Friday, May 14, 2010

Ode to Dr. Ferber

Johnny has sleep issues. He doesn't nap longer than 45 minutes, he wakes up at least twice a night (but he isn't hungry), and getting him to sleep at night is a test of will of patience. Normally, John will change his diaper and get him into pajamas while playing quietly with him then hand him off to me so I can nurse him to sleep. About 45 minutes to an hour later, I quietly get up from the chair, tiptoe to the crib, gently lay him down, and pray that he will stay asleep. If he doesn't, then I sit back down and nurse him some more. Needless to say, this is a very long process which not only I protest, but my poor abused nipples do as well (sorry, that might have been TMI... eh, whatever).

So this week, on Mother's Day, John and I embarked on a journey with Dr. Ferber, author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. I read the book about a month ago, but didn't have the heart to start "Ferberizing" until now. For a long time, I thought Johnny was just hungry at night, but then I stopped nursing him at night and just focused on getting him back to sleep and he was fine. He was just waking up and needed help from me. Well, it is nice to be needed, but I've heard horror stories from other moms who are still getting up with their children twice a night at age 2. I'm already delirious and snippy from the lack of sleep in the last five months, can you imagine what kind of a b*tch I'd be after two years of interrupted night sleep and no naps? Exactly. And so enters Dr. Ferber.

Dr. Ferber is not a proponent of "cry it out" like so many people think, but he does think that it's difficult to teach a child to sleep without a little crying. So, he suggests a "check and console" method where you check on your child after a certain interval of time to let them know that you are there and not abandoning them. You check in increasing intervals of time throughout the evening. For instance, start with 3 minutes, then 5, 7, 10 and continue to go in every 10 minutes. The next night do 5, 10, and 15 minutes, etc. Eventually your child will get the idea that you're still there, but you're not a "sleep prop" anymore.

We started on the night of Mother's Day (ridiculous, right?) and he cried for 45 minutes after we put him down (we were checking on him during those 45 minutes). The next night, we put him down and there was NO CRYING! Whoo-hoo!! So here we are, a few days later, and he will cry and whimper for a few minutes and then he's done and asleep. The night wakings have gotten better, too, as I haven't even had to go into his room when he wakes up; he'll just yell for a little bit and then pass out. AND to top it off, his naps have gotten better! We actually have three solid naps a day! The first one is 2.5 - 3 hours long, the next is 1.5 - 2, and the last is 1 hour. And guess what? They happen about the same time every day!!!!! Hello routine, I have missed you dearly.

All of this sleeping adds up to him being an incredibly happy baby when he is awake. The evenings are joyous and full of smiles instead of tortured cries from an overtired baby. WIN!

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