What we did with Lydia

Posted by  | Thursday, November 15, 2007  at 2:33 PM  
I love to read. So, before Lydia was born, I read a lot on childbirth, nursing, and parenting. I had known people who had done "Babywise" with their children and was impressed with the way their children were growing up. Accordingly, some of the books I read were Gary Ezzo's Babywise series. Since one of my passions is health and nutrition, it made a lot of sense to me when he talked about the importance of babies eating a "full meal." Not only would my baby get the hind milk and fore milk which are both important for nutrition, eating a full meal would help her to sleep better, the research showed. And, if she slept well, not only would she be happier and more rested, but so would I which would enable me to be a better mom. Babywise has a lot more structure in it than just the importance of feeding your baby well, but this is what made the most sense to me from his research and what I decided I wanted to do with Lydia.

From the beginning, Lydia was a good sleeper. Like Babywise says, I threw away the clocks for the first couple of weeks and fed Lydia whenever she wanted, as long as she would eat and not snack. During these first couple of weeks after birth, she would go a 4-6 hour stretch at night, usually from 1 a.m. to 5:30-7:00 a.m. The rest of the day I'd feed her at least every 2 1/2 hours and, in the evenings, she would eat all the time. The doctors called this "cluster feeding." In fact, by 6 weeks old she was eating so often from about 7 - 11 p.m. I was worried I was going to run out of milk. Panicked, I called a lactation consultant who was so wonderful and just listened to everything going on - (we moved when Lydia was 4 weeks old and stayed with family for a little while before moving overseas so there were definitely some extra stressors in our lives!). The lactation consultant said she was probably cluster feeding for comfort since she was constantly around new family members/friends, traveling, sleeping in different places each week, etc., as well as just growing and needing the nourishment.

At four weeks old, Lydia first slept through the night (11 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.). She did this several more times, but it wasn't until she was 9 1/2 weeks old that she started consistently sleeping through the night. Before she started sleeping through the night, if she woke up I would nurse her and gradually she slept longer and longer during the night until she was making it until the morning. The only thing I did diligently was make sure she ate a full meal every time she ate. I tried to get her to have Eat - Play - Sleep pattern, but not religiously. Really, there was no other constant with regards to sleeping - she was in different beds, different places, etc. until she was four months old. In fact, had she not started sleeping through the night on her own, we were never in a position to let her cry it out until we moved overseas and she had a room of her own.

During the day I really threw away all the advice from Babywise about not rocking your baby, structured nap times, etc. We waited two years to conceive Lydia and I knew what a precious gift and miracle she was and that she was going to grow up so very fast. I wanted to treasure every moment with her and I cannot tell you how many days I would just nurse her, rock her, sing to her, pray over her, and/or keep her on me in a simple pocket sling while she napped. In fact, I continued to keep her in a pocket sling during many naps until she was 5 months or so when she began to be more interested in the excitement going on around her more than taking a nap.

We did develop a pattern where she would nurse to go to sleep most of the time. As she began to have more structured nap times during the day (probably around 5-6 months) I would let her CIO if she didn't go to sleep nursing. Luckily, I never had to let her cry more than a few minutes and she would go to sleep. At 10 1/2 months she started waking in the middle of the night. The first couple of nights I nursed her and she went right back to sleep. However, the third night I nursed her and she still didn't go to sleep. She was up for hours crying, playing, you name it. The following night I decided I wasn't doing that again and she would just have to CIO. She woke up, I let her CIO (it was on and off for a couple hours), but we haven't had a problem since. Now that she's 14 1/2 months, I only nurse her twice a day - morning and night. She has learned to put herself to sleep without a prop and even at night we read Bible stories after nursing so she no longer uses nursing to go to sleep. These days, this is her typical pattern: In bed between 8:30 - 9:00; I nurse her between 7-8 a.m. (she's asleep when I go in her room, wakes to eat, and goes right back down); gets up between 10 - 10:30 a.m.; takes one 2 hour nap in the afternoon. She's been on this pattern since about 10 months or so. Before that she would take two naps a day, or sometimes just one nap only longer.

Would I change anything about structuring her sleep? No. But, I admit, I never had to deal with acid reflux or any other tough issues. I definitely think you have to look at each child individually and use other resources as a guide rather than the only way, but I really do believe that making sure Lydia ate well positively impacted her sleep patterns.


markandmeg said...

I just want to thank all you ladies (both authors and readers) for sharing your stories. It has been such an encouragement to me. I have been putting off letting my baby CIO for about a month now. I've always rocked her to sleep and it worked great; she started sleeping through the night by 7 weeks. But around 5 months we had to try to get rid of her swaddle because she was too big and kicking out of it. And ever since then she has been waking up 3-5 times a night and it is totally wearing me down getting up so often at night. I still don't know how I am going to listen to her crying but I know that is what I need to do because nothing else has worked. It has really helped to hear how you all have made it through the CIO stage!
Thanks so much,

Leah said...

Knowing what a sweetheart you are, I really feel for you having to come to the decision to CIO. But I think half the battle is deciding to go ahead with CIO on your own - don't do it just b/c someone told you to. It is really tough, I won't lie to you, but after the first day or two, it really does get drastically better. Because Karis is older, she can handle the crying and she can figure out that she must get herself to sleep. Cherish those moments with her when she wakes up in the morning since you won't have that sweet cuddle time at night. I will be praying for you - keep us updated on how it goes.

marymstraits said...

I have to agree with Leah on the CIO--you have to be completely resolute and "OK" with it in your heart for it to work. I tried CIO when Noah was 3 or 4 months to get him to nap in his crib--night-time sleep in his crib was never a problem. I felt OK about that, and thus, it worked. I heard from many people that I needed to let him CIO at night, but it didn't feel right at that point. About 2 months ago (7 months old), we switched to CIO at bedtime and through the night after Noah became dependant on us to give him his paci back numerous times. I knew he wasn't hungry, I knew he didn't need a diaper change, and I knew he wasn't sick. I also had the OK from the pediatrician, which was the extra support I needed. He really just wanted our attention, and what he needed was sleep. I couldn't have done it any earlier because I didn't have the 100% "know-factor." We're to the point now that when Noah is waking up at night, we know something is wrong--usually, a sickness coming on. If he's crying at sleep time, something is wrong--usually a dirty diaper.

I actually have an issue with people letting newborns CIO. Think about what an absolute shock it is for a newborn to go from a safe, secure, warm place to feeling hungry, overstimulated, cold, etc. They are completely helpless, dependant people who are making a major transition! They need all the love and support possible in those early weeks. I remember the lactation consultant we visted almost 20 times in the first 4 weeks of Noah's life telling me this over and over: all babies fuss and cry, and you can't spoil a newborn.

So my take on CIO is don't try it too early. And try it only when you know that you know that you KNOW it's the only way. And I also wouldn't do it if you and your hubby aren't in complete agreement on the issue!


Hollie said...

Leah and Mary,
You hit the nail on the head. You're absolutely right about having to know in your heart. Meagan, you seem to be at the stage where I was when I decided that something had to change. If you feel like a change must take place, pray for the Lord to give you a peace about it, that He would comfort Karis and that the Lord would comfort you too, because it is hard on your heart. I didn't like the way it made me feel inside, but deep down, I know that Mothering demands me to make decisions that will make me feel terrible, yet it's what my baby NEEDS. I'm sure you've heard this over and over. I'll be praying for you as you search this out in your heart to see if it's the right timing and the right way for you. I am glad that we've helped encourage you. You just made my night. :)

Krista said...

That's a good word on not being able to spoil a newborn. You're right, they are entering a whole new world and I definitely wanted to give Lydia all the love and cuddles she needed to learn how to live outside my womb! I was adament that I didn't want Lydia to sleep in our bed (I knew too many people who started this and now have toddlers still wanting to sleep in their bed) but I soon realized that in those first few weeks of life, she wasn't going to remember being in our bed and what she wanted most was to be held and cuddled. All that to say, at night when I'd nurse there were many times Lydia and I would both fall asleep and she was in our bed. I set a goal for her not sleeping with us by six weeks old and that worked fine for us. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I have three children and have been blessed with great sleepers. I have never followed any book, I just have a couple of rules for my self and signs from my child. My children go to bed the same time every night. I feel this is so important to establish. My 5 year old knows that 8 o'clock is bedtime without question. When they were babies they went down at that time too. Every night each one of our kid gets their own special time with whichever parent they want. During this time we talk about their day, read a book, and snuggle. Then we have lights out. I think since we have done this since day one, they never fight us about sleep. I also enjoy this bedtime because it gives me lots of time with just my husband which sometimes gets lost when you start having kids.
I also have a pretty strict rule about breastfeeding at night. Once my kids slept for a whole week without waking up, I never fed them again at night. This has worked wonderfully for me. All of my kids slept from 8-6 every night since about 4 weeks old. Every now and them they would wake up at night but I would just go in and tell them mommy's here and cover them up. I never would feed them and they never expected me to feed them, so we never got into that habit.
Nap time was also important to me. These days i think many give up on it too early. Around two your child will fight the nap. Stick with it, they will go back (I learned this after 5 years of daycare in a 2 year old room) Right now my 5 year old (if not in kindergarten) still goes to her room to nap. My 3 year old takes about a 2 hour nap now.
About Shannon's 17 month old, have tried to tell prior to bed there is no more milk at night and then gone into her room at night and reminded her the milk is all gone. I have found (especially with my oldest) if I talked to her prior to the situation to tell her what is going to happen then she cooperated with the problem easier. Children understand so much more then we give them credit for. I remember when we were getting ready to get rid of her pacifier (about 18 months old). We talked about it and even created a chart when we would throw away the pacifier. When the day came, she went around the house, found her pacifiers and helped me throw them away. Interestingly, she never again asked for one. I think we just prepared her enough to know what will happen. Also around 18 months your child goes through a big language explosion. Sometimes they just can't sleep because too much is going on in their brain. New developments cause huge sleep changes. See if you can talk to your child about no milk at night, see if you can prepare her for the little change to her routine. Also, if you just recently have had a baby and she has just started this she may realize the baby always gets milk when she cries, so why not her. They are smart little guys. So maybe you two can establish something special for the both of you to do- like if you wake up Mommy will come back, cover you up, sing a lullaby, and give you a kiss but that is it. But let her know ahead of time so she knows what to expect. Kids have comfort with predictability. I know that isn't helping self-soothe but at least maybe it will help get her away from needing milk and maybe learning just to lay down to fall asleep. Eventually you can work on staying asleep all night.

Christina said...

Last anonymous poster:

That is a good thought about children understanding more...I agree that I am always amazed at how cooperative Will can be when I just give him a heads up about what is going to happen. I'll have to remember that come the time we are ready to get rid of the pacifier too!

Another great point too about the sleep disturbances during major milestones. Our doctor actually mentioned this in reference to walking (which we just started - yay!). I definitely have seen difficulty with naps and night waking around milestones and growth spurts.

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