Happy 4 months Sam 🙂 You have turned out to be one of the happiest, most rambunctious, noisy, roly poly, grinning little wriggler. Luckily for Mum, you are still quite the snuggler too.
Well, we are back from our 4 month check-up, somewhat chastened. Last time we visited the pediatrician, he told us that we should not be rocking Sam to sleep in our arms / feeding him to sleep, but establishing a bedtime routine where we comforted him, soothed him, got him sleepy and then put him in crib sleepy, but awake. Dr. Injac said that we could pat him and sit with him while he was in his crib, but he should learn to recognize sleep time cues, so that he could soothe himself to sleep in his crib, with us nearby. Then at 4 months, it would be easier to just put him down and leave him. A sort of step-by-step approach.
It all sounded absolutely fabulous…
….in the safe confines of the Doctor’s office.
At home it was a different story. It sort of worked until Sam figured out that the boppy was a sleep cue – whereupon he went ballistic when he saw it. Then he figured out that ‘lights out’ meant crib time was coming, and went equally as spare. He would wail, and we would soothe him, then as we put him down he would wail again. This would continue until he would fall asleep in my arms during one of the soothing times, and boom – objective not achieved.
I guess I should at least be pleased he’s smart / streetwise?
Honestly, it eventually slid to me (or Wes, but I like to do the bedtime when I have been working) just cuddling him to sleep, and then laying him oh-so-gently down. Periodically I would ask Wes if we should be stronger with Sam, but he wasn’t keen and asserted that he was too young. Although not entirely comfortable, I would give in. I asked some Moms and got a mixed bag of answers. Although my head wanted a better routine… my heart was not quite in it. Without Wes pushing as well, I would put it off.
Today at the pediatrician’s we saw a student first. She asked us about sleeping, and we said he was going down at 7 and then being fed at 10.30, 1.30, 3.30, 5.30. She asked if he was eating much at those times, and when we said “Not really”, she said “Because we expect formula fed babies (oh the guilt!) to sleep for 8 hours by four months”. Right. I confessed that we had forgotten the baby monitor twice – but Sam’s room is next to ours so we’d hear wails, if not grumbles – and she said that she was not surprised.
She asked how he was going down and we were honest. We asked what to do – what should we do about him crying at bedtime? What should we do with the night waking? And she said that she didn’t know (!) but would get Dr. Injac. Well… at least she was honest.
So… Dr. Injac came in with a twinkle in his eye and said “so… I hear you are a softie…”. [Me??]. He laid it on the line: the kid should he sleeping through the night. He said that our job as parents was to love Sam, and to protect him, but to help him manage the stresses of life – and sleeping well, on his own, was a stress we had to help him negotiate. Unless, of course, (in his words): we wanted those thighs to continue into childhood (another pitfall of formula I guess). So, he said to leave him when he cried at night, if it was fussing, not if it was unhappy wailing.
I hesitantly confessed that we had forgotten the baby monitor twice. Before I could qualify with an urgent and embarrassed ‘But we’d hear if he wailed!” Dr. Injac said “Good”. Dumbfounded I stared at him. He grinned and said “The vast majority of babies across the world do fine without monitors…”. I admitted that when he had forgotten the monitor, we had woken at ~ 5 to a sleeping Sam. At ~ 6 Sam had woken up, not cried, seemed very happy and not seemed starving – he had eaten a good breakfast, but not until he had woken up a bit.
“So…” said Dr. Injac
*pregnant meaningful pause in which he looked optimistically at me, and I looked desperately blank pretending not to know what was coming*
“… turn the baby monitor off”. I then asked what to do about bedtime. With some amusement Dr. Injac said “what I told you last time. Let him cry. For 5 minutes. Go in… soothe him… reassure him… pat him. Then go. Go back after 10… then 15…. up to 40 minutes”.”Forty??”.
*glaring from me*
” It won’t get there.”
*cuddling of Sam from me*
“If you’re a softie – sit with him. Just leave him in his crib.”.
He grinned and said “And if you’re going to tell me that this is your special time with Sam, just you and him, and your favorite time of being with him… that’s just fine. I am sure he will learn to sleep on his own in college”.
with a soft smile he said “Two to three days. That is all. And he’ll sleep. You’ll feel better. He’ll feel better. And… it’s the only way he is going to get a sister”. So, let me say at this point: I felt Dr. Injac was offering his advice on what was best, and not telling us what must happen for the healthy development of a baby. He did not push us, or be mean, and although he was strong in his opinion, he was kind and understanding. I think he made jokes because he knows us well. Personally I think there is no best way to sleep train, and no best time. It depends on the baby, and probably more, on the parents and what they want. I thought I would be an attachment parent-er. I wanted to be. It just didn’t work out. I couldn’t breastfeed…. Sam hated baby wearing until he was old enough to face out (~4 months)… I was at work and so on. And it just didn’t really click for me. I was actually glad we had moved Sam into his own room at 3 weeks – it felt right for Sam, and for us. And although I love to comfort my boy, and love to stop his tears, I had personally been uncomfortable with a completely Sam-led night. Great if it works for you and your family (all methods pretty much end up the same, I figure), it just wasn’t for us. Had it been, when the student asked how he was sleeping, instead of a worried recount, I clearly would have given a breezy “just fine”. So. With deep breaths and hardened hearts (and cheery wheat beer and Malbed wine, and pecan butter ice cream) Wes and I tried it tonight. Settled Sam in his crib, and turned the baby monitor sound off. Our monitor has video, and a little sound bar, so that even when the sound is off, you can see if there is noise in the room.
There was noise. On and off in bursts. Grumbles and wails. Usually at the first sound of wails I go up, but Wes reminded me that we were giving it 5 minutes. Deep breath. On the DOT of 5 minutes I RAN upstairs and softly said “Sam” and went in his room. I got there just in time to see him find his thumb and fall into a deep sleep. We have not had a peep since.
If, IF, it sticks, I think we were lucky enough to hit it at the right time: the time when Sam was old enough to self-soothe, but young enough not to form memories about what was happening – that happens at about 6 months, and at around 7 months you get object permanence and all the vagaries of the accompanying attachment anxiety. So, hopefully we lucked out. We’ll see. Would we have gone for a 40 min cry session? I doubt it. I don’t know. A child who goes to bed easily, and independently is very important to me… I just don’t know how important until tested I guess.
The rest of a the visit was a breeze. Despite looking chunky
Sam is 60th %ile for weight (16 lbs, 4 oz), and 56th %ile for height (25.5″) – still basically an average Joe. His head is only 26th %ile though – pin head! I have a pin headed baby! So, maybe his little head makes his body look chunky!
The Doctor mentioned solids, but I am not interested in introducing them yet. If Sam was breastmilk fed, I would definitely wait until 6 months. As he is not, I will *think* about it at around 5 months. 5.5 – 6 is a rough target, unless I happen to think he is extremely hungry before that. Dr. Injac mentioned rice cereal and bless my awesome husband, he knows how important nutrition is to me and said “we were hoping to avoid grains for a while; are fruits and vegetables OK instead?”. Dr. Injac said that that was fine – it wasn’t his view, but he said rice cereal was mainly used because it was convenient (he did say not to put it in a bottle), and that the French blamed America’s obesity problem on early grains, and not enough vegetables early on. He said whatever worked for us was fine, the main thing was to get Sam used to different tastes and textures. Seems to me that, like with sleeping, advice changes and waxes and wanes, and ultimately, you need happy comfortable parents doing something they believe in. So, any time between 4 and 6 months for food is fine – depending on your instinct. Mine is later… some say earlier. Dr. Injac did say to get messy and have fun with it – now that was advice we could go with.
Then vaccinations. Boo. Sam didn’t flinch for the first one, wailed at the second, but I managed not to cry (I did eat cake after though 😉 ).
Other than that, Sam has been having a wail of a time.
He loves his bumbo:
And hanging around in his new bouncer:
He *almost* crawls. He moves forward across the floor to his toys, but only as a kind of belly shuffle, using the surface as friction (not his muscles). If he is on a slippery floor he can’t slither forward and yells in frustration.
No sitting yet – he makes a rubbish weeble, he wobbles, but he also falls down:
He is great at reaching for, and grasping his toys. He can even grab his big rattle in tummy time, upend it, do a little push up, and negotiate it to his mouth for a good ol’ chomp. Vocalizing – yes, a lot. But not babbling yet, he is just grunting and wailing. I can’t wait for his first proper pre-speech sounds!
Although, Sam did recently discover how to screech, in joy.
For 20 minutes.
In the car.
Until he completely lost his voice.
He is just a happy, happy baby.
Anyone got any sleep training advice or experiences to share?