Monday, August 9, 2010

Sleep Issues

I have never made it a secret that Jack has sleep issues. I don't know if they are his issues or our issues, but someone has issues! Jack currently wakes up an average of 5 times a night. Generally, he goes for about 90 minutes before he needs to wake up and eat. Yes, he eats every time he wakes up.

This is not unusual for him, although at one point, a couple of months ago, he slept through the night for a stretch of 9 days. He would go to sleep at 8:00, wake up at 2:00am to eat and then back up for the day at 6:00. I know he CAN do it. I honestly don't know what changed between then and now.

I feel like we are at a crossroads. I need to either force him into a sleeping habit or learn to give up and realize that he will get on a schedule and sleep through the night when he's darn well ready.

I am struggling lately with all the parenting advice that is being thrown my way. Even Jack's pediatrician thinks we should let him cry it out. I have never felt comfortable with this approach, but we decided to try a modified version on Friday night. I am going to review what happened along with the other strategies that we have tried along with why I don't think Jack is ready to STTN (sleep through the night).

Friday night, I decided enough was enough and read up on the Baby Whisperer's version of training a baby to sleep. It involves the Pick Up/Put Down method. Put the baby in the crib awake, don't pick him up unless he starts crying. Before you pick him up, try and place a hand on their back to calm them. If that doesn't work, pick up the baby but then put him back down as soon as he stops crying. Repeat this process until he realizes that he needs to go to sleep. By picking him up when he's crying, you are telling him that you are comforting him but that he needs to go to sleep.

I did this twice with Jack and Jason did this over four times. It took 30 minutes both times I tried it. It took Jason the better part of an hour. Jack got so upset by doing this that he hyperventilated and threw up. I am sorry, but how is this method soothing in any way? I am not willing to try it any longer. One night was enough. He was so traumatized that on Saturday, every time I put him in the crib, his face would crumple in his sleep and he would cry and wake up.

The author of this book emphasizes that all baby sleep habits are learned and the fault of the parent (that is my summary at least). I am not willing to let my child cry for that long and get so upset that he throws up. Method fail.

The No Cry Sleep Solution is another book that I have read and we have had limited success with. The methods all make a lot of sense. Create a bedtime routine with your baby and stick to it. Use things such as a lovee or a pacifier so that they can self soothe. Fill your baby up with food so that they don't wake during the night. All great ideas, but again, we have had limited success. Even with a bedtime routine that never changes, Jack still wakes every 90 minutes.

I am now reading Dr. Sears Sleep Book and so far, I like it. He stresses that methods such as cry it out stress a baby out unnecessarily and can cause problems later on. He also states that babies who are breastfed (Jack is mostly breastfed) are made to wake up several times a night to eat. I don't get the impression with his book that it's the parent's fault for sleep issues. He actually has plans for parents who want to co-sleep or for those who want their babies to sleep in their crib.

Now, here is where I don't think Jack is ready to sleep through the night. Everything I have read says that babies who are as old as Jack don't need to eat in the middle of the night. Babies at his age should be taking in double their body weight in milk. For Jack, that is almost 36 ounces. He has NEVER EVER eaten that much in any one day. He is lucky to take in 30. By the time bedtime comes around, he has consumed about 20-24 ounces. That means he still has a milk deficit. When does he get that extra nourishment? AT NIGHT. With his reflux, he still eats constantly and very small amounts. His stomach is not capable of taking more than 3-4 ounces at a time, and even that is rare. He is waking up because he is hungry. By not feeding my baby during the night like the supposed "experts" claim is not necessary, he would be going hungry.

The advice that has been presented to me is generally crap. I have had people tell me "sleeping with your baby isn't beneficial". Well, I would like to challenge those people because when Jack was sleeping through the night for those 9 days, he did so sleeping next to me. And when we sleep together now, he still wakes up every 90 minutes. Regardless of where he sleeps, he wakes up the same amount. I have also had people tell me that I should let him cry it out, try and feed him more solids (which he is struggling with, that is another post), put him exclusively on formula, and other myriads of information.

I had an ephiphany today. My baby is MY BABY. He is his own person and can't be compared to other babies. My child wakes every 90 minutes to eat. That is his way of life and Jason and I need to accept that. We have talked about it and are willing to live with this way of life for a little while longer. We are still going to try some other non-invasive methods, but for now, it's okay. Our baby doesn't sleep through the night and I am okay with that. He will in his own time.


  1. As I'm sure you know, Miles wakes up a few times per night as well, despite not having reflux. I don't know how much he eats during the day but I've always suspected he needs his night feedings too, because he nurses greedily, often both sides, each time he wakes up.

    For me, just like you described, every time I've tried to "fix" this situation we've had nights that were WAY more stressful for everyone than when we just go with the flow. I'm sure I will never stop questioning myself but being patient seems to be the only thing that works for us.

  2. You got it right there at the end - this is your do what you need to do to make it work for you. If that's sleeping with you then so be it, if that's picking him up and soothing him or feeding him, then do it:) Every babe is different and no book can accommodate that.

    Noah was doing really well until the last week or so, now he's up 3 or 4 times a night wanting to eat or be soothed (his new trick of rolling to his tummy isn't helping).

    Generally I try my hardest to get at least 30 oz in him during the day but you can't force feed a baby (at least not him - he purses his lips and blows bubbles at you when he's done). If he doesnt get that I know I'm in for at least one middle of the night waking to eat. It is what it is....i figure he has to grow out of it at some point:)

  3. I found your blog over @ Bridgetown Baby Momma..and I am so glad I did. Your past few posts are SO similar to mine. I too have PPD, my 6 mo old son still feeds at night, has had reflux, and only eats about 4 oz at a time. This post on sleeping through the night really helped me realize that he will do it on his own time! Thanks!!