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:
- Swaddle baby with hands free
- Lie baby on side with warmed bean bag for comfort
- Pop in a dummy
- Cover babies eyes with taglet (totally necessary otherwise she spends her entire nap time having a fat chat with her sunflower on her cot)
- 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)
- Switch on Angel Care so I can be alerted should the unthinkable happen
- Walk out the room
- 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.