August 14, 2008,
R.R. asks from Ann Arbor, MI on August 13, 2008
Sleep Training for My Three Month Old
Help! I adore my 3 month old but I have to do something different about our sleep arrangement. From the time he was born, I took the path of least resistance and had him sleep with me. I was so stressed about nursing working out that it was my only focus so once I could nurse him lying down I just let him nurse on demand all night and sleep by me all night. Now we have two sleep associations I need to "fix":
1) not only does he lay by me, he wants the nipple in his mouth. He won't go back to sleep any other way. I tried and tried to get him to take a binky and he won't.
2) Sometimes he sleeps for up to 4 hours, sometimes only for 45 minutes and then he wants to eat again! Not only do I not have the milk supply for this, I know he doesn't need food this often.
I have a co-sleeper bassinet but it's a joke. He cries for 20-45 min to get to sleep then sleeps less than an hour.
Ideally, I would like to put him in his bassinet (eventually crib) at 8 pm and feed him once at 12 or 1. I would let him co-sleep if he would just sleep :(
Please help. I have tried "the no cry sleep solution" and found it too vague and the suggestions did not work. I have tried crying it out to initially put him to sleep, which took 20-45 minutes. But when he wakes to eat, do I have to do that process again? I don't want to wake the whole house up all night long.
Also, I have tried crying it out for naptimes and I just end the naptime after 30 minutes of crying. For naptimes, he either wants to nurse to sleep and lay by me or be held or sometimes I can sneak off the bed.
J.H. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
The "sleep training" method that worked best for me was The Baby Whisper's method. She not only gives you helpful tips on how to help a baby learn to fall asleep on his own, she also helps you break other habits that you no longer want to support. At 3 months, a baby is still easy to "break" of habits. You may have to deal with one or two difficult days/nights but it is so worth it in the end to have a happy, sleeping baby.
R.H. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
I feel your pain darlin'. My daughter was all over the place with sleep and eating.
First... don't assume he doesn't need the nutrition. Babies are operating on basic instinct. They aren't trying to manipulate. You CAN'T spoil your baby at this age. You CAN'T. Letting him 'cry it out' is only going to frustrate you and him. He NEEDS to know you are there to meet ALL his needs. The CIO method just teaches that you WON'T be there to meet his needs and he has to sort himself out on his own. He's too little to understand this concept.
Second... three months. GROWTH SPURT! He may be growing ALOT and therefore needs more milk. Try nursing more often late in the evening to 'tank him up'. Also, try to nurse not in bed. Sit in a chair and rock him.
Third, as already suggested try coating the binki with your milk.
Fourth, also don't assume you don't have the milk to supply his needs. The lactation process is a supply and demand process. However, around the 3 month mark you and baby are really getting 'in sync' ... so you won't necessarily 'feel full' all the time... even when you are. Your body is adjusting to what he takes and is not making any more. BUT if baby increases the demand your body WILL MAKE MORE. It is VERY rare that a woman doesn't have enough milk to feed her child. It is MORE common to have too much milk. The body is a wonderful system and it will adjust to meet your sons needs.
Now, that being said... if he isn't really sucking for FOOD... but for comfort.. .your body knows the difference in that as well. To see if he is sucking for food... notice his jaw muscle. Is it engaged all the way back to the ear? Also, is there a couple of short sucks followed by a long suck? (long suck like you're drinking through a straw ... suck on your finger as if it is a straw to see the chin action) If you see these things ... then baby is sucking for FOOD. If not, then it is for comfort. And no.. you don't want to be the pacifier. It will take some time...but by offering a binki that tastes like mamma... I think you can coax him into taking it.
Change the routine. It will alert baby to the change and ease him into something new.
Yes, you are the parent and he is the child ... but we are here to teach our children... not train them like dogs. We need to TEACH them to soothe themselves. TEACH them how to meet their needs. Not train them to fit our sterotype of a perfect baby. CIO doesn't teach. It offers NO resources for baby to soothe themselves. Rocking, walking, sushing, stroking, soothing music... these TEACH our babies how to soothe themselves. It gives them tools.
Be patient. Also keep in mind every baby is different. Some babies WILL sleep through the night. Others will not. No two babies are alike and all have different needs. My daughter is VERY active. She likes to interact with people and be where the action is. Friends of ours... their daughter who is just 3 days younger is content to just sit and watch everything. Try lots of different things but keep in mind baby will let you know what works for him.
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K.H. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
Three months is a tough age. Growth spurts all over the place, possible beginnings of teething (not to say the teeth will be in soon, but they're likely moving around in there), and wanting to interact more but being unable to as of yet.
Try NOT laying down to nurse. Sit in a rocking chair and nurse and rock and hum or sing. DON'T try to move him until he's been sleeping for at least 5-10 minutes. Then, transfer him to his bed or bassinet or whatever. When he wakes up, nurse him again and repeat. Eventually he'll get used to not nursing constantly. He's probably hungry due to the growth spurt or whatever and really does want to eat. Hang in there mama. I remember 3 months being a rough age on me and my daughter. If I remember right, things got good and comfy and easier for both of us by around 4-5 months.
Hang in there! Be patient. When you're sitting there worrying and stressing HE CAN TELL and picks up on those feelings. Relax. You'll get the hang of it and all will be fine in the end. If you are stressing cuz you need sleep - pump some and let someone else deal with him for 5-6 hours while you get a good solid block of sleep (waking up to pump of course!).
EDIT- Swaddling is good. Try that too. He may be waking himself up still and the only way he knows how to get back to sleep is to nurse - even if it's only comfort nursing.
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A.G. answers from Detroit on August 13, 2008
Congrats on your new little guy! I think you're going to need some help with this one. Because he's so used to nursing on demand it'll be tough for you to comfort him with out nursing because he's going to smell you and want to nurse. Could dad try for a few nights? Here's what I would do - nurse at 8 and then put him in the crib/bassinette. If he needs to be comforted have dad go in until the next time he needs to eat. Kind of remove your self for other than eating at night and it may help get baby on a schedule with eating and help with sleeping.
Hang in there! My boys are almost the exact age difference as yours, and though it was trying and tough in the beginning, I wouldn't trade it for a second. They are the best of friends now.
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E.B. answers from Saginaw on August 14, 2008
My little one is also 3 months and I was going through this EXACT same thing. I am now happy to say that for the past month I have her sleeping in her own bed on average of 4 hours at a time at night thanks to the book - The Happiest Baby on The Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. An old sorority sister sugested I try it so I ordered it express delivery from Amazon. I got it the next day, tried the special swaddling technique that night and she slept from 10:00 PM to 2:30 AM! I actually woke her up - first to check that she was still breathing and then to have her eat as my breasts were so full! Basically the book talks about the "fourth trimester" and goes into detail on how to calm baby and keep him that way. Dr. Karp instructs you on how to use the 5 "S" techniques of swaddling, shushing, side position, swinging, and sucking. I thought my daughter hated to be swaddled but it turns out I was doing it wrong and not nearly tight enough. The author gives simple step by step, easy to follow, ways to get your baby to sleep and comfortably stay that way for 4 - 6 hours at a time at night and for 1 - 2 hour daytime naps. I sort of sampled his ideas and used what I thought she needed. The book has been a blessing. Give it a try, it certainly can't hurt. Good luck!
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J.D. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
I second the recommendation for Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, although I do think your little guy is still too young for sleep training. It's just a physiological development that you can't do a whole lot to change. Check out the book and it will explain the way babies organize their sleep, and when you can expect him to be ready for sleep training.
Babywise is a very controversial method of training your baby to conform. The AAP and many other pediatric experts do not support the babywise method and it has been linked to cases of failure to thrive, dehydration and slow growth and development. Here is just one of many articles about the book http://www.ezzo.info/Aney/aneyaap.htm.
L.O. answers from Detroit on August 13, 2008
I slept with my babies in the king size bed for 6 months..
They transitioned easily to the crib..
As babies get older they just naturally sleep better longer.
I would wait a bit and try again in a month..or two or three.
C.M. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
Babies' eating and sleeping habits never seem to jive with what we expect. He is still so little, just wants his mom and never wants to be the least bit hungry. The times he is sleeping for 4 hours he is probably on a grow as well as when he wakes more frequently and wants to eat. The more you nurse, the more milk you will have. There will be times it seems you don't have enough but as the demand grows as long as you nurse on demand, you will have enough milk. Be patient, it sounds like you are! Good job on the breastfeeding...keep up the good work!! This will pass...with my three it seemed that 4 months was the magic time where they figured out the eat/sleep thing.
S.K. answers from Detroit on August 14, 2008
I would recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It is a wonderful resource with practical, realistic solutions and options. I've relied on it for many (many!) situations.
That said, my daughter is 14m and still wakes up once/night to nurse. It was usually 2x/night until she was 1 year. This is normal for breastfeed babies.
Your little one is still so young. I know my daughter was quite a few months older before we tried any sort of sleep training. The book gives a lot research-backed suggestions and we were able to find a best-fit for our baby. I hope you will, too. Best of luck!