Tough Love

!@(sleep.jpg popimg: “Sleep Book”)Sleep – sweet glorious sleep. Why do kids and babies hate it so much? *I* look forward to it each and every night. But oh! Not Sierra! She has decided that she hates it!

During her wonderful illness two weeks ago that just about killed her, I got into a very BAD habit of rocking, holding, singing, and nursing Sierra to sleep. I knew then that it was a bad habit to get into, but the kid needed her sleep to get better. Last week the bed time battles began. I would nurse her, rock her and sing to her until she fell asleep. Then I would gently tip toe to her crib to put her down. If she started to wake up I would rub her back until she was completely asleep. She generally fell asleep very quickly. 30 minutes to an hour later she would wake up screaming. I’d then have to start the whole process over again. Rock, sing, tip toe, rub back, sneak out. At first she got up about 3 times a night for this – but sneaking out was getting harder and harder to do. One night it took me an hour each time! 😯 Gah! (No wonder I haven’t posted in almost a week).

After 3 nights of this I’d had enough. I went to the library to get Dr. Ferber’s book, so I could “Ferberize” Sierra. I anxiously read his book and decided after reading it that our problem was that Sierra had associated my back rubbing and rocking with sleep and could not fall asleep on her own. He put it like this:

It’s kind of like falling asleep with a pillow, then having someone take it away from you while you’re sleeping. When you stir in your sleep and find that your pillow is gone you can’t fall asleep. You’ll go looking for it and get mad if you can’t find it.

Makes sense to me. His program is designed to teach baby to fall asleep on thir own… by crying. Yuck! Gradually you let baby cry for longer and longer increments. Cry 5 min, go back and console baby for 2-3 min, cry 10 min, console, cry 15 min, console, cry 25 min, console – then 25 min each time until baby falls asleep. Do this for every waking and nap. So I tried it. The first night she cried for 90 minutes at each waking. The next night an hour… The next night 30 min, with no night wakings! Then we went to Ottawa for the weekend…. By the end of the 4 day weekend she was waking up 7 times in one night – it wasn’t working.

Once home I decided to read another one of the books I picked up from the library: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. The book is fantastic! It pointed out some reasons why Ferberizing wasn’t working: Sierra was overtired – I was putting her down for naps and bed too late. Unfortunately it also advocates crying to sleep. Some times you just gotta get tough.

Monday night I put Sierra to bed early (8pm) by rubbing her back. An hour later she woke up – I rubbed her back again, 10 min later she woke up again. I rubbed her back again, 10 min later she woke up AGAIN! I was furious, not to mention exhausted. So I said – screw it! All these “sleep experts” can’t be wrong. Cosmo Dad and I went downstairs to wait her out – she cried for 35 minutes straight – then fell asleep in a heap in her bed. At 2:30 am she woke up again. This time she cried for an hour! 😯 I was just about to go into her room and console her when she fell asleep. Naps were also hard – but she’s a fast learner and only cried for 15 minutes at each nap.

Tuesday Sierra had her Dr’s appointment. I had her Dr look her over completely to see if he could find a physical reason for her not to sleep. He couldn’t find anything – not even a wax buildup in her ears.

Tuesday night I put her to bed early again. To my dismay she cried for only 4 minutes (I timed it). Then, at 4:30 she stirred, whimpered for 2 min and promptly fell back asleep.

Today she cried for 8-9 minutes at each nap.

And tonight? She cried in protest when I left her room – but had completely stopped by the time I parked my arse at the ‘puter to type this post. Just call me the sleep nazi! Much as I hate to admit it, my MIL was right. All I needed to do was put a pillow over my head and let her cry it out. *Sigh* I hate tough love – but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

5 thoughts on “Tough Love

  1. Ferberizing Jocelyn sucked, but the resulting sleep…oh, the resulting sleep has been so much better! There’s still some backsliding now and then, but I’m glad we did it, because the waking up every 45 minutes stuff and having to be nursed back to sleep stuff she was doing at 6 months just about killed me.

  2. I think it’s only normal for parents to want to console their babies/children when they cry. You’d have to be pretty heartless to not want to console them. But it doesn’t take a baby/child long to learn that if they cry, Mommy or Daddy consoles them and that is exactly what they want/need. I have only heard of one baby that doesn’t cry at bed time. This baby (she’s 15 mos. old) is half way up the stairs to her room when her mother tells her it’s bedtime. She loves to sleep! I really think it boils down to a certain extent to a separation anxiety. You have to “get tough” if you want your baby to develop a healthy sleep pattern. Babies soon learn that Mommy is always there and by letting them cry for a bit doesn’t hurt them. It’s normal and natural. Sierra is already learning to put herself to sleep and it will get easier with time. If a baby stops crying as soon as you walk into the room, or rub their back, you can bet your sweet bippy that all they want is attention. If the crying persists and they seem to be in pain or are soaking wet or sick, then you need to tend to them, but the majority of the time, all they want is attention.
    It’s true what Dr. Ferber says though, as I woke up the other night and somehow, my pillow had landed on the floor and since it was very dark and I couldn’t see it, I almost started to panic wondering where it was. As soon as I stepped out of bed, onto my pillow, I calmed right down and was able to go back to sleep. I think deep down, we’re all creatures of habit and it doesn’t take much to upset our little world but we can and do adapt fairly quickly to change.

  3. I’ve never actually read this book but have heard about it from several people. I have always just let the kids fuss but keep peeking in till they finally go to sleep. That usually works quite well here.

  4. I did it too. The worst part about it is that it makes you feel like a cruel, unloving mother, even though you’re not. I was thankful once the crying stopped. 😥

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