Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you Dr. Ferber!

As you know, WEB has had some sleeping issues the last month or so. He was doing so well up until 5.5 months of age or so. Then we got hit with teething (his bottom two teeth at the same time!) and his first cold. Since then, it was almost as bad as when he was a newborn. He would go to bed at around 8pm usually without a problem, then he was up at midnight, 2am-ish, 3am-ish, 4:30am-ish, 6am, 7am, and finally up for the morning around 8am. That was definitely no way for Hubby and I to live, walking around like a hideous pair of zombies.

In a desperate attempt to fix this issue, I picked up The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program book, which helped me understand why his body is waking up at these 90 minute intervals, or multiples of 90 minutes. This book really helped me get his nap schedule on track and pay attention more to his tired cues. On the same trip, I picked up Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Ferber. I read the cliffs notes version of his method in my Baby Bible - aka Baby 411 book. We tried this method when WEB was 3.5 months or so, but I guess we weren't desperate enough to listen to him cry for a little bit. Now we were desperate so we'd try anything...

We started the process Saturday night. Hubby has Sunday and Monday off from work, so I figured he at least had a couple of days to nap during the day to recover from this process. WEB went down without a fight at around 9pm. Dr. Ferber suggests bumping WEB's bedtime back an hour or so to make sure that they're especially tired, in hopes of making the crying process a little less wrenching. When he woke up we waited 5 minutes before we went in. The rule is you don't pick him up when you go in to check on him. You're just there to reassure him that you're there, re-adjust him if he needs to be, and rub his back. Only spend a minute or two in there, and then it's time to leave and close the door. Closing the door was key for us. I don't think we could've handled his cries unless they were muffled by the door.

Then you wait 7 minutes and repeat the process. Then up it to 10 minutes. The thing that was better explained in Dr. Ferber's book than anywhere else that I read the cliffs notes was the intervals. He tells you to do what you're comfortable with. If you can't stand hearing your baby cry for more than 3 minutes, then you start with that and just add 2 or 3 minutes to your first time to get each interval. Then example he had in the book was 5, 7, 10, and that was perfect for us. So your final increment is 10 minutes. If you have to go in every 10 minutes for the next hour, so be it. Fortunately, WEB was a pro. We went 5, 7, 10, 10, 10 minutes and then he was out. He woke up at around 2am and we were all in bed and asleep by 3am. He woke up again around 5am, but it was short lived. He was back to sleep in no time and was up for the morning around 7am.

The 2nd night was better. Again, we bumped his bedtime closer to 9pm. He went down without too much of a fight again. When he woke up at around 2am, we started the count at 7 minutes and only had to check on him twice at the 7 and 10 minute intervals. He woke up again around 5am, but when I started the clock to go in after 7 minutes, he was back to sleep before then. I didn't even have to get out of bed.

Last night, the 3rd night, was awesome. He went to bed at 8pm without a fight. When he woke up and got fussy in the middle of the night, I started the clock to go in after 10 minutes but he was back to sleep closer to 5 or 7 minutes later. I never had to get out of bed last night. Better yet, this morning Hubby went in to get him up for the morning at 6am when he usually is up, but by the time Hubby got into WEB's room he was back to sleep. Hubby went to chill on the sofa, thinking WEB would wake up any minute, but they both fell asleep until 8am! WEB slept for 12 hours! Yay!

Dr. Ferber says you can try this method when they're 3 or 4 months old. We attempted it somewhere between there, but I guess we weren't desperate enough to really stick to our guns to let it work, and WEB was doing pretty well on his own. I'm thinking that part of the reason it was relatively easy now is that he's now 6.5 months old. He just needed a little bit of a push in the right direction.

Now hopefully these good habits continue. I'm sure we will have to revisit a quick version of this sleep training if teething or a cold disrupts WEB's self soothing abilities down the road, but at least now we have yet another tool in our bag of tricks to use that will get us all back on track.

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