Friday, April 11, 2008

To Colic or not to Colic? Sleep Lady Has Solution

So I had a choice: come to terms with the fact that my child had colic and isn't the 'dream' baby I desire or "fix it" and deem him free of the dreaded term and guilty of something else. If you know me, I like to experiment with everything and Owen is the ultimate little test tube (in a good way) and I was determined to solve this fussy problem. I should mention that Matt and I are sleep junkies and we are fairly resolute that our child will be a sleeper.

Week 4: I determined he didn't have a dairy sensitivity by quitting dairy for 2 weeks and then reintroducing it without any problems. Darn... it's not dairy so why does he cry so much? Yes, yes, I know all babies cry, but my little Owen seems to WAIL at just about anything (including fun stuff like breastfeeding) and it takes special tactics to get him to stop. In other words, this seasoned babysitter and my own father (thrice a grandparent) cannot calm him by 'normal' tactics. It takes a bit more energy including the "milkshake" (see post about Dr. Karp), the bathroom fan, singing, jiggling and just the right pat on the back. Oh, you say, my child is just like this, maybe, MAYBE but my instincts tell me something else is wrong.

Week 5: As a self-help junkie, I begin reading a book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Baby by Marc Weissbluth (quick review: too many percentages and 'research talk' for this visual learner--get to the point and tell me how to get my kid to sleep, Dr. Weissbluth). I did learned one important lesson: babies and kids need more sleep than our modern society likes to admit and DO NOT let them get overtired or overstimulated. My little guy needs between 15-18 hours PER DAY (including nights) and can only be awake for about one hour (including breastfeeding). I also dove into the book Good Night Sleep Tight by Kim West, the Sleep Lady (thanks for the tip, Karla, my sister-in-law). Both have been great resources but the West book is my favorite. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all parents as she has a "plan" to follow from the newborn stage to 5 years so you can GENTLY have your baby sleeping like a baby. West also offers phone consultations including Q&A packages that include follow up coaching phone calls for those of you with sleep problems. Her fees can be as affordable as $20.00 (recorded version) or as much as $450.00 (8 call package) I'm sure most families with bad sleep problems would pay $450 to get some sleep.

Get to the point, Cameron... I ascertained that despite my best efforts Owen wasn't sleeping enough but it wasn't for lack of trying. The little dude just fights his naps and sleep opportunities at every encounter. This results in an overtired, hard-to-console baby but not a colicky baby. You spend all this effort getting him to sleep and next thing you know he's coming up on his next hungry cycle.

I also consulted the Sears Baby Book, which, of course, mentions that some babies just need to be held all the time and comforted constantly and that we Americans try to schedule too much into our lives instead of paying attention to what's important: our child's sleep. Sears prescribes 3 hours or more of sling time and co-sleeping. Much to my chagrin, Owen and I have been doing a fair amount of sleeping next to one another at night but I have been reluctantly to initiate this full time because I do not want to co-sleep with my child for the next 5 years (if you do, more power to you). I'm okay with this first three to four months if it's what Owen NEEDS but not after it's just what he WANTS. West calls this conundrum "reactive co-sleeping" or co-sleeping when it's not your choice to do so (side note, I really like how West doesn't BASH co-sleeping but rather supports your choice be it bassinet, crib or bed). West also talks about sleep crutches or negative associations with sleep: nursing, rocking, binkies, bottles, etc.

The real key is to teach your child the SKILL of falling asleep on his own, which according to West, is every parent's responsibility. Big hint: put your child down drowsy but awake-- this is the goal.

Both Weissbluth and West agree for the first 3 months (more or less) allow your baby to sleep she requires in whatever format she wants ie: swings, slings, co-sleeping, car rides, white noise, nursing (to a point). So combining the best advice of all the experts, I decided to sleep with him full time at night, nursing him when he wakes, and put him in his beloved Moby Wrap or sleep next to him in our bed during the day for naps.

Week 5/6: Owen sleeps from 10-2AM with a brief nursing interlude at midnight! He proceeded to sleep for 2 hours after each time he woke up and then the next day slept great including a 2 hour and 45 minute nap in the afternoon. This occurred for the next night and day as well and again on the third night. What a different baby! What a different Mommy! With more sleep he wakes up happier, more alert and is more likely to sleep (seems obvious but 17 hours of sleep is a challenge). He is also more attached to me at the moment... eh hum, which is to be expected. Weissbluth was right, sleep begets sleep. Crying begets crying.

Conclusion: I've concluded that Owen doesn't have colic, he's just a sleepyhead who fights the thing he needs most. A paradox indeed. He cannot be awake for more than about 1 hour at a time (including his nursing) during the day-- even if he looks so cute and playful--it's ancient baby secret-- he's really tired. If he skips his nap or only sleeps less than an hour, I start over beginning with nursing and allowing him to be up for an hour and then put him down, usually for 2 hours. Yesterday we slept 3 hours in the afternoon together. I plan on making a gentle transition to the crib with a sweet but consistent Sleep Lady strategy. All experts agree sleep scheduling or sleep training should not happen before 3-4 months. Babies simply are not mature enough to "cry it out" or figure out their circadian rhythms. To find out more, read the Sleep Lady book. Have I mentioned the SLEEP LADY?? I think you get the idea.


Mary Jessica said...

HOORAY for your experimentation! It really pays to be thoughtful and thorough about this type of stuff...of course, that can be hard, too, when you're sleep deprived!

With Tommy, we've learned that just as we're getting comfortable with a new sleep routine, something happens (teething, developmental milestone, stuffy nose...the list goes on) that throws it out of whack for a week or so...and then we get introduced to the "new normal."

For instance, for awhile I'd put him down for naps and bedtime while he was still awake, and he'd fall asleep on his own, and we had great success with that. Lately, though, he just howls (and WILL NOT STOP, erg) and howls if we do this, and so he gets rocked/nursed to sleep. It can be really frustrating sometimes...but it seems to be working for him right now. Next week, who knows?

That's not to say that will be your case with your little angel, though. He'll probably turn out to be a champion sleeper!

Anonymous said...

Cameron -
I love you girl. Your post just makes me miss getting to hang out with you in Athens. I can literally hear your voice as I read your words. Take care super mama - you are amazing. And that Owen is adorable...

Cameron Clark said...

I wanted to note that with all this JAZZ about SIDS everyone and their brother will tell you to sleep your baby on his back, but when we were babies everyone was told to be on their tummy. I tried sleeping him on his tummy yesterday and POOF! Owen can put himself down instantly. The Difference is amazing!!! We are still mostly sleeping him on his side and maybe when he loves his crib, I'll switch to back to keep me sane, but either way, SLEEP BABY SLEEP!

Aunt Phyllis said...

Chris told me yesterday that it gets better after 3 months and a lot better after 2 years! Seriously (although I think he was serious!) he said Evy slept much better when they put her in her own room..he thinks they were waking each other up.

Something that your generation has that our generation didn't have much of is a tremendous amount of help from the baby's daddy.

Anonymous said...

Can you please just a write a book! You have SUCH an amazing plethora of information!!!!! Im very tempted to start reading all of the books you mention but alas I have to finish nursing school first. You seem to be such organic parents. I love it!


jennifer said...

Hello...I stumbled upon your blog in search of anyone having similar sleeping issues as my daughter Lotus, only to discover that Owen is just two days older than her. I have been reading your prior posts and hope that you will be happy to hear how much it has helped me that someone else has such similar "adventures". I, too, had a homebirth, originally thought Lotus had colic only to discover that she was overtired, am aspiring to use cloth diapers (currently Fuzzi Bunz but I plan on trying the prefolds upon your recommendation) and I am now in the process of "no dairy" to see if this improves her sleeping and poop quality. Lotus currently only naps well in the Moby but I am HOPING that changes soon. After reading Weissbluth I became concerned that she wasn't getting "quality" sleep but decided today that Moby sleep is better than no sleep (this happened yesterday when I tried crib naps with no luck). Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but wanted you to know that you helped me from feeling like I'm all alone out here! I look forward to reading more.