Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Forum: Co-sleeping and Sleep training

Here's a controversial one. Let me tell you what we've done in the past and then open it up to all of you.

With Blaine: I 'sleep-trained' my firstborn (a la Dr. Ferber) when he was about 5 months old. He only cried a bit (maybe 30 minutes?) for 2 nights and that was it. He became an amazing sleeper. We just put him in bed and he went to sleep by himself and he almost never woke up in the night. Taylor and I figured the Ferber method was the bee's knees, gave ourselves a pat on the back, and wondered why more people didn't use that method. Now, at 4 1/2, he still goes to bed easily, and will lay there awake (sometimes for over an hour!) until he falls asleep without making a peep. He sleeps soundly through the night and often sleeps in.

With Roger: With number two it was different from the start. We tried the Ferber method--tried to let him 'cry it out.' If we'd have let him, he would have screamed all night, every night. Not cried. Not whimpered. Screamed. Like someone was in his crib trying to bite his toes off. We gave up on that method. I've spent a lot of hours lying down next to him, sitting in the threshold of his room, and singing songs in the next room until he was calm. He's gotten better with age. Sharing a room with his big brother helps. He usually goes to bed now without a fuss, but is often up at night, usually with a night terror of sorts. He screams bloody murder and runs around the house, often bolting for the front door, utters nonsensical stuff about the scary cats in his dreams, and refuses to be comforted by anyone but me. It's awesome. And though it appears he is awake during these outbursts, he is very much asleep. Sometimes we have to splash a little water in his face or pat his cheeks hard to wake him up so the nightmare can end. Many nights he ends up in our bed, which I can sometimes sleep through, but most of the time it drives me nuts. I have no problem with co-sleeping philosophically, I just can't do it. I can't sleep.

With number three on the way, I feel totally open minded. I genuinely don't believe anymore that there is a right or wrong way to go about this and am curious about your experiences. This can be a hot topic, so please--feel free to disagree and debate, but be courteous and respectful. We sincerely want these forums to be a chance to glean from each other's experiences.

So, lay it on me. How should I teach this new babe to sleep?



Barbara said...

I've never believed the parent could control the baby's sleep patterns. Each child is a completely unique individual. They'll follow their own path whether asleep or awake. You can only control your own response. Good luck and get ready for the ride.

Tysha said...

As you already highlighted, every baby is different. So is every parent. That said, what is right for one and "works like magic" for one may not work at all for another.

For our family, we have shared sleep (yes, our babies slept right between us) for the first year, for each of them. They started out in bassinets, but it just worked better for all of us to snuggle up together. It worked well for both until about one year - when they started tossing and turning morning and kicking us in the face or putting fingers up our noses :) Mostly, until safety became a concern. Luckily, with our first son, he napped in his crib, so with the help of a "transitional object" (ie his blankie and Curious George, who snuggled up with us while nursing) was a comfort to him and the transition to a crib in his own room went super smoothly. Our second, our daughter, has yet to sleep in her crib - well I take that back, the past two nights she has gone down in her crib in their shared room and so far so good :) She has napped in a pack n play in our bedroom, and probably will still nap there...I am crossing my fingers that the transition goes as well the second time around. Her brother is excited to have a roomie and I guess we'll see how it goes from here.

Note about co-sleeping: Safety has never been a concern for me, though I know many who continuously bring it up. Aside from that, I enjoyed co-sleeping with my first, but with my second I LOVED it. Nursing and sleeping were so much easier that way. But mostly, I enjoyed the time to reconnect with my baby. During the day I had to be busy being focused on two and at night or during the night or in the early morning I had a few moments to just cuddle up with her and I looooved it. I am always sad when our babies grow up and become independent enough that we send them to their own bed and own room...but then, there's also this newfound freedom of being able to read a book before bedtime for me, or to have the "just us" time back with my hubby...

Good luck with whatever you decide to do! No doubt your baby will give you clues as to what he'd like best ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you -- I never feel like I can sleep well with a baby in my bed. I always started right from the beginning trying to help the baby figure out how to settle in on their own -- I wouldn't let a newborn cry, but I would put a sleepy one down and see if they'd fall asleep on their own. And I don't think there's anything wrong with giving Dr. Ferber a try at five or six months, because maybe the baby is like Blaine and it works like a charm. One of our babies we waited way too late to do this, and she was pretty spoiled and terrible to get to bed for a LONG time. But I am opposed to letting a child cry for hours, and have definitely been known to put an unhappy child in my bed at times.

You walk a fine line between trying to have a consistent routine so the child knows what to expect, and following your instincts as a mother to know what is right at any given moment. Maybe this little guy will be an easy one, and you won't even have to think about this stuff! Hope so.

sarahandmatt said...

I've taken a pretty laid back approach. I am SOOOOOO tired when I have a newborn that I usually let him/her sleep with us while nursing. I never start them out in the bed, but I bring them in to nurse while I sleep. As they get older, I just continue to start them out in their own bed. As they get older and sleep longer in the night, they usually just sleep through the night. That being said, my problems lie more with the older kids going to sleep at all. I spend about two hours putting the older ones back in their beds multiple times, settling them down, telling stories, or just reprimanding them. One more point on topic; I think it's a huge disservice to kids to "protect" their sleep circumstances. I often see Moms shushing everyone or terrified to move the sleeping baby from their arms to his crib. Or--worse! They blacken the windows in his room. I know a mom's gotta do..., but it seems like those kids just plain can't sleep anywhere but their own bed in their own house in total silence. Newborns will sleep anywhere and I've found that if you just start them off by moving them/making sound/letting them sleep where there's light they can usually continue to sleep in those circumstances as older kids. Just my thoughts.

Amy said...

This is one issue that I am really passionate about - but let me preface this comment by saying that I am a FIRM believer that there is never one right answer for every body.

With that said, SLEEP TRAIN YOUR BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was given the advice to sleep train my baby (we used the baby wise method and adapted it a little to be a little more in line with our parenting beliefs) and I am SO GLAD that I did. At first I did it because I just love my own sleep and I so many people told their babies started sleeping through the night really early and stayed really good sleepers. Sounded good to me! Then after I read the Baby Wise book I realized something. Teaching your baby how to put themselves to sleep is a GIFT! My mom didn't sleep train any of us (7) kids and I still to this day have the hardest time getting to sleep. It takes me usually around an hour to fall asleep. I don't sleep well through the night and I often have nightmares that keep me up as well. I slept with my mom and dad until I was a teenager (I started out in my own bed but always ended up in there's - sad and embarrassing I know).

My son was very easy to train because we started the day he was born. We fed him, kept him up a little while and then put him down for his nap. Then as soon as he woke up we fed him again (the key is to get them to take a FULL feeding). He had no trouble. He started sleeping 6-7 hours straight the first week he was born and he was sleep 11 hours straight a couple of weeks after that. Now my son is a very easy going boy that probably helped.

I recently started watching a friends baby who was never sleep trained or put on any schedule at all. He wouldn't sleep unless I was holding him and with my not yet 2 year old son to look after as well - that just wasn't going to work. I told his mom that I would have to sleep train him. He is much more of a stubborn boy. He would scream and scream bloody murder!!!! (Like I was afraid people would call the cops on me) He did this for 2 months. I thought I would lose my mind. At times I didn't know if I should continue with the training but a friend of mine who used the same method said she started the training with her baby the day she was born too and it took two weeks of screaming bloody murder through every nap time for it to work. Some babies just take longer to adapt. I stuck with it and now my little guys sleeps like a champ. I lay him down and NOT A PEEP. He goes right to sleep.

So what I'm saying is, some kids are easy to sleep train - others you feel like you'll kill yourself before it's over but in the end they know how to fall asleep on their own and that's such a great gift to give your baby. AND you get much more sleep yourself!

As for co-sleeping. I would NEVER do it. First of all, I don't think it is safe. People who do it say they're not worried about it, but then I think, "neither were the mothers that accidentally suffocated their babies" (I'm such a worry wart and can never sleep with a baby just because I'm worried you know?) Also - it puts quite the damper on your sex life and I don't know about you but I REALLY like my husband. A lot.

So there you go. In the end. You'll make the right choice for your baby because you are it's mother and that is your job.

Nicole said...

I feel really strongly that babies, especially new babies, should absolutely not be co-sleeping with the parents. While it is so comforting to have your little baby with you, I feel that the dangers are not worth the risk. My sister worked at a children's clinic for several years and she saw a few cases where a baby was smothered in between the parents or by a parent and died. She urged me to never sleep with my baby. Since I have a toddler I know how hard that can be sometimes and there were a few nights(not many) when my daughter was crying so badly that she slept on her dad's chest , until she was good and asleep, but then she'd be put back to her own crib/bassinet. I think as they grow up the dangers aren't as big, but hopefully by them having sleep one their own most of the time, they won't need to sleep with the parents? People may think this is silly, but it happens, which is enough for me to put safety first.

Keli said...

Anne does Rog wake up about the same time every night. Brady was doing that and having terrible night terrors they are awful. If the first time I hear him wimper I go and wake him up a little disturb his sleep he won't have them. Also I have figured out now that when he starts doing it he needs to go to the bathroom. Just some Ideas for poor little rog. Good luck that is so hard and scary as a parent trust me I understand. I am all for the babies to cry themselves to sleep and learn going to sleep by themselves :) Love Keli

The Alexanders said...

This is an issue I feel very strongly about too. Sleep training your baby very early on is so important and later on you will be so glad you did it! I recommend the book, "Good Night, Sleep Tight" by Kim West. You can get it at the library or just buy it. It's nicer than the Ferber method but still a great way to train your child. You don't even have to read the whole thing. Just read the first two chapters and the chapter on your baby's age. Should even work for most older babies. Blessings on your sleep training!

Rachael said...

Ooh, hot topic! I'm very interested to see what everyone else has to say.

We sleep-trained our first at about two months (earlier than I would have liked, but she was not falling asleep until 3 am and it was killing me) and it worked like a charm. She's been a fantastic sleeper ever since (she's six now). I thought we were awesome parents.

Then our second came along. We tried to do the same with her, but she was not having it. We spent many an hour patting her back so she would sleep (this was what comforted her). Naps and sleeping through the night were both very very difficult until she was about a year old, then it just sort of "clicked" when she gave up her second nap.

With my third, I did a ton of research on sleep methods, and I was very emphatic about consistency right from the beginning, even as a newborn. I would nurse him, play with him, and then lay him down to sleep in his crib while he was still awake--drowsy, but awake. After about two weeks old (when all the visitors left), he didn't sleep in anyone's arms--if he fell asleep, I would immediately put him in his crib. I felt guilty sometimes for not cuddling him during his whole nap, but he is without a doubt my very best sleeper (he is now 18 months old). I can count the number of times he has cried after being put to bed on one hand. He is also my ONLY baby who would wake up, nurse, and then go right back to sleep in his crib.

I plan on following the same method with our fourth baby (due in 3 months) that we did with our third: nurse, play, and down for a nap while drowsy but awake. Nursing a baby to sleep has always backfired on me.

I also don't co-sleep, because I don't sleep well at all, and I don't feel that it's safe for the baby. I do nurse the baby in bed occasionally, but s/he always goes right back to their own crib.

Someone else mentioned that their parents didn't sleep-train them and it was hard on them even as adults--I totally agree with this based on my childhood.

Rachael said...

Oh, and another comment on the night terrors--we've found that taking them to the bathroom often does the trick (and if all else fails, we resort to our hidden stash of "emergency" fruit snacks, which is probably only going to be exciting to your kids if they never get fruit snacks).

Kate said...

Sounds a lot like Charlie and Lucy. Charlie learned to sleep on his own great. And is now a really great sleeper. Will lay down in his bed, take naps, go to bed without trouble. We did the Ferber thing. Lately though he wants us to lay with him for a few minutes... I think to make the going to bed process last longer... which we do happily.

Then with Lucy, we did the Ferber thing too, and it worked in that she goes to sleep great starting awake in her bed. It took 2 nights, crying 16 min, then 5 min. BUT she won't sleep all the way through the night! Always wakes up! I think teething isn't helping right now, but she's always done this. Charlie never did (I also think it's because he took a pacifier. LOVE those things). And I have a hard time letting her cry at night, so we'll rock her, or feed her or whatever. And 15 months, it's getting a little old to still be waking up EVERY night! So we'll see.

Every baby is so different! You know that. I liked what Liz said. Try it, if it doesn't work. Move on to something different. I won't let may kids cry for too long either.

As far as co-sleeping... I just can't sleep when they're in be with me! And since I don't nurse it's really hard to bottle feed while laying in bed (I've tried). So it just always works that we get up to feed the baby and baby goes back to sleep in their own bed, we go to ours. Sure, it sounds nice to snuggle with your children in bed... and sometimes we do in the mornings. And we actually snuggle all day long (charlie will ask for a snuggle). But I like to snuggle with my husband too!

Oh Anne, good luck. New babies are just hard, I think. Follow your gut like you did with the first two! And I can't wait to meet him!

Mandi@TidbitsfromtheTremaynes said...

After 4 kids, I had the same experience as you. Sleep trained the first child. 2nd one refused to be sleep trained and tortured us for a year.

Every kid really does do everything different.

I hope your babe is a choose-to-be-sleep-trained kind of baby. :)

Kate said...

oh and I should mention my sister in law from the start has laid her baby down before he's sleeping but obviously tired. And he's always gone to sleep on his own, no crying. Means no snuggling with your sleeping baby, but oh man, is he a good sleeper! You could give that a try?!

Dave'sWife@{thediaryofdaveswife} said...

Wow! There are a TON of great suggestions here. I have {one} son, who much like your #2 has a terrible time sleeping at night. My husband can't handle hearing him cry,{he said it is TORTURE} so the thought of "sleep training" or crying it out, was thrown out the window very early on. He is now almost 2 and I spend many nights sleeping on the floor next to his bed so that both of us can actually get some z's!

Vorpaks said...

Wow, I have had an almost identical experience. My first I was able to sleep train by letting him cry for a while when he was just a few months old. In fact, he used to sleep from when I picked him up at daycare to when I dropped him offf the next morning. We'd have to wake him up and make him eat.

My youngest is 14 months old and she has slept through the night a total of four times in her entire life. She can only seem to make it 3 hours before waking up and needing comfort. Every tiny noise wakes her up, which can be a problem since she shares a room with her brother. I used to bring her into bed with us when I just couldn't take it any more, but now we are pretty firm about putting her back in her bed after we've fed/change/nursed/comforted her. It doesn't seem to make a difference. She just needs more comfort and reassurance than her brother did.

No night terrors yet, thank goodness, but I remember when my little sister used to get them. Freaked. Us. Out. My heart goes out to you!

My opinion: Try for the sleep training. Maybe you will get lucky and have another one that sleeps like a champ. If it doesn't work, do whatever keeps you sane while also dealing with the middle child. :)

At this point I would say it is more about you, and what keeps you functioning safely and effectively during the day, then about them. Harsh as that sounds. No mommy falling asleep behind the wheel, or while the stove is on!

Rae. said...

We're a bunch of organic granola sleep hippies around here...
stripped down, baby always in the bed. Even our co-sleeper attached to the bed goes empty!

I get some pretty narly headaches from sleeping in such contorted positions, but oh my, I just love that fat face breathing right by me.

Maybe by the time we have our next baby I'll actually get my act together and do some sleep training.


LC (+1) said...

It seems that most people who have commented love sleep training and/or crying it out and if that's what works for them, that's great. I just have to put another point of view out there. I thought I would use those methods because my sisters had. I had no idea how I would feel as a parent. I have a naturally good sleeper who always went right back to sleep after nursing in the night at the beginning and still (mostly) sleeps through the night and takes great naps. I nurse her to sleep and hold and snuggle her and I LOVE it. Snuggling my sleeping baby has been one of the greatest joys of my entire life and completely worth it to me. I cant imagine giving it up. With a future fussypants baby I would possibly consider doing it differently. I just have to put another point of view out there. There are many right ways to do it and it depends on your personality, preferences and capabilities. It can be hard not to judge other parents (like those who let babies cry it out the day they're born-what?!) but I try not to! :) I know people don't always agree with how I do things either and that's okay. Following your mother heart should be all the validation you need.

Brooklyn said...

Have you looked at Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child? That books is amazing... It has worked wonders for my two children (with VERY different dispositions). Highly, highly recommend!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote, "I feel totally open minded. I genuinely don't believe anymore that there is a right or wrong way to go about this and am curious about your experiences."

Every child is so different and so is every family. It's impossible to predict what will work for your child in advance. Some babies release tension by crying and can do 'cry it out' methods just great. Some babies increase tension by crying and will just get more and more riled up if left to cry. Some moms can't sleep with the baby in the bed or in the same room, some moms can't sleep unless they can hear the baby breathing.

I wish more people were open minded about co-sleeping. It is not 'spoiling' nor is it unsafe if you follow precautions. (Cribs can be unsafe if you don't follow the precautions, no loose bedding or stuffed animals, etc.) (In fact, many experts believe co-sleeping reduces the risk of SIDS because the mother and baby breathe symbiotically- the mom can sense in her sleep if the baby isn't breathing well.) It's as valid a method of getting everyone sleep as sleep training or driving in the car to get the baby to sleep or whatever.

I co-slept with my first child but I have no idea what will work with my next child.

The bottom line for me is whatever gets everyone the most sleep is the appropriate method for your family.

Astyn said...

There are so many ways to help your child learn to sleep. I mostly believe that it is the parents job to create an environment and patterns that encourage healthy sleep habits for children. Sleep habits are things that stay with us over the years, so it is worth it to work to develop good ones.

There was a recent Wall Street Journal article that reports a link between lack of sleep as a child with learning and emotional problems as a teenager and adult. It is interesting. However you choose to parent, find a way that helps your child sleep enough, that is what is most important.

Susan said...

Sleep train, but since every baby is different, enlist a professional! We spoke to a sleep consultant, described our baby and she recommended a course of action that was different that what we used for our first, but worked like a charm for our second with similar end results. She understood the babies demeanor and what she would likely repsond to. We let our first one cry it out, but took a gentler approach with the second one.

We used Noelle at Symbio SF ( and did everything over the phone.

Abbie said...

Throwing down another hot topic. Go Anne!

When we had Eli, sleep training was all the rage and if you weren't doing it, you were a fool. We tried, but the colic-y little fellow would not have it. He cried for two hours every night for a week and, obviously, it wasn't working. The kid just couldn't sleep and I was waaay too uptight about. So we tried all sorts of things to help him sleep: bouncing, co-sleeping. And then at 12 months, I let him cry again and it worked. He would cry for 20 minutes and then he was fine. He is a great sleeper now (although he does like to sneak in our bed from time to time), but it had nothing to do with any training I did. I was very respectful of his sleep (because that's what I would want). I agree with Barbra, I don't believe parents can control their baby's sleep pattern - right when you think you have control, it changes: teething, they get sick, they go from 3 naps to 2, 2 naps to 1. (Oh! The first year! It's insane, isn't it?)

Audrie was easy. She slept great in our bed until she was 6 months (it was accidental co-sleeping - oh! that babe smelled so yummy!), and then we put her in the crib and she slept well there. She was easy peasy. And is still a great sleeper.

If and when I birth another babe, I'll just do whatever feels right and logical for that babe.

So yeah, depends on the baby.

I think it's hard to say there is a right way to do anything in parenting. I think what mommas need is confidence in whatever they choose for each child to be open to being flexible (motherhood is the ultimate flexibility lesson, right?)

Conclusion: Mommas, follow your gut and never let you friends or mom or sisters make you feel like you're doing it wrong because you're not. Sleep train or co-sleep. Don't live in fear of what others think.

The end.

Sarah said...

I always enjoy reading ideas from other parents about how to get their children to sleep. I have a little girl who HATES TO SLEEP, PERIOD. She tried to give up her daytime napping at about 1 year old. Once I think she has had a dozen or so naps since she turned 2. She still fights and cries herself to sleep almost every night, and we started doing sleep training and elaborate bedtime routines at about 6-months old. She is now 3 1/2, and although she is tired a lot, she just adamantly refuses to go to sleep on her own.

Now, I have a 4-month old boy who is a little bit easier to get to sleep, but is showing many of the same signs. We are starting with very predicatble routines, and try to put him down, but getting him to sleep in his bed is nearly impossible.

Having said all of that, don't be too hard on yourself about sleep training. We have followed about 3 different books-worth of tools, and some kids just have a really hard time. We keep trying new things, but some kids just have a really difficult time with sleeping. At some point, you just have to tell yourself that you are doing the best you can as a parent and roll with it.

(PS - My mother said that I was the same way. I made up for all of my missed toddler naps as a teenager, when I would play hard with tons of school activities and totally crash out every evening, then sleep all night.)

Ali said...

I totally agree that every baby sleeps differently! My story is the same as with our first our son slept 6 hours at 6 weeks and added an hour each week! He still sleeps like an angel and doesn't have nightmare issues - he is 7 now and we claimed it was because we followed "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" the book. But our daughter (born 2nd) is 4 now and she has always had sleep issues. We threw out our "perfect" sleep plan early on since it DID NOT WORK for her! She has slept in our bed and like you I can't husband can but, I can't! Then # 3 was born and he was even harder to get to sleep. He is getting better now that he is close to 2. But, nothing like our first son as far as sleep but, also not like our daughter. Confusing isn't it! Now we have no plan and are on call all night with 2 of our children! So thankful we have 1 great sleeper! Now that we've been parenting longer we are use to the no sleep thing! But, it sure was a suprise when our daughter was born!

~ Ali

~ Ali

Cami said...

My motto has been to just be there for the babies when they cry. I don't think you can set a baby's schedule and I certainly don't let them lay there and cry. It worked so well in our house. We had a colicy baby and for the first year of her life she didn't sleep for more longer than a 5 hour stretch but that was ok. We held her, rocked her, and just tried to do whatever we could to make her more comfortable. Some days I was so tired but it was worth it to me knowing I did everything I could to help her. And the other 2 were not colicky. But still we soothed them when they cried, held them when they wanted to be held and if they wanted to sleep with us they did. It din't matter if it was in the middle of the night, we always attended to them when they needed us. I think shared sleeping is a wonderful thing as long as everyone can enjoy it. It doesn't always work but if it does and you are careful then just hold those little babies close.

I am always reassured that we did what was right for me when I am having a rough night sleeping myself and the last thing I want to do is lay in my bed torturing myself so I just imagine that it was the same for my babies. When I am sick I just want my husband to cuddle with me and rub my back all day. I always tried to put myself in their shoes. And it doesn't seem like it in the moment but the sleepless nights don't last. They go by much to fast. Now I would love to go soothe a crying baby in the middle of the night and hold their sweet little body close and rock with him.

I always say don't beat yourself up with rules and schedules. Just do what seems natural and try to read what the baby needs.

The MOB said...

We co-slept with our first for the first six months. He wanted to be close to us and it was just easier with nursing. I would put him down in his crib for naps during the day - which made the transition to his room a snap.

At six months he reverted back to waking up every two hours and we just couldn't take it anymore - so we did the sleep training. We used the Sleep Easy Solution book (similiar to Ferber) and he quickly learned to put himself to sleep without much crying and has been an awesome sleeper ever since for both naps and nighttime.

I completely agree that each kid is different and what will work for one kiddo will not necessarily work for another. You have to do whatever works for you and your kiddo.

I enjoyed the newborn cuddling/co-sleeping time, but sleep training later helped us stay sane and get some sleep.

Number two is due in a couple months, so we will see what kind of sleeper he is...

Ria said...

I know you asked specifically about what to do with your next baby but I'm going to throw out my thoughts for the older kids.

All my kids were great sleepers from day one. Yes, I know I'm extremely blessed. God doesn't give you more than you can handle and I don't do well sleep deprived. :)

Even though each of my kids were good sleepers they still had their individual sleep patterns. My first and third kids are polar opposites. My first was born a morning person. When she got to the point of sleeping 12 hours straight, it was from 6pm-6am. As the number of hours decreased she went to sleep later but still woke up early.

My third child is a night person. She never wanted to go to sleep until 10 or 11 pm. But as the kids got older that became a problem. How do you tell your 10 year old it is time for bed when the 5 year old gets to stay up late? I solved the problem for us by letting them read themselves to sleep. They all went to bed at the same time but after the bedtime stories etc I left a lamp on by their beds and they could read quietly until sleep came. #3 was often still awake at 11:00 but she was in bed and happy so I was happy too. And going to bed wasn't all that traumatic because reading is fun.

Maybe something like that would work for other kids who just have a hard time falling asleep.

BTW, #2 fell somewhere between the other two in his sleep patterns. None of them were alike.

A Jennuine Life said...

We used an Arms Reach Co-sleeper for the first five months or so - it attaches to the side of your bed so baby is right there, but safe and separate in their own space. For sleep, I found The Baby Whisperer books and techniques at around seven months and wish I would have had them from day one! It is now my go-to baby shower gift - that and Aiden + Anais swaddle wraps. The baby whisperer takes the baby's personality into account and gives different methods to help baby teach themselves to sleep. I think it's the best blend of a lot of techniques for those want a more middle ground between cry-it-out and endless sleepless nights.

Danielle said...

I could always just go with prescription strength cough syrup...or more manual labor...or a mini trampoline.

My honest best advice is just to remind you ( because you already know this) that no matter what method/combo you go with, your child will probably still go through times when they struggle with some aspect of sleeping, and its not because you didn't do the "right" sleep training but because they are a child and that's just the way it is.

Plus everything that Abbie said.

Plus I was serious about the trampoline thing.

Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids said...

Of course it all depends on the kid... that being said, with my first I was convinced I should never let him sleep in bed with me, for fear that I'd never get him out of my bed once I let him in. I was totally exhausted the first 4 months from getting up to feed him all night but eventually he slept through the night.

With my second, I almost exclusively side-fed in my bed during the night. It was so nice because I'd just pop her on when she woke up and fall back asleep while she was eating. If I woke back up I'd put her back into the co-sleeper beside the bed.

I only woke up about half the time so I was convinced this psuedo co-sleeping would come back to bite me when we transitioned her to a crib at 4 1/2 months. To my surprise it only took one night of sleep training and she had it down. I guess you just never know but that extra sleep I got was a God-send with a toddler running around.

Anonymous said...

my "babies" are 14 and nineteen....

i firmly believe that they came into the world already a little bit wired for life..of course, everything we do affects them, but that is a discussion for another day.

my first child never, NEVER slept--may i yell NEVER one more time:)? she was a cat napper....i tried everything, including the letting her cry it out...she could cry for literally hours on end.

she also wanted me at all times.

in some ways, she hasn't changed. she is in college..loves it, has a million friends, a scholarship, 4.0 average, was on the cheerleading squad at one point, has quite the social life, her professors love her & are encouraging her to apply for all kinds of things such as a fulbright scholarship..

but, when she's unhappy, she's like that little baby--you will definately hear about it, long and loud and constantly and dramatically--and she wants me..

my second was the dream baby...slept through the night at 3 weeks, was always happy, could entertain herself, adventurous...and she is still that way...just as smart, involved and well liked as her sister, but so easy going yet a little driven and motivated...

and i did nothing different with either as babies..

that is my dissertation on sleep training and babies..

good luck!

Anonymous said...

and p.s. on the co-sleeping thing...i say, whatever gets you through the night..


Rachel said...

having 5 children, we've tried a little bit of everything. The one that worked the best was of course with my last. I ready the book Baby Wise and found it very helpful and it worked very well.
Good luck!

Ashley said...

This really is such a hot topic...I caught a lot of flack from other women for trying the sleep training methodology with my first baby. I went for a mixture of Babywise, The Baby Whisperer, and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby.

I found for my little one, she ALWAYS did better with a familiar & routine eat/sleep schedule. I started trying the eat/wake/sleep cycle when my baby was about 3 weeks old. She seemed to naturally be falling into a routine and I was always willing to adjust it as needed if she was hungry before.

I have done a bedtime routine with her from that same time. For naps/bedtime a book, song and some snuggles. Until she was about 3ish months old I would put her in her bed when she was slightly drowsy and then started backing off and putting her down more and more awake.

I like others was too scared to death to co-sleep with my infant--I think I would have been even more exhausted than I already was as a new Mommy because I wouldn't have been sleeping with her in bed with me. I thought about doing the bassinet in our bedroom thing, gave it shot a few nights and couldn't do that either--I would wake up at every snort, deep breath, etc. So it worked best for me to sleep with a monitor by my bedside and one in our baby's room.

Looking ahead at having another baby, I'm sure I didn't do everything correctly or the best that I could, but I've come to the conclusion that there really is no "right" or "wrong" way. Do what you feel comfortable with and what works for your family. My only advice there is pick something and BE CONSISTENT! :)

Kristyn said...

My firstborn was way colicky, and Babywise literally saved my sanity! It got him to go to sleep, and created a good schedule that we realized he needed. Whew. Thank goodness for that book. (We didn't follow it to a T, and tweeked some things to work with our attitudes.)

LeRoyFam said...

I don't have time to read all the comments, so if this is repetitive, I apologize! We have 5 kids ranging from 1-8 - all boys and all pretty different personalities. (imagine that) Our first two we did ferber type method, and like you, thought we were pretty smart and good at this parenting thing. Then our 3rd came along and did EVERYTHING different, nursing, sleeping, EVERYTHING. I kept trying to schedule something into his day and he just wasn't having it. I ended up demand feeding and keeping him in our room until he was 3 or 4 months old (it's a little blurry). But, like you, I can't sleep if they're right there. I finally hit the wall, moved him out (of my room), and around that time he started settling down a little. I kept trying a loose schedule and this is ALWAYS my advice to other moms. Don't worry about the clock so much, but try to keep things in the routine of: eat, wake and sleep if at all possible. They seem to take it from there on their own. My last 2 pretty much figured it out by 3 months or so. And we've had other issues along the way (seizures/epilepsy) which brought one of our kids back into our bed for a time, but we all do better in our own beds for the long run. I think there are just stages you have to resolve that you won't be sleeping much at night (as you now know!) and try to nap if and when at all possible. I wish I would've let go of the idea of scheduling a little sooner and just held them more! I think it took us 3 kids or so to figure that one out. It goes so fast!

Joan said...

Everything has been said...but I wanted to add:
Swaddle the goodness out of your baby (Proa) haha. And make an effort to teach him how to use a NUK, pacifier, binky, what have you. It is the BEST THING EVER!
I always hear people say, "Well my baby just doesn't like it and won't take it?!" It has to be trained/taught just like anything else.
I do recommend "NUK" brand pacifiers too b/c my children's teeth have all gone back to normal (even after using them for four years!?)
Sabina used one till she was six and you know how beautiful her teeth are! :)

Alicia said...

Most babies that were suffocated while sleeping with their parents had parents who were drinking. They couldn't feel the babies because of the alcohol involved.

I agree with Barbara.


Bloom said...

1. I have loved reading through all of these comments. Everyone's perspective and personality is a bit different, and I love that about this community. So much good advice...

2. Joan--if this baby takes a nuk I will cry for joy. We tried everything short of duct-taping a nuk into the mouths of our first two. They were just not having it!

3. Did everyone read Danielle's comment? First of all, it had me laughing out loud. Second of all, you're on the right track, Danielle, with the mini trampoline idea. I think a lot of children's sleep is determined by what happens in the day. Some of my recent observations with my boys: too much sugar=hard time going to sleep. A lot of activity, such as swimming or playing at the park for a long time= a far better sleep. Too much visual stimulation (even if it's as benign as Thomas or Winnie the Pooh)=nightmares for Rog.


kelly said...

I second Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. My baby was the worst sleeper in her playgroup at 2 months and now at 9 months puts herself to sleep easily at night.

Tanya said...

I've had the same experience as you. First child -- followed Babywise and The Baby Whisperer and it worked like a charm. At 8 yrs old -- he is an AMAZING sleeper!!! 2nd child -- nothing worked. She too would cry ALL night if we let her. At 4 years old, she is a horrible cranky sleeper. Several times we have let her sleep w/us, but seriously -- I wake up in the worst mood after being kicked and hit all night. I would suggest looking over the Baby Whisperer. It is the one parenting book I really loved.

Kerstin said...

I didn't see this book mentioned yet, so I am going to list it as a reference for all those struggling moms out there. "Sleeping Through The Night" by Jodi Mindell. The book goes through possible sleep solutions of all ages of kids from a professional that works at a sleep center at a children's hospital.

I can't sing the book's praises enough!

Marlo said...

I believe VERY strongly in the importance of sleep, so I will do ANYTHING to get my kids to sleep. Anything. With my first, it was easy...hold her for a few minutes until she fell asleep and then lay her down. When she got a little older, then I would lay by her for 10 minutes and she would sleep for hours. The second was totally different and I won't lie, the only thing that would help her sleep was sleeping in the car seat, in the bathroom, with the fan on, until way older than I am willing to admit outloud. But it was the only way. And it led to the happiest baby I know. Truly. But she took naps in there and started the night in there, sometimes finished the night in there. I know the "experts" day not to do that, but they weren't coming to my house to help me out, so I did it my way.

Now that she is 2, I have to hold her for 20 minutes, in the dark, in the bathroom with the fan on to get her to go to sleep. But then she sleeps a solid 3 hour nap. This is something I am willing to do, but I realize not everyone is. With the third one on the way, I am a little nervous, as my 2nd's naps are becoming difficult. I agree with Danielle about the manual labor. What a difference!

My advice is to whatever it takes, sleep however you can to help that little baby be healthy. All my friends thought it was crazy that my daughter slept in the bathroom, but when we would all be at book club or they would baby sit her and she would instantly fall asleep in the bathroom, they couldn't argue, and one friend even used it with her next baby. Good luck Anne. You will do great and I will imagine you doing Irish dancing and deep knee bends to calm the little one (that was you, right?).

annie said...

I say whatever gets your through the night with the most sleep...a lot of people have a lot to children are 16 and 11 and I had friends and family give me the Ferber book...Just could not do it. Not sure if it was us or them, but let me tell you they are well adjusted, happy, bright kids that now sleep very well in their own beds in their own rooms. Wish you all the best! BTW... do you have a king size bed? That made all the difference!

InCircle Interiors said...

this IS such a hot topic. my first, sienna, sounds like your roger. i wanted crying it out to work so freaking bad. fast forward, she's now 21 months and still wakes up once a night, yep, crying loud and just generally angry-mad. sometimes multiple times. it has been a horrible reality to come to terms with. but she does go to bed at 7 and we usually start our day around 7. we just sometimes have really bad middle-of-the-nights. so, my perspective has changed so much and i've decided to do whatever works. and with #2 on the way, i'm like you, totally open minded. but i have hope that i may get one angel sleeper. just one. that's all i'm hoping for.

Primary Female Caregiver said...

I quite like the idea of co-sleeping, but like you, I can't actually get any sleep when a child is in bed with me (I can barely sleep with my husband in bed!). For me, the perfect solution was a co-sleeper. Because I couldn't afford one w/ my first, I actually rigged one up with existing items by taking the front off of my crib and shoving it up against my bed. We made sure the mattresses were at the exact same height, put a playcrib mattress underneath both, and a rolled up blanket stuffed in between the mattresses to ensure there was no gap. (This set-up was only used when they were very young and not really moving around anyway, and we checked that things were still securely in place every single day.) At night I would simply roll over into the crib to nurse, then roll back into my bed to sleep. It helped my little ones to stay asleep, kept them used to sleeping on their own and in their crib, and allowed me to actually get some sleep at night. Within four months or so they were sleeping through the night and we simply put the front back on the crib and moved it into their own room. They never really knew the difference!

Sherrie said...

I'm a mom of six and a grandma to 5 (so far) and here's what I've learned in my own experiences with babies.
The majority of babies who are put on consistent routines don't ever have to cry it out. A routine can be increasingly difficult to achieve but increasingly valuable the more chidren you have. (I wish people wouldn't attach a negative or "mean mom" stigma to the word schedule. It does not necessarily imply letting your baby cry for hours.)
If you lay babies to bed when they are sleepy but not already asleep they can learn that blessed skill of falling back to sleep on their own. This makes bedtime and naptime easier for everyone, and it also helps babies sleep longer because if they awaken or stir prematurely they can get simply fall back asleep rather than wake up and need help to get back to sleep.
I recall sometimes wanting to do things because I would enjoy them (like co-sleeping. "wouldn't that be sweet?" I remember thinking. Or nursing them to sleep-so peaceful!) but I'd start down those paths and realize that while I might enjoy it, it didn't seem to be helping the baby learn to sleep better. In the end, it would become clear to me that I needed to put the baby's sleep needs first. (Every baby's sleep needs might be a little different, but mine seemed to be nearly all the same.) And ironically that seemed to also be what ultimately gave me and the rest of the family the most sleep and/or free time during the day to accomplish important tasks so I could focus more on the baby when she was awake (all daughters here). A win-win!
I'm offering my perspective to try to be helpful. I haven't had time to read through the many previous comments, so hopefully this isn't repetitious of what's already been said. Good luck to the original blogger with your new arrival.

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