right thing. Its hard now but once she’s figured out how to sleep you’ll both be happier. J was a lot older (18 months) when we decided to be strong. We used controlled crying, so 1 minute then settle him then 2 minutes then settle him then 3 minutes etc. DH went to bed after the 5 min cry, he just couldn’t stand it anymore. Now we’ve got him in a great routine and even the transition from cot to bed went really smoothly because the entire routine stayed the same.

    I have a friend with a daughter J’s age and she lies with LG until she falls asleep, sometimes 2 hours at a time. Consequently she sometimes only sits down at 9pm in the evenings… its a hard cycle to break once they are used to it.

    January 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm
  • Reply Sian

    It sounds like hard work, well done.
    This is one of the things that scares me about being a mom, as everyone I have encountered seems to do it differently. Must be very confusing.

    January 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm
  • Reply Adi

    Gosh, you’re a rock star. I’m so happy for you she’s getting some more regular sleep.

    January 31, 2010 at 5:34 pm
  • Reply Mina

    I have just discovered your blog. Your story is amazing and I cannot tell the tears I’ve cried when reading about your happy ending. 😉

    It seems you are the best mummy, because discipline means love, especially at this age. I hope I will get to come back and check on your advice and experience when I do get my RLB after all (I am finishing my first trimester this week and try to be more optimistic than I have been until now).

    I wish you all the best.

    January 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm
  • Reply Paula

    Hi Sharon
    I did the same with the twins (approximately!) Only when they were even younger.. I had to as I also had the older one to sort out, so I was running backwards and forwards between the twins in their cots and my daugther in the bath. within a couple of days though, they had learnt to put themselves to sleep, and now, one year later I have twins who go to sleep without any fuss, and have been sleeping through since they were 6 months old. You are doing hte best thing for your daughter in teaching her to sleep well. I can absolutely not understand people who are against sleep training. We teach our babies to drink, eat, use the loo, speak ect. Why on earth not to sleep? How can one possible expect a babay to know all by herself to do it?

    Anyway, congrats!

    February 1, 2010 at 9:20 am
  • Reply MommyinWaiting

    Sharon, thanks so much for sharing this with us. It sounds as though it’s been hard going, but you and Ava are getting there. I’m hoping these tips will be useful when our turn comes.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:26 am
  • Reply Amanda

    Sounds like you have this covered Sharon, even with the assvice arguments right over you!! Well done!

    February 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm
  • Reply Mash

    Your intuition is the best thing to listen to when all around you seem to know better. And it sounds like you are on top of it… Well done!

    February 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm
  • Reply Glenda

    Hi Sharon.

    Firstly, congratulation on the arrival of your long-awaited daughter…she is beautiful.

    Secondly, re the assvice. I feel compelled to simply note something here. I have on the whole, largely agreed with what you have written and where I have disagreed, its always seemed to be much of a muchness so no need to comment. BUT (and with due appreciation for the contentious nature of sleep training), what does a concerned reader do if we have possibly encountered different research, or for various reasons, possibly have a different opinion to you. Is it “assvice” if I say I read/skimmed Dr Feber’s (sp?) updated book (on which most sleep training seems to be based) and he seemed to suggest that sleep training shouldn’t commence before 6 months. I am in Oz and the thinking on this side (as given to me by various maternal child nurses) is that before 6 months odd its too early (apparently the sleep schools here generally only accept kids after 6..). Anyway, I’m not suggesting you consider what I say, I’m simply trying to say that sometimes a slightly different opinion isn’t “assvice”. (and yes, could start my on blog etc..I get that…I just think it shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if a concerned (and genuinely caring) follower of your blog tried to politely suggest an alternate view.

    I hope this comes across in the spirit intended.
    WIshing you all the very very best with your blessed blessed child.

    February 2, 2010 at 7:38 am
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