Back when I was about 8 months pregnant, my husband and I started the pediatrician interview process. The first doctor that we met with sat down and told me point blank: “all of my babies sleep through the night”. You had me at sleep doc – you’re HIRED! Of course we continued to listen to what his thoughts on everything else medically related to having a newborn baby which is what we were most concerned with and although he is a bit cooky we thought, this is the guy for us. So without further ado…we dove into the crazy world of sleep training.
Most would say the methods that our pediatrician an used were not suitable for a child under the age of 3 months. He disagrees and I do as well. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no expert but in the outline below I will tell you that I followed my pediatrician’s orders as directed. Take it for what it’s worth, this was NOT easy at all. At some points I thought I would just rather jump off the balcony. Here’s how my newborn baby Gavin, hubby and I got to our full night sleeps…within 12 weeks —The secret behind my pediatrician’s methods really revolved around eating. To start, we never swaddled Gavin. When we got home from the hospital he just ate and slept and never needed it so it never was a concern. Our pediatrician didn’t want us to swaddle him because he said it would slow down muscle development. Makes sense if the baby is restricted from moving! Anyway, I didn’t have a bassinet in our room, I wanted Gavin sleeping in his crib from day 1. So for the first couple of weeks I just slept in his room on the pull out couch that I put in there. At this point our pediatrician had me feeding him every 3 hours for the first 2 weeks.
At 2 weeks he wanted me to feed Gavin every 3-4 hours during the day and every 4-6 hours at night. Well I didn’t follow his rule here…I was breastfeeding him on demand. His little whimpering cry was so heartbreaking that every time he opened his mouth I put him on the boob or my husband would give him a bottle. When our pediatrician came back at 4 weeks and I told him what I was doing he told me I was now 4 weeks behind on my development and Gavin will rule me for the rest of my life. He further explained that Gavin was not hungry every time he cried, he just wanted to suck. Um, obviously that was ridiculous because Gavin was only 4 weeks old…and I don’t think a baby eating meant he’d grow up to rule me!
Me and my husband wanted to avoid giving him a pacifier for a million different reasons so the doc said we just need to console him when he cries and eventually he will learn that you don’t get to eat every time you cry.
After the doc reinforced his regiment on us I laughed and then cried it off. At this point we started to follow our pediatrician’s rules and cut out the demand feeding. He put us on a feeding schedule and told me I have to stick to it so that Gavin can learn how to become hungry so when it is time to eat he eats more and more each time which allows his stomach to expand which will help him go to the next feeding without crying and have a full belly for the night to sleep. We got on a 5 x a day feeding schedule and fed him 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm….then he wouldn’t eat again until 7am….YIKES! Once we started this schedule I was quick to find out that it was pure torture. He would wake up like a bat out of hell every night between 2 and 4am. It would sometimes take me 2 hours to get him to stop crying. Some nights Gavin would sleep 5 hour stretches and there were a couple of nights where he went 6 hours….but the nights that he as crying like crazy just didn’t make sense to me. So Adam had to call the doc and said I was losing my mind and asked if we were doing the right thing. He explained that Gavin has shown us he can go a 5-6 hour stretch without eating and he’s only going to develop further with his sleep if we stick to it. So we did. We toughed it out by waking up with him at night and consoling him, even often letting him fall asleep on my chest on the couch.
By 6 weeks – Gavin started sleeping 6-7 hour stretches. It was very cool. The hard work paid off. When the doc came to see us at 8 weeks, he asked how we were doing. I explained that we’re doing ok and Gavin wakes up during the night so I console him back to sleep. Issue #2.. NO more consoling! The doc explained that Gavin has to learn how to console himself or he’ll never sleep through the night. So he told me I couldn’t pick him up at night anymore.
“Well what do I then?” I asked! He told me for the next few nights I could go in and put my hand on his belly to let him know I’m there…then go back to my room and turn off my monitor….AHHH!!!
What the heck? My poor baby! Ok, well I did just this for the next few nights…and Gavin would wake up in the morning happy as a clam…so clearly he was OK he just wanted the attention! At 9 weeks Gavin was sleeping through from 12am-7am without any issues. At 8 weeks our pediatrician also wanted me to cut out his 11pm feeding. I said – ok Doc I’m not sure about that…we were going to Toronto to visit my family over Christmas so I said I’d like to wait till we get home. He said ok no problem! Let me know how it goes. Gavin actually started cutting out the 11pm feeding himself…I couldn’t believe it! When we got back from Toronto we said ok let’s just put him down after the 7pm feeding…and he slept through! He woke up and got a bit cranky a couple nights in around 5am….but I didn’t even get up to check on him. I just looked on the monitor and knew he was OK so I went back to sleep and by 7am he was totally fine!
We were now 3 weeks solid of 8pm (sometimes 9pm) through 7am sleeping. He no longer even cries when he gets up in the morning. He just hangs out in the crib (usually with his cute little thumb in his mouth) and waits for me to get him.
I’m not sure if I’m just lucky OR if my wacky Doctor’s routines worked. I think it’s a little bit of both :) Oh – and regarding feeding, I have been breastfeeding since day 1. When Gavin was born he had jaundice pretty bad and the Doc wanted me to give him formula because he dropped to 5 pounds 1 oz in the hospital so I did. Breastfeeding was really hard for me…my milk came in VERY slow so I supplemented with formula for the first couple months but always breastfeeding first and then topped him off with a bottle. Starting around 7 weeks he was breastfeeding only and has been well fed ever since as he is putting on weight and growing.
Finally, I ONLY have Gavin on a feeding schedule. We don’t have a nap schedule and I find that he sleeps very little during the day which is fine with me since we do so much together. When I take him out with me he usually falls asleep in the Ergo or stroller and when we are home if he’s up and I need to cook or clean or whatever I just put him in the moby wrap, his swing or on the play mat and he’s usually pretty happy. He loves music so I often have Raffi or my tunes on the ipod and we dance a lot. Happy sleeping!