Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More Sleep Training: Graduated Extinction

I know. That sounds like some apocalyptic projection that basically means we won't sleep until we all die. Don't worry; I'm not a member of the voluntary human extinction movement. This is just a way to get your baby to stop eating every 45 minutes all night.

So, I'm sure I've mentioned it somewhere on this blog (I don't care to find out where), but I'm a zombie most days. Since Christmas, Dot has been getting up at least twice a night to eat. This means that I haven't slept longer than three hours in a row for five months, which is contributing to the fact that I kind of suck at life right now. And because sleep training has been successful for us (most nights, we have minimal to no tears at bedtime), we decided to use Ferber's method to wean Dot down to one nighttime feeding. One nighttime feeding, I can handle; two makes me cry sometimes, and three makes me yell at Mitch. Poor Mitch.

I was a little torn about it at first. I was afraid it might make my milk supply drop, or that Dot would starve to death if she doesn't eat for five hours in a row, or that she might grow up and write a scathing memoir about how her parents made her sleep in a cage and refused to feed her. But I realized that because I work, I have certain obligations to both my employer and to her. My employer needs me to be able to work eight hours straight without a nap, and Dot needs me to energetic and engaging. Further, Dot is eating solids now (barely, more on that later), and she'll be relying less and less on milk feedings over the coming months anyway.

So we went for it, and wouldn't you know, after one night it worked. The first night, she woke up at 1:00 am to eat, and when she woke up again at 2:30 (the little stinker), we went in and patted her at increasing intervals, and she fell asleep again on her own before I would have fed her anyway. Since then (four nights ago), she's only been getting up once a night, and I feel like a new woman! Like I can drive a car without passing out and veering into oncoming traffic! Like I don't need to mainline coffee grounds to write an email!

Anyway, I will urge anyone who reads this to read Ferber's book before attempting any of it. There are a lot of parenting tools (i.e. sleep training, baby-led weaning, etc.) that people think they can attempt by simply reading someone else's blog or looking at Wikipedia or whatever. But really, make sure you're using the tool as it's intended; go to the source.

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