Saturday, January 31, 2009

Baby Whisperer Day 8: Learning

Now that Terry has read some of the material I've been working from, he's helped me fine-tune some of our techniques at key points where I think we'd gone off track.
  1. I think I was picking up too soon, when she wasn't actually crying, but more just fussing and complaining. At that point, it's better to rub her back and soothe her than to pick her up.
  2. I was also soothing when she wasn't actually upset, just annoyed. This did more to rev her up than calm her down. What she does a lot is get up on all fours, crawl to the side of the crib, and try to stand up. What I was doing at that point was to pick her up to cuddle and soothe her, but she'd fight me - pushing back with arms and legs - so I'd put her down immediately. Well, it's actually better to just lift her and lay her back down saying "time to sleep now."
  3. I was walking away from the crib before she was all the way asleep. My rationale was that she needs to learn to fall asleep on her own, right? So I should walk away before she's all the way under. But the result of that was that within 20 minutes - sometimes 5 - she'd be crying to be picked up again. What I did today, instead, was to stay with her, one hand on her back (or side, when she rolled over onto her back) until she was deeply asleep. This took twenty minutes. AHA!!! We learned a long time ago from Harvey Karp of the "Happiest Baby on the Block" fame that it takes a full twenty minutes for a baby to drop into deep sleep. At exactly 20 minutes into her nap today, she startled, gave a little cry, and rolled over onto her tummy. But I was right there instead of off trying to work or nap or do chores, so I just laid my hand on her back and said "it's ok, you can go to sleep, Mommy's right here," and she went back to sleep straight away. This observation supports Weissbluth's claim that a nap under 30 minutes "doesn't count" - ah, of course! If it takes 20 minutes to fall into a deep sleep, then a nap that short isn't really restorative sleep.

There are two more pieces to our action plan that we're going to implement starting today:

  1. No more nursing in the bedroom. Anywhere else is fine. This will help me be disciplined about not nursing her to sleep. After all, the first step to helping her learn to fall asleep on her own is teaching her not to depend on the breast to fall asleep. That's been the #1 problem disrupting my sleep since November.
  2. Posters detailing exactly the sequence of the wind-down ritual, and PI/PD rules. This sounds excessively anal, I know, but I've been driving myself crazy trying to remember these things in a haze of sleep deprivation and some posted rules will help me. Also the babysitters can follow them when they're here. (Dot, don't worry - we know that Grandma's house is traditionally a haven from mom and dad's rules!) I don't want to be legalistic, but just less anxious about whether I'm doing the correct thing or not.

So. Last night she went down at around 8, woke up 9x, and was up at 6:40.

But... TODAY... she had a good long nap in the morning (9:10-10:45), and is currently 80 minutes into her second nap of the day. YAY!!! Both times, one of us was there to soothe her back to sleep before she fully woke up 20 minutes into the nap. We're going to do the same thing at night: at the first squeak, we'll go soothe her back to sleep instead of waiting until she cries like we have been. If she doesn't wake up all the way, she should go back down easier. Eventually she should go back to sleep without us coming to shush her.

I feel hopeful.

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