A.B. asks from Upland, CA on December 01, 2008
Weaning Baby from "Sleep Aids"
Good morning! My son is almost 4 months old. He was VERY colicky, so we got the book The Happiest Baby On The Block and employed all the methods in there to help him sleep through the night. In the book it suggests that now is the time to get him to learn to sleep on his own, however it doesn't give any suggestions on how to do that. It tells us to wean him from sucking to sleep, sleeping in his swing, then being swaddled and then removing the white noise. However it doesn't tell us HOW to do that.
We would like to being this as soon as possible. Does anyone have any ideas on how to 1) wean him from his sleep aids in a way that is not too harsh, and 2) ways for us to train him to sleep on his own without the aids? Every book I read says there is no way to avoid the CIO methods, because your little one will cry. But what is the most gentle way to do so? I don't want to do anything to traumatize him, but we need him to start sleeping without the sleep aids so he doesn't rely on those forever. Thanks!
ADDENDUM ON 12/1/08: I think I need to clarify. We do respond now to our baby's cries at any point during the night. However he is not waking with a dirty diaper, need for food, etc. He just wakes up and doesn't know how to get back to sleep. So we rock him and swaddle, etc. We want him to learn the ability to be able to put HIMSELF back to sleep (i.e. the definition of self-soothing - being able to do it HIMSELF WITHOUT anyone's help). We are not asking how to let our baby cry himself to sleep, rather how to slowly wean him from sleeping in his swing/with a swaddle/and a paci, so that when he wakes he does not NEED to cry but can calm himself and put himself back into the land of Nod. We feel it is more traumatizing for a baby to need to cry for his folks and wait for their help to go back to sleep than it is for him to wake and be able to acheive this himself. That is what we are asking. So, please, keep the responses to positive helpful ways for us to achieve that. Thank you!
D.M. answers from Los Angeles on December 01, 2008
Your son is only 4 months old, and by even the standards of Dr. Ferber (creator of CIO) that is TOO young to begin any kind of sleep 'learning'. Infants needs security and comfort, and this means making sure your child's needs are being met. I recently took an Attachment Parenting class, and they instructor said something about throwing away the use of the world 'training' when refering to our kids (something I heard from my Family Therapist too)...they aren't animals and should be taught not 'trained'.
I understand removing the need for sleep aids, but what sleep aids are you currently using to comfort your child to sleep? Are you using Breastfeeding to get your little one sleep? Becuase this is totally natural and normal. Without knowing what sleep aids you are struggling with it is hard to give appropriate advice...
However, your BABY is in the middle of a highly important phase in his development. At this stage, growth spurts begin and for many infants so does teething and this can create issues with sleeping soundly. Attachment at this age, whether co-sleeping or crib sleeping is very important to the steady development of infants. I have employed many of Dr. Sears' methods for helping my co-sleeper find sound sleep, and it has worked amazing wonders for us. He advocates attachment parenting with or without co-sleeping...whatever works best for the family.
I've also added a link from Baby Center about Dr. Ferber's method and approaches...I think many other books reference his method unfairly and use it in ways that don't really relate to the CIO Method.
Before you choose the methods that best work for your family, think about the needs of your son and how they are best met.
I hope this information helps a bit...my intention of course isn't to be harsh, but to help if I can. This subject is very important to me, as I have seen the methods you mentioned used improperly and the children suffer from the parents need for sleep verus their kids need for love and comfort.
You sound like a well-informed Mommy and I wish you the best of luck!
4 moms found this helpful
S.H. answers from Honolulu on December 01, 2008
Your son is ONLY 4 months old... a baby NEEDS to self-soothe, or to be soothed for any reason.
"Self-soothing" is natural and normal. EVEN IN THE WOMB, a baby will self-soothe either by sucking on their fingers or doing some repetitive motion. This is all NORMAL.
Outside of the womb, a baby needs to BOND... and soothe. This is all normal. If they don't feel bonded or safe or comforted, and they have to cry it out... crying it out even changes the brain chemistry of a baby. So keep that in mind.
Try researching "self soothing" online, and even experts will say that this is normal, nothing wrong with it, and actually HELPS a child to be self-motivated, independent and secure.
To call "Sleep-aids" a "problem" to me, is a mistake. It sets up negative expectations upon the baby and creates frustration for the Parent.
Each baby is different with different needs. "Needs" are not "wrong." It is a normal developmental occurrence. A baby will sleep as they LEARN to... it is an ongoing process. A baby WILL WAKE UP... and even a 6 year old child will wake during the night at times. Even ADULTS wake during the night sometimes. The point is, to expect a baby to sleep ALL night without waking, will only lead to feelings of frustration and failure.
Put it this way: as a woman, suppose you were going through certain moods and you just needed extra special attention from your Hubby and you were having trouble sleeping, and you wanted to chat and have some hugs and kisses from him and a cuddle as you slept... BUT, all your husband told you was "Too bad... just get over it. If I help you and cater to you and give you attention and cuddle you, you will only get too needy and expect too much from me. I don't want you to get into that habit. Now, get to sleep, don't cry, don't bother me, don't talk to me, and just deal with it yourself.... when you can grow up, THEN you can be my wife again...if you need to cry then just go in another room and shut the door so I can't hear you...." How would you feel if YOU were treated this way by your Husband... the one person you should be able to count on no matter what?
Well, that is what a baby is expected to be sometimes, when they can't sleep or are going through growing changes.
It is the Parental expectations... that will either help or hinder a baby. It is not THEM, that is doing it... they are just going by instinct and their need to bond and be fed and be comforted. WE need to help them.
A baby/child will NOT be dependent and a whiny/needy kid if they use "self-soothing" methods to sleep. Have you ever seen an adult still need to be swaddled, or sucking their thumb?
the point is, there is a time and a place for every need. A baby's need. And, when it is age appropriate, they WILL no longer need certain things. In the meanwhile, to me, there is nothing wrong with using "sleep aids" as you call it. Even white noise is harmless.
Weaning a baby of ALL things which comforts them... to me, is not helpful. How would you like it if you had to sleep with nothing cozy? Even adults have certain things which helps them to sleep. Then as life goes on, things change, habits change, needs change, and its fine. EACH age of a child, will bring different needs. Nothing wrong with that.. .it is just developmental changes. It's normal.
IF YOUR baby is "colicky" as you mentioned, then ask your Pediatrician about it.
But bear in mind, all babies cry, and more so at night, and when growth spurts occur they WILL WAKE up more, because they are hungry, their intake levels are increasing because they are growing, and it is a phase. If a baby at this age wakes and is hungry, feed him. A baby this age should be fed on demand.
Well, this is just my opinion... and there may be many who disagree. But for me, I did attachment parenting... and felt this was what my kids needed. They are now 6 yrs. old and 2 years old and are very independent children, happy, and confident and NOT "needy" just because I let them self-soothe and swaddled them and fed them on demand and let them have white noise and let them have pacifiers or loveys to sleep with and co-slept with them when needed.
Also please keep in mind, that sleep for a child/baby is NOT static. Once you think they are sleeping all night, then another phase will occur and they will wake again. ALL throughout childhood, their sleep patterns WILL change. Even a teenage will have sleep changes. I know of no adult or "big kid" who has sleep the same way, since they were an infant.
Each parent is different... just find what your son needs and you will find the perfect groove to soothe him. To withhold things sometimes, before they are ready, to me, just upsets them.
All the best,
3 moms found this helpful
M.M. answers from San Luis Obispo on December 02, 2008
Get "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems" by Tracy Hogg. We love her methods and have used them since our son was 2 months old. I think she'll be able to explain how you've gotten to where you are, and help you get to where you want to be.
2 moms found this helpful
B.B. answers from San Luis Obispo on December 02, 2008
there is nothing wrong with either white noise or the pacifier until the baby is alot older (think between one and two years). the swing, however, is not a good solution because it doesn't allow for proper movement. also, most babies wake up at least once for food still at four months, so don't withhold a feeding in hopes of getting a good night sleep. he needs to eat on demand still, especially if you nurse. breastmilk just doesn't last as long as formula for most babies. if you consistently put him down the same way at the same time each night, he will respond and begin to sleep longer and with out much effort over the next couple weeks. start with dimming the lights, then take a warm bath, do a lotion massage, nurse or give a bottle, and then lay him down swaddled with his pacifier and let him fall asleep in is own bed. make sure he is at least half-awake when you lay him down, then he gets the idea that you FALL ASLEEP in your bed, its not just a place you wake up after falling asleep somewhere else. this will also set the stage for him to fall back asleep easier with night wakings. its ok to reassure him and pat his back or nurse him if neccessary, like i said, he very well may be hungry once or twice still in the middle of the night. i had my daughter who slept from day one, then my son who didn't believe in sleep until at least four, five months for more than two hours no matter what i did, and i am pregnant with #3. i'm just praying that he's somewhere between his brother and sister and at least sleeps half the time :) i know its frustrating, but hang in there, you'll be fine and so will your son.
1 mom found this helpful
H.L. answers from Los Angeles on December 06, 2008
get the book Babywise and start with the 1st "The Gift of Sleep", your welcome. LOL
2nd I still use white noise, why take it away, our lives are full of sound that makes our minds busy, a busy mind doesnt sleep well, so I would try keeping that you can get inexpensive sound machines at Bed Bath and Beyond for 20. that are also easily portable. great for trips away. good luck
P.K. answers from Las Vegas on December 02, 2008
Children gain their independance at their own pace so pushing it isn't really the answer. I don't like the CIO either. I continued to rock my son to sleep and then put him to bed after he was asleep. Slowly at about a year he would squirm in my lap trying to get more comfortable and I just put him in his bed. Sometimes he isn't so easy but that's just kids. I wouldn't try to cut out all of the comforts at one time. Eliminate them slowly starting with the ones that seem to be least important to him. I rock my son now just to spend quiet time with him. I could easily toss him in and head to my bed without a peep but I enjoy it.