the eric update – day 223: On Associating Mamma with Falling Asleep.

it appears as it’s been 60 days since my last “is it sleepy time or wakey time?” update and, oh my, how times have changed!

you might recall that two months ago it seemed that odin was headed on the fast track for full nights of sleep in his crib instead of his co-sleeper. well, he’s in the crib, but he’s slowly slipped from sleeping 3-4 hours a night before waking to only getting 45 minutes to an hour of sleep, which is not very healthy since it disrupts his ability to go into deep REM sleep. and when he wakes up, instead of lulling himself back to sleep, he lets everyone know that he’d really rather prefer a bit of “comfort” nursing before going back to bed. so kris isn’t getting any sleep either.

and while he hasn’t been sleeping for long periods of time, he at least has been going to sleep quickly at his regular bedtime thanks to the The Four Bees. that is, until recently. a few weeks ago we noticed that it was taking longer and longer for him to go to sleep and he seemed to be having a n increasingly difficult time staying asleep immediately after the bedtime ritual if kris wasn’t sitting close at hand.

he’s not sick and we know that most of the time he’s having trouble sleeping without comfort nursing that he’s not hungry, so it seems that odin is developing a classic case of Associating Mamma with Falling Asleep.

so, what to do? while we haven’t read every book on infant sleeping, the ones we have read, such as “healthy sleep habits, happy child” and “the no cry sleep solution” recommend that after you reach 4 months (adjusted) in age, it’s time to get proactive about creating healthy sleep habits before things get out of control. and while there’s not a lot of debate about when to start doing something, there’s lots to debate when it comes to what to do. with regards to a case of “Associating Mamma with Falling Asleep” “healthy sleep habits, happy child” recommended plan is along the lines of; 1. close the door at 7 p.m. 2. turn off the baby monitor 3. as long as you’re sure the infant isn’t hungry or in danger, you let her scream all night long. 4. repeat for several nights. the second night generally considered to be the “worst” night. on the other end of the spectrum you have the procedures and protocols outline in “the no cry sleep solution”, in which you engage in an elaborate process of “weaning” the infant from Associating Mamma with Falling Asleep.

we’ve chosen to go with yet another alternative by modifying “progressive” ferber method, which is much closer to the approach outlined in “the no cry sleep solution”, but much less elaborate.

the first plan of attack is to put odin down when he’s drowsy, but not asleep so he gets more practice at getting used to putting himself to sleep in his crib. if he “fusses” then we stand nearby to confort him for 2 minutes and then we leave the room for up to 5 minutes. after 5 minutes, if he’s still fussing or (gasp!) crying we’ll return the to the room for 2-3 minutes and leave again for 5 more minutes. we repeat as necessary, increasing the time we stay out of the room, to 7 minutes and then 10 minutes until two hours has passed at which time he can eat again. phew.

we were amazed at the results. while he does get upset when we leave the room for the first 5 minute period ( usually it takes him a few minutes to figure out we’re not around and then a minute or two more to get “worked up” about it. ), he’s always been able to put himself to sleep in the following 5 minute period! and coincident with this new approach, the interval he stays asleep at night has increased from 45 minutes to an hour to over 2.5 hours ( and occasionally 4 hours )! via the baby monitor, we’ve even heard him put himself back to sleep several times each night, which never used to happen. so we’re very happy with the initial results, since it hasn’t involved too much trauma.

assuming that we continue to see such postive benefits with this approach, we’ll work on using similar techniques to gradually get odin’s “sleep interval” from 2.5 hours to much more normal 5 hours by increasing the time between nighttime feedings by 15 minutes each week. this week we’ve already done well, since the baseline was 2 hours between feedings and without doing much of anything beyond putting him to bed differently we’ve seen his sleep interval jump past that mark. next week the baseline will be 2 hours and 15 minutes. and then 2 hours and 30 minutes and so on and so forth. most “sleep authorities” claim that by 4 months “most” babies are sleeping 5-6 hours uninterrupted, so we have our work cut out for us.

here’s to hoping that there’s more sleeping the next “sleep” update 🙂

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