Yes, yes, avoid sleep training ...
I'm wondering if anyone has or can point me in the direction of some tips on infant sleep. My twins are 7 months. I'm not comfortable with crying-it-out, though I do let my son whine in his crib alone for a couple of minutes at nap and night time as necessary since he seems to only whine about being put in his crib and not left to sleep in my bed. On the days the whining occurs, it lasts literally two minutes max and doesn't escalate. (Of course I originally figured this out when -- gasp! -- I left him all alone crying in his crib so that I could pee.) Co-sleeping isn't a good option for us because then my boyfriend has to stay on the couch, I instinctively wrap my wrist around my son weirdly, exasperating the wrist issues and getting little sleep, plus I eventually have to move him to the crib anyway to feed his twin sister or pump. Right now we have to feed our daughter twice in the night (no more alarms, she lets us know ... and this is necessary because there isn't enough expressed milk available during the day plus she cannot drink enough during the day yet). I also get up to pump 1-2 times per night. I am guessing our son could technically sleep through the night (he did at 3 months, anyway) but now he hears his sister and wants to be nursed back to sleep. I don't mind that since nursing is easy.
Here are our challenges that we need ideas on ...
1. How do I get the babies to bed earlier? We desperately need to get control of the bedtime around here. We don't have an elaborate routine (or any?) and daily baths are a joke (we wash them every week, if we're lucky.) So I'm just saying this can't be too involved over the long term.
2. How can I get my son to accept being put back in his crib? Even sleeping happily and transferred gently, he figures it out, turns to me with the bottom lip flipped down, and lets out his pathetic cry.
3. How can we move away from using the swing for my daughter? I don't even want to try yet, but I know one day she'll be too big and it'll all be over.
My favorite book on sleep is No Cry Sleep Solution. While it's not a book that tell you what to do (like the other 'sleep training' books out there which I avoid), it gives info on what's normal for sleep, ways to encourage better sleep, and reminds you to celebrate the little successes because getting better sleep won't happen overnight.
1. NCSS does offer great suggestions on routine. Figure out what works for your babies and go from there. Give it time to work since it takes them awhile to get used to a routine and associate it with sleep.
2. There is a section about moving a baby to the crib. I don't remember too much about it because by the time I read the book Aiden was already moving to the crib he just didn't like to stay asleep.
3. One thing I fretted about with DS was "weaning" him from the swing. I don't know why I worried so much because after a bit it became uncomfortable for him and he no longer wanted to sleep in there at all (at about a year). I would just work on her slowly spending less time on the swing, but don't feel guilty when she uses it. It WILL become uncomfortable and they don't like that!
I personally don't think sleep training is bad in itself as long as gentle methods are used and the child is old enough too.
Plus, with twins it's a whole different ball game and I can't imagine the stress of two needy babies all night long! Plus, whining to me isn't crying. I let my kids whine a bit and I don't think it's harmful personally.
1. What time do they currently go to bed? I personally started with not nursing right before sleep. I nursed about 30 minutes before bed so that falling asleep on the boob was not the norm starting around 6 months or so. Many moms don't do that, or don't believe in that, but it works better for us. We do bath most nights, pj's and lotion, vitamin (added as they get old enough for it), reading books, sippy cup of water, turning off lights, a quick rock a bye baby a couple times, then down in crib/bed. It takes about 45 minutes from start to finish but at least 20 of that is bath. For awhile, DD would cry a minute or two after being put down and if she kept crying we'd go in, calm her down etc. I found the biggest thing for us was to get her laughing (tickles, peakaboo). Trying to keep her sleepy and calm just didn't work for us. She had to be actually wide awake. We also allow a book, a stuffie and a couple toys in bed around a year old. That gives her (and DS) time to wind down on their own in bed. I guess I'm really saying there are so many routines as there are families. Decide what type of personality your babies are and go from there.
2. how soon after he's done nursing are you trying to put him in the crib? I found that if I didn't wait a good 15 minutes or so that she was too awake to put back down. I also found it worked better if my DH put her back since it was more gentle and less disturbing than me trying to get out of bed, then pick her up. on nights when she still does protest, DH rocks her a bit in his arms while standing up and she settles back down.
3. I wouldn't worry about this one yet. Like Jackie said, they eventually think it's uncomfortable and don't like it anymore. For my daughter this was about 5 months, but every baby is different. You could try using the swing, but not turning it on as the first step, get them used to sleeping without motion first, then try sleeping without that incline. Other things to consider are one of those wedges for the crib that you put under the mattress so it inclines a bit.
As far as your DS waking up when your DD wakes up - try a white noise machine, or a air purifier in the room. The soothing sounds of that can help with masking her noises so he doesn't hear them as much.
Lastly, they are still young to be STTN. Especially if you don't want to do CIO. I think I'd focus on one thing at a time, like a better routine and earlier bedtime to start with. My 19 month old only STTN a couple times a week. She still gets up once a night on typical. You especially can't compare to families that formula feed or do CIO. Hang in there, it will get easier as they get older!
Ethan - June 21, 2009
Olivia - December 5, 2010
5w3d - October/November 2012
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I see this thread is a bit old and I hope you've gotten a little relief and better sleep but I thought I'd add my two cents.
If you had just one 8 month old, I'd give you the "baby's will STTN when they're physiologically ready and not one day younger" shpeal. Twins are a different story, especially twins with different sleep needs. I think even Dr. Sears recommends getting twins on a sleep schedule.
Also, I totally agree that whining is completely different from crying, even at 8 months. Letting him "whine it out" shouldn't cause you any guilt. He's just telling you he's a little mad. He's not telling you he's feeling abandoned and terrified.
I'm really not the person to give advice on getting a kid to STTN. My DD didn't until she was 18 months old and that was after many many months of tiny victories. But I'll try to address your questions.
1) Its harder during the summer but try your best to convince them its dark out. We invested in black out shades and it made a huge difference. We never had much of a night time routine until she was 10-ish months. Bath has never been a part of it because she takes showers with us. I decided that reading was going to be our central bed time activity. Its quite, allows for playing with when nursing happens (either before, during, or after stories), and is something we can keep as our central bed time activity for years to come. When I first started bed time stories at 10 months, she didn't really care about the stories. It was not the peaceful and loving image that I'd always pictured. She mostly played with the books then nursed to sleep and then I put her in her crib, which was in our room. Gradually though, it became the thing that signals that its time to calm down and prepare for bed. Now its the biggest predictor of how well she's going to sleep. Whatever you choose, be consistent. If you need to make adjustments, make little ones instead of changing lots of things at once. (or don't listen to me at all because it took us 18 months to have one child STTN)
2) Is there somewhere safe you can put him down and then transfer him to the crib later? DD didn't have that problem so much but I sometimes used to nurse her to sleep in our bed and then transfer her to the crib in our room (and eventually her room) when I wanted to get in bed.
3) Just do it when you need to. There were a ton of things that I was terrified to change. Specifically, swaddling (6m), moving her crib into her room (1yr), moving her to her big girl bed (14m), having DH take over night time wakeups (15m), and having DH put her down (20m). Each loomed large with impending doom but each turned out to be quite easy when we finally bit the bullet and did it. Those last two involved a little crying for a night or two but DH was in there with her, comforting her, so neither of us felt we were letting her CIO. Keep doing what works for her now and worry about it when it becomes a problem. My monster infant DD outgrew her swing around 4 months. It wouldn't swing anymore! That was enough for her to stop liking it.