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the eric update - day 250: super sleeper! or the almost-no-cry sleep solution.

let it be known far and wide that on day 250 odin slept though the night! well, actually, he slept for 8.5 hours and since he goes to bed around 7, "through the night" means waking at 3 a.m. - but still - it's far, far better than waking every hour or so.

obviously, a well-slept baby is a happy baby.

amazingly, we changed his sleeping patterns in less than a week. what was our secret to success? well, we locked him in the room, turned off the monitor and let him scream all night for 5 days until he figured out that we weren't coming in to comfort him!

just kidding.

in reality, we our plan for getting him to fall asleep all by himself worked wondefully and he wasn't really having any troubles in that department; but the strategy of increasing the time between nighttime feedings by 15 minutes each week with the intent of slowly training him to wait 5 hours between feedings wasn't going so well, as he was still waking up every hour or two.

at our last pediatrician visit, he was quite convinced that since odin could fall asleep by himself that he was probably a lot closer to sleeping through the night than we thought. he recommended that we should give odin more of a chance to figure out how to put himself back to sleep at night. in other words, he was recommending that - if we had the fortitude - we should let odin "cry it out".

we knew that there was no way we could simply lock the door and let him scream for hours on end, so we devised an alternate plan where we'd try and see if we could get odin to go 5 hours between feedings. if he were to wake up before 5 hours had passed, we resolved to try really super hard to push ourselves to not run into the nursery after a few minutes. 10 or 15 or 20 minutes seemed reasonable.

much to our suprise, the pediatrician was right! odin really was closer to sleeping through the night. we discovered that if we just waited a minute or two or three longer than normal, rather than working himself into hysterics, he'd fall back asleep! it was like magic. apparently - for all these weeks, when we imagined that we were "rescuing" odin from turning into a screaming ball of infant fury, he was really only minutes away from falling back asleep.

for the first couple of days, we noted a repeatable pattern of waking after 3 hours or so, "night crying" for 5-10 minutes and falling back to sleep, followed by waking every hour for brief periods ( < 5 minutes ) of "night crying" until his "5 hour" feeding. after a few days the incidents of "night crying" quickly diminshed to bursts of a minute or two over the full 5 hours. and in only 6 days he's decided that he'd rather sleep right through his 5 hour feeding with no "night crying" at all!

now, i'm not saying we're advocates of "cry it out" methods for sleeping and i'm not sure what we would have done if we had not discovered that odin was, in reality, so close to sleeping through the night; but it seems to me that there's a startling and counterintuitive lesson that we've learned.

sometimes it's better if you don't follow your instincts.

but when do you follow your instincts and when do you take the advice of others, even when it goes against what your instincts tell you is the "right" thing to do? surely someone must have an answer to that weighty question :-)

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3/11/2005 10:28:00 AM 3 comments

3 Comments:

Congratulations!! We have been lucky with our baby deciding himself to sleep longer rather than eat. The first time is scary; you wake up hours later thinking something is terribly wrong with the baby, then you realize something is terribly right! As far as the instinct thing, the hard part is tuning your instincts to realize there is a short term reaction that may not be the right thing for longer term. That's not what instincts are good at, but you can try to train your gut reaction to look further out.

By Anonymous Lilly, at 2:58 PM  

Woo-hoo! Blogger finally let me comment!

I think it's all about different kids and their vastly different personalities. Mine would *never* stop crying unless attened to by someone. Waiting a few minutes, or 5 minutes or 10 minutes only made him crank up the volume and intensity. So when we were trying to break the nursing feedback loop my husband would go in to calm him instead of my going in with the milk jugs. The same exact thing that you saw with Odin we saw with ours. Once there's no reason to wake up they stop doing it. I'm glad for you that you lucked onto what Odin needed so soon, instead of having to try thing after thing.

Oh, and since I've finally been chosen by the mighty Blogger to enter your comments (it's not just you--a few other blogger sites have given me the old "site not found" message in the last few days), let me just comment on some other posts.

1. Would Odin be fooled by having his own keyboard that you put in front of yours so he can bang away while you type? I can't remember how old my guy was when it stopped fooling him, but the old broken keyboard trick really worked for a few months there.

2. I came because of Odin (although long after he was born). But I find that my favorite parent blogs are blogs that let the author talk about all aspects of his or her life. I think if you never ever posted about Odin or your experience parenting him I probably wouldn't hang around much, but why not mix in everything you're interested in and thinking about on any given day? Part of the beauty of the blog is that it's not a subject-specific message board--it's a personal space for you to explore the things that inspire you to write about them.

By Blogger Moxie, at 11:57 PM  

learning when the kids were "complaining" and when they "needed help" was just about the hardest thing for me to figure out. I think we err'd to far on the rescue for our first and as such he's not that great at recovering from traumas himself (like when he drops his donut on the floor). We've struck a better balance with the second one, I think, and he recovers from the disasters a two year old faces much better.

By Blogger Derek, at 2:57 AM  

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[ rhetoric ]

"it is hard to be brave," said piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal." rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

the complete tales & poems of winnie the pooh

[ about ]

this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

he's quite a fighter and you can always send him a postcard to the most current address listed here if you're inspired by his adventures. see the postcard project/google maps mashup to see a map of the postcards.

if you're new, you can browse the archives to catch up. and don't forget to watch a few movies that i made while we were in the neonatal intensive care unit. or if you want the abridged version and you can find a copy, you can read about his adventures in the november 2005 issue of parents magazine.



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