Babywise is well known for the CIO (cry it out) method. It's recommended to let the baby cry themselves back to sleep as this will teach them not to rely on their parents or a sleep prop in order to sleep. While I follow EVERY other guideline BW suggests, I do not do cry it out. I felt like when he had GERD (or did he ever really have it I wonder?) that it was painful for him to cry and I didn't want to make him go through pain. Instead I'd be going in and out of his room every 5 min popping back in the paci. I felt very discouraged and like I wasn't a very good BW mom since I continued to go in there to my child.
I've been a big follower of the Babywise Help and Advice blog (see link along right side of my blog) and it's been a lifesaver for me. The mother who writes it has done BW with all three of her children and she really is an expert! Her site has helped me more than the Babywise book itself! I wrote about my problem with naps to her and how I don't do CIO and she suggested that I buy The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.
I bought the book and read it cover to cover! It's awesome!!!! I will be having two more posts about this book on topics that were of interest to me (baby temperament and potty training) but right now I want to focus on the reason I bought the book, NAPS!
Tracy Hogg (the author of the book) suggests a very easy technique for keeping the baby asleep. I enjoy her perspective as the whole book goes nicely along with Babywise yet she does not believe in cry it out so it's a great fit for me!
Her suggestion is The Four S ritual for putting your baby to sleep. While I never had much of a problem getting Kye to sleep at the beginning of his nap (I'd swaddle him, lay him down and BAM he's out) Hogg suggests that if the baby is waking halfway through the nap that they don't have a proper sleep ritual. She discusses the importance of catching the baby's sleep cue and acting on it right away! Like the BW Blog says, at the first yawn start putting the baby down and by the third one have them in their crib! It's so true! I KNOW when Kye is tired and I stop everything and put that baby to sleep!
While it's vital to put the baby to sleep asap once you notice the cue, Hogg discusses the importance of a winding down period. A winding down period gives the baby a chance to transition from activity to sleep time. That goes along with the first of the four s's:
1. Set the Stage: You want nap time to be similar to bedtime so you do the same thing for both. You make the room as calm and night-like as possible. For me, I turn off the light, close the blinds and curtains, and turn on the overhead fan. This let's Kye know that yes, it's time for bed. It's also nice because if I need to wake him up I just open the blinds and he is calmly woken up rather than me having to rudely wake a sweet sleeping baby!
2.Swaddle: Yes, Kye is almost 4 months old and he still loves his swaddle! He breaks out of it pretty easily and it may have to be redone, but he needs it to sleep! She says to swaddle the baby before putting him into the crib (I do it on the floor). The reason swaddling is so great is that baby's don't know their limbs are theirs and so when they jerk into sleep, which most do, the "moving objects" distract them from sleeping! Many people say their baby "hates swaddling" but, as Hogg says, how do you know? When the baby gets out she simply says to reswaddle (and yes I've had naps where I do it many, many times). Eventually around 4 months old you can try leaving one arm out and see how they do. I've done this a couple times and Kye still isn't ready. You can tell they are ready to be without the swaddle if they SLEEP when not swaddled. If one arm is out Kye won't cry, but he won't sleep either! Also, I learned from the BW Blog that babies may prefer one fabric over another...from this tip I found out that Kye likes the fleece better than the cotton!
3. Sitting: This one made ALL the difference for me!!! It was the little tweak I needed :) Once the baby is swaddled JUST sit and hold them. She says to do it with them in a vertical position but I prefer to lay him across my arms against my chest. I just SIT. I do not make a noise. I do not move. I do not even smile. The slightest bit of anything will stimulate the baby (I know we all think it calms them but in reality it doesn't) and will just make it harder for them to sleep. After a few minutes you can feel him jerk around (the body getting ready for sleep believe it or not) and the eyelids will get heavy. The key is to lay the baby down BEFORE they fall asleep in your arms! As soon as Kye's eyes get heavy I stand up and lay him down in his crib then I leave the room and he's good to go! There have been studies done that have proven that independent sleep (the baby putting themselves to sleep) fosters better sleep and I believe this truly!
4.Shush-Pat: This is the other key I was missing! Stacy, my midwife, told me about this and then once I read the book I knew how to do it myself! If the baby wakes up crying (like Kye used to do) they may need physical intervention in order to settle. This, Hogg says, is when most people start "accidental parenting" and rock, jiggle, or give a prop to settle the baby. Instead she says you should leave the baby in the crib and turn them on their side and pat their back FIRMLY while at the same time doing a long "shhhhhhh" sound over their ear. Babies under 3 months old cannot have more than two thoughts at a time so they focus on your patting and shhhhhing and stop crying. Just keep doing it until the baby settles down then slowly stop the patting then the shushing. It works so great!!!!
Sometimes it would take me up to 10 minutes to put him down for the nap and I may sometimes spent as long as 20 minutes in his room doing the shush-pat method at the 45 min marker but it was all WORTH IT!
Like Hogg mentions, if it doesn't seem to be working you can pick them up and put them over your shoulder burp-style and do it that way as well then lay them back down but I've rarely had to do this.
At this point Kye doesn't even need the shush-pat anymore! Most of his naps now he sleeps through the whole thing with maybe only one wake-up which is typically the need to be reswaddled and given his paci. My rule with him is to not get him out of the crib until it's time for him to eat. Sometimes he'll wake up 15 min early from a nap and it's obvious he won't go back to sleep. That's fine, but he must stay in his crib. I'll even open the blinds for him and let him play by looking at his mobile but I leave him there. You want your baby to enjoy their crib and have time by themselves.
If Kye is very bad during his nap (which is SUPER rare) and reswaddling him doesn't work then I sometimes will "start the nap over." I feel like a lot of the times the 45 min gives him enough energy to be WIDE awake again and starting the nap fresh helps him go back to sleep. I'll go back through each of the steps I take when I initially put him down for a nap and it ALWAYS works!
I have been wanting to blog about this topic for awhile now but I felt like I shouldn't say how great the book is or the methods are until I was out the other side and be able to fully appreciate a sound-sleeping baby! I highly recommend not just getting Babywise! Babywise is super great but the book itself is lacking in SO many areas. The combination of the book, the blog, and now Baby Whisperer have allowed me to learn so much and to tweak little things that have made a HUGE difference!
While Kye does know how to put himself to sleep and I don't think it'll be an issue Hogg also has another method called P.U./P.D. ("pick up put down"). Now that Kye is older than 3 months I will be using this method if he starts going through rough patches in his napping. She has an entire chapter devoted to this method but basically it's if the baby cries you go into the room and first try to comfort with words or patting on the back. Up to six months old you can do the shush-pat but at that age it'll actually start disrupting their sleep (isn't it funny how something that works can turn into something that doesn't?). If the baby doesn't stop crying then you pick them up and put him back down the second he stops. You just comfort, they put themselves to sleep. She says it takes around 20 min but can take up to an hour!!! Hopefully I won't have to try this method, but if I do then you know I'll be posting about it if it works or not!!!