Will the rocking to sleep ever end? [Part 1]

The Issue

My daughter just turned 7 months. For the first two months of her life, my husband, mom, and I lived under the exhaust fan, baby thrown over our shoulders, while we desperately patted her (bum) to sleep. Then, she eventually took to an Indian hammock made for infants.

So, for the next 4 months, we took turns pulling the string attached to the hammock and rocked her to sleep. Sometimes, she was out within 10 minutes. At other times, we’d still be swinging 30 minutes later.

She was a pretty colicky baby, so the swing did save us–and our arms. It had its place. But when she turned six months, the crying decreased and she spent more time playing in the hammock while we swung. We were ready to let go of the rocking… because she was. She had outgrown the need to be rocked to be soothed. Besides, it had become exhausting, especially in the middle of the night, when I’d pull the string for up to an hour while she fussed and played, eventually going to sleep and giving my wrist a break. My husband and I often referenced the book Go the F*** to Sleep. Here’s a video of a reading done by Samuel L. Jackson – hilarious!

I knew she was ready to learn how to fall asleep by herself in the crib and in her own room. I was going off of the cues she was giving me. Now, I just had to TEACH her to forget the rocking and *play* herself to sleep. My brother had great success with the cry it out method, but before I was ready to try it, I had to read up on it. I quickly saw the huge divide it caused among parents… either people were completely for it, having experienced success, or it was described as a cruel practice that would cause permanent psychological damage.

The Research

I eventually settled on the following site to help me understand the process: http://www.troublesometots.com. Alexis –the site’s author–not only gives step by step directions, but she also amazingly responds to EACH and EVERY reader’s questions. Browsing through other people’s successes confirmed my decision to use the cry it out method to teach my daughter how to fall asleep by herself.

Alexis also cites a pediatric cry it out study: “Five-Year Follow-up of Harms and Benefits of Behavioral Infant Sleep Intervention: Randomized Trial.” Three hundred some children at 7 months with reported sleep problems were chosen for the study. 1 in 3 received sleep training. Alexis has access to the full-text study, and she writes:

The first group was told, “Good luck!” and sent on their merry way (OK I’m paraphrasing). The second group was given an individual sleep plan from a trained nurse that included either check-and-console [baby cries but parent checks at various intervals] or what they call “camping out” (baby cries but parent hangs out in the room for increasingly shorter periods of time while this is going on). Then they compared the two groups (detailed parental surveys and cortisol stress tests) at 10 months, 12 months, 2 years, and 6 years.

The study had the following five-year outcomes:

The main outcomes measured were (1) child mental health, sleep, psychosocial functioning, stress regulation; (2) child-parent relationship; and (3) maternal mental health and parenting styles.

The result?

There was no evidence of differences between those who received sleep training and those who didn’t in any of the areas above.

The Outcome

This study further helped confirm my decision. On November 8 (about 2 1/2 weeks ago), my husband and I decided to sleep train our daughter.

Today–November 27–she went down for 3 naps with either no crying or under 2 minutes of fussing. At bedtime, she played for 30 minutes in her CRIB in her OWN ROOM before going to sleep BY HERSELF. Success!

Next entry: How exactly did we do it?

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