Posts Tagged ‘ sleep training ’

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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Milestone Monday: Is No Schedule a Schedule?

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Emmett is sleeping through the night. Mostly. I know they say in 12-step programs, “Progress Not Perfection” so I’m using that mantra on the nights that he decides to cry at 3:35. Which is about every other. Some nights he is asleep for 12 hours. Others he still wakes up a few times. It could get frustrating, but I’m not letting it. Ironically with my night help gone, I am enjoying my nights more. As much as I loved my gals, it was “work” to be social at 10 pm when they came and at 6 a.m. when they left. (Yes, poor me, right?)

I think I’m finally pulling together some sort of a schedule with him too, but it’s taken 7+ months to get there. He now takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. Occasionally an evening nap. Considering I only ever got 30 minute naps with Fia until she turned 18 months, I feel pretty good about what is happening.

But what I’m learning more than anything is that every baby truly is different. I know that sounds like the “duh” factor, but I honestly thought you sleep train every baby the same way, you feed them the same way, you nap them the same way. And some get it and some don’t. But now I’m realizing that as moms, it’s our job to follow the cues and make decisions accordingly.

What what worked for Fia (3 days of Ferber) didn’t work the same way with Emmett, so we modified. Sometimes that includes putting in earplugs and letting him cry. Seems like the more we go in to soothe, the more upset he gets. The nights that we don’t go in, he typically calms himself down and falls back asleep in under 7 minutes.

This could also be because I waited until 7 months to Mom-Up with the sleep. I know the older they get the longer it takes to train them.

For a Type-A like myself, this is a growth spurt. I like things bundled up neat and tidy. Including schedules. But what Emmett is teaching me is to go with the flow a little more.

My husband seems much more puzzled. “Why is there no pattern to when he cries in the night?” he asks in frustration. “Why isn’t sleep training working?” I just shrug and say, “Don’t worry, he’ll get there.” Then I remind him that nothing is foolproof in parenting.

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Is it Time to “Mom-Up” About Sleep Training?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

At 7 months, I decided it was finally time to say goodbye to my “hired” village, and as my friend and Babble blogger Cassandra Barry likes to say, “Mom-Up.” I had to get rid of my night ladies. Places in Africa needed water wells for god’s sake. I think I could have built/dug 20 so far if I hadn’t employed my gals.

It’s just that with Fia, I was such a wreck from no sleep and no hired help, that I kinda lost my sh-t. We Ferberized her at 4 1/2 months. I became evangelical about the beauty and benefits of sleep training. With Emmett, I’ve done the opposite. I have managed to find all sorts of excuses–some valid, others not–to put it off.

He has reflux. He has gas pains. He’s farting too much. He must be in pain. He’s pooping too much. He must be in pain. He’s not pooping enough. He is constipated. He ate too much. His tummy hurts. He didn’t eat enough. He must be hungry.

This little dude has me weak in the knees with his ridiculously happy temperament that it’s been hard to think about letting him cry.

But the real reason I haven’t done it is I’m not tired! I think in order to go full throttle on sleep training, you have to reach the brink of insanity and misery. Or be falling asleep at red lights. Or have your husband threaten to check you into the psych ward.  Instead, with 8 hours of sleep a night, I have bounced happily through his infant stage, feeling pretty damn good as our bank account dwindles.

Phil and I both started talking about sleep training oh, about 4 months ago. Emmett would sleep happily on one of us while we watched every episode of Storage Wars, The Daily Show, and Breaking Bad. I wasn’t frantically going to bed at 8 pm, hoping to get a 3-hour stretch of zzz’s.

“When are we going to sleep train Emmett?” Phil would ask. “Soon,” I’d say, sipping my wine, not taking my eyes off the TV.  Neither of us were exactly motivated.

At 10 pm, we’d hear the knock on the door and in came our night help.

Frankly, with that set up, I didn’t want to “Mom-Up.” I mean, no one gets an award for lack of sleep, so for me, this was the right decision. To a point. But then it became a bit ridiculous. A little too easy. And I knew it was also in Emmett’s best interest to learn to put himself to sleep. Not to mention we needed our house back. And to some extent, our freedom. I didn’t want to travel anywhere because I knew I’d be the one losing sleep. Having a night nurse does get limiting–in an upper-class-problem kind of way.

So, with this 3-day weekend, we decided it was time.

Night 1:

This one was pretty bad. We put him down at 8:30 pm. He was up at 10:30. I changed his diaper (was only wet). He was up again at 11. I went in and tickled the back of his perfect neck (god I love that boy). He fell asleep until 1:30. Then started to wail. Fia woke up and started wailing too. Phil was running one way, I the other. It would have been comedic if it weren’t the middle of the night. Phil got Fia back down then came into Emmett’s room. I was sitting there rocking him.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought he pooped,” I said, knowing he hadn’t.

“Look, we are either doing this or not. If you can’t handle it, go down and sleep on the couch, and I’ll do it.”

“No, no, you’re right. Okay.”

I put him down (asleep) and walked out. He slept until 3:25. Then we let him cry for an hour. But before everyone freaks out at my cruelty, it wasn’t like he wailed for an hour. He would calm himself down and have 5-10 minute bouts of sleep. Then gear up again. Neither of us went in.

He slept until 7. The worst night was over.

Night 2:

Much better. He woke up at 10:30. I changed his diaper. He slept until 4 a.m. Cried for 7 minutes. I didn’t go in. He put himself back asleep until 6:30.

Night 3:

Down at 8 pm. A small crying fit at 3:30 for 5 minutes. Not a peep until 6.

I think we are there. And I am feeling this tremendous sense of freedom. I’m already planning our next two trips. As happy as Emmett was, I think he’s even happier now. He too is getting the sleep he needs. I also get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be proud.

It also goes to show that there isn’t just one “right” way. This is a good lesson for my judgmental self. I was so sure that Ferbering at 3-4 months was the only way to go. Until I read Bringing Up Bebe. Then I thought I should have done everything differently to have my kids sleeping through at 4 weeks via “The Pause.” I was cursing myself (though by Chapter 6, I was annoyed by the book).

But now I have a baby who is sleeping through the night, who can still take naps on me during the day or sleep on us occasionally while we watch TV. I have flexibility to do what I want when I want. And for me, that’s the true definition of “Mom-ing Up.”

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Fia Friday: The Pocket Crib

Friday, August 31st, 2012

In my constant quest to get my daughter to sleep past 6:03 every morning, I’m trying to come up with ways she can entertain herself. When friends tell me, “My baby plays quietly in her crib in the morning,” I want to spit. But one can always dare to dream…

The other night, after she was asleep, I put some books in her crib. I figured when she woke up, maybe she’d read them. Instead, I was awoken by two huge thumps. I raced into her room, terrified she fell out. Nope. She was just chucking the books out.

“No books in my crib!!!” she screamed.

OOhhh–kkkay. Didn’t know we had crib rules dictated by a toddler.

I told my friend Elizabeth about it, who did just about the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. She offered to make me a “pocket crib.” I didn’t know what that was, but it sounded cool. And considering I can barely sew a button, it’s like she just offered to climb Everest for me.

Two days later, we had it. Fia and I made a big production out of stuffing it with books, animals, and a sippy cup. I explained to her how she can read her books and play when Mama is still sleeping. Unfortunately, she hasn’t grasped the concept so I’m still not that mom who can say, “My daughter plays quietly in her crib.” But for naps, she sometimes reads a book or two before falling asleep. I’ll take what I can get.

Elizabeth is now custom-making these by the way, so feel free to visit her website.

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Pacifier Anger: My Nanny Is Pissed At Me

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

The pacifier remains my ace-in-the-hole and the thorn in my side. If Fia is whining or acting bratty, I can threaten “no more bagdee” and she immediately reverses her behavior. I’m an army drill sergeant using a pacifier instead of a bayonet to get the results I want.

But Cleo, having nannied for 30 kids thus far (Emmett being #30) told me it was time to get rid of Fia’s paci, at least for naps. She declared that when Fia turns 3, we will get rid of it entirely. Clearly, this is not a democracy.

In theory, I’m totally down with it. In reality, I cringe. I wanted to beg Cleo to reconsider, as that stupid sucking thing is my last remaining bargaining chip. But I know she’s right. She even pointed out that Fia’s teeth are starting to buck a little. Of course a small part of me is like, “So what? She’ll get braces and we’ll keep the paci until she’s 5.”  But I know I’m being selfish. I have to remind myself this is in Fia’s best interest, not necessarily mine.

After our recent trip to Emmett’s baptism (where we gave Fia the paci for the flight and threatened to dispose of it every time she kicked the seat in front of her–which happened exactly once), we sadly said goodbye to bagdee during naptime. I wept.

Two weeks into pacifier sobriety, I had a shoot at my house. They wanted to see me in action with my kids. Fia came home from preschool, and without even thinking, I put her in her crib and stuck the pacifier in her mouth (it was in the crib from the night before). I even made a joke to the camera about how she still takes one. I was in such tunnel vision that I seriously forgot that she’d been without for two weeks.

Part of it was because I had been traveling for a family emergency, so I hadn’t been participating in naptime. And of course Fia didn’t volunteer it. Instead, she happily settled in without a peep and slept for almost 3 hours (another reason I love that thing. The naps are doubled in time).

Cleo was in the hallway and asked twice, “She went down without a fuss?”

“Yup” I said nonchalantly. I didn’t know why she seemed so surprised.

At 4:30 that afternoon I came in from an errand, and Fia is sitting at her highchair with the pacifier in.

“What is that thing doing in your mouth?” I asked sternly.

To which Cleo tersely replied, “Well, I guess since mommy doesn’t care if Fia takes the pacifier at naptime, she may as well have it all the time.” Then she stormed into the dining room.

It took me a second to put together the puzzle and then grasp the magnitude of crisis I was facing. Cleo was pppiissssseeeeeeddddd at me. Furious in fact.

“Oh my god, Cleo,” I stammered, as I followed her around the table. “I am so sorry. I totally forgot. I was so distracted by the shoot. I seriously just spaced.” She was pretending to dust the table but in reality was hitting it angrily with the cloth.

“You are really mad at me, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yes, I am,” she replied, practically in tears. “I’ve tried so hard for two weeks to break the habit and then when you come in and give it to her, all my efforts go to waste. Plus, then Fia doesn’t listen to me.”

She was absolutely right. I really did feel terrible, though I did chuckle later at how irate she got. When I told my Aunt the story, she said, “Good for her for doing so. I’m with Cleo. And I agree: you gotta get rid of that thing.”

I finally got Cleo to believe it was an honest mistake and we both had a good laugh at how pissed off she was. Meanwhile, Fia is sitting there in hog heaven sucking on that stupid thing. I took it out of her mouth and explained how mommy made a mistake. Fia continued to remind me of it all evening. “Mama was bad. And made Cleo mad.” Mea Culpa.

So now, every morning, we take her pacifiers out of the crib and put them on her light stand. That way bad mama won’t mess up again. Fia can gaze longingly at them during naptime and I can dream longingly of sticking them in her mouth, knowing I’m being carefully watched.

I’ll admit over the weekend, when I couldn’t get Fia to nap, I tried to conspire with Phil.

“Can’t we just give it to her this one time?”

“No, absolutely not,” he said. I think he actually glared at me. I am in enemy territory. My only ally is a 2 1/2 year old. And she is the reason I’m on lockdown. Sigh.

 

 

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