Monday, March 20, 2017
Ferbering, feeding, finding our way
Don't you just love alliteration! An adequate title, but it's actually accurate and absolutely what we're up to these days (see what I did there. okay, I'll stop)
I know this is controversial but we are in the midst of sleep training dearest S. Spoiler alert: it's going awesomely. I'll back it up and explain how/why/when etc. because before we started, I must have googled these questions a million times. The WHY is because he's 5 months old and despite some hiccups, a week here or there of clinginess/up-every-two-hours-crap, he's been a great nighttime sleeper. TOTAL CRAP NAPPER. But great at night. You can't win 'em all and I'll take good nighttime sleeper over napper any day. I digress. He was already doing great, so we sensed (and knew) that he *could* sleep for longer and without our help, he was only eating once per night anyways and had been doing it for weeks and he just seemed...ready? I don't know. Also, I (we) were ready to have our bedroom back and to have less fighting at bedtimes.
Pre-Ferber, he was sleeping in his crib in our room, swaddled, with white noise + pacifier, and rocked to sleep. This usually worked but not always, and some nights, he'd basically just fuss/cry/scream in our arms until he passed out and he didn't seem to care if we were there or not - us holding him or rocking or whatever did not one lick of difference for him (he'd arch his back and spit his pacifier out etc. etc.) and it was so exhausting for us and him, this constant battle of the wills. Too much stress all around. The other problem was that he'd end up waking in the middle of the night and would require being rocked back to sleep for 20 mins at 11pm, 1am, 5am, whenever, which was brutal for us (and LOUD for the parent still "blissfully asleep" in bed). OR he'd want to be nursed back to sleep which I am 90% not into most of the time (because I know he's not hungry and I don't like being a human pacifier. I know it totally works for some people and if that's you, rock on. But it's not my favorite thing in the world, that's for sure).
Basically, we just sensed he was ready and was so close to sleeping even easier (aka with less stress/crying for everyone in the long run) and just needed to be helped over the edge and break those last few sleep associations. So we decided to sleep train him. We chose to do the Ferber method, mostly because it had the "best reviews" online (lolol) and it's what my parents used and we all turned out fine. I know even the word "Ferber" makes some people cringe (so much crying!!!) but lemme just say it is NOT as cruel or ruthless as folklore would have you think. He wrote a book (Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems) that I highly recommend; it's probably one of my top favorite parenting books, in fact. It is incredibly reasonable, helpful, non-judgmental, and encouraging (not to mention interesting and easy to read - bonus when my attention span for fact-based parenting books is practically non-existent). He basically explains what sleep is, what it looks like in babies, what's "normal," and how to address any sleep problems your baby might have. He gives tips if the baby's in his own room, in your room, or in your bed; if you feed at night or not; if there are medical issues or not; if you have multiples; etc. etc. SO SO HELPFUL. And all along, there's a ton of "You and your baby can do this! Don't worry. It's going to be okay. And if X doesn't work, you can always try Y." I loved it. (Lewis read it too). Needless to say, we are 100% Ferber fans.
So far, it's gone something like this for us:
Night 1 - Down at 8, cried for 25 minutes (we checked on him a lot - he was always fine), slept until 5am when I had to wake him up to eat. WIN.
Night 2 - Down at 8:15, ZERO CRYING. Slept till 3:30am, ate, slept till 7:30am. WIN WIN.
Night 3 - Down at 7:50, sporadic fussing/talking/noise-making for 10 mins. Slept till 2:30, ate, slept till 6:30. Not quite as great but I'll take it.
^^ and this is all with a simple bedtime routine, nurse, prayers, then a simple "Night night, we love you!" down in his crib awake, we walk out. No rocking, no fighting, no replacing a pacifier a million times. For us, the ability to put yourself to sleep (and back to sleep), to sleep in your own bed all night, and to get a good rest were things we wanted to teach Sam. We didn't think he would ever just get it on his own. And that part of our job as parents was to help him, even if it meant he was a little frustrated or annoyed learning something new. We would have waited longer (at least 6 months) had we thought he needed more help, but our guts told us he was ready and he was.
If you are "at the end of your rope," (Chapter 1's title of the Ferber book, lol), we totally recommend it. Big fat caveat: this is what has worked for us. I know a lot of people are very against sleep training and that is 10000% totally fine. Every family is different and every child has different needs! So you do you. If it's working and you and your baby are happy, then that is all you could hope to achieve anyways!
So even though we felt like Sam was ready to sleep through the night (basically), we haven't felt like he's ready for food yet.... and I don't think he is. He's 5 months old so can do purees and whatnot, but he just doesn't seem all that interested. Just to see, we fed him some sweet potato two weeks ago and he promptly spit it out (ha). He didn't get that spoon = food. So a week later, we tried some apples which he liked a little bit better but was just sort of "meh" towards. I'm not going to push it. ALSO my preference would be to do BLW aka baby led weaning aka just give your baby real food. And the pediatrician said 6 months for that party so he has a little but longer to wait. I'd be curious to know how and when other parents started foods and ALSO if you have any BLW resources because I feel like I get sucked into BLW googling vortexes with no real authority or helpful info.
On that less than conclusory note, my dear son is hungry but NOT for puree so my attention is required!! :)