Sunday, January 25, 2009


Or perhaps I should call this post "Why I should be careful when reading parenting books"

I am a bit obsessed with sleeping right now. This is partially due to the fact that Luke is now waking up 3-4 times a night, and due to my reading The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. The premise of the book is that you can get your child to sleep through the night, or sleep better at least, if they are not developmentally ready, without crying-it-out. I read most of the book while Luke was bouncing in his jumper the other day. We are doing a couple of things that she says not to do, and are also practicing some positive sleep routines as well.

Bright Spots:

1. Luke can sleep in the car, in the swing and in his crib without much trouble.

2. We put Luke down before he is totally asleep and let him get the rest of the way on his own.

3. We have a bedtime routine- bath, nursing, swaddle, rock and sing In The Bleak Mid-Winter and some part of the liturgy or a hymn.

Trouble areas:

1. Pacifier- Luke uses his trusty old pacifier. He loves to suck and always has. Though he uses it only minimally during the day, he feels that he NEEDS it at night, especially when being put to bed.

2. Swaddling- From the time he was 3 weeks old, Luke has been swaddled when going down for the night. He seems to be unable to sleep through more than one sleep cycle if his hands are free to flail about. Since modern baby experts say that babies need to be placed on their back to sleep safely, we chose to swaddle. Also, it helped him sleep longer. To wean them from swaddling, you are supposed to let one arm be free and see if they can tolerate that. If they consistently wake themselves up, they are not ready. So far, Luke has not been ready measuring by this standard.


I know the pacifier use and swaddling cannot go on forever, but for now it is what he likes and what helps him sleep. Reading the sleep book, however, and perhaps a greedy desire to once again sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time, made me want to cut these things out. I wanted him to be able to soothe himself. So, I decided to rock the boat and let him sleep unswaddled for a couple of nights, and remove the pacifier on occasion.

The result so far is that he does not sleep. He wakes himself up over and over again. Part of me thinks that I just need to be patient, that the teaching him to sleep without these comforts will help him sleep better in the end. The other part of me thinks that he will probably grow out of swaddling at some point, and we can wean the pacifier later (basically- wait, he is only 5 months old).

Trying to wean him from these things now makes me feel good in a way. I can learn patience and he will sleep through the night. He is certainly big enough. :) I can make him into the perfect baby ( boy am I a perfectionist... if I didn't think so before, having Luke sure has pointed that out with an exclamation mark. I hear myself sometimes and cringe).

Trying to wean him from these things and implement a new and improved sleeping plan, in reality, is making me crazy. My day seems to hinge on whether he sleeps or not. I measure my success as a mother on this. I am more irritable, sleep deprived, frustrated with him and with Nathan (why doesn't he get up with Luke? Why does he get to sleep while I slave away. Its not like he anything better to do, like be rested for work in the morning! -oh wait, he does).


So is it worth it? That is my question. He is only 5 months old, but he is 5 months old. He is not a newborn anymore, but he is still an infant. We are in transition and I want order, clear guidelines. I want a book to tell me what to do. But truly, I know that any parenting book will be limited in its usefulness. Though Luke may share similarities with the whole spectrum of babies, he is is own person with his own unique needs.

Writing all this down helped me process a bit. Maybe I will go take a shower so that I will be somewhat awake for Church this morning. :)


Ma Torg said...

Remember that this same lady says if you are pleased with your sleep routine, don't change it based on what she says.

Even if you wean those things, there is no guarantee Luke will sleep better. He could be teething. Edmund is an AWFUL sleeper when teething.

Alos, I did the Pantley thing when Edmund was the same age only to have him enter a new stage and find that NONE OF IT worked.

Not to say it can't, though.

Some kids just like swaddling. Edmund still likes being tucked in tight when he goes to bed. Now, he will untuck himself throughout the night and it won't bother him, but it does help him sleep. When Luke wants to, he will start untucking himself from the swaddle (that has been my experience with all 3 kids, all of whom were swaddled. Each one outgrew it at a different age, too).

The pacifier is debatle. Some experts (like hte Happiest Baby) would say keep it because some kids just have an unsatiable sucking desire. However, the question of weaning will come into play at some point. That doesn't mean you need to do it now.

Mary never took pacifiers and STILL sucks in her sleep. Based on that alone, I honestly don't buy Pantley's sucking theory!

Also, Edmund stopped wanting pacifiers at night when he was 8 months old. So, who knows with Luke.

I do like her not putting the child to sleep with nursing. That one is great. But you already do it.

All in all, Katie, you are doing GREAT. and this is waaaaaaaaayyyytoo long a comment

Hope said...

A couple of things: if the swaddling and the passy work for now, go with it! He's still an infant, and eventually, he'll probably quit wanting to be swaddled (probably before he's a year). And I think that's totally fine. And if a passy helps him sleep, I think that's fine too.
Also, if you're trying something new, and you find yourself feeling resentful, angry, or frustrated for more than a couple of days; then don't do it. Stop for now, go with what works for now, and maybe try again later...
A lot of kids have a hard time sleeping when teething, but it's a phase and "this too shall pass."
I hope that helps. Good luck, I hope he starts sleeping better.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Having done this three times (well, we're doing it the third time right now) my best advice is to stick with what works. Don't change something just because you "think you should". The thing is, all children learn to sleep through the night eventually. For some, it is when they are three months old. For others, it is when they are three YEARS old (gasp, I know, we all pray that isn't us!) But speaking as another perfectionist, I have learned that there is NO WAY to make your baby into the "perfect" baby. Babies just don't follow rules. :)

So speaking as one who has really, truly, been exactly where you are right now, I'd advise you to let him sleep in a swaddle if he likes it, and let him have his pacifier if he likes it. Whatever lets the whole family sleep better.

And you really are doing great (I echo Ma Torg). Your baby is sweet and you're a beautiful mama. :)

Bethany said...

One more comment, Katie. NEVER judge your success as a mother based on something like sleep. Evan wouldn't let me read parenting books because he caught me judging myself by all sorts of crazy criteria and that was SO counterproductive.

You are a great mother, who loves her little boy dearly. Luke is a great baby, who goes through different stages like all babies.

I'll pray that his sleep habits straighten out very soon--and that God grants you patience and strength for each day.