Saturday, December 6, 2008

Phase vs Pattern

Ben's been having another bout of bad sleeping. He goes down fine -- like a ton of bricks, actually -- at his normal bedtime, and generally sleeps soundly or resettles himself easily until around 10:00, bedtime for the rest of the household. Then I nurse him again and either he falls asleep while nursing or I put him down drowsy, and, again, he has no trouble getting to sleep. But he's up again an hour or two hours later and repeats the hour- or two-hour-interval wake-ups for the rest of the night most nights.

The last time he went through a bout of this, about a month ago, we tried to Ferber through it, leaving him to cry for increasing intervals to remind him how to settle himself. In theory, anyway. In practice, he just wound himself up into hysteria, and even if he wore himself out and fell asleep for a while, he'd be up again in no time, hysterical again. This time, we decided to treat it as a phase and not a pattern, and comfort him through it with nursing instead of teach him through it with Ferbering. It feels like the right thing to do. My suspicion is that what's behind the sleep troubles is his working overtime on sitting up and crawling.

This phase vs pattern debate is a great way to make yourself feel like a shitty parent. If it's a phase and you make the kid suffer to learn something irrelevant, you're a big jerk. If it's a pattern and you coddle the kid into an unhealthy habit, you're a big jerk. And you can't possibly know until the damage is done. Enjoy!


Leah said...

My boss at work, who is now a hip grandma co-raising her grandbaby, told me once that there is no habit that can't be untaught. Get through where you are with everyone feeling loved and competent (That includes you, lady!), and worry about the rest later. You might be in the middle of an a: growth spurt and upping of milk supply, b: busy during the day, so nursing less and needing more at night, c: a solid food that's bugging him, or d: teething. To me, it sounds like something's waking him vs. a sleep pattern issue. Give yourself a break. You're trying hard, so is your little one. Do what you need to do to keep both of you sane and happy!

Jennifer Larson said...

Being a parent of a baby is hard work. Plus, there's nothing like a baby to call into question any parenting theories or philosophies you might have previously held!

But I will comfort you with this: most babies really do settle down and learn to sleep better, and I promise yours will, too. Mine did, and believe me, there were many nights when I would have laughed hysterically and then burst into tears if someone suggested that to me. In the meantime, though, hang in there! You seem to be doing a great job.

Kathy said...

My mom always said, when Reilly was a baby, that by the time you figure out what was the cause they are on to something else.

Reilly used to go through the same thing once in a while...I always chalked it up to a growth spurt since it went away after several days.

I don't think, at 6 months you can spoil them too much in that "mom is at my beck and call" way. Besides... before you know it he'll be three. *weep*