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This is the a tough topic because you will get a whole host of responses when you ask a parent about the use of a pacifier, also known as a binky or dummy. I though I would share my thoughts on the pacifier now that I have been through 3 children who have all had totally different experiences with the pacifier sucking.

Pros for Pacifiers
Babies have a very strong suck reflex when they are born. That is a good thing, otherwise they would not take a bottle or nurse well. They need that sucking reflex to survive. In many cultures, woman wear their babies all day long and they nurse very frequently throughout the day. In our modern American culture, most women do not wear their babies or have the ability to nurse all day long.  That is where the pacifier comes in handy. It gives your baby the ability to engage in their sucking needs without having a nurse or pacify with a bottle all day long. Sucking is also a very calming and soothing activity for babies. Offering a pacifier is a great way to allow your baby to self-sooth and calm when upset or going to sleep. Some of the ways I (or other people) have found the pacifier come in hand are the following:
1. When out and about and your baby gets fussy and you need to help quiet her and help her calm downI have found that during grocery shopping and things of that nature, that the pacifier was of great use to me. I also found that in car rides when I did not have easy access to my children, the pacifier was of great help, keeping my children from crying and perhaps even helping them to fall asleep.
2. Helps babies fall asleep
Many sleep specialists worn about nursing/ bottle feeding your baby to sleep. But many babies need to suck to fall asleep. That is where a pacifier is of great use. I allowed my children as young infants to use a pacifier to fall asleep. I also found when trying to teach my children to take longer naps, that if they woke early, I could give them a pacifier and they would go back to sleep.
3. You can take the pacifier away
Some people do not want their children to be thumb suckers. So parents feel that offering a paci is a good solution to still allowing their children to suck, but not their thumb. It is easier to take a pacifier away than a thumb.

Cons for Pacifiers
There are some cons associated with pacifier use. Many people feel that if you offer a pacifier too early, like at birth, they will develop “nipple confusion” and not breastfeed as well. I have had three children, all have had a pacifier starting at birth, and this has never happened to me. It never caused any problems what so ever when it came to nursing. If anything, it was a aid when it came to breastfeeding, because I did not became the “human pacifier” and I was able to offer my children the need to suck without nursing 24/7. Another con associated with pacifiers is, they are a sleep prop. Your baby could develop a dependency on the use of a pacifier and need it to sleep. Many parents end up becoming the “binky fairy” and have to keep running into their baby’s room all night or several times during nap time to keep reinserting the pacifier when it falls out. Luckily, many babies figure out how to put the pacifier in their own mouths if it falls out and that solves that issue, but that skill does not usually develop until 5-7 months of age.

Personal Experience with Pacifiers/ Thumb Sucking

Cooper
He took a pacifier from the time he was born. It was a very useful tool. He never really had a strong need to suck when he was awake, but when he went to sleep, he wanted to suck. I did not want to nurse him to sleep so the pacifier was a great tool. I hated to hear him cry himself to sleep and the pacifier kept him from crying himself to sleep. However, the pacifier became an issue and when it feel out he expected me to reinsert it. I did that until he was 10 weeks old, but at 10 weeks I decided that I was not going to go back into his room any longer to give him the paci during his naps or at night. There was some crying involved, but she soon learned to fall back to sleep if the paci fell out without me having to back in and putting it back in his mouth. At 4 months, when I started to wean him of his swaddle, he discovered his fingers and began to suck them when he would wake in the middle of a nap. He stopped needing the paci to fall alseep for naps because he began to prefer his fingers. I was happy the day we got rid of the pacifier, because his sleep improved ten fold. He no longer need the pacifier and he discovered his own self-soothing abilities by sucking his fingers. My son is an awesome sleeper and I think it is because he has discovered how to self-sooth by sucking his own fingers and did not rely on a pacifier, person, or any other sleep props to help him fall asleep.

Molly
My daughter Molly was also given a pacifier from the time she was born. Because she has a twin sister, I relied a lot on pacifiers because I could not physically hold or rock two crying babies at the same time. They were a big help to me when my daughters where little infants. I think the pacifier saved me actually! Molly used the paci to fall asleep and if she woke early from naps I would offer her the paci to see if she would go back to sleep. I also used the paci when I was out and about or in the car to help her when she would start to cry. At around 3.5 months of age, Molly learned to roll from back to belly. I had to stop swaddling her because of her rolling. She started to sleep on her tummy (yes, I know this is a huge SIDS risk at this age, but she would not stay on her back). When she started to sleep on her tummy she had a huge problem keeping her paci in her mouth. She had two really bad days of sleep because her paci kept falling out. Finally, she discovered her thumb on day two and it has been smooth sailing ever since. She does not suck her thumb when she is awake, unless she is getting tired. She saves thumb sucking for her crib. She sucks her thumb to fall asleep and if she wakes in the middle of a nap or at night, she will find her thumb and start sucking to put herself back to sleep. Molly is an awesome sleeper too!!! She rarely cries to go to sleep, rarely wakes early from naps, or rarely wakes up in the middle of the night crying. If she does cry for longer than a minute, this is rare for her and I know she needs me so I go and tend to her.

Anna
Anna is the child that I messed up on. I allowed Anna to have a pacifier until a few days before she turned 6 months. In hindsight, this went on way too long. Like with my daughter Molly, I allowed Anna to have a pacifier as young infant from birth. The pacifier was great for helping to calm her when I was tending to her sister Molly or her toddler brother Cooper. I use the pacifier when running errands or in the car. Anna used the pacifier to fall asleep and if she woke early I would offer her the pacifier to see if that would help her go back to sleep. I kept telling myself that I would take the pacifier away when Anna learned to roll over. But Anna did not learn to roll over until she was almost 6 months old. From about 4-6 months, I became the pacifier fairy for Anna during nap time. Like clockwork, Anna would wake 45 minutes into her nap because she would discover her paci had fallen out. I would have to run into her room and stick it back into her mouth and she would sleep another 45 minute -1.5 hours longer.  This got old really fast. I kept hoping that Anna would just roll over and that would force me to take her pacifier away, but like I mentioned already, she did not roll over until almost 6 months. I too the pacifier away from her at 6 months for the same reasons I took Molly’s paci away. Anna could not keep it in her mouth while she was laying on her belly. It took about 2-3 days of HORRIBLE crying and sleep. The first night Anna cried for 2 hours before she would go to sleep without her paci. My husband and I tired to help calm her to sleep, but nothing was working. She also had a bad head cold and congestion the day she decided to start sleeping on her tummy. I think I cried as much as Anna did those two days. Finally on the second day, she started to sleep through her naps without waking up and sleeping through the night again. Sigh… I kept hoping that she would discover her thumb or fingers and self-sooth herself to sleep, but it never happened. Even now at 8 months of age, she still cries herself to sleep. She usually cries about 5-10 minutes before each nap. Thankfully, at night, she usually goes to sleep without any crying (maybe a wimper, but that’s all). I hate to hear her cry herself to sleep. I have tired to rock her to sleep, but she will not have any of it. I think she is so use to going to sleep without rocking (I could not rock her and her twin sister at the same time when going to sleep. Not physically possible) that rocking her just did not work. She still a good sleeper, but she is not as good of a sleeper as Cooper and Molly. If she wakes up early in the morning or early from a nap, she has a hard time going back to sleep. I really think I interfered with allowing Anna to discover her ability to self-sooth with running up and giving her a paci when she would wake early from nap and allowing her to fall asleep with it for 6 months. In hindsight, I wish I would have just taken the paci away around 3.5-4 months of age and given her the opportunity to discover his thumb or fingers for that matter.

If you are going to use a pacifier, I would do the following:
1. Limit the use of the pacifier for sleep only or for when you are out and about and need to calm your baby. I think too often parents offer the pacifier to their children too often during their awake time. This does not allow your child the ability to discover his own sucking and self-soothing abilities. It also prevents your child from communicating to you other needs like cries for pain or hunger (missing one of their child’s other needs).  Offering the pacifier during the time they are awake will only create a strong dependence on the pacifier and will make it harder to break them of needing a pacifier when you decided to wean them of one.

2. Wean (or take away) the pacifier no later than 4 months of age.
I say this because if you allow your child to use a pacifier for too long, they will develop a strong dependence on the pacifier to be happy during their wake time and to fall asleep and stay asleep. Once you notice your baby developing better hand control, that is usually a good time to wean your baby of the pacifier because they can suck their fingers or thumb for self-soothing at that point (that is if you will allow thumb sucking).

3. Allow your baby to fall asleep with it, but don’t put the pacifier back in their mouths if it falls out. I think up until your baby has good hand control, it is okay to go back into your baby’s room mid nap and give them their pacifier if it falls out. But once your baby has developed good hand control, don’t go back in. Your child needs to learn how to put himself back to sleep without your help. Your child might cry a little, but over time, he will either figure out how to put the pacifier back in his own mouth without your help or learn to suck his or her own thumb/ fingers. Going back in and giving your child the pacifier, is creating a sleep dependency/ sleep prop. The goal as a parent is to teach your child to sleep without assistance and continuing to give back the pacifier does not help to achieve this goal.

Closing Thoughts
If I have another child, I think I will give that child a pacifier at birth again, but take it away around 3.5-4 months of age. At that age infants usually have the muscle control to get their hands to their mouth and suck. I don’t have a problem with thumb sucking or finger sucking, as it allows the child the ability to self-sooth and not rely on a sleep prop or a parent to sleep. Yes I know that thumbs and fingers are a whole lot harder to take away later, but I think that sleep is equally important in my book! Sleep deprivation can be a very difficult thing to deal with.

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I just became the parent of two beautiful twin girls. They were born on April 9th and they are 2.5 weeks old. I also have a 19 month old son. I am a firm believer in teaching a baby how to fall asleep without having to have them fall asleep in your arms. When Cooper was an infant, I would rock him until he was drowsy, that would take sometimes up to 15 minutes of rocking to get him to the drowsy stage. If I did not rock him and just lay him in his crib, he would never go to sleep on his own. He needed my help. In hindsight, I wish I would never have rocked him before he went to sleep. I should have just held him until he started to calm down. Eventually, I could just lay my son down without any rocking, but that did not come until he was a much older baby, probably over 9 months old.

With the twins, I only have one pair of arms to rock a baby. I am also limited on the amount of time I can spend helping the twins go to sleep because I have to worry about my 19 month old. What I have been doing is swaddling the twins real good, putting them in their bouncers and swings, and waiting for their sleepy cues that it is time to go to sleep. Their sleepy cues is less activity and their eyes start to get heavy and dart back and forth under their eye lids. At that point, I pick them up, carry them to their cribs, and lay them down. I sometimes give them a pacifier if are having trouble. Since I started doing this, they go to sleep well on their own.

On occasion, one of the twins just has trouble going to sleep. When that happens, I do the following things:
1. Put a pacifier in their mouths.
if that does not work…
2. Rub their heads or tummies to calm them
if that does not work…
3. Just let them fuss
if that does not work…
Pick them back up and return them to bouncer/ swing until drowsy and then lay them down again

Just let them fuss: I have actually perfered to do this method. As long as the girls are not truly crying, then I will let them fuss and get themselves to calm down. This is teaching them to self-sooth so they will not need much assistance to drift off to sleep. If their fussing turns into true crying, then I usually pick them up and try the bouncer or swing until drowsy.

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At some point you are going to need to wean your baby of being swaddled. For me, I started to the weaning process once my son started to roll over. I felt it was dangerous for him to have both of his arms wrapped in his swaddle if he rolled onto his tummy. Something magical also happened once I started to wean him of his swaddle, he discovered how to suck on his fingers and I did not have to worry about putting his binky back in his mouth if it fell out.

Here is how I weaned my son of swaddling

1. I left one arm out of his swaddle until he was sleeping well and not waking himself up.

2. He slept in a sleep sac at night but swaddled with one arm out during the day for naps. I tired to make the switch to the sleep sac for both naps and nighttime sleep, but that proved to be a bad mistake. My son was just not ready to give up the swaddle quite yet. My son slept more sound at night so we tired not swaddling at night and that worked well. He has some adjustment problems, but he eventually got the hang of it. There were a few night he would wake up in the middle of the night and have some trouble, but we just let him cry-it-out a little and then he would go back to sleep. He would only cry for 5 minutes or so and it only lasted for a few nights.

3. He slept in a sleep sac for both naps and nighttime sleep. This was a hard transition for him during his naps. He had a hard time falling asleep with both arms out. He also had a hard time during his sleep transition during his naps (45 minute sleep cycle/ 45 minute intruder). There were days that I caved in and just decided to go in and just swaddle him for his naps, but those days of needing to swaddle become less and less. I only re-swaddled him during a nap if he really had a hard time falling asleep or he would wake in the middle of a nap and have difficult returning to sleep (if he woke early in the nap). It took about 2 weeks for him to get the napping without a swaddle down.

For more information about weaning from swaddling please read this article I found:
http://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/Swaddling/Weaning+your+baby+off+wrapping.html

The Swaddle I used was the kidapotomus brand called swaddleme: http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php
The Sleep Sac I used was the Halo brand: https://www.halosleep.com/products/results/?product_category_id=10
You Can also sew your own sleep sac: http://cbfoley.com/2009/05/08/a-weeks-worth-of-posts/

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What is the 45 minute intruder?

The 45 minute intruder is a term that was coined in the book Baby Wise, but this is not a Baby Wise phenomenon. The 45 minute intruder refers to when your baby wakes up from a nap or nighttime sleep after only being asleep for 45-50 minutes. Why are some babies waking up at this point? Well, if they are in a growth spurt, it might be because they are hungry. However, if they are not in a growth spurt and are well feed it could be related to their sleep cycles. Babies cycle from light, deep, and back to light sleep in about 45-50 minutes. When your baby returns to light sleep, they may partialy arouse. If they hear a noise, smell something funny, realize they are too hot or cold, or are conditioned to need a sleep prop such as rocking or nursing to sleep, they will have difficulty returning to sleep to complete another sleep cycle. For more information on sleep cycles, read my post entitled “infant sleep cycles”https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Other possible causes for waking 45-50 minutes into a nap could be due to being overtired, overstimulate, or not enough wake/ play time. If you keep your baby up too longer, they may be too tired and wake up early from a nap. Or perhaps you had company over and everyone was playing with your baby, that may have overstimulated your child. Both overstimulation and overtiredness can cause a baby to wake early out of a nap. Make sure you are following your son/ daughter’s naps cues and you get them down for a nap before this occurs. For more on this read my post entitled “Sleep Windows: Get them to bed before it’s too late”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/sleep-windows-get-them-to-bed-before-its-too-late/ It may be possible that you did not keep your child up long enough. That happen to my son a couple of times. I put him down for his nap and he fall asleep relatively easy, but would wake up 45 minutes into his nap. It occurred to me that he was getting older and may need to stay awake longer. I adjusted his awake time and that solved the waking up at 45 minutes. I believe he just was not tired enough to take a long nap. For more about appropriate awake time lengths see my post entitled, “Baby & Infant Daily Schedules” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

My son had chronic 45 minute napping problems

My son has chronic problems with the 45 minute intruder from the time he was 2 months up until he was 4.5 months old (maybe even almost 5 months old). You could set a stop watch and he would wake exactly 45-50 minutes into each of his naps. It use to make me nuts. At first, I thought he was a short napper, but he would wake up fussy. According to Baby Wise and The Baby Whisperer, your baby should not fussy if they just woke up from a nap and you’ve feed them upon waking. The Baby Wise book says that it can last a few day or even two weeks–ha! This lasted for 2.5-3 months. I never thought I would see the day when he would sleep straight through a nap.  By the time he hit 4.5 months old, he was sleeping through most of his naps without waking. We still had the occasional 45 minute intruder, but that was about 20% of the time. Now he is 7 months old and my son rarely ever wakes up early from a nap unless he is in a growth spurt, has a dirty diaper, or a sound from our condo building has stirred him.

What I did to get through the 45 minute intruder

Lay a firm hand on his chest: a little before the 45 minute mark, I would creep into his room and place my hand on his chest. I would press firmly on his chest and apply a little pressure. This kept him from startling himself awake when he was transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. I did this when my son was very young around 4-8 weeks old.

Swaddle/ Sound Machine: I started to swaddle my son really tight so he would not startle himself awake. This helped a lot. I bought a swaddle me (http://www.kiddopotamus.com/p_swad.php), but then I added an extra step to the swaddle me. I took a piece of cloth from a receiving blanket and would lay it behind his back and weave the fabric over his arms and tuck it behind his back again. This kept his arms good and snug so there was no way he could break free while napping. This kept his body from jerking himself awake. I got this idea from the miracle blanket. Watch their instructional video clip to see how I modified the swaddle me to keep his arms snug. http://www.miracleblanket.com/video.htm I also used a fan and later a sound machine to block out the noise he may have heard from living in a condo building. Both of these things helped greatly, but we still had our issues. The most important thing is to make sure you create a good sleep environment that eliminates as much stimulus as possible. For more on creating a good sleep environment read my post called “Creating a Good Sleep Environment” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/create-a-good-sleep-environment/

Cry-It-Out (CIO): Around 10 weeks old, I believe that I start to just let Cooper cry-it-out at the 45 minute mark. The first week I started this, he would cry for almost 45 minutes until it was time to get up for his next feeding. But it only took a week, and after that if he woke up at the 45 minute mark, he would only cry for 5-15 minutes and then fall back to sleep for another sleep cycle of 45-50 minutes. This pattern of waking up at the 45 minute mark and crying lasted for about a month (the entire time he was 3 months old). The nice thing was, when I finally got him up to feed him he was always happy and well rested! Then around 4 months old, he would still wake up at the 45 minute mark, but just fuss or cry a tiny bit and drift back to sleep right away!

Other Nap Intervention Suggestions

I have not tired these various methods, but I have a friend who used the PU/PD method with great success. I have used the wake-to-sleep at night, but never during the day. It worked great for me at night. Both of these strategies come from the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. (p.251)

Wake-to-Sleep: “Instead of waiting for her to wake, go into her room at 30 minutes, because that’s when she starts to come out of a deep sleep…pat her gently until you see her body relax again. It could take 15-20 minutes of gentle patting. If she starts to cry, though, you’ll have to send her back to sleep with PU/PD.”

PU/PD (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. “Granted the first time you try this remedy either situation, you might spend the entire nap period doing PU/PD. and then it’s time for the next feeding. Now both of you are tired! Because sticking to the routine is as important as lengthening her nap, you need to feed her and then try to keep her up at least half and hour before putting her down for her next nap- at which point you’ll probably have to do PU/PD again because she is overtired.” Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. For more on this method read: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

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FACT #1: Establish a good schedule (eat, wake, sleep)

If this is the only thing you take from baby wise, then great! Babies thrive from consistence. If you are constantly changing up the schedule and routine daily, your child will have a more difficult time achieving good nighttime sleep. Every day should have consistency with a wake up time that is the same every day (our’s is 7am) and a bedtime that is the same every day (our’s is 7pm now). In between the start and close of each day, your child will cycle through several eat, wake, sleep cycles. This trains you child to not become dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. And beleive it or not, this helps with nighttime sleep too. If you babies wakes in the middle of the night, she may be able to put herself back to sleep if she is not dependent on nursing or bottle feeding to fall asleep. For more on eat, wake, sleep cycles see my post entitled “Infant & Baby Schedules”  https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/infant-schedules/

FACT #2: Keep Sleep Props to a minimum

Baby Wise urges parents to stay away from sleep props such as nursing or rocking baby to sleep or sleeping with your baby in a shared bed. There is nothing wrong with any of these sleep props. There are many parents who do this with their children and it works for their family. But if you are attempting to use parent-directed feeding and Baby Wise, these sleep props will hinder your progress. The goal of Baby Wise is to help teach children how to fall asleep on their own without someone’s help. Having said that, I will say that I believe it is okay to rock your baby to the point of drowsiness before laying her in her crib. Just don’t allow them to fall sleep in your arms.  For more on putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake see my post “Put Your Baby To Bed Drowsy But Awake” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/put-baby-to-bed-drowsy-but-awake/

FACT #3: Some crying will happen (Cry-It-Out)

If you are using Baby Wise, then they recommend putting your baby in his own crib awake. Some babies will fuss or cry in their crib before falling asleep. Baby Wise suggests allowing your baby to cry for up to 15 minutes. If your child is still crying after 15 minutes, go in a check on him. You might want to pat him on the back or hold him in your arms for a little.  Then leave the room and try again. Every baby is different, if I showed my face even after 15 minutes my son would cry longer and harder.  I had to learn that when we where in the heat of sleep training (Cry-It-Out), I had to just leave him be. We had a video monitor so we could make sure he was okay. Thankfully, the hard nights really only lasted for 3-5 days, maybe 7 days at the most.  We started putting my son to bed awake by drowsy when he was 4/5 weeks old at night. At first he would cried for 20 minutes before falling asleep, but it did not take long (maybe 4-5 days) and his crying diminished. I believe by the time he was  3 months old, he rarely cried going to sleep at night. If he did cry, it was because he was overstimulated and needs to blow off steam.

FACT #4: Some babies make noise, fuss, or cry during sleep transitions (so don’t rush in)

Babies sleep cycle are about every 45-50 minutes. During this transition from one sleep sleep cycle to the next, your baby may partially arouse and make noise, fuss, move around, or even cry. As hard as it is, don’t rush into their room to check on them. Give them a few minutes to settle. “Sometimes you may think your baby is waking up when she’s actually going though a phase of light slumber. She could be squirming, startling, fussing, or even crying- and still be asleep. Or she may be awake by on the verge of drifting off again if left alone. Don’t make the mistake of trying to comfort her during these moments; you’ll only awaken her further and delay her going back to sleep. Instead, if you let her fuss and even cry for a few minutes, she’ll learn to get herself to sleep without relying on you (BW p. 146)” My son use to wake from his naps in between sleep cycles (45 minute intruder) and would cry for 5-15 minutes when he was 2-4 months old. I learned to leave him alone or he would never complete a full nap and be cranky. For more on baby’s sleep cycle read my post entitled “Infant Sleep Cycles” https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/infant-sleep-cycles/

Important Reminders

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According to the Book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems a “child who wakes habitually doesn’t need more food unless she’s going through a growth spurt (p.191).” I know that when my son was between 6-8 weeks old he was waking at up around 1am every night. I knew that between 6-8 weeks old he could sleep for at least 6-8 hours a stretch at this age (see my post on sleep requirements). My husband I decided to do the Cry-It-Out method with my son. It took about a week, but at the end of a week, my son was no longer waking around 1am. I was practical and decided to only eliminate the first middle of the night feeding because I knew he was physically ready to go a longer stretch at night between feedings.

NEVER eliminate a feeding before your child is ready. If you child is 8 weeks old, he should be able to go 6-8 hours at night without a feeding. It would be unrealistic to expect an 8 week old to sleep longer than 9 hours without a feeding and for some babies at that age 8 hours is unrealistic too. Go with your maternal instincts and only eliminate the nighttime feeding if they are physically ready!

Please note: If you child is waking up at different times every night, that is most likely due to hunger and not habit. It is best when they are under two months old or in a growth spurt, to feed them when this occurs.

Here is what my son’s nighttime sleep looked like prior to sleep training (CIO) to eliminate the 1pm feeding (6-8 weeks old):

  • 10pm Nurse & Right Back to Bed for the Night
  • 1am Wakes & Nurses & Right Back to Bed
  • 4-5 am Wakes & Nurse & Right Back to Bed
  • 7am Wakes & Nurse- this is the official start to our day and I make sure to keep him up after this feeding

Here is what my son’s nighttime sleep looked like after sleep training (CIO) to eliminate the 1pm feeding (6-8 weeks old):

  • 10pm Nurse & Right Back to Bed for the Night
  • 4-5 am Wakes & Nurse & Right Back to Bed
  • 7am Wakes &  Nurse- this is the official start to our day and I make sure to keep him up after this feeding

Other Methods to Eliminate a nighttime feeding

  • Lengthen the time between night feedings: So if your baby has been waking at 1am, you could try to hold her out until 1:15am. You can do this by rocking her, giving her a pacifier, patting her on the back or tummy while in her crib, holding her in a the rocking chair. Sometimes the baby will fall asleep on her own and not even need the feeding, but if she is still awake and it is 1:15am feed her. Do this for several days until she starts to wake at 1:15am instead of 1:00am. Then try to increase the time by 15 minute again so that you try to hold her out until 1:30am and so on. This process takes a lot longer, but I have heard from other moms that this method has worked from them.
  • Gradually reduce food at the night feeding: if you are breastfeeding, you will reduce the length of your nursing session. So if you are nursing for 20 minutes, only nurse for 18 minutes the next night. Then try reducing the length the third night down to 16 or 15 minutes. I would decrease the length of nursing by 2-5 minutes each night until you are down to nothing. If you bottle feed, try reducing the amount in the bottle by 1/2 ounce each night until you are done to nothing. At this point, I would try to let your child cry. You can be in the room while your child cries if you don’t want to leave them alone, but don’t pick them up. Remember, your child is just waking out of habit at this point. It may take several days after you have eliminated the feeding, but they should eventually sleep through that feeding time. This worked for me when I was trying to stop the 4/5am feeding with my son when he was between 17-20 weeks old. I first reduced the length of the nursing session and then I let him cry-it-out. He finally stopped waking for that feeding at 20 weeks old. (This idea comes from The Baby Sleep Solution)
  • Wake-To-Sleep Technique: "Instead of lying there waiting for her to wake up, set your clock an hour earlier than her habitual waking time and wake her. She probably won’t wake up completely, but her little eyes may dart back and forth under her lids, she’ll murmur and move a bit, just as an adult would if you interrupted his deep sleep. Do this for three nights in a row….but I recommend that you keep it up for three nights nonetheless. If it doesn’t work, you have to reevaluated whether her habitual waking is due to another cause. If you’ve ruled everything else out, do this wake-to-sleep technique another three days. "(The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p. 191-192).
  • Shush-Pat: go to your child and "you simultaneously whisper, ‘shh, shh, shh….’ into your baby’s ear and pat his back." If that does not work to settle him, hold him over your shoulder: Pat him on his back in a steady rhythmic motion- like the tick-tock, tick-tock, of a clock. The patting need to quite firm, and you want to be in the center of the back, not on one side or the other, and certainly not as far down as their little bottom…While you are patting him, put your mouth to his ear, and whisper a slow, fairly loud, "shh…shh…shh." Elongate the shh sound so that it slows to a chug-chug of a train…When you sense his breathing is getting a little deap and his body is starting to relax, gently lay him down, slightly on his side, so that you can have access to his back [ to continue patting if needed].” This works for babies under the age of 3 months. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.184-185).
  • Offer Pacifier: This seems to work if your baby is truly waking up out of habit. If you child is hungry, then the pacifier will not work. Try not to offer the pacifier after you baby is 3 months old. The pacifier can become habit forming at that point.
  • Cry-It-Out: Allow your child to cry when they wake. If you want to go in and check on them when they first wake to make sure they don’t need a diaper change or are ill, then go to them. But if you can, stay out of the room. With my son, the moment he saw me, it was all down hill. He would refuse to go to sleep unless I nursed him or held him. His crying would become ten times worse if he saw me. I had to learn to let him cry-it-out on his own. It was really hard to hear him cry, but in a few nights there was no more crying.
  • Cry-It-Out Variations: Some parents just cannot stand to hear their child cry alone in their room, and that is okay. You can try sitting near the crib as they cry or setting a timer and only going in the room every few minutes while they are crying to check on them and let them know you love them until they fall asleep.
  • P.U./P.D. (Pick Up/ Put Down): This method is intended for a baby 4 month or older. Prior to this try the shush-pat method. You pick your child up while he is crying and the minute he stops crying you put him back in his crib. If he starts crying, pick him up again. Then if he stops crying, place him in the crib again. You will repeat the pick up/ put down until he stops crying and will fall asleep in his crib on his own. "On average, P.U./ P.D. takes 20 minutes, but it can go on for an hour or more. If while you are hold your baby and he is crying and arching his back or trying to wiggle free, don’t fight your baby just place him back into his crib. He is just trying to settle himself and may not want to be held. You may still need to pick him up again after he has arched his back, but that’s okay. Just keep repeating the PU/ PD until he quietly lays in his crib without crying. (The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems p.221-224) I have a friend who used this method with her son with great success. I have never personally used it, but it worked for her and her son!  For more on this method read this: https://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/pupd-pick-up-put-down-baby-whisperers-sleep-training-method/

Ultimately, we have to do what is best for our family. There is no right or wrong way to do sleep training. Just remember to be consistent with what ever method you choose to do and don’t set unrealistic expectations. Remember, your baby is young and will still need some nighttime feedings for a while. Please read the posts below before starting sleep training!

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In the book Good Night, Sleep Tight Kim West writes about sleep windows. A sleep window is the time your child would naturally go to sleep. If you time it right, your child’s body starts to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps induce sleep. If you keep your child up past this precious sleep window, they stop producing melatonin and start producing cortisol, a stress-related hormone that will eventually overstimulate your child, thus creating a second wind. “He will be more agitated, more difficult to console, more likely to need a lot more of your time and energy to help him wind down again and get to sleep.”

If he naturally falls asleep around 7pm and you keep him up until 8pm, he will most like not sleep well. He’ll have a hard time falling asleep and even staying asleep. He may wake several times in the night and maybe even wake earlier than normal in the morning before he is well rested. “This cycle can lead to poor naps the next day, which will lead to an overtired baby at bedtime, which leads to poor nighttime sleep.”

It is important that you learn your child’s sleep cues. Every child is different, but here are a few common sleep cues: “rubbing eyes, yawning, becoming less active, maybe a little listless.” Don’t wait until your child is fussing and crying, almost always at this point you have waited to long and your child is overstimulated/ overtired.

“If you have trouble detecting your child’s signals, keep one eye on him and another on the clock. Try going into a quiet, dimly lit room and engaging in a very gentle activity when you think nap time or bedtime is approaching. The signs may then appear.” For me, I will take my son into his bedroom and turn off all the light and only turn on the reading lamp and we read a story. If he will sit calmly in my lap, then I know it is time for sleep. Try taking your child to his room and reading a story, doing infant massage, sing soft songs together, or lay on the floor and talk to you child. Just keep the activity simple and quiet.

Personal Experiences: My son is currently having trouble sleeping. I suspect that he is overtired and I am missing his sleep windows. We had a lot of disruptions to his schedule last week. He had a cold, we had a home inspection (because we are selling our home) that cut a nap short, we were out late at a friends house, cut a nap short for church on Sunday. I think that all these disruptions added up. I did not see the signs at first, but a good friend of mind helped me to see that he was probable overtired. Then I pulled Kim West’s book out and it hit home. I started to really watch for his sleep cues. For my son, his eye lids get really pink and you can see the veins in them. If he yawns, I may have already been to late. So I watched for the sleep cues today, but his naps were still pretty poor, which is most like a results of poor nighttime sleep the night before. I imagine if I do it again another day, his naps will improve. He has also been waking up around 5am when his wake time is 7am. I know this is due to missing his sleep window and becoming overstimulated/ overtired. His bedtime is 7pm, but we were not always diligent about getting him to be at 7pm. I should have known better because it has backfired! So tonight, I made sure he was in bed before 7pm so he would have plenty of time to fall asleep. Another thing to note, because he was so overtired today, I went back to rocking him before naps and bedtime. I did not let him fall asleep in my arms. I only did this to help him relax since he was so overstimulate from a weeks worth of poor sleep. I am hoping that tomorrow I will start to see the benefits of getting my son down for his naps and bedtime during his “Sleep window” and staying as consistent as possible! UPDATE 4/27/08: My son is back to taking his solid 2-2 hour naps a day and getting 11-12 hours of sleep a night. It took about 2 days of being consistent with timing his sleep windows and watching his tired cues, but he is back to sleeping well! He is not longer overtired and has been in a great mood!

Quotations are from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 33-35

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