Posts Tagged ‘ family bed ’

Part 2: Can You Top This Sleep Training Saga?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

We left off yesterday with my friend Jennifer’s saga to sleep train her daughter. Eleanor is 2 1/2-years old and Cece is 4-years old. Both have been good sleepers. They share a room. But a few months ago Eleanor began to fuss. And Jennifer began to go in. Before she knew it, they were playing musical beds in the night, no one was sleeping, she and her husband were fighting, and everyone was miserable. Something had to give.

So they hired a sleep consultant, Renee Wasserman, from SleepHeadSolutions, to give them a plan that would work. For more on all this, and all the drama it entailed to reach this point, you can refer to Part 1.

Now it’s the second night and Jennifer is hoping it will be better than last night’s fiasco. So here she is again, with the play-by-play:

NIGHT 2:

We get a late start to bedtime.

As usual, Cece falls asleep right away.

As usual, Eleanor starts screaming under the door immediately.

Crap.

I realize we forgot to give Eleanor her antibiotics. Yes – we’re sleep training this poor child while she’s on antibiotics for an ear infection. In our defense, we’re halfway through the prescription and she hasn’t complained about her ear in a week. And we’ve found that there’s always, always a good reason to put off sleep training…

I bring in the pink medicine (this kid loves taking it) and then since I’m in there, I give in to her screaming potty request. She pees in the big potty in the bathroom, which is probably one less pee I’ll have to clean up off the floor in the morning.

We return to the girls’ bedroom and Eleanor wants to get into her sister’s bed. I let her sleep with Cece since I figure she’ll most likely end up there during the night anyway. Night two is around the same as night one but Eleanor cries for shorter periods of time. And she keeps her pajamas and diaper on all night. Huge progress!

We celebrate in the morning.

NIGHT 3:

Eleanor is up twice during the night but not for long. Again she keeps her pajamas and diaper on. She sleeps in her big sister’s bed all night. It feels like we’ve moved a mountain! I know it’s not ideal for the girls to be sleeping together in a twin bed. Cece complains about Eleanor sleeping on her hair and rolling on top of her, and, as our sleep consultant points out, she might just be replacing me with her sister.

In a perfect world Eleanor would be capable of sleeping through the night in her own bed but I gave up on a perfect world a long time ago. And I know we’re headed in the right direction.

NIGHT 4:

Eleanor sleeps through the night without waking up! She snuggles with her sister but now they both seem pretty comfortable together.

NIGHT 5:

Eleanor has another successful night. This is changing our life. We realize we didn’t have evenings before this – I used to tip toe out of the girls’ room at 11pm, trying not to wake them and then it would be musical beds all night. Having kids that sleep feels amazing! The next day after school/work we go for a celebratory dinner and then to Pinkberry for dessert.

NIGHT 6:

We have a bit of a relapse tonight. Maybe from the Pinkberry sugar? Eleanor is up a few times crying in the night. It’s still a whole new world though. I just look at her on the monitor and don’t go in. Now I can say with confidence she will figure it out. And sure enough, just a few tired tears and then right back to sleep.

Now the question is: do we allow them to keep sleeping together in one twin bed or do we try to nip that in the bud too?

Per our sleep consultant’s advice we talk to the girls about having more space for their bodies to stretch and grow if they stay in their own beds. Eleanor is going to try to sleep on her own tonight. Their snuggling is so damn cute though. And I’m very proud of Eleanor’s progress and I feel bad enforcing another difficult challenge so quickly.

NIGHT 7:

In an effort to get Eleanor to stay in her own bed, we decide to push the girls’ two twin beds together. This way the girls can be in their own beds and also beside each other. So far so good - 10pm and not a peep. Maybe pushing the beds together is the answer?  Nope – Eleanor ends up in her sister’s bed again. We think about it and decide we’re ok with this arrangement for now. Hopefully they’ll outgrow sleeping together when they’re ready and if they don’t, we now have the tools to make another change when we’re ready.

It’s been less than a week of sleep training and life has already changed so much! The improved sleeping has made a huge impact on all of our lives. The girls seem more rested, we’re all happier people, my marriage feels easier, I’m more productive at work… I can’t believe It took us this long to finally fix the problem. We should have done this many, many months ago. Getting outside help was key for us – we were too tired to think straight and our repeated attempts weren’t working. I realize now that Eleanor’s job was to test us and she was doing great. We just needed to set the limits for her. When I think about it, Renee really sleep trained us.

If anyone wants to contact Renee her info is:

Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H.

SleepyHead Solutions

Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

www.sleepyheadsolutions.com

www.facebook.com/sleepyheadsolutions

 

Pic of girl sleeping via Shutterstock

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Part 1: Can You Top This Sleep Training Saga?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

I’m not talking about myself in the title, but rather my friend Jennifer and her husband Matt, whose battle to sleep train their daughter reached dramatic heights that involved urine, feces threats, and lots of screams.  This 2-part blog post follows the story of how this family went to battle for one of the most crucial elements in life: sleep.

Here is some background: The girls both slept in cribs, then their own beds. But when the nighttime fussing began out of nowhere, both parents found themselves too bleary-eyed to be consistent with sleep rules. Jennifer began getting in bed with Eleanor or vice versa and everyone was waking up multiple times.  There were tears, thrashing of limbs and feet in mouth (literally). They tried Ferber, various techniques, but nothing was changing. The whole family became walking zombie’s, unable to function during the day. I watched them all disintegrate into madness.

Eleanor is the cutest little girl, full of spunk. She’s also incredibly strong-willed.  This is a girl who is either going to be President or the world’s best criminal (kidding of course–at least on the criminal part). She doesn’t back down. Even if it means sleeping in her own pee. Or worse.

Remember the best-selling book, Go The F-ck To Sleep? Well, here is Jen’s own version of her sleep training hell.

NIGHT 1:

After many months of not sleeping (it’s been such a blur that I don’t even know how long it’s been since we’ve slept through the night) and many attempts at sleep training, we finally cave and hire an experienced sleep consultant to help us figure out what to do.

For an all-inclusive fee, Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H.  from Sleepyheadsolutions talked to us on the phone for over an hour and e-mailed us a detailed plan to follow. She will be checking in with us every morning by phone for two weeks to advise us, encourage us to stay on course, and listen to my boring and very detailed sleep stories.

After a few weeks of procrastinating (we have friends in town, Eleanor is sick, we’re traveling…) my husband and I finally force ourselves to buckle up and start the sleep training process. Per our sleep consultant’s advice, we have a family meeting after dinner on the first night. We try to make it fun and pass around a toy microphone while we discuss the importance of sleep for our bodies, how we feel when we don’t get enough sleep, and the new sleep rules for everyone in the house.

We talk about how we all need to stay in our rooms and sleep in our own beds until morning. We tell the girls that we love them very much but won’t be coming into their (shared) room if they cry.

Our older daughter Cece (4 years) gets it and is up for the challenge but she’s a great sleeper and has been sleeping through the night since she was six months old.

Eleanor hears the plan and says, “Not Yet. How about tomorrow?”

Unfortunately they’re in this together. If we want them to successfully share a room, we have to sleep train them both. In other words, Eleanor’s problem is Cece’s problem too.

We tell Eleanor that we know she can do this. We’re all going to try our best.

Per Renee’s instructions:

  • We hung up the blackout shades
  • We set up our new light-up sleep clock and explain to the girls that the cow goes to sleep at bedtime and when she wakes up (at 7am) they can get up too.
  • We unscrew the light bulb from the ceiling so Eleanor can’t switch the light on and off in the middle of the night (which she has been tormenting us with).
  • We set up a potty and a roll of toilet paper on a towel on the floor so Eleanor can’t use the potty excuse all night long. If she has to go, she goes in her room, in the potty. (We hope.)
  •  We read our new books about sleep.
  • We go through the sleep rules again: “We will sleep in our own beds all night. We will stay in our beds until the clock changes color. You can hug your bear and talk to each other but we won’t be coming in if you cry…”

We kiss them good night and close the door. There’s a child lock on the inside so they can’t get out.

It’s 7:00 pm. I’m scared of what the night will bring. I hate the thought of Eleanor screaming for us all night. And taking her clothes off and being cold. And peeing on the ground or in her bed. And waking up her sister who would otherwise be sleeping soundly through the night.  But we all need more sleep and I feel like we’ve hit rock bottom. We need to do this.

7:30pm:

Cece is asleep in her bed and Eleanor gets out of bed and is crying at the door. She gets down on her belly and screams at the small crack above the floor. It sounds like she’s yelling through a megaphone. “I need to make a pee pee!” I stare at her on the monitor. “I need to go in the big toilet in the bathroom! Not the little potty in here!” I watch her expertly remove her pajamas and her diaper. “I need a new diaper!” She pees on the new wood floor. It’s going to be a long night. As hard as it is, we don’t go in.

8:00pm:

Eleanor screams like crazy and tries to wake up her sister.

“Cece, you need to wake up and open the door for me!”

When that doesn’t work she yells, “I need to make a poop!” “The poop is coming out!”

This is when I would normally rush in. I would put Eleanor on the potty and move Cece into our bed so she can sleep. This time we stay strong.

Next she resorts to calling me by my name: “Jennifer! Jennifer!” she screams at the gap under the door. If I wasn’t so nervous, this name-calling would be kind of hilarious.

We watch the monitor. We don’t budge.

She leaves the frame and comes back holding a summer dress. We watch her pull it over her naked body – inside out and backwards. After more crying she goes to get pajama bottoms from her dresser, sits on Cece’s bed, and carefully puts them on. She climbs into bed with Cece and goes to bed. I know that since she is diaper-less she will pee in the bed tonight but I’m very relieved she stopped crying. It lasted around 45 minutes and now she’s asleep. Wearing a dress – but asleep!

I get into my own bed, holding my breath. I have no idea what the night will bring.

In the wee hours:

The screaming begins at 12am. It starts again at 2am, then 4am. Each bout lasts about 15 minutes. In between crying fits she’s in her sister’s bed. She stands up on top of Cece’s back to reach the light switch – click click. Nothing happens since we removed the bulb. She tries a few more times before giving up.

Cece wakes up and they scream at us together in harmony. We’re awake all night staring at the monitor but we don’t break and go into their room. At one point Eleanor rolls off the bed onto the carpet. Minutes later Cece gets poked in the eye. Everyone is yelling “Owwwiiieeee.” It’s impossibly hard but we stick to the plan and don’t go in…

I continue watching the monitor so I know they’re ok. And I know that if we walk in because Eleanor rolled off the bed, she’ll pretend to roll off the bed again. And if the eye poke gets us into the bedroom, she’ll fake-poke her sister in the eye next time. She’s that good.

We’re all exhausted in the morning but we (try to) celebrate that we stayed in our rooms. There’s plenty of pee on the floor and in the bed and lots of laundry to do before school/work. I find out later that an exhausted Cece falls asleep at her preschool while eating her lunch. Oy. I feel terrible.

–Tomorrow is Part 2 of Sleep Training Hell. Tune in to see if it gets better. Or worse.

 

Pic of family bed via Shutterstock

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Should Kids Sleep in the Same Room?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

In New York City, kids almost always share a room. And not because everyone in New York believes in co-sleeping. It’s just that space is at a premium. In our building in Brooklyn, there was a family down the hall with a boy and a girl. They shared a room until they went to college. I’ll admit I was a bit aghast at teenagers of the opposite sex sharing a room. But that’s how life is for a lot of people. Whether it’s villages in Africa where entire families sleep in one room, or places like NYC. Space, money and necessity dictate that reality.

I grew up in the country, outside the small town of State College, Pennsylvania. We had a big farmhouse with 4 bedrooms. There were 4 kids. My two brothers shared a room, as did my sister and I. We had a guest room. When I was 12 though, my sister moved into the spare. I remember how elated I was to have my own space.

We are now living in LA and renting a house with three bedrooms all on the same floor. Fia and Emmett each have their own rooms. Thank god, because it’s been a challenge keeping them from waking each other up in the night. Only in the past couple months has Fia started to sleep through his cries. Which is obviously a point many people will make: kids adapt.

We just recently found a house to buy. It’s beautiful and big at 3100 square feet. However the layout is such that there are two bedrooms on one floor (a master and a second one), then on the bottom floor is a guest bedroom and bath. I really don’t want either kid separated from us at night. I like being on the same floor. Plus, the way I feel about having company, we have to have a guest room at all times. Especially one on a separate level. At least that way we have our own space. We are taking a contractor over today to see if there is a way to create two bedrooms out of one or perhaps turning the laundry room into a small bedroom. But I don’t want to get into a lot of construction. Nor do I really want my laundry room in the garage.

I got to thinking: at this age, as long as Emmett continues to progress on the sleeping front (as in not waking up multiple times), is there a reason for them NOT to share a room? I suspect we’d be in this house about 5 years, so we would be far away from the tween or teen years. Then the plan is to move back to New York, where we’d all probably share a room. With the cat. (Kidding.)

Part of me thinks it seems strange to have a big house and yet have the kids share a room. But then I think, maybe not. Maybe it’s a good thing. I guess I want the option to put them in their own rooms if they end up keeping each other–and us–up at night. What do you guys think?

Now if only I was a co-sleeper, and believed in family bed, this problem would be solved. But something tells me that my strong stance on teaching kids to sleep by themselves– and my feeling that parents need their own bedroom– won’t be swayed.

I await your insight.

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Why Do Co-Sleepers Use the Past As Their Argument?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Here’s what really gets to me when I talk about sleep training. So many of the co-sleepers defend their position by comparing what people did in the dark ages with babies. Here is an example from last week’s post:

“In tribal times, you would have never made your baby cry all alone in a crib. And we wonder what’s wrong with society!!…Until the 1920′s, babies have slept with their parents for centuries. It’s still the norm in all other cultures other than in America.”

I’m not singling out this particular person. I appreciate she read my blog and took the time to comment. But this is the type of thing I generally see when discussing sleep training.

First of all, let’s get the facts straight. America is not the only country to put babies in a crib. Most of the developed world doesn’t co-sleep. That includes Europe and Asia too, which encompasses, oh, a few countries here and there. Let’s not forget Canada. You think crib makers only sell to the United States? Seriously?

But my real annoyance is the comparison of current day to that of tribal and biblical times and what those in third world countries do. I’m pretty sure a villager in Africa would be thrilled with a crib. I am guessing that is the least of their worries though.

Has anyone ever toured the Tenement Museum in NYC? It’s an amazing place. They have reconstructed a real tenement to show how families used to live. This is before housing and labor–including child labor–laws were enacted.  It was commonplace for a family of 8-10 to live in a 300-square foot space with no running water or electricity. No indoor plumbing. There was no room for cribs or separate bedrooms. Infants routinely died from diarrhea. Sanitation was completely lacking. To use those times as a barometer for what is good for today seems completely ludicrous to me.

Also, you think none of these people from past generations let their babies cry? Think again. Whether you were working all day in the fields or in the sweatshops of New York, don’t you imagine that parents were completely exhausted and just collapsed at night? They probably slept through a crying baby. If they did wake up, sure, mom put the baby on the boob so they could both sleep. I get it. It’s called survival.

Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four babies under the age of 5 dies. Who wants to compare those statistics to what we have?

I know what you’re going to say: infant mortality rates have nothing to do with co-sleeping (unless you suffocate your baby, which does happen and thus why the AAP recommends against it).

But what irks me is this instant assumption that if something was practiced “for centuries” and still exists in villages in Africa, that we should use that as an argument for practices today. I spoke before about this in my case against homebirth.

There was a time when pregnant women were routinely drugged into a “Twilight Sleep” and strapped down unconscious to give birth. They were also given a pill to prevent their milk from coming in. Hard to fathom right? Seems completely insane. Inhumane even. But just because I believe in hospital births, epidurals and the beauty of modern medicine and vaccines doesn’t mean that I concur with the major and egregious practices of the past.

So sure, come up with why co-sleeping works for you: that you love having your baby snuggled tight next to you; that it’s a way for everyone to get more sleep; that it is your bonding time. Those reasons make sense. I did it too. Still do for weekend naps. Put Em on the boob and we drift off. It is heaven. It didn’t work for me at night because I was too paranoid of rolling on him. I was up constantly checking myself.  Now he’s in his crib and doing really well. So whatever works.

But for those of us who want to sleep train and have our babies in their cribs getting an uninterrupted 12-hour stretch of one of the most basic human needs, please don’t point to history and lambast us for our decision. And for the record, here is a recent study that backs up why sleep (and thus, sleep training for those babies who don’t just fall into it naturally) is so crucial. I’m just saying…..

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

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Sleep Training: Will It Ever End?

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Unhappy in Crib

Ugh. Fia is waking up in the night….again. With baby Leroy just 2 weeks away, we gotta figure this out. I can’t have both of them up all night. I’ll lose my mind. Or at least more so than I already will with a newborn.

We sleep-trained her at 4.5 months. From then until this fall (so like 18 months) she was a consistent sleeper: Down at 7, up at 6:30-7. Never woke up in the night.

Then, right when we were packing/moving to LA, she began to wake up in the night. And getting up earlier, like 6:15-6:30. I figured it was all part of the chaos of the move.

But now we’ve been settled here for nearly 4 months, and instead of getting better, she’s regressing. Not only is she now waking up in the night, but she also gets up between 5 and 5:45. For good. Unless. Unless. Unless…we (ack) put her in bed with us. Then she sleeps until 6:30-7. I don’t sleep, but she does.

I have tried cracking the code. We got her this “bunny” alarm clock. When the light on the bottom is on, it shows the bunny sleeping and the moon. When the light on top shines, bunny is awake and the sun is shining. We’ve set it for 6:30 a.m., and explained to her when bunny wakes up, she can wake us up. I really do think she understands. I also think she chooses to ignore.

And now I’m finding that this middle of the night thing is getting out of control. She doesn’t go back down on her own. We have to go in and hold her. Sometimes it’s up to 4 times a night. Add to that, over the weekend she was up at 4:45. For good. I tried to “referber”. Went in at 5 ,10, 15 minute intervals. Can you believe she screamed straight until 6 a.m.?? No tears, just whining/screaming/squawking. Maddening. Phil and I were zombies all day Saturday and Sunday.

I enlisted the help of some of my friends who have all the books on sleep training. I even wrote my old Pediatrician in Brooklyn, Dr. Gold, this weekend asking for her insight/advice. Here is the consensus:

(more…)

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