Friday, January 18, 2013

Time to Sleep

With baby number two on the way Tyler and I decided that it was time to get serious about Everett's nap time routine.  I know that when the new baby comes it would be easier to manage everything if Everett already had a consistent nap every day. 

Before I started working with him, he would only sleep for about 45 minutes to an hour.  I was speaking with my mentor and she helped me to realize that part of the reason as to why he wasn't reaching his full nap time potential was partly because he was taking naps half the time in his crib and half the time in our bed.  He also did not have a set routine or expectation  for nap time. 

So part one of my plan was to get him to take naps in his crib and only in his crib.  I knew that once I had made this decision that there was no turning back during this learning period for him, meaning that I could not under any circumstance allow him to nap in the bed. (The big goal of the "no bed" thing is that eventually we will do this for bedtime as well and I wanted to be consistent starting with nap time.) So the day that I decided would be "the day" that we started I turned on his sound machine, sat in the glider, and rocked/nursed him for a few minutes. While we were rocking I was "explaining" to him that it was time to take a nap, that he was a big boy and he was going to sleep in his big boy crib, that I loved him very much, that I would stay with him until he fell asleep, and that when he woke up I would be right in to get him.

So then I put him in his crib and laid him down. He immediately stood right up and "demanded" that I pick him up. Another part of my plan was that once I put him in his crib I was not going to take him out of it. So I would give him a hug over the rail of the crib and lay him back down.  This, of course really ticked him off but I would pat his back and try to soothe him and let him know that everything was okay. Every time he stood up I gently would lay him back down and pat his back until he calmed down. It was really hard not to scoop him out of the crib and just hold him but I knew that I was confident in my decision about this so I trudged forth. 

It took about 30 minutes of him standing up and me laying him down and patting his back for him to finally start falling asleep. I tried not to pat his back if he wasn't upset because I didn't want him to need me to pat his back for him to fall asleep. Once he finally fell asleep, I quietly left the room.  After I left the room he woke up and we repeated the process for another 10 minutes.  After I left the room the second time he woke up and we repeated the process for another 10 minutes. Finally, this time he stayed asleep. All in all it took almost an hour the first day BUT he slept for two hours. 
  • The second day it only took about 40 minutes total and he only woke up one time after I left the room. He was still upset and I did have to lay him down numerous times when he would stand up and protest.
  • The third day rather than having to continually lay him down, he laid down on his own when I put him in the crib.  He did get upset when I tried to leave- I thought he was fully asleep but he wasn't. That day it only took about 25 minutes for him to fall asleep. 
  • The fourth day he laid right down and was kind of bored for a few minutes until he rolled over and went to sleep. It took him about 10 minutes that day to fall asleep. 
  • The fifth day and every day since I have laid him down in his crib and walked out of the room and he doesn't cry or call me back into the room.
So the “routine” we have is to turn on the sound machine, rock/nurse for a few minutes, lay him in his crib and that is it. I really honestly did not think that I would ever (ever) ever get here. 

It was a LOT of work and the first few days were really hard and emotionally draining.  It was hard to see my baby big boy upset and all I wanted to do was love on him.  I did not want to go the route of Cry It Out and I wanted Everett to know that I was there and that I would not leave him until he was asleep.  While he did cry and get upset a lot, I never left him to cry and tried to be there for him by talking to him and patting his back.

One thing that my mentor was also explaining to me and told me to watch out for is what she called a "response bubble."  This is something that can happen when you are helping your child to learn a new routine, like napping on their own.  The response bubble happens when you have been working on a skill for a few days and then all of a sudden it's like their behavior and everything they have learned has been thrown out the window and you are back to square one.  Think of this as their "last ditch effort" to revert back to the old way of doing things.  It is very (very) important to continue on with the new routine and to help your child learn the skills you are teaching them.  If you "give in" here, it will be exponentially harder to get back to where you were. We haven't really experienced a response bubble with nap time yet, I suspect that it will come when we try all of this at night time. 

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