Two months ago I posted this post, about how I was feeling like a failure as a mom because Rivers wasn't sleeping. I got great feedback from that post because, as it turns out, it's pretty damn hard to be a mom, and no matter how hard you try it's pretty damn easy to feel like you've messed up somewhere along the way. I'm pleased to report that this week I'm feeling like much less like a failure and my kid is sleeping much more.
After a particularly rough night two months ago Jus & I decided to make a big change. We moved Riv into the nursery and I got serious about this sleep business. Making Rivers cry it out wasn't an option for us so I looked into some other methods of getting babies to sleep.
I follow a lactation consultant & sleep expert on twitter (@nancyholtzman) and she mentioned trading down sleep associations. I watched a webinar on this method and decided to try it out. To trade down sleep associations you gradually modify the way your baby falls asleep. You start with a high comfort (how the baby has been falling asleep) and alternate it with a lower comfort until the baby falls asleep during the low comfort. Every five or so days you trade out the low comfort for a new low and your previous low becomes your high. Your baby is still being comforted but learning that bed is a safe place and even though it can be trying for the parents it is much easier than hearing your baby scream for hours.
Before we moved Rivers into his room I'd hold him, pat his bottom & sway until he was deep asleep, sometimes I'd end up swaying for 45 minutes and by the time he was asleep my back would be killing me. Obviously, this needed to change, I was worried I'd end up with a five year old that wanted to be swayed to sleep and wasn't sure how I could physically muster it.
The night before Rivers turned 7 months old we moved him into his room and began a serious routine. Between 7:30-8 Rivers & I headed up to his room where I changed his diaper & got him in his jammies. I then nursed him and we read a story, when the book is done we said goodnight to his dog bank, Curious George & the birdies on his mobile. I put him in his sleep sack, turned on the sound machine, told him I love him & to sleep well and offered his pacifier (which he normally rejected because he decided he's too old for one).
I turned out the light and put Rivers into his crib, I sang two rounds of You are My Sunshine while patting his hip and counted to a hundred. If he was crying or fussing at that point I'd pick him up, pat his back & sway until I counted to a hundred. I continued this laying down & picking up routine until it was clear that he was almost asleep and then I'd pop him into his crib and pat him until he fell asleep.
There were times when I thought I was going to give up and bring Rivers to bed with me, but then I'd remember that I didn't want to be doing this with a two year old and that even when Rivers was in our bed he wouldn't sleep well.
I stuck with trading down and now, two months later, Rivers is putting himself to sleep in his crib without me patting or holding him.
Our current routine starts at 7:30 with bath time, around 8 comes my favorite part of our day, Rivers gives me a huge hug as I carry him upstairs in his towel. A clean diaper & jammies are followed by nursing and a book. When the book is done we say good night to his stuffed animals, doggy bank & he gives the birdies on his mobile a pat. Sleep sack, sound machine and kisses lead up to rivers being put in his crib. Two rounds of You are My Sunshine and then I sit in silence as I wait for Rivers to fall asleep.
We're still dealing with more middle of the night wake ups than I'd like but the fact that he is able to put himself to sleep has changed the game. I know that teething or a growth spurt or a holiday will most likely mess his sleep up again but for we are a happier, more rested household.
For more information about trading down check out Isis Parenting's webinar, and if you're on twitter be sure to follow @nancyholtzman, she's beyond helpful and she knows what she's talking about.