Archive | March, 2010

Thank you, Dr. Ferber!

26 Mar

Let me preface this post by saying that as I am sure many of you are, I was very skeptical and wary of all of these “sleep training” programs out there. I had actually read and tried “The Baby Whisperer” techniques when Mr.H was a few weeks old, and while I found many of these techniques to eventually be useful, after about 3 days on this program I was ready to literally throw the book out of the window. In hindsight, I think that Mr.H was just not ready to be sleep trained yet. Subsequently, I read “Happiest Baby on the Block” which I think it THE essential book for newborns. But about a month ago as Mr.H neared 7 mos. I realized his sleep habits were not improving but in fact getting worse. He backpedaled from no night feedings to now one or even two night feedings. And with the hubby now “officially” off night-duty because of a broken wrist (more on that later), I was finally ready for something drastic.

I asked my pediatrician if she recommended any sleep training books, and to my horror she suggested “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Dr. Richard Ferber. Ferber <gasp>!?! The man so horrible they even made a verb out of his name? I had read Dr. Sears’ “The Baby Book” and had somewhat identified with attachment parenting, and I had also heard the horrible stories about people letting their babies “cry it out”. But since I love my pediatrician and completely trust her opinion, I searched online for some book reviews. To my surprise, there were many reviews emphasizing that the whole “Ferberizing” paranoia was way out of hand and that Dr. Ferber’s method was really not so horrible. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just buy the book and see for myself.

Upon opening the book, I immediately felt more comfortable with the author. He is an MD and director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston. As a scientist in an academic environment, I feel I have something in common with him and respect his expertise (although I will admit that I skimmed over the sleep physiology mumbo-jumbo and went straight for the info on implementation). I could see this going either way…either it was going to work or make my life a living hell. I just had to give it as shot because things were spiraling downward…

Night 1. Mr.H had a great day at daycare with one 2h nap from 10:30-12:30 and a 30 min nap from 3-3:30. This is exactly in line with the optimal napping for his age. I could tell he was exhausted that evening, and after the nighttime bath he could hardly stay awake for a bottle. I tried to rouse him before putting him in the crib but he was out at 7:30pm. Which is WAY earlier than his normal bedtime of about 9pm. No peeps until 1:15 am and despite my reassurances at 5>10>12 min intervals, he pretty much cried for an hour straight. Back up at 3:15 to repeat this whole routine. Then again at 6:10 which I figure is pretty much time to get up for the day.

Night 2. Mr.H goes to bed at 7:30 and wakes for such a short 5 min period at about 2:30am, then again for about 30min at 4am. Is this getting any better? I think so. I figure I have to give it at least a week…

Night 3. Has an early wakeup from about 10-10:30pm, then again from 5-5:30. But wow – that was a long 7 h stretch for Mr.H.

Night 4. Again with the 10-10:30 wakeup, then a horrific 1.5 hr trouble period around 3am. Am I doing the right thing? I check in on him every 15min, pat-pat, shush-shush, and eventually I give in a rock him for a little bit, although that doesn’t really help much…

Night 5. 7pm-3am (WOW!) but it takes him about 45min to fall back asleep…

Night 6. 7:30-7:30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will say there were two times when I heard little peeps (around 1:30 and 6am) but it wasn’t really a cry and I didn’t have to go into his room to help him fall back to sleep. I’M A BELIEVER!!!!!

I stopped keeping track after this because there was nothing to record! Mr.H now sleeps from 7:30-7am every day. A couple of times I have had to comfort him, but I can’t count on one hand the times this has happened in the last month. This is a DRAMATIC difference from the sleep interruptions we had prior to this sleep training.

Even more importantly, Mr.H is now a MUCH happier baby! I realize now that he was not getting enough sleep each day. In general he does not sleep well at daycare, so he really needs this long stretch of sleep at night to get ready for a new day. His crankiness is now replaced with laughing and nonstop activity – who could ask for anything more???