Thursday, November 13, 2014

BFBN: STTN summary - a tale of four children

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day.  I'm writing on Emily's blog about why I loved having a birth photographer.  Check it out here!  I am so excited that Valerie is here posting today.  I asked her if she could summarize how each of her children got to sleeping through the night.  I feel like it's so hard realizing that every kid really is different, especially in this area.  There is no magic formula!  I hope you'll find encouragement in knowing that every baby achieves it in a different way and at a different time.  Read and enjoy!


STTN Summary: A Tale of Four Children

Claire asked that I share with you how I achieved sleeping through the night (STTN) for all of my children. Let me start by saying that I largely just followed the outline of On Becoming Babywise and had faith that when my baby was ready, STTN would happen. I believed that if I did my part in the day, things would work out at night. This is by and large true. There are, however, extenuating factors that can delay that magical day when STTN becomes the norm. Here are my stories and what I learned from each child.

Brayden--now age 9
STTN age: 6 months
With Brayden, we didn't start following Babywise at all until around four weeks and not fully until around 9 weeks. Because of our 9 week late start, I fully prepared myself to be 9 weeks behind the promises of what can happen with Babywise.

Brayden started sleeping through the night right around 6 months old (just before). Here is the crazy thing: he did it while on vacation several states away (and we live in the West, so several states away is a long way). This is counter-intuitive, right? A baby shouldn't be improving sleep while on vacation; he should be having some sleep setbacks while on vacation. Everyone knows that. So I decided I needed to take some hard looks at what was different between our home and my great-aunt's home where we were staying.

The number one difference between our homes was that it was much warmer in my aunt's home. The second main difference was that Brayden had more privacy--we weren't quite in different rooms, but he wasn't right by us. In our home, he was right by us (our "room" in my great-aunts house was literally more square feet than our first apartment). We were remodeling a house at the time while living in it and none of us had a bedroom--we were sleeping in the main family room area. It was an open floor plan and the entire main floor was open, which meant drafty. It also meant we could all hear each other. 

When we got home from that trip,  I decided the best way to duplicate the environment at my aunt's house was to move Brayden into the bathroom. We could close the door, which would mean it would be warmer. It also meant he wouldn't hear every peep we made and we wouldn't hear every peep he made.

It worked! For the next six months until we moved, he slept in the bathroom. And through the night. Happiness all around.

Something to note, I didn't really notice the concept of a "dreamfeed" or "late evening feed" with Brayden, so this STTN was from bedtime to morning waketime. 

Key things I learned:
  • If your baby is older than "should" be for STTN and isn't, really consider factors that might be preventing your baby from STTN. It is good to be patient, some babies do take longer than you would expect, but you don't want to ignore some simple fix that could improve the situation. I have a post with common reasons for a baby not sleeping through the night: Nighttime Sleep Issues.
  • If your baby is cold at night, he will not sleep well.
  • As I look in retrospect, he was sleeping from bedtime to morning waketime at a younger age than both Kaitlyn and McKenna--he just had no dreamfeed. So realize that if you have no dreamfeed, your baby will likely wake during your night longer than a baby who has a dreamfeed.
Kaitlyn--now age 7
STTN age: 4 months
When Kaitlyn came along, I was a huge believer in the ways of Babywise, so I intended to start from the beginning. She came with a challenge, however. Kaitlyn was diagnosed with reflux. Oh how reflux changes the game. 

Kaitlyn slept through the night right around the end of 3 months old/beginning of 4 months old. Kaitlyn loved to sleep. She was a great sleeper who was a natural at it. There were many times she woke in pain because of reflux, but her love of sleep really helped her sleep through the night earlier than most babies with reflux do (along with, of course, our adherence to Babywise principles). I stuck to our day routine and she naturally slept through the night on her own right around 3/4 months. 

At the time, Kaitlyn had a dreamfeed, so her STTN was from dreamfeed until morning wakeup time. I kept the dreamfeed until 7 months old. 

Key things I learned with Kaitlyn:
  • Babies with reflux (and I transfer that to a baby in pain for any reason) will very likely take longer to STTN than they would otherwise. More patience is needed. For more on reflux, see Babywise and Reflux.
  • Some babies are more natural sleepers than others. Brayden fought sleep from birth while Kaitlyn embraced it. You will have to work harder with babies who love to sleep than you will have to work with babies who do not love to sleep.
McKenna--now age 5
STTN age: 9 weeks
When McKenna was born, I quickly recognized that I had another baby who loved to sleep on my hands. She was a very natural sleeper who didn't need CIO ever to learn to sleep. I could put her in her bed awake from the first day and she would go right to sleep. 

McKenna started STTN when she was 9 weeks old. I was so excited! Then the next week, she woke a couple of nights in the night again. My determination was that it was due to colder nights and her being cold. She went back and forth a few times, but for the most part was STTN at 9 weeks. At the time, we did cluster feeding and we also did a dreamfeed, so this STTN was with a dreamfeed. We dropped the dreamfeed at 29 weeks (around 7 months--she was ready sooner, but we moved right around when she was ready and I didn't want to change things up at the same time as a move). You can go here to read my newborn summaries to get full details of how the roller coaster went. 

McKenna was pretty textbook. Even so, I learned some things:
  • Cluster feeding can really help facilitate STTN. 
  • McKenna was a very small baby at birth--a low 6 pounder. Small babies often take longer to STTN. Babies are often around 12 pounds or so when they start STTN (not always, but often). 
Brinley--now age 2
STTN age: 8 weeks
Brinley wasn't here long before I realized that she is very similar to Brayden in the sleep department. She doesn't love sleep like Kaitlyn and McKenna love sleep. Even so, I started Babywise from day one like I had my other girls. And like McKenna, she never had to CIO to learn to sleep on her own.

Brinley was also a small baby at birth. She slept through the night at 8 weeks old. This was with a dreamfeed and no cluster feeding. She was the type who started sleeping through the night and never really looked back. She just did it. When Brinley was 18 weeks old (right around 4 months), we dropped the dreamfeed. I like having the dreamfeed longer than that, but it started to disrupt her sleep so that she started waking early in the morning, so I dropped the dreamfeed and that fixed the early waking. 

Key things I learned with Brinley:
  • Even if a baby doesn't love to sleep, she can still be an amazing sleeper. I did know that with Brayden, but I had to work hard to get him there. With Brinley, I also worked hard but worked hard from the beginning and never had to fight her at all. "Start as you mean to go on" will make your life easier, and your baby's life easier!
  • Making sacrifices to establish good sleep patterns is worth it. It isn't popular among a lot of family members who have high expectations. But let me say this. Unless you have a young baby at the moment, you do not remember how sensitive they are to being overly tired. Unless you are a mother of said baby, you do not know what it is like to have to try to help baby through the disruptions. People forget. We had family members who couldn't remember our policies between babies, much less what it was truly like for them to have babies. Your first priority is to your baby's needs. Some babies are more flexible than others. Some can handle disruptions better than others. Do what you feel is best for your baby. Explain it. Explain that the baby won't be a baby forever. Explain that you don't love having to miss things sometimes. Even with those explanations, family members aren't always nice and understanding (even if they acknowledge that they were the same way as you when they had young babies). See my post Dealing with Difficult Family Members for more. You can also see  Balancing Baby's Needs With Family's NeedsBaby Joins a Family {AND} Family Adds a Baby, and Welcoming Baby to the Family.
Good luck as you move toward sleeping through the night. Remember that consistency in your days will immensely help your nights to be smoother. Remember to be patient, but also mindful of things you can change. Your baby will get there!

Valerie is the mother to four and blogs at www.babywisemom.com.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Valerie, I have a 2 year old and a 3.5 mo old. We did Babywise from day one with our two year old and she has been STTN 12 hrs since 9 weeks old. So our son is a different story. He is super inconsistent and most nights will wake up and cry and go back to sleep. He will do this anywhere from one to 3 or 4 times at night. I will feed him if it's closer to 4 or 5am when he wakes. We haven't done a Dreamfeed with either child but I'm open to that in the future bc of how things have been with our son. The main thing I keep coming back to as the reason for our son's inconsistency is that he sleeps out in the living room. We live in a two bedroom apartment and want to move him into our daughter's room as soon as he is STTN. My husband has crazy works hours so he comes home late at night (after midnight) and also leaves for work super early (3:30am) every week. We use a sound machine and make a tent over his pack and play with a dark comforter to try to help with any disruptions from my husband. We don't turn on any lights but I feel like this is a major setback for getting our so to STTN consistently. He doesn't sleep in the room with us is bc I'm a light sleeper and hear every noise he makes. I'd love any suggestions!!

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    Replies
    1. Amelia - I'm Claire (the writer of this blog), and I'll do my best to offer suggestions! (Valerie's blog is babywisemom.com and she is extremely knowledgeable in Babywise, so definitely hop over there and ask her, too!)

      You're definitely in a tricky living situation! Props to you for making it work! :)

      So, are you saying that you feed him his bedtime feeding and then wait to feed him until 4-5 am? Or is he eating in between there? My first did a DF successfully but my second wouldn't, so I'm wondering if it's worth a shot with your son. You could try it for a few nights and see if you notice any difference.

      Also - is he crying off and on all night, or will he eventually settle and sleep for awhile? Just wondering if something like reflux could be causing all of the waking and crying.

      Let me know what you think on all this and how it's going!

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    2. Clair, thanks for responding! Sorry I misunderstood where to post to Valerie regarding this blog article! But I appreciate your response!!
      So I've intorduced a Dreamfeed at 10 every night which has gotten him back to waking at 4am ish instead of earlier. The thing is, he won't nurse a full feeding during the day but he's very hungry at 4am. He wants only 2 or 3.5 oz per feeding during the day. I'm working on getting him more oz via pumping and a bottle. (Yesterday that worked and twice he took 5 oz from a bottle.) He has always been an impatient nurser so I'm not sure what to do. It seems like he is at the point where he's gotten his days and nights mixed up as far as eating. :( He naps just fine during
      the day too which I find strange if his main calorie intake is at night.
      Do you have any ideas? I appreciate your thoughts!!

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    3. Yes, I totally get this! Nova, my 2nd, started to eat less, specifically at her first feeding of the day. I knew that was crazy because she should be starving! She was 11 weeks at that point with 1 MOTN feeding. So I just decided that we were done and that I would let her fuss. Sure enough, she cried but went right back to sleep and ate so much better since she wasn't eating in the night. I definitely think that eating in the night is causing him to eat less in the day. Maybe if you continue making sure he has full feedings in the day, this will improve. Does he seem satisfied after nursing? Do you feel like it could have anything to do with your milk supply? Also, have you let him fuss or cry at night at all before feeding him? (If you're against that, that's totally fine - just curious! :))

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  2. I thought it started out as a supply problem so that's when I moved to more frequent feedings throughout the day. But that's when it got really terrible as far as him wanting to eat all night as well as all day. So I pumped extra during the day (and now my supply is definitely more than it was and more than he even wants). Last night we decided to just let him cry, and yes, we're totally ok with letting him cry, other than I can't sleep. :) He cried several times but did go back to sleep in between waking and…we made it! All the way to 7am! He nursed gso much better throughout the day today (3 hr intervals) and I'm hoping tonight will have less waking and crying as he adjusts. He sure is different from my first, she would nurse for an hour at a time if I let her and once she started sleeping at night, she never went back to waking.
    Thank you so much for your input! It is so helpful to have another perspective from a fellow mommy!!

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  3. Your first sounds a lot like my first! It definitely is crazy how different they can be. :) I'm so glad he made it to 7am! I bet he'll just get better and better at it as the nights go on!

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