Saturday, July 18, 2009

A More Gentle Transition

(Warning: long post! :) I have been dreading this day for a long time -- the day when I have to transition Karlie from the swaddle. Mark and I love swaddling our babies. On our first night home from the hospital with Karis, we tried to just lay her down in her crib and she screamed and screamed. The minute we swaddled her, she was a happy, asleep baby! We kept it up and believe it or not, Karis slept in her swaddle for almost 7 months! I know that it helped her sleep through the night at an early age. I also rock my babies to sleep, which is controversial, but I love it and don't care. I just can't let my babies cry it out at an early age. I tried it with Karis at 6 1/2 months, and it didn't work and we both were emotional wrecks til I gave it up and did my own gradual thing. (You can read about it HERE if you are interested.) I know CIO works for some people, but NOT ME! I just can't handle hearing my baby hysterical. It makes ME hysterical :) After Karis was used to going to sleep on her own, however, I did let her CIO if she woke up at night because I knew she was ok. But learning to sleep in a totally new way all by herself was just too traumatic for both of us! Anyways, Karlie has been a fabulous sleeper so I delayed this transition way to long once again... but we managed ok and once again I learned a lot and thought I would share :) As I found out with Karis, transitioning from the swaddle to back sleep is no fun because their arms are still flailing, waking themselves up. Karlie has been rolling back and forth from back to belly for some time now, so I knew it was safe to put her on her belly to sleep. I've also been reading The No Cry Sleep Solution, which I highly recommend. I don't agree with a lot of what she said, especially because she's a big fan of co-sleeping and that has always scared me to death, but the book really made me think and gave me a lot of ideas for how to do this transition in a gentle way. So here's what we did and although it was difficult, I am glad we did it the way we did : Day 1: Karlie has no concept of sleeping on her belly so I decided to bounce her to sleep in the sling and then put her down on her belly asleep. This way she would get used to the idea of sleeping on her belly without fighting it with screams and tears. It worked easily and she took all her naps on her belly without any fuss. We gave up on night sleep, however, because she had not learned to go to sleep on her belly and kept waking up every hour and we were too tired to keep it up. So we just swaddled her and decided to wait to do it at night until she was doing well with naps :) Day 2: This was the day I feared the most -- putting her on her belly awake and trying to get her to go to sleep. I rubbed her back and sang to her til she finally put her head down. I picked her up and snuggled her whenever she got really upset and put her down as soon as she was comforted, starting the process again. But I was amazed that it only took about 30 minutes the first time!! It took 15 minutes the second nap and only seconds the third nap! (Note to self -- this is waaaaayyy easier at 4 1/2 months than 6 1/2 months!! :) Day 3: Karis came down with a horrible fever and wanted to be held all day long and was just pitiful. Needless to say I gave up the transition temporarily because I just didn't have the time to do it... A month later: yes, feel free to laugh at me for procrastinating again; I deserve it :) Anyways, this time I did pretty much the same thing with very similar results. But we had a major poblem: She kept waking herself up by knocking her paci out of her mouth! We didn't have this problem with Karis (I guess because she was older) but I quickly realized that we were going to have to break her of the paci. I actually love the fact that my girls took a paci and Karis had no trouble whatsoever giving it up when I took it away at 15 months. (Read THIS POST to see my thoughts on pacis and how Karis gave it up.) So I wasn't excited about the idea, but Karlie obviously wasn't going to learn to sleep as long as she was addicted to her paci. I put up with her frequent wakings for 3 days to make sure she was used to sleeping on her belly. I know it would probably have been faster to do it all at once, but I felt better about taking it a step at a time for a more gentle transition. The first day that I took away all her pacis, I stayed in there with her and rubbed her back while she screamed. It was pretty miserable -- she was trying to suck on anything she could, biting at the sheet, her little lovey, etc. I felt so bad for her. We had decided that I would not go in to help her at night, though, because she really needed to learn to put herself back to sleep. She did scream for about 20 minutes, but did fall back asleep on her own. I helped her fall asleep without the paci again the next day, and after that I let her cry it out. Yes, I did. I felt like I had helped her as much as I could and she had to learn to go to sleep on her own. It took three 1/2 days before she was going down easily and she still fusses a little, but my little girl is now paci-less and swaddle-less! I'm both relieved and a lttle sad -- I will definitely miss all those hours rocking her to sleep. Next time around: I still plan to swaddle and rock every baby the Lord gives me. It just makes them feel so secure and loved and I love it every minute of it! And I will always do a gradual transition. But I will probably transition earlier so that it is not such a big ordeal. It was definitely a lot easier at 4 1/2 months than later when I did it at 6 months!