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Baby Whispering

I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg's The Baby Whisperer and have decided to give her sleep-through-the-night method a go.  My daughter, Genevieve is nearly 6 months and still wakes at 11, 1ish, 3ish, 5ish and sometimes extra to nurse, nurse, nurse. 

Today is day one of the E.A.S.Y. plan--four-hour time slots of eating, activity, sleep, and you-time (during the sleeping).  It felt strange and panicky to back off on the frequency of nursing during the day, but I truly look forward to easier nights. 

I'll post here a couple times in the duration of this baby-whispering experiment to let everyone know how it's progressing.  Today was mostly about observing the baby's current routines, but I did implement the pick up/put down procedure.  The procedure is a real struggle but, for me, ultimately better than letting Genevieve cry it out.  You basically put baby in the crib for nap or night sleep and, if she cries, pick her up and speak in a monotone. The second she stops crying, back to the crib she goes.  No rocking, singing, or coaxing to sleep.  If she cries again, up again, then back down.  The book says that the record for repeated pick up and put back downs is 150 over the course of a couple hours...dios mio.

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I read that book with my first son, and I swear by it! I was skeptical at first, but read the whole thing, loved it, and it worked like a charm. Hope it works for you too.

My son is 12 months now, and still gets up about 4 to 6 times per night. Maybe I should try this out! Karli

My baby (3 months old) doesn't really cry that much at night, but I find myself attending to him a lot in the early morning. He sort of just fusses in his bassinet...never really fully crying. This has kept me from wanting to move him into his crib in his room. Maybe this book would be a good read for me. :)

I'm totally unfamiliar with this book. Sounds interesting. She suggests that you cut back on nursing during the day? If I read that right, do keep an eye on that. My cousin's baby refused a bottle during the day while she worked and did a lot of reverse cycling. Good luck! I know how hard it is to function with so little sleep. All kids are different and we finally just realized with Clara it was a matter of waiting it out until she could developmentally comprehend that she needed to stay in her crib and go back to sleep.

Thanks for all your comments. I should be clear--I'm cutting back on the frequency of nursing, because I was nursing Genevieve on a sometimes-hourly basis, and she'd fallen into snacking frequently as opposed to fully feeding (the book calls this "accidental parenting", which fits me to a T. I've been so busy juggling moving to Portland and entertaining my preschooler, I took to nursing Genevieve all the time).

The idea is to extend each bf session for full feeds, but scale back on the frequency.

The same goes for sleeping. I'd hold her for catnaps, or let her nap wherever, whenever, and her naps were erratic and short.

I'm on day one of the full-on process here, and I'll post more later. The sleep stuff is killing me so far!

I read Hogg's book voraciously when I was a brand new mom, and found its basic advice appealing and helpful. The only warning I would give about it is regarding her tone. The fact that she calls her method "EASY" bugged me, as the process she defined was not that easy for me (it's an acronym, but still). My daughter didn't do what the book said she was supposed to! And it thus made me feel a bit crazy, and inadequate. All the stuff the book emphasized about accidental parenting also completely stressed me out, because it made me feel that I had to watch my every move (she says things like, "as you're rocking your baby to sleep, ask yourself if you want to be doing this in a year?"--to make the point that you might introduce behaviors you don't want to stick to). Anyway, a lot of my anxiety was typical and hormone related, but I'll just say that anyone who finds herself more troubled than helped by the book should feel just fine about putting it down...I think "accidental parenting" often works itself out in the end!

I haven't read the book, but in my experience and that of everyone I know, you're daughter's pattern of waking is absolutely typical (irritating, but typical) for a nursing 6mo. That is, it doesn't sound like anything you've contributed to particularly. (In fact, I wouldn't expect anything less from a kid under a year).

I really hope the system works for you! I know how exhausting that night-waking can be (for you, that is, it doesn't seem to trouble the babes, does it...?). But as the mother of two kids who now sleep through the night (words I never thought I'd write), I just want to say that sometimes you have to wait until they're ready.

I haven't read the Baby Whisperer but was successful getting my 6-month old son to sleep through the night at about 3-1/2 months.

I came to my own conclusions after reading about sleep online and in some of my different baby books (Baby 411 summarizes the whisperer book as well as Ferber and others). It took us about 3 days to accomplish this. Since I'd already summarized this for some other mamas I know, it's super easy for me to share the info here, in case it helps anyone. (Apologies for the long post.)

YOU'RE BIG ENOUGH TO SLEEP BY YOURSELF NOW
We decided to teach him how to sleep without help -- no more falling asleep in the swing, falling asleep right after eating, etc.

Here's what's worked for us: When he looked tired I put him down in the crib to nap/sleep and stayed to soothe him for a minute or two while he would fuss. Then I'd leave for 5 minutes and then return to reassure him and let him suck my finger for a minute or two. Then I'd leave for another 5 minutes. Repeat as necessary. Anyway, he just needed to know I was there for him, but learn I wouldn't pick him up. He fell asleep after the third time I left within 2 minutes.

This was hard to do consistently -- each 5 minute increment seemed like forever. But no matter how horrible I felt and how tragic he sounded, in the morning he'd be bright, cheerful and beaming at me. So I decided the guilt trip I was giving myself wasn't necessary.

And now he doesn't hardly fuss; half the time I put him down for the night he doesn't even whimper. And if he does, it only lasts for 2-3 minutes.

PUT HIM TO BED BEFORE HE'S TOO TIRED
I read about "Early to bed, late to rise" in the Baby 411 book. Basically, put the baby down when he's happy and content, don't wait for him to start fussing and really showing how tired he is. As I was reading it, he was enjoying his play yard. I decided to try this, so I went ahead and put him down. He was smiling up at me, not crying and immediately started sucking his thumb. I left the room. He never cried once. He slept 11 hours.

WHEN IS HE EATING? IS IT ENOUGH?
While we were feeding on demand for the first few months, he kept eating later and staying up longer. I read about how we are all on a 25-hour circadian rhythm. Adults re-set their clock every day with an alarm clock. I had to be his alarm clock (plus when you think about it, we control/influence our kids' metabolism by when we feed). We decided to start putting him on a feeding routine for starters. I decided what time the first feeding of the day would be (5 a.m.)in terms of its convenience for my morning routine and stuck to it.

We also increased the amount he was getting in the bottle. The goal was for him to get his nutritional needs met during the day so we could drop the night feeding, and not train him to expect to be fed in the middle of the night. He also tanked up for the night; after work I'd feed him 2-3X in two hours. If the nanny's notes indicated he didn't eat as much as normal, sometimes I'd wake him 2 hours after putting him down and feed him for "insurance" through the night.

IS HE NAPPING ENOUGH?
I realized he wasn't napping enough and I had to work on getting his naps in even if he protested, using the 5-minute method described above.

SUCCESS!
Over the first week of sleeping through, he woke up and lightly fussed one or two nights but for progressively shorter times -- intermittently for one hour, then 45 minutes, then 5 minutes.

It's hard to listen to the whimpering -- you can lose as much sleep those nights as you do when you have to do a night feeding. It's because you're paralyzed with fear -- will this turn into all-out screaming? When will he stop whimpering? Is he okay? Should I go in?

I read about baby sleep cycles and how they naturally wake up after 90 minutes and every 4 hours -- it doesn't mean you have to get up, and it's better if you leave them alone to cycle back down. So knowing that helped us stay put in bed.

Plus, being the good mamas we are, we're attuned to the different types of cries our babies have, so it'll been clear when the crying sounds different -- growth spurt or discomfort from being sick -- trust you'll be smart enough to tell the difference and respond to your baby accordingly.

SLEEPING THROUGH DOESN'T REQUIRE SLEEPING APART
I've read that having babies sleep in the same place consistently helps them sleep through, but he does fine with being in our bed weekday mornings, one night during the week or weekend, but otherwise in his crib.

IN CLOSING...
Consistency between spouses and being mutally committed emotionally to try any of this is critical. Plus, we tried all of these techniques all at once, which may be much for some people. And it's fragile. Shots, illnesses, etc. can put you back to square one. But once you have the process down, it's easy to get baby back on track and sleeping well.

GOOD LUCK!


Wow, mamas, I really appreciate all the input, especially as I struggle through this system today. I am very, very tired. But, I am also tired of the multiple night wakings, sometimes for a bf session of a couple sips!

I'll post in a separate entry later about the day's successes and failures. Suz, your point about spouses is golden. I must give my husband credit for consoling Genevieve through a total of about 2 hours of crying last night (at 2am, 3am, 4am, and 5:30-6:30am--and that was with still nursing her at 3am and 5am!)

We're on for the full plan today and tonight.

I'm a first-time mama and don't really know much about this, but I've been told that alot of it also has to do with the baby's temperament. Some sleep better and earlier than others and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.

Fortunately, ours took easily to his crib at 9 weeks (much to my dismay!) and was sleeping through most of the night by 4 months, waking just once a night for a feeding. Just before 6 months, he began sleeping a solid 12 hours every night and this mama got her sanity back. We did the "cry it out" method and it worked great for us. The most he ever cried was 10 or 15 minutes and he was fine after two days. It's difficult to listen to them cry like that, but when you know they are tired I find it's best. I hear him moving around in his crib at night and sometimes he'll wimper a little, but he's fine and I just let him be. He doesn't wake, but if he does, he goes right back to sleep.

My niece, on the other hand, has been waking much like yours since July and she's almost 11 months old. I don't know how my SIL does it. I would be a total mess by now. The baby has just stopped nursing at night and it's getting better, but it's still rough for all of them. The "cry it out" method did not work for them.

Best of luck to you these next few days!

Wow...this is such an interesting thread... Wish I'd had the opportunity to read it a year ago when I was struggling with long nights with Anders... I agree with so many of the comments posted here and think this is a great support source. I beat myself up for nearly a year reading all the books and trying different strategies and just generally obsessing and stressing over his sleep habits before we finally pretty much just gave up and brought him back into bed with us.

Long story short, we have a 15 month old who still does not sleep through the night, but it could be for a huge variety of reasons--personality/temperment, lots of travelling during his first year of life, breastfeeding (he's fully weened now but I always read that breastfed babies take longer to sleep through the night), or our recent cross-country relocation... Now that we're settled in a new home where we expect to be for the next several years, it's my mission to get him sleeping through the night, hopefully sooner rather than later.

We read (and have referenced several times since) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and think it's a great resource in general. We also read and tried the Ferber method, but found the "5 minutes...5 minutes" thing exhausting--Anders was not comforted one bit by our visits, screamed even harder when we left the room, and I think I wore out my Timex because I watched it so much!

I doubt this would work for a 6 month old (or at least I know for a fact it would never have worked with Anders at 6 months), but what we are shocked to see working so well in the last few weeks is sitting in chair in the room with Anders while he falls asleep each night, and again when he wakes up throughout the night. We're slowly working our way further out of the room, and hoping that eventually he'll be falling asleep without our presence at all. But, as I said, we're shocked and thrilled to see that Anders does seem truly comforted just knowing that we are there with him, and that seems to be enough for him to settle himself to sleep within just a few minutes--it's a miracle! It could be because of the method, or it could also be because Anders is older now and not only is he physically capable of sleeping much longer stretches, but he is emotionally more mature and secure and those two things are huge--I'll be the first to admit that my hours upon hours of reading and obsessing over sleep probably have just made me more tired in the end!

On baby #2, I hope the urbanMamas remind me that what works for one, doesnt always work for another, and that at some point they all sleep through the night, and that a lot of things happen naturally if you're able to be patient and wait!


Let's also keep in mind that any one "method" is not going to work for everyone. babies are not methodical, nor is raising them. While experts and publishers can start a whole trend with their step-by-step ways to do things, it is important to adapt everything for ourselves and our babies.

When it all comes down to it, human babies are programmed to by snuggled up on mom/fam all the time, until they are fairly old. i am currently working on weaning my 16 month old, and what amazes me is how unnatural it feels!

so yeah. i guess i am just saying that balance is the key, moreso than numbers or statistical methods.

I also read Hogg's book when my daughter was 1 month old. I tried to follow the method exactly and it really didn't work. When my daughter was around 2 mos old I began to follow the method loosely while still responding to her cues. For example if she wants to sleep right after eating let her or if she wants to eat in 2 hours vs. 3 let her. Now my daughter is 3 mos. She eats every 3 hours during the day and wakes once at about 2 am to eat. She does roll around and smack her lips in between feedings but I've learned to give it about 20 minutes before responding. That's how long Hogg says it takes for most babies to settle back down. Best of luck to you, I know I am looking forward to that first full night of rest as well.

I'm in the camp of mamas that have tried many techniques such as ferberizing to no avail. I spent many hours and many nights trying to get my oldest son to sleep, and it wasn't until he was 18 months when it finally started to click. I commisserate quite often with other moms who have infants with sleep issues. Through personal experience, you can go crazy trying to figure out the infant sleep issues and trying to figure out what you as a parent are doing wrong. So perhaps 6 months still is too early for some babes to sleep through the night. I'm also the mom of a child who doesn't eat and has potty training issues.

We were on the verge of insanity with our son around this time last year, (he'd want to nurse every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours all night). Since I work full-time, this was not good.

What we finally did, reasoning he was physically old enough to go 4-5 hours without nursing or eating, was set a window during which we would aim not to nurse. Say, 11pm-3am. If he woke during that time, my husband would respond first and try to soothe him. He would hold the baby while he cried and fussed for up to 20 minutes or until he settled down, whichever came first. If he was still crying after 20 minutes, I'd go in and nurse. Within about 2 days, he was sleeping 4-hour stretches. It was amazing. When we night-weaned completely a couple of months later, we used the same technique and just expanded the time window slowly.

He now routinely sleeps 10-11 hours at night (though he wakes once probably 3 nights per week; sometimes he needs us, sometimes not). What I'm happiest about is that he goes to sleep on his own for naptime and bedtime. We lay him down awake after following a pretty consistent bedtime routine. The routine can take him from bouncing off the walls to clutching his blankie and leaning towards the crib in about 10 minutes. It's like magic.

Full disclosure: we are still using a binky at night. I think that helped him learn to sleep through, but that will be a 'weaning' process too, for the summer when my husband doesn't have to teach.

If the baby whisperer doesn't work out, you might try what we did. [I have read on nursing bulletin boards that her methods can have an impact on supply, etc., but I think it really balances out after a while. Lots of babies sleep through pretty early and their mamas continue to have plenty of milk].

We also did what Betsy did and it worked well for stretching out the time between feedings when Anders was very young. I even did the in between holding and just stayed determined to only feed every certain number of hours. (Anders was also one of those little guys that could "nurse" every 45 minutes if I let him, but it was never a full feeding when it was that often.) My husband has been in a very demanding part time MBA program in addition to working full time since Anders arrived, so I've been doing lots of the sleep training solo, which I definitely dont recommend.

Anyhow, the self-soothing and consistent bedtime routines are really key, I think, regardless of the strategy that you try to implement. We've always had a nice routine with stories and singing and we're finding that when Anders is tired these days he'll go straight for his books and chair and we can follow his lead...it's great!

We had a huge success last night...Anders went to bed at 8 and slept straight through until 6:15 this morning....a first since he was born!!! We all feel great this morning...hopefully it's a trend. Good luck to the rest of you...it'll happen eventually.

I love all these comments. I am a first time mom and am stuck on what's supposed to be "normal". I have a 3 month old who really hates to go to sleep. He gets visibly tired and then cranky but once we swaddel him he starts to wail at us and push and scream. Both my husband and I get worn down from it and have not been able to keep him on a consistent nap routine. What we have learned is that no matter how we handle it, he is going to scream for a while. Any ideas out there at making the process a little less painful?

We also tried out the Baby Whisperer and couldn't even make it through the first day. I almost passed out from all the shushing - 45 minutes or more of shush and pat did not work to calm him at all, in fact he seemed to escalate once he associated it with being put down to sleep. Then I was having a really hard time dealing with a sleep deprived baby. Anyway, I was pretty disappointed for a while, in myself mostly. I would say the parent would need to be a certain kind of temperment to successfully manage the Baby Whisperer process but it makes a lot of sense. My husband and I really did gleen some good information from the book but at this point I think doing what feels right to us is working better - not great but better. I'd just love to get him over the fight to sleep. Is this normal, do most babies really hate the idea of sleeping? Are there any new ideas out there for calming a baby - I'd love to hear them!

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