Tag Archives: suck-to-sleep

Sleep Training (Part 3)

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about Boo’s sleep training…probably because it’s been going so well, that it’s no longer top of mind. You read that right: it’s been SUPER DUPER and I’m so proud of my little man.

Boo sleeping peacefully in his crib

Not long after moving breastfeeding to the beginning of our bedtime routine, Boo became pretty disinterested in it, and we soon cut it out entirely. Instead of breastfeeding I began offering a sippy cup of milk, and eventually we settled on Yop….the kid loves his yogourt. We moved this portion of the routine to the living room where we can sit with Daddy.

Once Boo finishes his Yop (well, it’s actually only half a Yop), we head to his room and resume the diaper/pyjamas/hygiene/kiss daddy goodnight/stories routine exactly as we’ve been doing it for months and months and months. The remainder of the routine, however, began to be adjusted just as soon as I discovered I was pregnant, and knew that rocking the little man to sleep would get increasingly uncomfortable. So after singing while Boo was still in my arms, I started putting him directly into his crib and….leaving him there. I’d kiss him goodnight, and leave the room.

The only change since has been sometimes putting Boo into his crib while I sing – eliminating the cuddle time – since he’s pretty squirmy, my lap has become virtually non-existent, and I can sometimes feel his little sisters’ protests as she bunches up to the opposite side of my belly.

Miraculously he goes to sleep. Eventually.

Sometimes I hear him talking, laughing, and moving about in his crib for an hour or more before he falls asleep. But he does fall asleep, and without any kind of protest or crying.

And then he sleeps through the night.

I consider it a win.

Boo napping comfortably

As for naps….Boo resisted letting go of his suck-to-sleep association at naptime for quite a while. Eventually, however, it became obvious that he’d stopped nursing entirely, and was just using me as a soother to fall asleep with. So one day as he was doing so, and almost sawing at my breast with his increasing number of teeth, I popped it out and said, “OK, that’s it!” and that was that.

Boo didn’t seem too concerned, as he’d basically weaned himself by reducing his breastmilk intake so slowly and gradually to pretty much nothing. From that moment, I took to rocking the little man to sleep, as I’d previously done at bedtime.

The rocking lasted a long, long, long time.

I think I was partly to blame as I feared that, like bedtime, he’d take up to an hour to fall asleep on his own and “lose out” on precious nap time. At least in my arms I knew I could rock him to sleep in 10-20 minutes.

Until, of course, my pregnancy (literally) got in the way and I couldn’t keep rocking the little man to sleep. As my lap got smaller, he also began to protest more and more, becoming increasingly squirmy and difficult to hold. So now I sing him a nap song (adapted from a Sesame Street song by Bert and Ernie), and then dump him in his crib.

I usually give him about 30-40 minutes to fall asleep on his own before I go in and intervene – which means I (very uncomfortably) hold him on my lap and let him scream at me for 2-5 minutes until he falls asleep (then I dump him back in his crib…there’s no other way to put him in there, now that my belly is completely in the way…luckily he stays asleep). I’d say that, on average, he now falls asleep in about 25-30 minutes, and only requires an intervention a few times a week. This is progress. Just a few weeks ago, he needed me to intervene most days.

So positive steps and progress on all fronts, just in time for the baby’s arrival to throw everything off!

Here’s hoping that, after all of our hard work, he doesn’t regress too much (fingers crossed…he’s already started poking my belly some nights…and on those nights only, he’s not going to sleep quietly).

More on Boo’s sleep training: Part 1 and Part 2

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Sleep Training (Part 2)

So previously I’d blogged about getting Boo to nap better. I’m happy to report that it worked! I am now able to leave the room once my little man is asleep…..it’s liberating and amazing and incredibly convenient.

How did we do it?

Exactly as planned: Once my little man was asleep I put him in his crib, but I stayed in the room and sat next to the crib for a few weeks where I could hush and soothe him as needed. Next, I moved across the room. I did that for another few weeks and I did my very best to only verbally (and very minimally) soothe him if required. Note that in both of these scenarios, I didn’t just sit there staring adoringly at my sleeping child. No no…I took advantage of not having him in my arms and fiddled on my iPad or worked on my laptop.

Finally, I left the room altogether where I could do….whatever I wanted! (Provided whatever I wanted to do was in the house.)

Unfortunately, none of this helped his suck-to-sleep association. Though he was napping off of me, he was still totally hooked on my nipple to fall asleep. For naps. At bedtime. When he’d wake up in the middle of the night. It’s all he wanted. In fact he seemed to need it. Desperately.

So we’ve begun to tackle his bedtime/nighttime nipple obsession.

Boo's new lovey

One of my attempts to break (or at least lessen) Boo’s suck-to-sleep association, was the introduction of snuggly blanket, or a lovey…I slept with it for a few days to make it smell more familiar, then began nursing him with it. He couldn’t care less about it for a good long while. Only now – maybe 2 or so months after its introduction – is he starting to take notice of it.

The plan: Create a very predictable bedtime routine that moves nursing to its beginning. Following nursing, change diaper and put on pyjamas. Next up comes all of the hygiene-related activities like brushing teeth, washing face and hands, and anything else that may pop up (e.g. put on moisturizer, drops in ears, whatever). Go say goodnight to Daddy. Return to bedroom and read a story or two. Then once story time is over, sing a bedtime song as I put Boo into his sleepsack, turn on his sound machine and turn out the light. Finish song (I usually sing it twice), kiss Boo goodnight and then rock him to sleep. Put him in crib.

Graco sound machine

Boo’s new Graco Sound Machine runs continuously through the night – not sure if it helps him get to sleep, but it does seem to help keep him asleep by muting other noises in the house or on the street (Montreal middle-of-the-night street cleaning anyone? Ugh).

So far, the plan is working quite well (dare I say very well?). Though the little man stages many escapes through the beginning of the routine (mostly after PJs and before story time), we’ve been sticking to it religiously. Once I start putting on his sleepsack there’s generally a fair amount of complaining, and much more protest after I put out the lights…but I’ve been sticking to my guns and only rocking and shushing him to sleep. No boob.

If he wakes up in the middle of the night, it’s the same story. No boob.

And you know what? It must be working. Even though he still clearly doesn’t like bedtime, he barely wakes up in the middle of the night anymore. Which means my little man who previously woke up an average of 2-3 times per night is now SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT most nights! Or, he’s waking up and soothing himself back to sleep, aware that there’ll be no boob offered if he calls to me.

Which totally rocks.

Moo, Baa, La la la

I’ve been trying to read at least two different books at bedtime. One longer, and one MUCH shorter one. Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La La La!
fits the bill perfectly – Boo loves making animal sounds, and I can get through it in about 1 minute…so even if he wants me to read it again….it’s ok!

The next step in our plan is to gradually move up when I put him into his crib….it’s going to be tough, as Boo does not appear to have a dozing-off stage. He goes from eyes wide open…..to suddenly eyes closed and then asleep within moments. I’m going to spend the next little while looking for any additional clues for when he’s getting sleepy (which will be tough…because I’ll be honest, I don’t sit there staring at him…I tend to close my own eyes and relax).

In the meantime, I’ll start devising a plan for getting him off my nipple at naptime….stay tuned.

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Sleep Training (Part 1)

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of sleep training.** The whole concept of “training” your baby immediately makes me think of the only other small family member people typically try to train – their dog. I’d like to think that my approach to baby-rearing would be a little different than my approach to caring for my (hypothetical) pooch.

So right from the start, let’s ditch the term training and call it teaching instead. Or maybe practicing. I can see us practicing something over and over again until we get it right (I know, I know…you’d practice over and over with your dog as well, but….it just sounds better to me).

With my little Boo there are a number of areas where we need to practice better sleeping habits.

I am the first to admit that my Boo has a very serious suck-to-sleep association. He will not fall asleep for naps or at bedtime without his Mama’s help (and by help, I mean my nipple). I’ve tried working on breaking this association repeatedly (mostly via the Pantley Pull Off), but ultimately find myself giving up as over and over again Boo desperately searches for my nipple, kicks and flails and ultimately starts crying if he doesn’t find it. I can only do this so many times before I actually wake him up (I think my record was about 15 tries).

A little while ago I decided to take a break and tackle another issue: naps.

Since the very beginning, I’ve successfully been able to put a sleeping Boo into his crib for bedtime. But he’s never really allowed me to do so for naps. Within 5-10 minutes of putting him down, he wakes up. Crabby. So to ensure he gets his sleep I’ve had him nap in my arms every day, twice a day. It can be kind of sweet….but also incredibly inconvenient.

The only other way to ensure a good daytime sleep for my little man has been to lie down with him once he’s asleep…my proximity obviously provides him comfort. Which got me thinking of a new strategy. Instead of putting him into his crib and quietly sneaking away, I’ve been staying in his room to comfort or shush him if need be. I started off sitting right next to his crib, and am now sitting on the other side of the room. So far…it’s working. He generally remains asleep for a good hour, and sometimes up to 2 hours. Technically, I’m still kinda trapped. But not nearly to the same extent as I was before. Now I can move (!), I can read a book, use my iPad or laptop. I can fold laundry, or drink a cup of tea. It’s wonderful.

Boo Boo Napping

Oh yes….my little man sleeps with his bum in the air.

I’m hoping to continue this strategy. Eventually I’ll move to just outside the doorway, and then completely out of his room, and……God only knows what I’ll do with the time! Maybe I’ll devise a new plan to (eventually) get little Boo to fall asleep without his Mama.

**Please note that my opinions on sleep training are just that – opinions – and in no way are a commentary on whatever methods you’ve used to get your baby to sleep (so long as the kid gets to sleep, I think you’re doing a great job). It just so happens that formal sleep training isn’t for me….probably because I’m not disciplined enough. Then again, if I find a method that works, maybe I’ll change my tune and embark on a little training practice programme of my own.

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