[info_box]This sleep miracle was brought to you by Angela Aitken, who first shared this book with me on THAT Mom. Angela is just one of the many women here that have inspired, taught, and encouraged me. Thank you! [/info_box]
In a previous post I wrote about the disastrous results of attempting the 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program without, ahem, actually reading the book. Well, when the book FINALLY arrived I decided not to bother with it. My baby couldn’t stay awake for 90 minutes, so the theory was just another unhelpful fad . . . end of discussion, right?
After being clued into a possible cycle, I couldn’t help but notice that it kept popping up in real life. Micah would wake, fuss about one hour after being awake and fall asleep around 90 minutes. Nothing consistent, just some patches of pattern here and there with the occasional meltdown (his and mine).
Finally curiosity got the best of me. I picked up the book. Five pages in I was hooked. Dr. Polly Moore’s advice goes against much of what I was doing and most of what I’ve heard, but her research and reasoning is very compelling.
Specifically, she discourages the practice of waking babies up from long daytime naps to keep them from getting their “days and nights mixed up.” Baby’s neurological network is running a “system check” while they sleep, she says, adding that baby must be allowed to complete this task in order to achieve quality sleep. According to her research, the profound neurological benefits of uninterrupted sleep are worth the temporary day/night confusion.
I decided to give it another try. Disaster AGAIN. Micah was doing reasonably well up to that point, why couldn’t I just be happy with that? Why did I have to tweak things and mess up our routine?
Simply put, because I prefer to let nature take its course wherever possible. If there is an innate rhythm to babies sleep I want to know about it!!! But after that second meltdown I decided I was out on any more experiments.
Holy Grail Of Sleep???
As Dr. Moore explained her theory in more detail I began to reconsider whether those miserable two attempts were really failures. Apparently there is often a recalibration period that can be pretty messy. Maybe those miserable days were the beginnings of a transition to something better, so I decided to give it another shot.
WORST. DAY. EVER.
Followed by three days of bliss. It could have been five, but I’ll get to that. On the no good, very bad first day of the program Micah fell asleep every 90 minutes as predicted. However, he only slept for ten to twenty minute intervals all day long. By evening we were both on the verge of hysteria. As the sun set I laid down in bed with him, desperate for some rest after a day of non-stop nursing, rocking and walking. To my surprise, we both fell asleep.
He woke up a different baby. I have gone whole days with barely a whimper at naptime. I nurse, I rock. He stares lovingly up and me, smiling until his lids close and he goes limp in my arms. He sleeps deeply for long stretches.
It’s freakin’ beautiful.
I will say this, though: The first chapters extremely helpful, but I do not agree with later parts of the book in which Dr. Moore recommends teaching baby to “self soothe’ around the six month mark (she is pro “cry it out”). Fortunately, the 90 minute approach works without that aspect.
And boy does it work.
Finding The Sweet Spot
The other night I was rocking Micah. As his lids drooped closed I said to Daniel “It’s 6:10 isn’t it?” He looked at the clock behind me. “Yep. How did you know?”
“Because that’s when I predicted Micah would fall asleep.” Pretty cool, huh? The best part about discovering this rhythm is that I know where to focus my efforts. When Katie was a baby, I sometimes carried her for HOURS before she fell asleep. It would seem she was almost asleep and then her eyes would pop wide open for another hour of misery. Now when I soothe Micah I can see why. At the end of his wake cycle he gets a little fussy. He begins to squirm and whimper. With Katie I would take this as a sign that what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed to try something new (swaddle, unswaddle, change diaper, etc.).
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Now, if Micah begins to fuss right before the 90 minute mark I don’t change a thing. Swaddling or changing him during the few minutes his body is most receptive to sleep wastes a precious opportunity. If I know I am in the sweet spot I just continue to soothe him. There have been times I thought, “This is not going to happen. He’s four minutes from the 90 minute mark and he’s wide awake.” But, believe it or not, he somehow settles down and sleeps. Here’s an example of how it went today:
1o:50 a.m. – Awake. Check time and determine the next sleep interval should be around 12:2o p.m.
12:10 p.m. – Smiling and cooing
12:15 p.m. – Body stiff while I walk with him, eyes WIDE OPEN
12:17 p.m. – Body more relaxed, sucking fingers
12:22 p.m. – Asleep
12:27 p.m. – Transfer from my arms to bed
I promised to share my experiences in real time, so here they are. However, I’ve only been doing this for about five days. What happens on day six is anyone’s guess.
I will say this: I went against Dr. Moore advice and tried to get Micah to nap “on the go” while Katie had a few playdates. His sleep during those two days was more disrupted than previous days. For now, I have decided to plan short play trips for Katie that don’t interfere with Micah’s naps. Hopefully when his naps fall into a more predictable cycle (around 3-4 months) I will try to push the boundaries again. For now, though, I think it’s worth it to stick close by.
These past few days have been incredible. My stress level has plummeted. I make scheduling decisions, like when to get Katie ready for a nap so we all fall asleep together, with confidence. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.
Again, big thanks to Angela for telling me about this book!