I've been giving the books that I've authored away left, right and center lately (just blog roll me on your blog for a chance to win a book at the end of the month!), but I think it's time to give away something that I didn't write.
Because I'm an author and my husband is a pediatrician we are given tons of books. Just tons. And I never know what to do with a lot of them. Some end up in our church library, but I've decided to start giving others away.
So the current giveaway is for Ann Douglas' book: Sleep Solutions for your Baby and Toddler. All you have to do to win is sign up to receive my parenting column by email every week! Someone who signs up in the month of October is going to win it!
Do you have issues with getting your baby (or babies) to sleep through the night? I know I did. We got into a really bad habit where Rebecca could only sleep if I breastfed her. So if she woke up in the middle of the night she needed me to come feed her so she could fall asleep again. Unfortunately, that didn't do a whole lot for my own sleep!
I wrote about this in a column a few years ago, and I think I'll pull it out now and let you read it. Here you go:
If somebody came into your bedroom in the middle of the night and flicked on the light and stole your pillow, would you be able to get back to sleep? Probably not, with all the commotion of calling the police and searching for intruders, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now. No, most of us wouldn’t be able to sleep because our “sleep cues” are gone. Babies are exactly the same. They need certain conditions to sleep, too, conditions that we teach them, even if we don’t realize it. These are the conditions that we taught our youngest daughter Katie:
First, Katie needed to be nursed to sleep while rocking in a rocking chair. Then, when it looked like she was in a deep sleep, she had to be lifted without any change in the angle of her body, even if this required the parent (in this case, the one with mammary glands) to throw her back out as she rose from the chair. Then, said mother had to frantically call “Keith, Keith, get in here!”, in order to summon the other parent (the one without mammary glands), to rearrange the blankets and lower the crib rail (since the mother forgot to do this before she started nursing). Everything thus readied, the mother would attempt the perfect transfer without changing the angle of the baby’s body.
If any of these conditions were not met—and, in many cases, even if they were—this baby would cry. In this case, what this baby needed was to be transferred to the swing. Once she was again in a deep sleep, you could pick her up and transfer her to the crib (once again whispering frantically for the other parent to get the blankets ready). This was a much more dangerous transfer, because it necessitated changing the angle of the baby’s body, which usually woke her up, sending you back to step one (nurse her in a rocking chair). Because this was our nightly ritual—and our middle of the night ritual—Katie could get to sleep no other way.
One day we smartened up. We read a book (Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber) that said that babies need to be taught how to go to sleep by themselves. They need to be put in their crib while still awake, both at set nap times and set bedtimes, so that they get used to putting themselves to sleep. Otherwise, you’re teaching your baby to need you to fall asleep, and whenever they wake in the middle of the night they’ll call for you again. Reading this was like that revelation at the end of Planet of the Apes, when the main character surveys the desolation and collapses in grief and despair as he realizes, “We did this to ourselves!”.
With a renewed sense of resolve, we embraced this marvellous new plan. In principle. Until we tried it. If we thought we had heard screaming before, it was nothing compared to what we heard afterwards.
But we weren’t as heartless as it may sound. Part of this plan returning to the child’s room every few minutes, to reassure your baby that you still love him or her. Then you must leave again. In our case, this was usually accomplished by my husband carrying me from the room as he hissed “you promised we would go by the book for a week”, and I struggled to get back to my baby.
Thus banished from her room, I would rock back and forth on my bed, like characters in a movie who have been in solitary confinement and have gone stark raving mad, as I listened to my baby cry. I had earplugs in my ears, and I would stare at my clock, mumbling, “I can go in again in three minutes and twenty seconds, in three minutes and nineteen seconds…”
But the amazing thing was, Katie learned to sleep. She only cried for twenty minutes that first night, and only a few minutes the next few nights after that. And she started taking naps, too, once we made them at regular times. And once she started to sleep, she started to smile. So did I. And we haven’t stopped.
Unfortunately I don't have the book I mentioned in the column to give away, but this one has the same sort of philosophy. So what do you think? Are you desperate for your baby to sleep? Just sign up for my newsletter during the month of October, and maybe you can win! And then maybe you can sleep!
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Labels: book giveaway, mothering, sanity, sleeping