December 28, 2009

More zzzzz's please

When we first decided to stage a sleep intervention, our primary goal was to improve the quality and quantity of Roscoe's sleep in any way we could. The No Cry Sleep Solution has been my handy reference ever since.

For babies like Roscoe, who wake frequently during each sleep cycle, a trick we read in the NCSS is to intervene with whatever means typically used to soothe the baby (nursing, pacifier, etc.) just before he wakes up in an effort to prevent him from fully waking--now I always have an ear out for the smallest little squeak or rustle, and I've perfected my sprint on tip-toe between his room and ours, which is connected by a long hall. We found that pushing the white-noise button on his swing usually does the trick. As the theory goes, the baby will become accustomed to sleeping for longer intervals and will eventually do so without any intervention. I definitely see this happening at night, but his nap time sleep still requires a lot of button pushing.

Roscoe's naps are much more predictable and he's naturally gravitated toward a schedule of two naps a day, one each at 9:00 and 1:00. Consistent nap times not only offer great structure to the day, but they are a sanity saver since I can count on having a specified chunk of time to get out of the house without worry over disrupting his routine.

Thankfully, putting Roscoe to sleep is no longer a struggle. Gone are the days of efforts greater than two hours to convince him to sleep. I'm more effective at reading his "I'm sleepy" cues, and we've created a calm predictable routine that lets him know that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. A big (and awesome) improvement is that he no longer needs to be nursed to sleep. Nursing is often the last step to our routine, but most of the time he is awake or drowsy when I transfer him to the swing. With a better appreciation for timing, there is little to no fussing involved.

For now, Roscoe takes his naps and sleeps during the night in his swing. Luckily, we didn't have to transition to this arrangement because he was already comfortable sleeping in his swing during nap time. Andy and I have changed our sleeping arrangements as well, and we're currently camped out in our guest bedroom, which is next-door to the nursery, in order to be closer to Roscoe. We also hooked up our baby monitor to help decrease our response time. While I miss my baby's body curled next to mine, and the little dance he does with his toes on my belly, I don't mind the chance to share a bed just with Andy, or to sleep on my back again.

His night wakes have improved dramatically from once every hour and a half to once every 3 to 4 hours, and the past two nights he woke only twice: once at 11:30 and once at 3:30. Andy and I have been side eying each other over this all day. We don't want to get too excited, but this is pretty major!

Overall, Roscoe logs about 13 hours of night and nap sleep, which still falls about an hour short of the range for his age. And he does continue to stir frequently, but I no longer nurse him at every transition--hurray!--and with the help of the button (which isn't needed all the time) he is getting better at falling back to sleep on his own.

In addition to a new sleep routine, we now feed him solids after he wakes from each nap. This gives me a small break, since other people can feed him, and it ensures he gets a larger (hopefully more satisfying) milk meal when he does nurse. Amazingly, in less than three weeks he actually gained 2 pounds which is a big deal for him considering his average weight gain has been about one pound/month since birth.

Most importantly, Roscoe seems much happier. His attention span is greater, and he doesn't require constant cajoling or distraction. He seems to have more energy to invest in reaching milestones, and giggling. I do feel like we've accomplished a lot and I am proud that my effort has made such an impact. Despite feeling miserable much of the time, the payoff is worth it.

Of course, there is still room for improvement so looking to the next 10 days we're going to focus on being even more consistent with a formal nap and bedtime routine, work on transitioning Roscoe from the swing to his crib (because at 7.5 months, his mobility poses a safety hazard), and eliminating the button pushing.

I can't say that Andy and I feel like new yet, but our hopes are high and our fingers are crossed for more zzzzzzzzz's.


  1. WOW!! No nursing before sleep?? You guys ARE making progress!! I'm glad you three are " getting along" better! ;-) You guys are doing a great job! Keep it going! <3<3

  2. Great progress being made!! Keep up the good work.


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