February 3, 2009

After birthday

It seems like just after Alden's birthday a bunch of milestones manifested themselves. He is feeding himself like a champ (with his hands, spoons are still a little beyond him) and we finally got serious with our sleeping through the night policy. It took about three days for Alden to get with the program, but by January 25 he was sleeping for 10 hour blocks and seems to feel better during the days because of it.
We bought a cake to celebrate the sleeping through the night accomplishment. It was a lemon blueberry ginger chiffon cake. Judging by his reaction, it was the tastiest freaking thing Alden had ever put in his mouth in his entire life. I understand now why there are so many pictures of babies with cake smeared on their faces. It is such a great moment when they discover sweets.

Alden is back to his own room as well. Ben had been using the room, which meant Alden had to stay in our room. Now Ben is housesitting for the month of January in Waterville and decided to rent a room in Waterville for February as well. I am not sure if the loss of his room to Alden factored into his decision, but now that Alden has his room back, winter guests will have to sleep on the fold-out sofa.
Hopefully in the spring I will finish the rest of the major interior renovations to the house, which will give us another guest room and a downstairs bathroom... we will see.


Anonymous said...

Wow I'm so jealous and so happy for you that Alden is sleeping at last. How on earth did you manage it?

Ronin was doing really well for a couple of weeks (still waking to eat twice per night but not waking and needing calmed back to sleep otherwise--a HUGE HUGE HUGE improvement. We were even able to have dinner guests over!). However, now she's started to wake at 10pm and since I have (had.. I'm wearing thin at this point) it in my head that she should not eat before midnight if I have any hope of feeding her less than three or four times per night, we have to rock/bounce her for TWO FULL HOURS, or until 12pm. Meanwhile she is probably 60% screaming and struggling madly and 40% calm but with eyes WIDE open. Waiting waiting. Very frustrating. So far it's been happening every night (two-three hours of hell) for the past month I guess now.

Ilana said...

We Ferberized him. I'm loathe to admit it because I really thought Ferber was a bit barbaric, but it worked so well for us that I'm a complete convert.

It started during Alden's 12 mo check-up, when his pediatrician told us that we needed to get serious about getting him to sleep. (That's only mildly offensive. What does she think we've been doing for the past year!) Alden had settled into a twice a night rousing routine that I couldn't seem to break him of. She recommended we set him down in the crib when he's sleepy but awake and pat his back and comfort him verbally for a minute or two, then leave the room and come back every 15 minutes or more and repeat the process until he falls asleep. She stressed that it was important not to pick him up or walk him or do any of the other things that we do to get him to sleep.

We tried it for the first 3 nights and it was hell, let me tell you. He would stand up and cry in his crib for hours, despite the interventions. Each time he woke up, he'd cry for about 2 hours. We'd go in every 15-20 minutes, lay him down (which he absolutely HATED - got the "I'll cut you" look and sob nearly every time) and then try to pat his back and soothe him with lullaby's while he screamed hysterically. Every other time we would offer him some water in a sippy cup in case he was thirsty, then repeat the 1 minute of rearranging and soothing. I was a wreak, more sleep deprived than ever (and so was Alden, I might add), and convinced that I had permanently damaged my relationship with him by breaking his trust and his heart. I cried a lot at night and was convinced that we were doing him harm because he'd end up sleeping for 5 hours total and spend 6 hours or so weeping and upset. We were about to give up on the method when I talked to Gillian about her experience with Evelyn. (Now there's kid with serious sleeping issues. She used to get up after 1 PM EVERY 45 MINUTES and had done so since she was born!! Holy crap!!! Whenever I thought we had a rough night, I'd call Gillian, and she'd tell me the horror story that was her night and I'd always come out of the conversation feeling like I'd dodged a bullet. Anyway, Evelyn went from getting up every 45 minutes to sleeping 11 hours using the Ferber method. We borrowed their book and followed the recommended method exactly. Right away, it seemed much more humane and it was much better for Alden. He went down on his own after only 10 minutes on the first night. By the second night, Alden was falling asleep on his own without any protest at all (!!!) and would sleep for about 9-10 hours straight. He's going to sleep between 7 and 8 and getting up between 5 and 6 AM. It's awesome. Here's the time table that the book recommends:

1st night - go to baby after 3 minutes for the first awakening, followed by 5 minutes, then 10 minutes thereafter until baby goes to sleep. Start the process at the beginning the next time the baby wakes up that night.

2nd night - go to baby after 5 minutes for first awakening, 10 for second, then 12 minutes thereafter. Start the process at the beginning the next time the baby wakes up that night, etc.

3rd night - 10 minutes first wait, then 12, then 15 thereafter.

4th night - 12 minutes first wait, then 15, then 17 thereafter.

5th night - 15 minutes first wait, then 17, then 20 thereafter.

The book had the following pointers which might help you too:

1. Pick a starting bedtime no earlier than when your child normally falls asleep. If anything, put them down a little later than normal so you're sure that they're tired.

2. Put them in the crib when they're still awake, but groggy, so that they fall asleep and wake up in the same place. Let her fall asleep in the same way after wakings.

3. If she cries at bedtime or in the night, check her briefly at increasing time intervals. If the chart times seem too long, it's OK to shorten them to something that you think you can manage, as long as you continue to increase the time between visits.

4. When you reach the maximum number of minutes, continue to leave the room for the same interval - but no longer - until she sleeps.

5. If by the 3rd or 4th day, the child isn't sleeping better, continue the increase until day 7. After that, if things are not improving or are getting worse, re-evaluate the strategy.

6. Each time you go to the child, spend only a few minutes with her. The goal is to reassure her (and yourself), not necessarily to get her to stop crying and not to help her fall asleep. The goal is for her to learn how to fall asleep on her own. You may replace blankets or doll, but if she throws them down, don't replace them until the next time you go to her.

7. When she wakes during the night, restart the schedule with the minimum wait time for that night and work up to the maximum from there.

8. Continue this routine until "usual" waking time (i.e. 5 or 6 AM), after which it is unlikely that she'll fall back asleep, even if it's earlier than she's normally been waking. Go to her right away when she wakes in the morning, don't wait for the minimum time as you did during the night. Don't let her fall asleep in another room after this waking. She needs to know that her bed is where she sleeps.

9.If the child won't stay in her crib or room, put a gate in the doorway to keep her in the room and return to the gate during wakings.

10.Use the same waiting schedule for naps, but if the child hasn't fallen asleep after a half an hour, or if she's awake again and crying after a short period of time, end the nap and try again a little later. Don't allow naps to run so late (after 4) that they'll interfere with bedtime.

They also recommend charting the time that the baby is awake and asleep so that you can monitor progress. We didn't do this step, but it might help.

It was pretty awful initially, but things really turned around for us by day 5 or so. I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and offer water in a sip instead of nursing. If she's thirsty in the night it helps, and water isn't worth getting up for like milk is.

Anonymous said...

I have always been very skeptical of Ferber as well. But when she screams her head off hysterically while we are trying to soothe her and rock/bounce her, letting her scream hysterically in her own crib doesn't really seem like that much of a stretch.

So the first three nights when he'd scream for hours on end.. Do you think the initial break of 15 minutes was just too long? Do you think that when you tried the textbook Ferber method and it worked that it was because there had already been three nights of trying? Or because the breaks were more in tune with what calmed him down enough to try to go to sleep?

Have you had the same luck with naps?

Last night it took an hour or rocking/bouncing to get Ronin to NOT go to bed so I just put her in the crib to take a break. She didn't cry or even get back up and actually just went to sleep after about 15 minutes. !!!!!! I can't tell you how many hours I have spent trying to lay her down repeatedly in her crib trying to get her to be calm enough to not flail and stand up so I'm sure last night was just her being too wiped out to do anything but fall asleep (she "missed" her nap) but still.. I believe it is possible now for her to fall asleep on her own in her crib.

Ilana said...

I suspect that we were waiting too long initially and that freaked him out to the point where frightened > exhausted. But it's really hard to tell and also quite possible that the three nights of hell broke him. All I know is that when we started doing it by the book, he got with the program right away and is now going down at night without a fuss. He just sighs contentedly when I put him down for bed and curls up and sleeps. It's glorious! Naptime is another matter. We're still working on it and suspect he's in transition, which might explain the craziness. Sometimes he'll only nap for 20 minutes and then be up and pissed, no matter what you do. Other times, he'll go down for 4+ hours, often at the end of the day and "nap" through his dinner, bathtime and beyond his bedtime. These naps freak me out even more than the ultra short ones. If he's still asleep after 8:30, I have to wake him up and try to change his diaper/shovel food into mouth as quickly as I can because he basically throws a nonstop tantrum until he gets to go back to bed no matter what I do. It's been a bit trying. I just hope he can settle into whatever new routine he's planning to have because it's driving me crazy at the moment.