I’m continuing to log my experience with getting my little 8 month old to sleep in her own crib, eliminate night time feedings, and sleep through the night.
According to Tracy Hogg, a.k.a. The Baby Whisperer, children fall into typically 5 different categories, of course usually with some overlap. Now since this post is a bit long, I paraphrased the types in my own words in italics for those who would prefer the Clif notes.
The Angel Baby—(in other words perfect)Angel babies are good as gold. They are mellow, eternally smiling, and consistently undemanding. Their cues are easy to read. They are not bothered by new surroundings and they are extremely portable. They feed, play, and sleep easily, and usually don’t cry when they wake up. They easily amuse themselves when they wake up in the morning. They can often calm themselves down. Even when they get overtired, it is easy to settle them down again.
The Textbook Baby—does it all by the book. Textbook babies are predictable and fairly easy to handle. They do everything on cue so there are usually few surprises with them. They reach all the milestones right on schedule – sleep through the night by three months, roll over by five, sit up by six. They’ll have growth spurts like clockwork. They can play on their own for short periods (about 15 minutes) as early as one week old. They’ll coo a lot and look around. They smile when someone smiles at them. Though they have normal cranky periods, they are easy to calm and it isn’t hard to get them to sleep either.
The Grumpy Baby—-mad-as-hell Grumpy babies act like they’ve been here before and they are not at all happy to be back. They’re mad at the world and they let you know it. They whimper every morning, don’t smile much during the day and fuss their way to sleep every night. Their mothers have a lot of trouble keeping baby-sitters. They hate baths at first and every time someone tries to change or dress them, they get fidgety and irritable. Feeding is difficult because of their cranky disposition. Calming grumpy babies takes a patient Mum or Dad because they get very angry and their cries are particularly loud and long. If they reach a major meltdown, gently sway them front to back.
The Touchy Baby—sensitive and slow to adapt touchy babies are ultra-sensitive. To them, the world is an endless array of sensory challenges. They flinch at the sound of a motorcycle revving outside their window, the TV blaring, a dog barking in the house next door. They blink or turn their heads away from bright lights. They sometimes cry for no apparent reason, even at their mothers. They often get fussy after a number of people have held them, or after outings. They’ll play on their own for a few minutes, but needs the reassurance that someone they know well is close by. They like to suck a lot and this cue may easily be misread for hunger. They nurse erratically, sometimes acting as though they have forgotten how. They have difficulty falling asleep during nap times or at night. They easily get off schedule – an extra-long nap, a skipped meal, an unexpected visitor, a trip, a change in formula, etc. can throw them out of the loop. To calm them, you have to recreate the womb – swaddle, snuggle them to your shoulder, whisper a rhythmic shushing sound close to their ear, and pat their back gently. The quicker you learn their cues and their cries, the simpler life is. They love structure and predictability.
The Spirited Baby– (my way or the highway) Spirited babies emerge from the womb knowing what they like and don’t like and they never hesitate to let you know it. They are very vocal and even seem aggressive at times. They scream for Mum or Dad when they wake in the morning. They hate lying in their own pee or poop and will vocalise their discomfort. They babble a lot and loudly. Their body language tends to be a bit jerky. They often need swaddling to get to sleep because their flailing arms and legs keep them up and overstimulated. If they start crying and the cycle is not interrupted, they reach the point of no return. Their crying will lead to more crying until they reach a fever pitch of rage. They’ll also notice other babies before those babies notice them. They’ll grab at their bottle at an early age and as soon as they’re old enough to develop a good, firm grasp, they’ll grab other babies’ toys as well.
Of all these types, EK tends to be a combination of Textbook and Spirited. The Baby Whisperer continues to describe spirited toddlers as active, physical, willful, determined, and prone to temper tantrums. Um, yes, starting to see a few of those already. A spirited child is a consummate adventurer, needs clear boundaries, and here’s the part I know much too well:
Once they start crying, they have stamina and staying power, so you’re in for a long haul if you don’t have a good routine going at night.
As for sleep: As babies, they hate being swaddled, but you absolutely need to block out any visual stimulation. They tend to be resistant to naps or nighttime rituals, because they don’t want to miss anything. If you’re lucky, even though they sleep less in the morning, it will be followed by a long afternoon nap.
Me? Not lucky. Never won at black jack or the long afternoon nap. Most naps are 40 minutes for my sweetheart, both morning and afternoon.
When we first began sleep training, I started some routines for bedtime which included bath, a fan for white noise, talking to her and letting her know we were getting ready for bed, saying night-night to different things in the house while we made our way to her room, holding her for 10 minutes while her lullabies played softly, and then placing her in her crib. EK cried for an hour and a half before going to sleep. When she woke in the night, she also cried for an hour and a half. Realizing that maybe she needed me in the same room, I made my make-shift bed from couch cushions and laid down beside her crib the following night. She continued to stand at her crib and cry wanting out. I took her out for one feeding per night, she calmed immediately, and I returned her as soon as she was finished. Even though I badly wanted her to snuggle on my couch-bed, I made myself stick with the routine. The other times she cried, I told her to lay down, go night night, and plugged my ears while she wailed.
On day three, she began laying on her stomach and reaching for me through the bars of her crib while crying, so I would put my hand in there and she would lay her sweet head down on top of my hand. This at least kept her from standing up and settled her down.
We are making progress friends! EK is still waking 4-5 times every night, but now instead of standing up and screaming, she whimpers a couple of times, sometimes she’ll sit up and look around, finds her binky, then she lays back down and puts herself to sleep. Except for one time, when it continues for a long time, I go ahead and give her milk.
I’m glad to report that she is getting used to her crib, understanding that it is her new sleeping place, and starting to become a more independent sleeper.
I’m not sure how long this is going to take, but I’m in it for the long haul. I see the progress that has been established in the last four days, and I’m feeling confident that consistency will pay off. Kids learn by repetition and the more we do it, the better it will be for all of us.