Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sleep Q&A

I receive many emails a month from individuals facing severe sleep battles with their young children. I wanted to try to compile some of the Q&A questions so that people could read what has worked for others. This is a work in progress as I have many old correspondence to go through to create the Q&A.

You can click here to read my SLEEP BIBLE. As I explain in this post, JB and I have found a system that has worked wonderfully with our four children. Boys and girls -- adopted and biological -- breast and bottle-fed -- we have had all of our children sleeping through the night by about 3 months old. And when I tell people that, they want to know what we did.

Being as my husband is a doctor, I feel pretty confident sharing this system. JB has used it with MANY an exhausted mother with great results. He will tell you that every single woman who has followed his advice has had tremendous sleep success with their little one. I have also walked alongside dozens of women as they implement this system and get some much needed sleep.

However, I want to say again that I do not believe this is the ONLY way to do things. If you have a system that works for you, I truly do not believe that there is a right or wrong way. There is only what is working for your family. The women I am talking to are exhausted and their lack of sleep is impacting their ability to do motherhood well. For those mothers, I offer relief.

Many people who are against CIO (cry it out) will tell you that they think a baby's cries must be responded to. I disagree. If this were the case, then the Lord wouldn't give people twins or triplets. I had babies under nine months apart. It would be IMPOSSIBLE to respond to their cries all the time because there were two of them.

That being said, this post is not about debating what sleep method is best. I do not put down another method. If it is working for you -- then keep doing it!

My friend Michelle, who is an ER doctor, did not use this system. She was up with her babies many times during the night through their second year. And she said it best when she said, "I know I could change it and have better sleep. But I don't want to."

And that is fine!

But for those people who want to sleep through the night sooner rather than later, I offer a system that will work! Please read my Sleep Bible link above and then take a look at some of the Q&A I offer below:


Hey Wendi...sleep guru! I could use some help!
Our baby is 4.5 months old, 2 adjusted. From 3 months till last week, he has slept 10-12 hours a day and has taken really good naps, with about 45-60 minutes of wake time between naps. Well, last week, we got 4 month vaccines. That first night, he was up several times, like every 2-3 hours. I thought it was soreness from the shots or whatnot. And the next day...crap naps! I mean really crappy! Like anywhere from 20-45 minutes. We put him down drowsy, no sleep aids, he puts himself to sleep and then BAM! wakes up shortly thereafter. If I put him in the swing, he will continue his nap for about 2 hours. However, I don't want to do this! I don't want to have to resort to swinging or babywearing for naps. I kind of feel like that would be setting myself up for failure later on.
Anyway, we do eat/play/sleep routine and always have. I let him fuss for a bit...maybe 10 minutes or so (2.5 months developmentally seems early to CIO?) before going to get him. Is this just a normal regression? What can I do to help him sleep better overall, naps and nightly?
Thanks in advance!

Great question. I conferred with my doctor husband and here is what we think ... Most likely he did have a hard time after shots and as a result he got you to wait on him during the time (which you have to do when they are sick.) I I often find that after a sickness I have to restart sleep training.

So now you have a baby who is thinking that he needs mom for comfort instead of sleep for comfort. So now you have to decide. It is my and hubby's opinion that he is not too young to sleep train.
If you really don't want to then you can just wait a bit and institute it in a few months but most likely the sleep issues will continue until then.
Personally I would go ahead and work to CIO (cry it out) with him now. Let me know if you'd like further direction with how to do that successfully!

But our diagnosis is sickness induced sleep regression!
To summarize, I would first start with nighttime. For now, if he's napping in his swing, I'd let him do that and just work on the nighttime. When we use CIO, we give them up to 1 hour but usually 45 minutes of crying. At that point, we'd go in, feed, change, and start the process over again always making sure to put baby down awake.
It is my opinion that if you implement this, within 1 week he'll be back to sleeping through the night. THEN you can work on naps.
What you are trying to teach him is that SLEEP brings comfort -- not Mom. Which he got confused when he got sick. (Travel can do the same thing!)
Because I know you'll celebrate with me here-he slept 12 HOURS last night! He whimpered a little after 10 hours and fell asleep after about 3 minutes... The 2 nights previous...not so much!

When sleep training, should I swaddle?
Oh yes! We are huge fans of the swaddle and really think it helps in the sleep training process.  

Hi Wendi, I got your contact from a friend. She told me you have very good tips regarding sleep training. I'm starting to sleep training my twins, who are almost 5 mo old and have never slept through the night. My daughter is a better sleeper and takes the paci and can find her thumb, she usually wakes up at 1-2am to eat and 5-6 am to eat. My son is the troublesome one, he wakes up very frequently, sometimes every 1-2 hrs and can't put himself back to sleep even though I've let him CIO for up to 2 hrs before. They have no trouble going down at bedtime, it's the frequent waking that my son has trouble with. He can't seem to put himself back to sleep after waking up. Bedtime is at 730-8pm. They are breastfed with final feeding being bottle. Naps are ok usually. 3naps 1-2 hrs each. I give them white noise when sleeping and they transitioned out of swaddle into the Merlin magic suit. T
I try my best to put them down awake at bedtime, sometimes they need a few pats before going down but usually they are pretty good. I'm just confused when my son wakes up in a few hrs why it's much harder to self soothe 😕 after the 2 hr CIO session. I picked him up and rocked for a few minutes, then he was calm and would go to sleep. Well, until an hr or so later to wake up again. My daughter, if she wakes up, I usually can just put the paci in her mouth and she's fine. I really try not to feed sooner than 4 hrs for the first session of sleep.


Hi new friend! What adorable little babies!!!

So at 5 months old, babies are totally capable of going a complete 10-12 hours without needing a feed.
When I re-read your story, I find that both of your children are actually doing the same thing. Your daughter, however, is content with just a pacifier to return to sleep. Your son is not.
It is very normal for a baby to wake up between 60-120 minutes. That is a normal "sleep cycle" that we all have. We all have a period in our sleep that we are sleeping lighter and more prone to waking up. So what is happening is that he is waking up at that time and used to mom helping him go back to sleep with comfort (feed, pats, etc.) Your daughter is doing the same thing but she gets the paci and goes back to sleep which doesn't work for him.
What he needs is actually NOT food. What he THINKS he needs is mom's comfort, which you are providing.
If I am being completely honest with you, your daughter does not need that 1am feed. They are both capable of going all night. (At least until the 5am feed.) It isn't about food. It's about the comfort. You are putting the paci in her mouth which means she is really doing the same thing he is -- she is requiring something from you.
My suggestion would be to start letting them both CIO. This would include not having to put the paci in your daughter's mouth. (Although you may want to do this just because it isn't much work and not worth fighting her on at least for right now.)
I would give them a solid hour to cry in the middle of the night. If, at that point, they are still crying, then I'd get them up, feed them, and then put them down awake. I, personally, would let the CIO go as long as 2 hours but that feels like too much for many people I talk to .
Your son is crying until you come in. When you rock him to sleep, he thinks he needs mom to fall asleep instead of being able to fall asleep himself. That's why I suggest the "feed and put down awake" system. You are making SURE they aren't hungry but not putting them to sleep FOR them.
Here is what this would look like for me.
  • Give BIG feed to baby boy
  • Put him to bed AWAKE
  • When he wakes, crying, let him CIO. (At LEAST 1 hour but 2 would be FINE).
  • If at that mark, he is still crying, go in, feed, and put down awake again.
  • Then repeat this cycle.
Eventually, the feed "needs" should eliminate themselves.
With baby girl, I would stop the pacifier putting in but you could keep doing that if you wanted.
But I would start eliminating the 1am feed with CIO the same way as above.
I was just going to msg you. Thanks for following up I took your advice, The first two nights, they both cried for about an hr around 2am ish and I didn't comfort nor feed til 5am both nights. My son found his thumb finally! So last night, he slept from 8pm to 5:20 am with no crying! Just few seconds of talking here and there then back to sleep. My daughter however got sick last night and had a fever so did not sleep well at all Thankfully, she's much better this evening after a long afternoon nap. Now both asleep with no crying so far.

I wanted to ask, how much are they supposes to nap at this age? So far, I have been putting them down as much as possible. Usually they'll nap one hr at a time, occasionally longer. I try to feed after wake up instead of before nap. Thanks so much for your advice!!
If you visit my link you will see the recommended sleep for babies of varying ages. Truly, my husband believes the vast majority of children are under-slept, and I agree!


What do you do when baby is sick? Do you keep sleep training? 
It can be really tough when they are sick. Often it happens like you just described .... they start sleeping badly (just like we do.) There really isn't a perfect strategy. What I try to do is do enough for them to be with them but also not to have them forget they know how to fall asleep on their own. Know that post-sick, you'll have to do a bit of re-training. But the longer they are trained for, the easier the re-training is. With my kids now, they can go right back to normal after an illness runs its course. But early on, it may take a few days of crying ... Often, when they are sick, I don't let them cry very long. I will usually try to feed and comfort but still put down awake!

1 comment:

TAV said...

I am so with you. Hubby and mil not so much. We have done some CIO and yes, it works. We are down to 1-3 wakings..... Which could be better, but I'm pretty happy. It only took 11 months. Also I am a bit sensitive of the growth of a bad eater and a small baby-- so I'm willing to feed at 2 am. But I think you have done this brilliantly. It doesn't have to be horrible for years!!