Sleep Training 

Sleep and newborns are not typically two things that are said in the same sentence. I went from a self-proclaimed lover of sleep to… well I’m still a lover of sleep who just gets less of it! We’ve been relatively lucky from the get-go.  Both boys have always been on the minimum of 3 hour feeding schedule which was what the hospital started.  The 1-2hour bursts of sleep definitely aren’t ideal, but in perspective Chris has a work associate who had twins a week after us… and both babies are colic.  He says they get 15 minute naps at most!  So, I’m happy with what we got!

We did start sleep training our boys.  I didn’t know sleep training was controversial, and to be honest, if you think it’s terrible then let’s agree to disagree!  Sleep training to me, is getting the babies to sleep through the night. Some parents don’t ever have to TRY to get their babies to sleep through the night.. You’re welcome, Mom!… but some babies (preemies very much included) have to break the 3 hour feeding machine.  We’ve got to Understand the habits we’ve created by feeding every 3 hours.  It’s like my nightly bath habit, do I need it? Absolutely not. But, I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember and my body is so used to it that falling asleep without it feels wrong and I WANT it!  We’ve created the habit with the boys that they need to be up and eating every 3 hours – and they don’t… usually. So, slowly but surely we are pushing their feedings out longer until we reach the goal of all night!

Now, how do we do this?  There are a ton of books and theories and programs – pick whatever you want they all seem to get to the same thing.  But ultimately, adjust it to YOU!  Here’s how I’ve chosen to do it, right or wrong, doesn’t matter – it’s working for us!  The boys eat a lot… thankfully, they are getting more than average daily ounces. (6-7 feeds x 3-4 ounces = 24-28 ounces per day).  Our boys will easily take 4.5 most feeds and the littlest chunker will eat 6-7 sometimes. You’ve got to make sure they are getting their calories in the day so they aren’t hungry at night! 

So here’s how my day looks (currently at 6 weeks):

9-10am: Breakfast – we wake up get unswaddled, clothes & diapers changed and feed.  30 minutes for food and I give a larger than normal bottle – 5 ounces instead of 4. I like to do it early so it doesn’t mess with the big dinner feed! 30 mins-1 hour of mom making stupid jokes and funny voices while the boys look at me like I’m the weirdest person on earth.  Then they will nap. I give the boys a probiotic with this bottle to kick start the digestive tract!

11ish-1pm: napping – sometimes they may only get an hour, it really depends on them that day.

1pm: Lunch – eat. Play. Nap.  This nap normally starts a little quicker than the morning. If I’m out then we sometimes eat on the Go (or before going) and nap in the car seats.  Sleep training methods sometimes say you need to be at home at all times, but ain’t nobody got time for that. My boys do just fine with naps while we’re out – it hasn’t messed up the evenings once.

2ish-3:30 napping

3:30-4 Afterschool snack. I usually have to wake both boys up for this feeding & awake time. 

…here’s where my schedule has evolved to meet our needs and demands…

4:30-5 should be going down for a nap. Both my munchkins have no issue staying awake here.  So if I see the signs of sleepy (slow blinks, yawns, etc) then they will sleep, more often they are wide eyed and bushy tailed so they stay awake, tummy time, playing with Mom or brother and sister, etc.  They may fall off about 6-6:30 and I let them catnap.

7-7:30 Dinner/Bedtime Routine.  Sleep training says to give a bath everyday.  I don’t.  I’m on the boat of it’ll dry out their skin, and they can’t get that dirty in a day!  So, every 2-3 days they get a full on bath, otherwise they get a wipe down.  I give them the MOST food they will take during this feeding.  It’s pretty consistently been 6-7 ounces for Jack, and Cullen is a little less.  Which is backwards considering Cullen is a pound bigger, but whatever, it works for them. I then let them lay there for a few minutes before changing clothes and diapers (helps with the spitting up for us)… then comes the swaddle!  

8-8:30: bedtime. Our night nurse recommended the Miracle Blanket & it’s been amazing!  At first it seems they don’t like it but give it a minute and they are relaxed.  I then put them down in bed (awake), turn on the sound machine loud (we no longer use white noise as my conspiracy theorist husband thinks it’s Satanic – so we use the fan setting), and then I’m out of their room.  This is where sleep training really starts.  You have to let them fall asleep on their own, not rocking or in a chair… on their own, in their crib. Ours have been in cribs since Day 1.  Literally, in the hospital they were in room obviously, but when they came home they went to sleep in their own room.  No bassinet. No bedside.  In their room.  We haven’t had an issue with falling asleep/crying all night.  So I don’t really practice cry-it-out because they don’t cry when I put them down.  Jack will take longer to go to sleep but he’s usually quiet and just lays there, Cullen pretty much passes out immediately.  They do have to be burped well and had time to let the formula sit or else they do fuss because their bellies aren’t comfortable.

>>Sleep training<<

At this point BEFORE we started sleep training the boys would wake up 3-4 hours later.  We would feed. Then repeat.  It made for 2-3 feedings per night.  So my sleep training goes like this…

Hear fussing/crying. Set timer on phone for 3-5 minutes (depends on your comfort level, I went with 3 a couple times then moved to 5, now I’m at 5-7) I let the timer go up.  If they have stopped crying – GREAT! If they are still fussy, then I go in check the swaddle, give the pacifier and leave! This may get an extra 1 minute or it may get an extra hour, whatever it is, they’ve let their body know they CAN wait! I will repeat this until they get the pacifier 3 times.  On the third time, that’s my sign it’s time for a bottle. 

Imagine your older kids asking for something over and over.  If you make them wait sometimes it never comes up again, if they continue asking then it’s probably legitimate.  At least that’s how my older kids are, they ask for a toy once, and I say no, then I never hear about it again.  They ask, I say no, time goes by, they ask again, I say no, finally enough time passes and I think hey they might really want this toy and play with it for more than 15 seconds. It’s my analogy just go with it.

In less than 2 weeks…really one week of full on training, the boys now wake up after 6 hours and then again at 4 hours.  I’m happy with the progress.  You can easily tell if a baby is hungry or eating out of habit if you get up to feed and they don’t take a full bottle.  That was our first sign!  They’ve started to decrease their intake for the 6 hour feed, so I imagine it won’t be long until it’s eliminated and we’re sleeping 10 hours! 

>>Now back to our current schedule<<

1-2am late night feed. Stay swaddled unless they are dirty, then their arms stay swaddled and I change them & swaddle back up.  Ours woke up too much when I unswaddled them, so I stopped. When finished they go right back to their cribs to sleep. I don’t talk to them I keep the lights off, I really limit stimulation.  I do sneak kisses when burping them and then when I put them down.  I’m not an animal!  😘 **this is the one I think we’re close to getting rid of as their consumption is decreasing and it’s pushing out longer.**

5:30-6: early morning feed. Another one that will eventually be eliminated when they are eating more/bigger. We follow the same routine as the late night feed & they go back down right after. They sleep until it’s wake up time!

As a creature of habit, i completely understand they are creatures of habit too! Having some idea of what we’re doing helps, and we’re not just running to them at every noise, wasting food when they aren’t hungry, and completely exhausted! Now, I am also not a slave to our schedule.  I try my hardest to keep it close for now while we’re establishing the routines, but I do not avoid life for it.  I can’t avoid life because of it, we have two other kids (big kids) who require things, have sports and their schedules too.  I also have to get out of the house!  So, we make it work the best we can.  If it doesn’t work, I’m not a mess about it.  We move on.  I know I’m not creating new habits in one missed schedule time!  And I don’t beat myself up over it either…. at all.  They have had bottles on the go, naps in shopping carts, and skipped feeding times during the day while we were traveling.  Guess what? They are still alive AND we got right back to our schedule the next day!  I promise, it’s ok to live AND have babies!

Oh and for the twin moms because I questioned this one a lot… one baby crying does not necessarily wake up the other.  I have our sound machine situated between the two cribs and I imagine it drowns out some of the noise for the other, but it really removes the “startle” factor of one starting to cry. Honestly, I think these two stinkers sleep better when the other is making noise.  I’ve had one in full on melt down and gone in and the other is fast asleep!  So, while thinking that one crying must be stopped immediately to avoid waking the other may seem reasonable, more than likely it’s not even a problem!

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