Thursday, March 19, 2009

Which Way is the Right Way?

This is the question that I ask myself over and over as I pour over books about how to get your child to sleep through the night. Now - let me set the stage by saying that I am definitely not in the worst possible situation when it comes to Riley's nights. On average she gets up two times a night and I am sure a lot of parents out there would love to have that luxury. But I can't lie - I am definitely anticipating when those two times turn into one ... and then eventually zero.

I've come to accept that I am the parent and it is my duty to guide and teach Riley in many things - sleeping included. She is a baby. She doesn't know how to teach herself good sleep habits. I must intervene.

After reading Babywise, getting the 'cliff notes' version of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby from a friend, and reading another sleep book from the library (can't even recall the name), I was first asking myself, "Which way is the right way?". I think I've quickly realized that there will never be one equation that works for all babies. Never. This is all about what works for YOUR baby. And it involves a looooot of trial and error. And she isn't going to 'get it' in a day. It will take days ... or even weeks.

This is the hard path. I could sit back and do nothing, which would be easier, but it would lead to continued sleep deprived nights. OR, I could take charge, educate myself, and work with Riley to see what works best for her ... endure several hard nights or weeks ... but then end up with a very happy baby who is able to sleep through the night. And a happy, rested baby means a happy, rested mommy.

SO ...

I am following in the footsteps of a friend at work who has combined the Babywise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby techniques. Today is just day #2, so we have a long way to go, but I have faith and know that Riley could come out of this like a champ. This is basically what it looks like:

I try to keep Riley on a feeding schedule that matches her current feeding needs. She needs to eat about every two hours. I've established 7am as her "breakfast" feeding time.
  • I am definitely following the "eat, play, sleep" rotation that Babywise speaks to. This will allow her to disassociate eating from sleeping.
  • I am keeping a consistent bedtime routine that consists of feeding, bath, book, and bed. This begins right about 7pm each night.
  • I am putting her down for naps and bed either awake or drowsy, but never asleep. She whimpers or cries for about 5-10 minutes, but then falls to sleep. I never let her scream. If her cries get too loud or desperate, I definitely go in and get her and soothe her. I am personally not a proponent of 'crying it out'.
  • I definitely allow Riley to rule the feeding schedule. If she is providing hunger cues before 2 hours, then she gets fed. She is a baby. She doesn't need a rigid schedule - just a guideline.

Again, I know that people can get very defensive when discussing their personal beliefs for sleeping techniques and children - and opinions vary, as they should. So if you're reading this and you completely disagree with my approach, that's fine! But please don't judge me on it - I am just trying to find what works for our family.

It's too early to tell just yet how this is going to go ... and if it will be what works for Riley, but I will certainly post updates in the near future. The biggest challenge for me is that I am also having to coordinate this effort with my parents and Kevin's parents. It is one thing when one person has a routine they are trying to stick to, but ensuring consistency across the three parties may be difficult. We shall see!!

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