Roo is learning how to sleep. It’s hard work (for both of us!)
He was a fine sleeper for the first couple of months. He would wake up, nurse, burp and straight back to sleep with no fussing. I would wake at his slightest movements so I could nurse him before he even fully woke up.
This all worked really well until I got lazy! He is in a cosleeper which is at the same level as our bed so when he wakes I can just pull him closer to me to nurse. I started doing this and got into the habit of feeding him lying down. Then I kind of got into the pattern of falling asleep while he fed. Then I just got lazy and let him stay there.
We had started cosleeping, and Roo learnt that my boob was on tap and he could start suckling at the slightest disturbance or waking.
In theory, I have nothing against this. Snuggling with your little baby and them being allowed to suckle and feed on demand is a lovely thing to do. It’s bonding, reassuring and loving.
Unfortunately for me, it didn’t work. That’s because it turns out I’m a roller! I roll over in my sleep every few hours. With Roo next to me I couldn’t do that. You can’t turn your back on a nursing baby! It’s dangerous, and besides that my arm was often trapped under him. So despite his joy at getting night long snuggles, I just can’t do that for him and wake as a contented, caring mummy. Instead I wake with pins and needles in my arm, uncomfortable joints and a growing resentment to my little baby 😦
So Roo is back in the cosleeper and this move, coupled with a bad case of 4 month sleep regression, has meant he is now waking every hour or so and then I nurse him, put him back in his bed and he cries. It’s really tough.
So we are learning. He needs to learn a different way to fall asleep (and stay asleep) and I need to learn how to help him with that.
As always, the Montessori mantra “Help me to do it myself” is running through my head. At the moment he is relying on me. Over a period of a few weeks I hope (hope!!!) he will be able to wake up, stir a bit and fall back to sleep alone just like I can.
So Roo’s sleep training I guess started when I stopped putting him back in his crib to sleep. I essentially trained him to suckle all night, because he could! It’s currently nap time and he’s suckling while I’m typing this. I’ve got wet hair from the shower which I can’t dry, I’m uncomfortable and I can’t move.
Starting last night was a new rule (which I am breaking right now) – no more lying down feeding!
And another rule – no picking up out of the crib and rocking
My new methods of comforting him this week are to say Ssshhh, kiss him, rub his back, put my hand on his tummy, pat his bottom, put my arm round him, turn on Ewan the dream sheep, gently hold his legs/arms (to stop him startling) or all of the above! NB no dummy as he hasn’t worked out how to use one but if he did we would probably add that to the list too!
We’ve already used this method to get him to sleep without being rocked or nursed in the first place and now he very successfully falls asleep with Ewan playing and us rubbing his back (he rolls onto his front to sleep now).
Then over the next few weeks this list will be shortened until just a hand on his tummy will be enough to reassure him and send him back to sleep. Easy eh?!
Last night was night 1 and he woke a lot in the night. Every 3 hours I sat up and nursed him but all the other times I just put on Ewan, gave him a big cuddle, held his hands to stop him scratching his eczema or rubbed his back. It worked!!! Each time he fell back to sleep in less than 2 minutes and by the end of the night he didn’t even really cry! I hope this will continue to improve the rest if the week and we’ll soon all be enjoying blissful, independent sleep!
For more info on sleeping:
My friend Emily showed me a great blog at Science of Mom where one women has sifted through the medical research to help parents make informed decisions when it comes to parenting. Through this I learnt that some babies are born better sleepers than others, that babies that sleep poorly at 1 year are likely to sleep poorly at 4 years and that the unpopular Cry it out (CIO) method raises babies cortisol (stress) levels but only if their parents are not nearby. There’s lots of other interesting facts there, check it out!