Thursday, December 4, 2008

Review of Healthy Sleep Habits Book

As I've mentioned, I'm reading Healthy Sleep Habits; Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.  Since I have been so busy trying to get my kids to sleep I'm not quite done.  

That is not going to stop me from passing along my thoughts!  First and foremost, I feel like Weissbluth and I are on the same wavelength.  I really tried to get into Dr. Sears and his attachment parenting philosophy but you try to "wear" your twins for 3 hours a day and "respond to every cue"  we'll see how sane you are!  

Here is what I like about Weissbluth: 
  • Pacifiers are not the devil.  My kids are "lights out" as soon as they are starting to get sleeping.  For Penny it is a loose swaddle during the day with literally a 1 min rock.  Ned, a little more rocking.  For both the pacifier does the trick of sending them to a nice drowsy state.  The key is not to go put it right back in the second they fuss (so it is more a "going to sleep" aid verses a "need to sleep" device. 
  • Routine/Schedule helps create a happy baby.  At this age he advocates they be asleep withing 2 hours of waking.  I'm actually working on the 5+ month schedule with my kids (nap at 9 am, 1 pm and if needed (which they always do right now) late afternoon).  Penny naturally fits the "easy baby" scenario. Ned always responds to needing a nap within 2 hours - it is the length of his nap that drives me crazy.  His proposed nap times (which we are not always on target with) fit pretty well with our general feeding routine/schedule of every four hours (7, 11, 3 and 7). 
  • Corrollary - an Inconvenient Truth:  It may be inconvenient for me but they need to be home and in their cribs for sleeping.  This means not trying to get them to "nap on the fly" and thus fewer playdates/classes.  But with Nanny here a couple of days a week I get my sanity time and they sleep better at home and it teaches them routine.  
  • Different Naptime/Bedtime routines.  Our naptime routines are very short - swaddling, jiggling until drowsy and pacifier to sleep.  Bedtime is much more involved.  I would go crazy trying to cram too many sleepy routines into a nap.  Weissbluth acknowledges that kids know the difference between bedtime and naptime so that is fine.  
  • Cry it out - not just for 6+ months.  My kids are learning every day.  I "see" it when Ned starts to understand something.  Penny realized that if we didn't respond to her cries at 8 pm she'd go right to sleep instead of torturing us until 11 pm (we did this at 6 weeks and it only took 2 nights).  For Ned I stopped going to him at 6 am and now he talks to himself and sometimes falls asleep for at least another 40 mins (wake up is around 7 am).  I'm now starting with Ned on his post-lunch nap.  Today it was 30 mins of crying, picking him up and he slept for another 40 mins.  I know everyone says "kids don't self-sooth" until 6 months.  It's "cruel to let them cry", etc.  But Ned wakes himself up with gas and I have to comfort him and do what I can to get him to sleep.  He sees me now, smiles and wants to play.  That signals to me that it is time to do a modified cry it out.  I feed him and play with him and I know it won't break our baby-mom bond.   
  • Brain Chemistry.  Sleeping through the night is not about how much your kids eat during the day, whether they eat solids, how much they weigh, etc.  Their brains dictate when they'll sleep through the night (as in 12 hours, not 5 hours).  As I've mentioned, despite Penny's small stature and bird-like eating habits she'll be the first one to consistently sleep through the night.  She's only managed it once but I have high hope she'll do it again! 
What I don't like:
  • No real focus on multiple kids although he clearly prefers "extinction" (aka CIO) for moms with older kids that need attention. He also guides you toward putting them down still awake for more than one kid which makes sense.  I can't rock Ned into a deep sleep if Penny is still playing on the mat downstairs. He tries to make it sound like he's okay with "Option B" (rocking your kid into a deep sleep) but I can tell he's not. 
  • Sleep journal.  I'm trying but man, it is annoying.  I prefer the "rule of thumb" - my kids should go down around 2 hrs (or earlier) after getting up.  First nap I'd prefer at least an hour, second nap 2 hours and last one whatever they want.  He advocates 2-4 hrs for most naps.  Yikes!  Penny does that for her afternoon nap so I have to wake her up sometimes to eat after Ned does (she would have been napping close to 3 hrs by then). 
I agree that my kids can't quite self-sooth which is why I'm doing a modified CIO - no more than 30 mins for naps.  Today I used it on Ned (after his first 45 min obligatory wake-up) for the first time and I read the Weissbluth book while I tried to not stress about his cries.  Honestly I could tell they were mostly mad cries (not hurt) so it wasn't too hard.  As soon as I went in I picked him up, inserted the pacifier and he was out in 30 seconds for 40 more mins.  Some people would argue - "why didn't you go in sooner and he would have slept sooner" but I am determined to be consistent with them.  My kids may be absolutely different babies every day but if I try to be consistent I hope they will soon embrace it and be happier babies for it. 

Cry it out is a controversial method and I never do it for eating.  But for sleeping I can see its benefits.  Ned is safe in his crib.  His diaper is okay, he's full of food and he's sleepy/had plenty of playtime.  If kids are clearly learning at this age (mine are almost 3.5 months) I don't see why 6 months is such a magical number. 

Any other Weissbluth fans out there?  Any critics?  


Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what Weissbluth says is helpful, but with any book on babies, I don't follow it word for word. Every baby is different. We do follow a modified version of this, though.

We don't use pacis, only because Neve has recently decided to reject them.

I'm also not getting her on a strict nap schedule because I only have 6 short months home with her and I don't want to spend most of my day in the house while she naps. That may be selfish on my part, but I think it makes me a better mom to be able to go out and about and have her nap on the fly. She has fallen into a general nap schedule on her own by doing this (falling asleep after being awake 2 hours). There are some days where she doesn't go down for naps, which does make for disaster come 5pm, but on the whole, she can fall asleep while we're out. Plus, her lack of a true nap schedule hasn't seemed to interfere with her night sleep, so I take that as a cue that what I'm doing is fine. If the daycare provider wants to get Neve on a nap schedule, great, and I'll be happy to follow it on the weekends once I go back to work, but for now, I'm not a slave to the naps.

As for "crying it out" we definitely try to do a modified version of that too. You are right in thinking that they are picking up on things as early as 3 months. If Neve is crying, and we go upstairs to try to comfort her, SHE WILL STOP CRYING ONCE SHE HEARS THE CREAKING ON THE STAIRS...what a little sneak! Our big thing is that we really try to not pick her up to comfort her. Once she's down for the night in her crib, she's down. We don't want her to think that if she cries enough, she'll get picked up (though I have caved a couple of times with the hyperventilating cry...which she gets from me).

You're doing such a wonderful job, Mommy Esq.!

Anonymous said...

Well, first I will say that I am not opposed to CIO under certain circumstances. I used to be against it, but I spent 2 exhausting months trying to break Josh of his rock-to-sleep habit (from 8-10 months old) with non-cry methods. Nothing worked. Finally, I tried CIO as a last resort and it worked within about 3 days.

With Alex, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. I never did CIO with him though. I did let him fuss it out a few times, but if he was full out crying, I used Pat/Shhh method from "The Baby Whisperer." I was there for him if he was crying, but I wouldn't pick him up or interact other than to pat him. The result was that he was going to sleep without a problem somewhere between 4 and 5 months.

I do think 3 months is a little young to do CIO, although I understand why you're doing it with twins. And I have to disagree with the "cry for 30 minutes" thing. I don't remember if Weissbluth talks about this, but basically what you are teaching them is that if they continue crying for X amount of time, then finally you will come to them.

My only other comment is that I am a total Nap Nazi. Even with two kids on completely different nap schedules (as they were for quite awhile) I planned my day around naps so they could sleep at home. For about 6 months or so, that meant I literally did nothing outside the house between the hours of 10am and 4pm because SOMEBODY was always napping. Oh well! They change so much in the first year, I knew it wouldn't last forever. Now I have 2 kids who nap at the same time, which lets ME nap or have some time to myself. You can bet I do everything I can to protect that time, which means sticking to our routine as much as possible.

When we are away from home, I try to replicate our routines as closely as possible. I have gotten a lot of flak from friends and family members about this ("Can't he just miss one nap?" etc.) and I DON'T CARE. My kids are insanely crabby when they don't nap well and *I* am the one who suffers the consequences because nobody wants to deal with a crabby kid... Mama has no choice but to deal with it. So as far as I'm concerned, my critics can go to hell on that one. :-)

Rhonda said...

I have 3 year old twins. I practice Attachment Parenting. Yes, it is exhausting and time consuming, but so far it has been totally worth it. I've made compromises and I've had to get very creative in some circumstances but overall, I feel I've been pretty true to the ideals of AP. There is an entire Attachment Parenting Multiples Yahoo Group and quite a few local families for anyone looking for support. It's a pretty lonely road to follow when everyone says, you can't AP twins. It's not for everyone, but it works for us.

I've read Weissbluth and several other sleep experts. I agree with them on the importance of sleep, but I strongly disagree with many of their methods. For what it's worth, my 3 year olds go to sleep on their own, in their own beds, at 7pm every night. They sleep all night in their own beds until approximately 7am each morning when they call for us to see if it is time to get up.

Anonymous said...

Hi K - I just got this book as we talked about on Thursday. Looking forward to trying it. I am not opposed to CIO except logistically - if I leave G to cry it out, that means I'm right there listening to it, so that will likely take some creativity. Still working on all this stuff. See you soon!