Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Shrieks and Sleep Training Attempt #2

Here again after an almost three-week silence, in which we relocated ourselves to Michigan for the summer, after a brief trip to California to visit family.

Remember that sleep training that was starting awhile back? You do? Great. My child doesn't!

The week in California really wasn't too bad for small Felicity, now six and half months old. She mostly fell asleep in her car seat driving home from various late dinners, and we'd quietly transition her to a make-shift baby bed: a large arm-chair pushed up against the bed. We did try the roll-away crib in the first hotel, but I'm so short I couldn't even lift my baby out if she was laying down. This leads me to believe I'm going to have to get a stool or step to place next to our crib at home once she's able to pull herself up and stand in the crib, and we have to lower the mattress. Just let me start browsing on amazon.com now to drive myself crazy....

Anyways, California wasn't an issue, and she did her very baby best for her plane rides. On our first plane ride, a direct flight from New York City to Los Angeles that was a 'short' five and half hours, Felicity re-discovered her the high range of her vocal cords. She spent the first hour or two at a high, happy shriek that would not be quelled with a pacifier or soft hushes from parents. (We've since started praising her "indoor," quieter shrieks when she makes them inside, and she actually has learned to moniter her volume depending on if she's outside or inside, clever child!).

On the two plane rides from California to Michigan, Felicity was all about the raspberrying, especially fun to do on mom's shoulder when mom is wearing a tank or tube top! I believe our fellow passengers found this not as annoying as the shieking, albeit a bit gross. One never minds the spit of their own baby though, does one?

It was after we arrived in Ann Arbor that things took a turn for the worse. Going West is no problem for sleep - put in an extra nap, and a baby adjusts just fine to the time zone. Going East? Not so much. The first night she took a nap from 11:15-12:00 am, then was awake until after 2:00 am. We moved it back a little the next night, and then the next, and slowly find ourselves with a bedtime between 8:00-10:00 pm, about two hours later than she was going to sleep in New York. She seemed to have a really hard time falling asleep in this house (as do I, I'm not sure why), most likely a combination of being in a room by herself, new sounds, smells, temperatures (central air, hello Gorgeous!), and sleeping in a Pack'n Play, which is not nearly as cushy or nice-smelling as her organic mattress at home. Nor are there floral birds on the wall to admire.

The first full week here, she would only fall asleep nursing, and then would wake up every 5-10 minutes for an hour or more (one night this went on for three hours!) crying. She would sleep a little better in our bed, but then wake up and go through the whole cycle again when we moved her to her bed in the next room.

You may recall our initial sleep-training guidelines involved picking the baby up to comfort her if she was crying, but not unless she was crying. As our pediatrician pointed out, this can be tricky, and it's almost impossible to be consistent with (if the baby is asleep for fifteen minutes and we leave the room, then hear whimpering or crying that is on-again-off-again, it's really difficult to say exactly when to wait it out or pick her up). It also sends the message If I cry loudly enough, Mom or Dad will hold me... which can lead to extra crying (though I don't believe a baby is old enough to be "manipulative" at this point, all babies are smart enough to learn such patterns, and their behaviors will adjust to what they're learning). This and, at least by the time we arrived in Ann Arbor, Felicity would scream every time we laid her back down again after comforting her in our arms.

So, the new method:
  1. Full bedtime routine if we're home: baby has dinner with us, bath, lotion, bedtime nurse with dimmed lights, story with dad, and a duet of Go to Sleep Little Baby. (At least all of this has been consistent for a few weeks, save the eating dinner with us, which she is now old enough to do).
  2.  Shortened bedime routine if we've been out (Ian and I are just not willing to compromise all socializing, especially as we are the only couple with a baby in our social circle): shortened storytime, bedtime nurse, and her song.
  3. We hold/rock her until she's drowsy, then lay her in her bed, and don't pick her up again. All calming comes from small pats, a hand on the chest, soft words, and singing. If she's calm, hands off, but staying in the room if she's at all fussy.
  4. Encouraging attachment to her blanket/lovey to find comfort in.
We've been using this method for a little over a week now (using the shortened method three nights when we had activities with friends, or a nice dinner out) and I am proud to report that Felicity is once again a fantastic little sleeper! She is able to fall asleep by herself, often without us even in the room. 

For those of you who have used sleep training methods, what has worked or not worked? Were you able to follow through with the sleep training?