January 15, 2014

"sleep training" II

On second thought, I realized that our approach didn't feel so much like the dreaded "training". After reading so many articles and books on infant sleep, things to consider, and knowing that we weren't comfortable with straight cry it out (CIO), we had to find something that would work with our little.

As much as he loves us, he gets too amped up when he sees us in the same room. So us sitting next to the crib wasn't going to work. Co-sleeping was alright when he was sick, but then neither one of us could get rest. It turned out, all the strategies in all the books didn't mean squat when dealing with our real-life baby.

I just felt in my gut that James was ready for some sleep "encouragement". He's just over 9 months, and to be frank - I don't know that I would have been ready to tackle this if he was younger (especially with the crazy move). Anyways. I just wanted to throw my thoughts in - I continue to be very anti-CIO. "But wait, Alex! You let your baby cry!" Well... yes. But he was already crying, no matter what we did or tried. So this approach was a way of gently reminding/encouraging him that he was safe and cared for by mommy and daddy... while he slept safe and sound in his crib. We built a relationship of trust with him that I wasn't willing to bust - and he knew he could rely on us.

Okay. Let's get to the good stuff. A couple of my fabulous mama friends asked a great question around the concept of nursing during our approach. GREAT question!

Prior to tackling this, as James was co-sleeping, we nursed 3-5 times a night. Whew. I am kind of split on this - I was pretty sure that James didn't "need" to nurse for calories that frequently at night, but I also feel that nursing is often more than straight nutrition (comfort, reassurance, love, cuddles, etc.). When we tackled this approach, my thought was to be prepared to nurse as needed, but as a last resort. This way, neither of us were stressed about not being "allowed" to nurse. (Turns out, this is your deal - you can do what you want!) 

As it happened, James dropped the night nursing on his own. When we went in at our scheduled intervals, we picked him up, gave kisses and reassurances and he quickly calmed down - zero request or indication that he wanted to nurse. (The second night, we nursed because he ate dinner SO early... so I actually offered at midnight.) It surprised me that he went from so many night feeds to none (again, other babies may not respond quite like him!) so easily. MY opinion would be: nurse if requested, but give your little a chance to show you if he's ready to drop any feeds by trying other soothing strategies first. (Tina - what do you think?)
Notes: Since the beginning, I've made an effort to separate eating from sleeping with James, so to be fair - I'm not sure how this might be adjusted when nursing a kiddo to sleep. In addition, James has taken a pacifier from pretty early on (not every babe does). 
My hunch is: with some gentle practice and encouragement, any kiddo can rely on the relationship of trust and love you've worked on from day 1, regardless of being nursed to sleep or using a paci. I say this because James dropped the night feeds instantly in favor of sleeping... as well as not caring a bit about the paci, again in favor of sleeping. But again, every kiddo is different and this might not be the right fit for you. Take a deep breath, and know that you're doing the right thing. Hugs to you!

What other questions do you have?

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