In an effort to figure out why my kiddo isn't sleeping well through the night and to try and help him sleep better, I've been reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly. She offers up a bunch of helpful tips to help moms (mostly) and dads encourage their child to sleep better and for longer periods.
When I made my original entry about our sleeping troubles, I'd read the book but hadn't had any time to implement any of the suggestions. Well, now it's been about three weeks or so that we've been working with some of her ideas and we are seeing positive results!
Some of her ideas include introducing a 'lovey' or something the child can snuggle up to in lieu of needing mom to settle back down upon awakening; breaking the child of his breast/bottle sleep association by using the "Pantly pop-off method" (gently popping him off the breast before he is completely asleep), and making sure your child's sleeping area is comfortable and safe. Another rather important suggestion is to make sure your child has a bedtime routine and a fairly rigid napping schedule.
As mentioned in my prior post on this topic, we implemented a bedtime routine at about 6 months of age and did see some positive results with it. But my son has never been a good napper, so that continues to be a struggle, especially with our recent change of daytime caregivers. I've been allowing my son to use a pillow in his crib, which is still pulled up 'sidecar' next to our bed, because he seems to enjoy having his head slightly elevated (and the elevation will cut down on the potential for ear infections if he gets a runny nose). I put a pillow case that I'd been using for a few nights on his pillow. This really seemed to help, since my scent is all over it and right next to his smeller all night. Kind of a substitute for the 'lovey' Pantly suggests. The next change I made was to make better use of the mounds of soft, fuzzy blankets I was given for him during my pregnancy. Crib mattresses are pretty firm and don't seem very nice to sleep on, so one fuzzy blanket goes under and another which is nice and warm covers him. Those two changes alone seemed to go a long way in making my child more comfortable in his crib.
The biggest change I have made is encouraging my child to break his (firmly intact) breast / sleep association. He won't even take a pacifier, he is so in love with my busom. Using the pull-off method has been trying at times, but we have actually seen some pretty significant results in response to my efforts. When I started this process, he was waking up every 45 mins to an hour in the 2-3 hours before I would come to bed. Now, in just three short weeks, we are pretty regularly getting at least 2 hours out of him before he wakes and needs my assistance getting back to sleep. Another indication of positive change has been that, if I can get to him fast enough after he wakes, there are times that I don't have to offer my breast for him to settle back into sleep. I just gently place him back on his pillow and comfort him until he's nestled and resting again. Proof positive that these methods are breaking the breast/sleep association!
Last night, after having gone to sleep at 7:30 pm, he woke about every 2 hours. He woke at 11:30 pm and went back to sleep easily with my assistance. He then slept until 3 am! That's almost 4 whole hours of uninterrupted sleep! He wiggled again at 5 am and wasn't easily settled back at that time, and was up for the day at 6 am.
The book actually suggests doing sleep logs and having a written sleep plan in place to help follow your progress, but I'm lazy and haven't done that - yet. I'll probably get all hardcore about it in the coming weeks, so I can try and get him sleeping soundly ALL NIGHT LONG. I guess I just wanted to see if any of the methods would even help, and now that I know they do, I'll be taking her suggestions a little more seriously.
What a relief!