Here we are, one month since we started sleep training Atticus using the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child," by Dr. Marc Weissbluth.
Atticus is a few days shy of five months old, and he's sleeping like a champ.
Before we started sleep training, he was going to sleep with a pacifier, waking often, and not napping regularly. He was a happy baby, but he was very fussy sometimes when he was tired. He would often fight sleep.
We usually do the same night time routine, (bath, lotion, boob, book, bed), but he doesn't always get a bath before bed. Atticus usually goes to bed between 7 and 8, with no pacifier, whenever I start to notice that he is tired. Occasionally he'll fuss for five minutes or so, but I usually don't hear a peep out of him after I put him down for the night. The first couple of weeks we were sleep training, I would offer the boob if he woke up after four hours. I'm now offering if only if he wakes and it's been 5.5 hours since his last meal. He usually wakes up around 2-3 to eat, and sometimes he wakes between 5 and 6:30 to eat again. I'm chalking that up to not getting a full meal at his 2-3 am feeding. That's my fault, as I allow him to fall asleep at the breast instead of keeping him awake to finish eating. Anyhow, if he wakes again at 5-6, I do feed him. He goes back to sleep and wakes up for the day between 7:30 and 8:30.
Even if he wakes up at 8:30, he is tired and needs a nap no later than 9:30. Sometimes he fusses for about 5 minutes, but he's pretty quick to fall asleep. The morning nap is usually about 1.5 - 2 hours.
The afternoon nap starts around 1 and goes to 3 - 4, depending on how tired he is. Again, sometimes he fusses for a couple of minutes, but he usually falls right to sleep as soon as I put him in his crib (at home) or pack and play (on the boat).
I am amazed at how much sleep little babies need! I mean, I knew he needed more sleep than an adult, but I would never have guessed that his sour mood 6 weeks ago was caused by overtiredness. He was sleeping 12-14 hours a day, and I thought that was enough. He is now sleeping about 16 or 17 hours a day, and he is generally only fussy when he is getting very, very tired. I try to avoid letting it get that far because I can now recognize the signs that he's ready for a nap or ready for bed.
I really hate to use the phrase "sleep training," because I don't really feel like that's what we did. He was already on the path to establishing a morning nap, an afternoon nap, and an earlier bedtime, but we did give him a little more structure and regularity. I, as a 27 year old adult, typically go to bed between 10:30 and 11:30. It screws me up to go to bed at 8 pm, and it also messes with me to stay up until 2 am. I would not take a nap at 8 pm if I was planning to go to bed at 10 - why should a baby?
I feel like this experience was more about giving Atticus what HE needs rather than accommodating a desired schedule of mine. Truth be told, I'd rather he stay up later so he could spend more time with Michael in the evenings, but that's not what his little body needs right now. He needs sleep.
Yes, it was selfish of me to not want to wake up eleven times in one night to sooth my baby; however, a baby that wakes up eleven times in seven hours is not exactly getting good, restorative sleep himself.
Atticus did cry when we first started this experience. In fact, he cried a good bit. I don't think he loves me any less. I don't believe he is psychologically damaged or that I've scarred him for life. He is quite happy when he wakes up. He is usually playing in his crib waiting for me to come check on him rather than crying for me to come get him. That is a nice adjustment.
We completely weaned him from the pacifier as of a little over a week ago. He hasn't been sleeping with it for a month, but I was still using it as a crutch when we were out and about or in restaurants. Now that I don't even carry it anymore, I have to find other ways to calm him down should he start to get tired or fussy. I've honestly become so much more aware of what his cries mean now that he's well rested and not using a pacifier. The "I want my diaper changed" cry sounds so much different than the "I'm bored of this. Please pick me up and play with me" cry. While I don't believe the fact that I'm more in tune with his wants/needs is 100% of sleep training, I do believe they are correlated.
Should you use "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" for your baby? Well, I think that depends.
Have you read the book? Please don't just follow what we did and expect results. The book is wonderful, and it's encouraging. You will get a lot out of it. Please go spend the $15 on it.
Are you willing to, after you've met your baby's needs, to listen to him or her cry? The book says you don't have to, and it says you can go check on them repeatedly if you want to, however, you'll experience progress much more slowly than we did. The first night, he cried 49 minutes. There have been a couple more nights that I made the mistake of letting him get overtired, and he cried for around 20.
Do you have a week or so that you can dedicate to making sure you're home and in a position to help your baby get in a regular sleeping schedule? If YOUR schedule is all over the place, you can't expect your baby's sleep to be regular. We do have a very active, away from home, lifestyle, and Atticus has adapted his naps to that, but for the first week or so, we were at home or on the boat (his two regular sleeping places).
Overall, I'm incredibly happy with Dr. Weissbluth's book. I'm glad we "sleep trained" Atticus. He's happier. I'm happier. We're all one well-rested, happy family. :)
Any questions? Leave them in the comments, and I'll be happy to answer them.