Sleep Training: Before

Charlie is 3 months old. He's our first so we don't really know but from what other parents tell us, he seems a bit more difficult than most babies. Nights have been especially tough, for all of us.

The photo above is what it looks like when Charlie finally naps, after we:

  • drape a muslin blanket over his head and cheeks
  • give him his pacifier
  • rock and pat him to sleep (must be walking)
  • lay him on his baby pillow
  • elevate his legs using a rolled up blanket under the crib sheet

It's a lot of work. So how did we get here?

Day/Night Confusion

For quite a while after Charlie was born, he had his days and nights mixed up. I'd never heard of this but apparently, pretty much every parent is aware. To Charlie, day was night and night was day.

We learned quickly that day/night confusion is a condition that affects the parents more than the baby. Whenever friends or family would stop by during daytime hours, he'd be a perfect little sleeping angel. And at night… more like a little demon baby!

Even at the doctor's office, not a care in the world.

asleep at the doctor's office

The worst parts of day/night confusion (besides the extreme sleep deprivation) are the sense of isolation and the feeling that you're somehow making it up. Everybody else's picture and experience of Charlie is of this serene little sleeper with the occasional adorable smile. Only we knew the truth that he'd be terrorizing us that very night and that the smiles are just gas.

Grunting Baby Syndrome

Who names these things?

Grunting Baby Syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, Charlie wasn't very good at pooping yet because he lacked the coordination. For Catie and me, it meant that he would make very loud grunting and straining noises at night. All night long. Every night.

One night, Charlie was grunting loudly in his crib but was still asleep. I noticed that when I lifted his legs off of the mattress he immediately stopped grunting and relaxed. When I put them back down on the mattress, he started right back up.

I repeated my experiment four or five times before I decided that I was a genius and I had solved all of our sleep problems. I rolled up a quilt and put it under his knees. He slept like an angel.

That worked for exactly two nights.

Sleep Training

Preface: People have lots of strong and differing opinions on sleep training. Catie and I do not. We are willing to try anything that might help and doesn't feel cruel.

Two nights ago was my friend's bachelor party in Kalamazoo, about an hour away. It was the first time since Charlie was born that I was gone overnight. We were anxious about how it would go… and for good reason.

It did not go well.

Catie's friend had hired a sleep consultant to help with her baby boy and was generous enough to share what worked for her and her son. We decided to give it a shot starting the very next night, which was just last night.

We're going to give it this week and we'll report back with what we did and how it went. In fact, I'm writing this from the nursery while Charlie is having his first nap of training.

nap number one

So far so good!

Does Charlie sound like your son or daughter? What worked for you?

Steve Richert

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