Baby G has never really learned to self soothe which has been a huge issue for sleep because he had frequent night wakings and would only sleep when nursed to sleep. He started rejecting the pacifier around six months and he showed no interest in stuffed toys, taggy blankets, lovies, or his thumb. It got to the point where he was nursing all night as well as during naps because even while cosleeping he was waking many times throughout the night. The “milkies” were the only thing that worked as a “no cry” sleep solution (anything else led to immediate screaming).
After moving to a single family home, we started using cry-it-out at night (age 14 months old) which was the LAST thing I wanted to try. It sorta worked… 2 months later he was sleeping in his crib more with fewer night wakings, but he still going into his crib screaming for 10-45 minutes and he was waking 2x per night and screaming for 10-45 minutes each time. I wasn’t totally happy with this because I wanted him (and us) to get a good night’s sleep… it seemed like he still wasn’t learning to self soothe, he was just exhausting himself. Sad. He also HATED his crib. He would fall asleep nursing and being rocked, then start to buck and throw his body around once we went to put him in his crib. Kid has Spidey Senses!
All of this is very upsetting to me, the mom whose beautiful mental images of motherhood included tucking my child calmly into bed after prayers and a book.
I had Baby G evaluated for his somewhat delayed speech (no words besides “mama” and “dada” at 15 months old) with our state’s free program, Infants and Toddlers, after his hearing test was okay. This program is likely one reason Maryland has ranked #1 in education for the past 5 years. Great early intervention!
The women who came out from the program had some behavior tips that were helpful and we were discussing how he hasn’t ever learned to self soothe. They mentioned lovies and I said we’d tried to give them to him before, but he showed no interest. They recommended trying to pair the lovie with the action he currently uses to soothe- nursing. GREAT idea. Gosh I should have thought of that! My Behavior Psychology professor (from 10 yrs ago, haha) would be appalled.
So here’s what I did… I used the taggy blanket that I made a while back because it’s a nice texture with the minky back and it’s got the “tags” for loops to put one of the Bright Starts Lots of Links- Solid Colors links through. I could then hook it to my belt loop as I went about all day through the house. Whenever Baby G wanted to nurse, I handed that to him or laid it on his chest. He pushed it away and threw it for the first day. Day Two and he was tolerating it. After a few days, he started to grab it when he’s waiting for me to get my nursing tank unlatched. I tuck it into his hands whenever he falls asleep. I don’t know that this has magically worked, but it sure seems like it. He stopped all night wakings… All of them… After one day. I nurse him to sleep still in the rocking chair before bed, “we” say prayers, and he holds his blanky the whole time. I pick him up to transfer him and he awakens a little, stiffening his body, but doesn’t struggle as much. He cries one time after I put him on the mattress, I tuck his blanket in beside him, I cover him up, pat his back two to three times, and he goes to sleep. I am mystified, but encouraged.
|Milkies, NOW Mama!|
And what do you know… since he’s been sleeping better, he’s starting to communicate more. He’s still not talking (except his own secret language), but he’s using more than one sign now. We love Signing Time and he’s been copying the signs as we watch the DVD. REALLY exciting. Also, prior to these events, he’d scream at us if he wanted something and we’d often be unable to interpret what he wanted… now he’s trying to communicate. For example, the other day I was making his oatmeal and he walks up to me with his sippy cup and grunts at me. I give him water. He gets a little frustrated, pushes it away, then goes a grabs a different sippy cup… Grunts and hands it to me. Juice did the trick. It’s so much better like this! Phew!
We are still working on naps, but I’m hopeful! Of course, who knows… this could be some fluke where his sleep miraculously got better that same night due to divine intervention, but I know I like to feel like I was able to DO something to help…. which is why for the past 16 months I’ve read way too much information on baby sleep and tried what seems like a million different things. I was glad to have this new idea to try and I hope if you’re in the same position that I was that it helps you too!