Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My advice on baby sleep

My advice for sleep comes from a book called On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. Normally, I just call it Babywise.

I feel that getting your baby to sleep is a really touchy subject for mothers, so I want to disclaimer that I don't at all believe that there is only one way to do this. And not all babies are created equal. But if you want to have a strategy, this method worked for me.

For babies, sleep and eating are really closely connected - hey, it's all they do (and poop). The book's strategy is called Parent Directed Feedings (as opposed to Demand Feeding). I'll give you the jist of what the book says...

1) Focus on "full feedings." Make sure your baby isn't just getting a snack when you feed them. Work to keep a newborn alert and eating until they have taken a full meal (bottle or breast).
2) Follow the order: Sleep, Feed, Waketime. Repeat this throughout the day.
3) Use a clock schedule (but allow yourself some flexibility). I found that it really does work to have a schedule based on the clock. In the early days, I tried doing a 3 hour (1 1/2 hours asleep, 1 1/2 hours feed/awake) schedule from whenever Caroline woke up. This didn't work as well as when I followed the book's advice and started each day at the same time and did her feedings from there (ie. 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm...). Which means that you really do wake up a sleeping baby in order to eat : (
4) Except at night. With nightime, you do two things. First, you have "bedtime" at a decent hour and then you get the baby up for a "dream feed" (which I actually called a "drain feed"). You get them up and feed them and put them right back to bed with no waketime. It's really more to do with maintaining supply for breastfeeding moms. I liked this feeding because (1) it kept me from leaking all over myself before morning and (2) Caroline was so sleepy that she never cried at all going back to bed. The second thing is that you let them sleep until they wake you up for the rest of the middle of the night feedings (until they stop needing them at all).

The books claims (and I've found it to be true) that if you follow these tips, your baby will sleep through the night around 2 or 3 months old. Of course, I've also heard that this can happen no matter what method you try.

The book does advocate the whole "cry it out" technique. This isn't for everyone, but I'll tell you this much... now, 80% of the time, when I put Caroline down for her naps, I don't get one peep out of her. She's learned to put herself to sleep - which is another goal of the book.

The book also tells you things that I wouldn't have known. For example, after a certain age, babies' biological clocks can get "stuck" at a certain time of night and they wake up - even though they aren't really hungry. For Caroline, this was 4:30 am. If you just let them cry for a few minutes, they'll go right back to sleep. And after a few nights, their clock doesn't get "stuck" anymore and wha-la they are sleeping through the night. This happened right around New Years for us.

The book has a lot of Christian undertones - I think it used to be more so, but has been secularized. It has a lot of really good stuff in the beginning about keeping your marriage strong in order to be a good parent.

If you do decide to go Babywise and you need any help, let me know. I had two moms that I asked questions when I started working on it. Either way, just remember, you will sleep again. Kevin's aunt once told me that with your first baby, you are so ready for them to sleep through the night. But with subsequent babies, you aren't in such a hurry because you are more confident that it will happen.

Here is Caroline's schedule from 4 months old...

6:30 Feed/Wake
8:00 Nap
10:00 Feed/Wake
11:45 Nap
1:30 Feed/Wake
3:15 Nap
5:00 Feed/Wake
7:00 Nap
8:30 Feed/Wake
9:30 Bathtime
10:00 Bedtime
11:00 "Dream Feed" (Feed and straight back to bed)

I think that I had all the weird 15 minute increments b/c I wanted MY bedtime to be around eleven, so I worked backwords trying to fit in feedings and knowing that she liked to get up around 6:30.

The five month schedule was easier times..
7:00 Feed/Wake
9:00 Nap
11:00 Feed/Wake
1:00 Nap
3:00 Feed/Wake
5:00 Nap
6:00 Feed/Wake
7:30 Bathtime
8:00 Nap
9:00 "Dream Feed" (feed and straight back to bed)

She pretty much followed this schedule with the addition of solids at 6 pm, 7 am, noon, and snack at 4 pm (one meal added at a time over a few months). Somewhere in there, I had trouble getting Caroline to take a full 2 hour nap and I've had several friends mention the same issue. I can't fully remember how I handled it. I think I just stuck to the schedule, let her cry a bit and then get up early, and it eventually worked out.

Then I reworked to move up the "dream feed" at about 8 or 9 months to be...
6:00 Feed/Wake
8:00 Bathtime, followed by a feeding and bedtime routine so she was down for the night around 8:30.

And I just changed her at 10 1/2 months to be...
7:00 Feed/Wake
9:00 Snack
10:00 Nap
Noon Feed/Wake
2:00 Snack
3:00 Nap
5:00 Feed/Wake
7:30/8:00 Bathtime followed by a feeding and bedtime routine

I weaned Caroline around 14 months. She dropped her bedtime feeding on her own - she just showed a preference to go to bed instead of nursing. Then dropped her noon feeding. And dropped the morning feeding last.

Around 18 months (it might happen earlier for you), I started having trouble getting her to take a full afternoon nap. So I shortened the morning nap...
7:00 Wake and eat breakfast
9:00 Snack
10:30 - 11:30 Nap
Noon Lunch
2:00 Snack
3:00 - 5:00 Nap
6:00 Dinner
7:30/8:00 Bathtime followed by bedtime routine

I finally went down to one nap around 22 months. I can still get her to nap at 10:30 and 3:00 if she's sick or we need to be out in the afternoon.
7:00 Wake
7:30 Breakfast
10:00 Snack
11:00 Lunch
Noon Nap
(she'll nap anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours)
6:00 dinner
7:30 bath
8:00 bedtime

I guess I'll add Charlotte's schedule. She wouldn't adhere to a schedule at first, so I just let her do her own thing (paying attention to put her to sleep as soon as she yawned or fussed) and she fell into a schedule (really close to what I had in mind) within a week. So this schedule started around 4 weeks old...

7:30 Wake & feed
8:30 Nap
9:30 Wake & feed
10:30 Nap
12:30 Wake & feed
1:30 Nap
3:30 Wake & feed
4:30 Nap
6:30 Wake & feed
8:00 Nap
9:30 Dream feed
11:00 Dream feed
And she usally woke up for a 4 am feeding.

Then she started having more waketime at 2 months...
6:30 Wake & feed
8:00 Nap
9:30 Wake & feed
11:00 Nap
12:30 Wake & feed
2:00 Nap
3:30 Wake & feed
5:00 Nap
6:30 Wake & feed
8:00 Bedtime
10:00 Dream feed

Started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks old. Waking between 5 am and 6:30 am. If she got up at 5 am, then I usually put her to bed and then woke her up at 7:30 and then did the first nap at 8:30. Also, struggling with the "45 minute intruder" from the book. She stirs during daytime naps at 45 minutes, but quickly resettles. The dinner time feeding is harder, so we've been keeping her up past 5:00 to get her to sleep until 6:30.


Sarah said...

We tried to do babywise with both our kiddos. It didn't work at all with Madelyn and is going ok with Jackson. I am glad it worked for Caroline!

mindy said...

When did you drop your dream feed? Landon is still doing it at 5 1/2 months and has now finally adapted to a good 3 1/2 - 4 hour schedule (it just took a few weeks to get back on!). He started solids this week - Yay! Our schedule is:
7:00 Wake & Feed
9:30 Nap
10:30 Wake & Feed
12:30 Nap
2:00 Wake & Feed
4:00 Nap
5:30 Wake & Feed
7:30 Bath, Nap
9:00 Dream Feed

Tammy said...

Margaret - thanks for all the detail! We're still working on sleeping through the night with Sebastian. Have you found that their birth weight made any difference. He was only 5 pounds when he was born and is finally past the 12 pound mark at 5 months so I feel like it should be possible now for him to sleep through the night. We've made some progress toward it this week and am hoping the trend continues!