I wanted to post a sleep update since writing this a few weeks ago. Every baby is different and will have different sleep routines and needs, but I wanted to give a little endorsement to the below book, which has hands-down saved my life and my sanity:
It doesn’t look like much (and actually bears a creepy resemblance to What To Expect When You’re Expecting), but this book changed the way I thought about infant sleep. Here are two of the main things I came away with:
- Babies need sleep—and lots of it—in order to continue progressing developmentally.
- Healthy sleep habits do not always come naturally to babies.
These two items were huge game-changers for me. I saw huge developmental leaps and personality changes in Isobel once we started her on the sleep routine in earnest.
Easier said than done though. Creating the sleep routine and habits was a huge challenge for us. I can’t explain how overwhelmed I felt coming out of the four month sleep regression. I had a “what’s next?” mentality—that the next night was sure to be a relapse and so just winging it felt almost easier than getting into a routine. I think I was afraid that if I put too much work into one method that it wouldn’t work or it might be “damaging” to her. As a result, I read every major baby sleep book on the market. I’m not exaggerating. Ferber, No-Cry Sleep Solution, Sleepeasy, Karp, Baby Sleep Solution, Baby Wise. All of them. And only one worked for us in the end: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
Here is the general routine that Weissbluth advocates for a baby Isobel’s age:
Here are a few of the tips in Weissbluth’s book that really stood out to me:
- Do not expect your baby to nap well outside his crib after four months of age.
- After four months, naps of less than one hour cannot count as “real” naps. Sometimes a nap of 45 minutes may be all your child needs, but naps of less than thirty minutes don’t help.
- By four to eight months of age, infants should have at least a midmorning nap and one in the early afternoon, and the total nap duration should be two to four hours. Night sleep is ten to twelve hours, with one, two, or no interruptions for bottle-feeding. If you are breast-feeding and using a family bed, you might feed your baby at night many times.
- Babies quickly become overtired after only one or two hours of wakefulness, and some cannot comfortably stay up for even one hour!
- Some parents don’t see themselves as interfering with an important learning process in their child, namely, learning how to soothe themselves to sleep unassisted. The failure of children to fall asleep and stay asleep by themselves is the direct result of parents’ failure to give their child the opportunity to learn these self-soothing skills.
After we began sleep training, I anticipated it would take some time to see results. I was right…sort of. It did take several weeks for us to see results in terms of how able she was to go to sleep unassisted. However, the immediate benefits of the sleep training manifested in how long she slept overall at night (11-12 hours) and how often she woke up (just once, sometimes not at all). We also noticed her personality during the day was much more happy and playful, and she started waking up without crying immediately—something that had never, ever happened. We also saw developmental leaps. These might have been coincidental, but I’m not so sure. At any rate, we saw changes quite soon.
I started keeping a log of when we put her to sleep and how long it took for her to actually fall asleep for the night. Here is a list of how many minutes it took once we started following Weissbluth’s sleep training exactly:
- First night: 45 minutes
- Second: 31
- Third: 35
- Fourth: 30
- Fifth: 27
- Sixth: 15
- Seventh: 14
After that, I stopped keeping the log because the time became so negligible. (Less than ten minutes, but usually less than five.)
The past several nights, she has gone to sleep almost immediately. I don’t hear any noise once I close the door and walk away. I should also note that the past two nights she’s slept from about 7:30 pm until 7:30-8 am the following morning without waking up…not even once. I’m almost crying as I write this because trust me when I say that this is a total, 100% miracle to me. Isobel has slept 12 straight hours three out of the past five days. I can scarcely believe it when I write it down here. After months and months of tears, now this? I can’t explain to you the relief I feel at having a plan to follow that seems to have worked for us so far. I hate writing how successful Weissbluth has been for us for fear of jinxing it, but I am confident that without this schedule (and our regimented bedtime routine), we would have been at a complete loss. Look at where we were a mere three months ago.
I doubt it will stay this way for long and I know that we have sleep challenges ahead (more teething, more growing, the inevitable illness or two), but I just wanted to share the success we’ve seen from this book and tell you how utterly relieved I am to have a source to turn to that has worked tangibly for us. Still, I would have never turned to this book as confidently as I did without the advice of great friends. The network of people that I have become close to through this blog has always been invaluable to me, but never more so than over the past year. So, to all of you who have given me advice, spurred me on, shared your experiences—thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Now go forth and sleep well! :)
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- almosthalfway said: so happy you’re all sleeping now! i, too, read every book out there & it was Weissbluth who came through for us. his practice is here in chicago & several friends take their kids to him- kind of pompous, but he knows how to get babies to sleep!
- delightsandshadows said: In our experience, the initial sleep training was hard, but every bump in the road after that (teething, testing, etc.) has been easily hopped over. Cheers for getting over the biggest bump of all.
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