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Get that baby out of bed and into a crib!

February 09, 2014 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category :

***Important note: this is an actual blog post about some parenting shit my wife and I did. Trust me, it's not the usual trash. Furthermore, if you read it now, it may have some typos, but when you read it again in a week, which I know you will, it'll be perfect and have new information and make you love me more.***

Earlier this week we began attempts to sleep train the wee-one. The method we centered on, and coincidentally the most well known, is the (sometimes) infamous Ferber Method or ferberizing, for short. Named after the relatively famous pediatrician who devised the process.

While I believed that this technique was probably going to be necessary for our sanity, I never really gave it much thought in the early days, until we got ready to actually attempt it. Up until that point, we had become used to the baby sleeping in the bed with us (or at least my wife had), and it worked for the most part. As the stay-at-home, I was satisfied to keep things as they were. Our daughter may have had rough times at night but the mornings were golden- we both slept in very late and I was well on my way to instilling the value of waking up closer and closer to noon. I have never been a huge fan of the sun. Alas, the lazy days couldn't last forever just as the party has to end sometime (I guess).

Around 10 months after making her grand entrance on the planet earth, she became a restless sleeper. Her 2'6"frame began to overtake the bed and disrupt our sleep. When I would go to bed and almost be asleep, an arm would jarringly whack me in the face. I would gently push her away and then watch in amazement and a little tired annoyance as she wiggled her way back over to me while still under the Sandman's spell.

This went on for several weeks, including a nasty bout of teething and a cold, which further exacerbated her increasingly restless sleeping habits. So, we had the sleep training conversation again, but this time with a modicum of dread and the motivation to actually do it. We had first had this discussion in earnest when she was 4 months old but were too lazy/ reluctant to try, but now it was time the little black hole learned to sleep in her own bed. She was almost a year old, after all. Having recently been back in the midwest and chatting with my cousins, who had ferberized their daughter at around 4 months, we decided it must be done. And, it was reassuring to get confirmation that their daughter wasn't traumatized by the process.

The process is straight forward and fairly basic. All that it requires is for you to stick to a very specific time schedule for: bedtimes, morning wakeup and naps. In addition to putting the baby down to sleep at the same time, day (naps) and night, you just have to keep track of the intervals of time you leave her alone in her crib to cry it out/ put herself to sleep. You don't just leave her for 20, 30 or 40 minutes or more, hoping that she'll just exhaust herself and conk out. No, the idea is that you start with a small time scale and slowly work your way up, gradually increasing the gaps inbetween checking on her.

For example, you put her down to sleep, when she shows signs of being tired, and then walk out of the room for five minutes. She will cry but apparently that's A-O-Kay (that's what the books, google and my wife tell me). Then you come back in and comfort her. She'll probably cry again after you leave, but according to the method you should be strong and set your timer for a few minutes longer, before you go in to check on her again. Each day you'll want to increase the first waiting interval a few minutes longer, gradually weening the tiny tot of your necessary presence. Eventually she's supposed to fall peacefully (ha ha) asleep.

The time table we used (and are still using, as I'm writing this in the middle of the process) is such (#'s are in minutes, obviously):
                                      1st wait                 2nd wait               3rd wait               Subsequent waits         
            Day 1                3                             5                           10                        10
            Day 2                5                            10                          12                        12
            Day 3                10                          12                          15                        15
            Day 4                12                          15                          17                        17
            Day 5                15                          17                          20                        20
            Day 6                17                          20                          25                        25
            Day 7                20                          25                          30                        30

You don't have to strictly stick to the minutes (be creative), and for naps on the following day, I started at the previous night's minimum, and I begrudgingly stuck to the times. At the present, we're on our 5th night and we haven't had a complete repeat of the first night.. Which is good. There was a little hiccup the 4th night, but I believe that was my fault for riling her up before bed. Anyways, all this and more can either be found via a websearch or in Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (Richard Gerber, M.D. 1985, 2006), if you were looking to get your hand of some reading material without doing any research.


Have I done enough of the "serious daddy" blogger, yet? Do I really need to continue on with this dog and pony show? No, I don't think so... I believe we are done with that, eh?

Now, the reality is that this all sounds straightforward and pragmatic, and in 3-4 or 5 days, you'll have a happy sleeper. But, it truly depends on your baby and the age at which you decide to ferberize her.

I imagine when you begin to "traumatize" your precious little angel/ sweet devil at a younger age, then it'll take a lot less time. They aren't as aware and they don't have the stamina to complain about it the entire night. Either way, that first night will drain you, and even if you're a loving parent- punting your baby starts to become, not something you actually consider, but a passing thought in your mind.

At the same time, you feel horrible for leaving your child to scream and the minutes seem to stretch on that much longer. Every time you go in to comfort her, she looks terribly ruffled and despondent. Her red-rimmed eyes stare at you accusingly and there is snot and drool everywhere. Then you start to imagine what sort of thoughts are going through her head and you feel utterly guilty. Still, you stick your schedule because that what your contemporaries did and it worked for them... With little to no side-effects, too! Besides, what do you know? You're a newbie, right?

My advice to you is to be firm but compassionate. Teaching your baby to be an independent sleeper doesn't require you to be hard and indifferent. There is a way to have both you and your baby achieve your goals without... Hmm.. too much trauma, but the line between doing it a better way and a worse way can be fine.

Of course there are other methods out there, but, alas, we didn't try those. We had her co-sleeping with us until we both started losing sleep over it. I still find it odd to not be perched precariously on my edge of the bed with her feet in my back, trying to kick me off. And, I wonder if she is comfortable, sleeping on her harder mattress with no blanket (still a low SIDS risk because of her age), but then I stretch out and grab an extra pillow and smile. I even let out a little fart, now and then, in a sign of personal satisfaction at finally getting the bed back from that little bed-space stealer..

... For now.