Me and my girls

Me and my girls

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sleep - a luxury for parents

I have been searching for sites that provide information to parents and I came across which lists questions and answers for parents. In particular I came across a whole slew of questions regarding sleep. I felt that considering the amount of time and energy I spent on this issue when I first had Ainsley, I would share some of the tips and light bulb moments I had.

The first night that Ainsley was born she slept all night. Unfortunately, the other baby we were sharing a hospital room with did not and I was cursing it and its parents for not letting me sleep. I thought my baby is perfect. She's already sleeping like a champ. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. Ainsley was not a sleepy baby AT ALL. She would sleep for 40 minute stretches as the most and she had to be in the baby bjorn, stroller or car seat and we had to be moving much of this time. The best thing I did as a new parent was enroll in a new moms class. This was the first step (although I did not know it) towards sleep success. I was able to chat with other moms and found out that the majority of us were not getting much sleep and it wasn't that something was wrong. Being able to commiserate with other moms was wonderful and it helped keep me sane in the early months. I highly recommend all new parents to take a class such as this or join a moms group for support.

In this class I was introduced to Marc Weissbluth's book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". I devoured this book hoping for a ray of light on the sleep issues. I found this book very helpful as it explained what was happening developmentally with my child and thus set some expectations as to what Ainsley could do sleep wise and what she couldn't. I also read Ferber's book as well for a 2nd opinion. As a result, I was able to put together what I had learned from each book and devise a sleep solution that worked for Ainsley and our parenting style. I worked very hard on getting Ainsley to learn how to fall asleep on her own for both naps and nighttime. It was a long and stressful process. I often called my husband crying as Ainsley cried in her crib but I was determined to teach her to fall asleep on her own. It took about a month but it finally worked. The strategy I used was the gradual extinction as explained by Weissbluth. I would leave Ainsley to cry for 5 minutes and then go in and pat her tummy. I would leave her for longer and longer periods of time until she fell asleep. Eventually I could put her down for her nap awake and she would chat for a bit and fall asleep. It was wonderful!!!

This lasted until about 10 months and then she started teething. We started having trouble putting her to bed at night. When once we would get a big smile before bedtime, we were now greeted with screams and Ainsley would not go to bed before 10pm. At this time she started sleeping through the night. We finally decided it was time to let her "Cry it out" as explained by Ferber. It broke my heart to hear her cry so I went out with my moms group for dinner and Brett stayed home. She cried for 40 minutes the first night and slept through and then 15 minutes the next night and slept through. That was it. From then on she went to bed and slept through with no complaints. This has continued except for teething and illnesses.

It took a lot of advice, reading and a tough resolve but we were able to get through sleep issues and gain more sleep for ourselves. Now that she is a toddler we have other issues, but I will address those later. For parents struggling with sleep, be assured that eventually it will fall into place and that it can be a challenge but if you are committed you will have success. Happy Sleeping everyone.

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