Saturday, 4 October 2008

Sleep Training

This is a very controversial post so those of you with soft hearts don't read on...

I promised myself and my husband that once we were in our own place with a decent cot I would get Ryan back into his own bed. For the last five or so months he has been sleeping next to me... Not good for anyone really. So tonight is the night. I have read a book by Dr Richard Ferber called Solve your Child's Sleep Problems (twice). In it he discusses sleep and all the nitty gritty details that are involved in sleep, he talks of actual sleep disorders - like did you know that some babies cannot get to sleep unless they are repeatedly banging their heads on their cot? How weird is that?
Anyway the most common problem it seems is what he calls sleep associations. According to him we all wake up during the night without knowing it, check our surroundings, and if they are the same as they were when we went to sleep we generally go back to sleep without ever knowing we woke up in the first place. Now some kids have to have certain conditions present before they go to sleep, a favourite stuffed toy, dummy in the mouth, breastfeeding, mommy lying next to them etc etc. Now when these kids wake up and find the toy has fallen off the bed, or the dummy has fallen out of the mouth or the boob isn't there anymore or mommy has gone back to bed they can't go back to sleep until the situation is rectified. Makes sense to me. He likens it to having a pillow when you go to sleep, if you wake up and the pillow isn't there anymore you get it and put it on the bed again and drift off again. Now if you are a baby you can't really do that. You have no control over your surroundings or the conditions present when you go to sleep.
His remedy - controlled crying. You put them in the cot and leave them there for a minute. When the minute is up you go back in and lay them down again and hum or whatever but not pick them up out of the cot. Then you leave them for two minutes. Then three, then four, up to five...
Now I can say that this is not a fun exercise. We are up to five minutes at present and Ryan's lungs are still going strong. I am thinking I better write a note to each of my neighbors and explain what I'm doing cause this can't be fun to listen to at 11:40 at night.
The poor little bod seems to be winding down. Well, there are periods of quiet in between heartrending wails anyway.
I recommend this book to anyone. What he suggests tries the natural protective instinct of any parent but the advice is sound and you learn things about sleep that you are guaranteed to never have known before. I will keep you updated as to how it goes...

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