I had two children close together... 13.5 months apart. And it was a complete accident. I was already obsessed with sleep with my first after watching a close friend go through some very tough times a few years earlier but being pregnant at 5 months made sleep a priority in our house from that moment on. I have read many, many books on babies, on sleep and just surviving parenting in general. Over the next few months I will share them with you. In my pursuit of more sleep with young children I designed a toy aid - please check it out here!
SAVE OUR SLEEP - BOOK SUMMARY
Save our Sleep is written by Tizzie Hall 'the international baby whisperer' and was first published in 2006 and has sold over 100,000 copies. Save our Sleep is perhaps one of the most contentious sleep books publish in recent times because of it's particularly rigid advice and 'cry it out' self settling techniques.
Tizzie does not hold any formal qualifications that have been publicly disclosed and instead relies on years of experience as a nanny and then sleep consultant and says that the routines within her book have been refined on thousands of babies and toddlers. The book is designed for parents with children from birth to two years old.
Babies under two weeks - some newborns don't have the energy to wake and ask for food so it is recommended that breastfed babies should go no longer than three hours in the day and five hours at night without a feed. Formula fed babies can be given their bottle every four hours during the day and may be left for up to six hours overnight. By reducing demand feeding after two weeks it ensures that the baby does not get in a habit of snacking.
The routines in the book are designed around how much total sleep a baby needs per day, how long they can stay awake between sleeps and how often they need to be fed. A routine will help parents intrepret their baby's different cries as well as comforting the baby with a sense of security in knowing that their needs are being met in a consistent way.
A bedtime ritual is important habit to get into from about seven months old to give clear signals that it is nearly time to go to sleep. A 'dreamfeed' is recommended to help parent avoid getting up more than once at night to feed their babies and can be introduced from about six weeks old. These appear on the routines between 9.30 and 10pm and it involves simply picking up your sleeping baby and feed them whilst they are still asleep.
The routines within Save our Sleep are very rigid. Do they need to be this specific to the minute? Maybe not. They involve simply feed times, sleeptimes and bedtime. You can do a google search and find copies of her routines published by others or you can buy them directly from her website without purchasing the whole book.
In the routines for breastfed babies under eight weeks old she has some very prescriptive ideas around breastfeeding, not only how often but also for how long and mandatory expressing. Chapter 2 of the book is dedicated to the topic as well. I would wholeheartedly ignore anything she says about breastfeeding and seek the advice from qualified support such as a lactation consultant or get in contact with the ABA.
SLEEP RELATED TIPS
The two most important rules when it comes to babies and sleep are
- always put your baby down for a sleep or nap in the place you intend them to wake up and put them down awake
- try and teach your baby the skill of self-settling from as young as possible
Getting cold is a common cause for night waking - particularly at 4am which is often the coldest part of the night. The best temperature for a baby's room is 20 degrees celcius and a oil column heater is recommended if required otherwise consider putting on an extra blanket on after the 'dream feed'. The use of a sleeping bag rather than blankets may prevent babies from kicking off their blankets ensuring they stay nice and warm once they start wriggling around.
Wind, wind, wind... A good winding fixing a lot. Tizzie recommends to wind you baby every three minutes if breastfeeding and every 30mL if bottle fed to start with. Never give up on getting a burp up, it can take in excess of fifteen minutes in very young babies. Colic may be a result of how you feed and wind your baby and the wind builds up. Posseting and small vomits may also be caused by wind - keep winding!
Swaddling can help a baby settle faster by producing a confined environment for the baby which they were very much used to in utero and it stops the babies jerky reflexes from waking or frightening them. Swaddlng should be ceased when the baby can roll in bed.
Sleep Aid = bad This is anything that your baby uses to go to sleep that cannot be reproduced during sleep cycles without your attention. This can include but not limited to rocking, patting, feeding or dummies (which fall out and need to be replaced)
Comforter = GOOD These are usually in the form of blankets, tags or soft toys which the baby can use from a young age to soothe themselves back to sleep.
Most of the sleep related tips found in SOS seem to me to be common sense and ones that I have implemented myself over my own sleeping journey with my two. She does not really touch on 'sleep regressions' at all which I think from my own experiences and those of my friends are very common and normal.
THE 'SELF SETTLING'
It is important to recognise an emotional or hungry cry vs a 'shout' or protest cry
- 'The cry of an emotional or hungry baby is continuous with no pauses and doesn't change pitch or tone, something like 'waa, waa, waa, waa, waa'. This cry I would never ignore and the first thing I would try is a feed.
- 'A protesting cry, on the other hand, I feel is perfectly all right to ignore. The most common time you will hear this is when your baby is flighting sleep, and there will be gaps in the crying and the tone and pitch will go up and down.'
Teaching your baby to self settle should be done early to get the best results. You should put your well fed, dry baby down for sleep while awake and calm and leave the room. Basically if the baby starts to cry a 'protest' cry you should leave it a minimum of two minutes before going back in and once you go back in you need to stay with the baby and comfort without picking the baby up until the baby has gone to sleep.
If after 22 minutes (why 22 minutes?) the baby has still not settled to sleep pick up the baby, leave the room and take a break for ten minutes for trying again and repeating the process from the start i.e putting the baby back in their bed and leaving. The longer you can withstand reentering the room to provide comfort the better results you will have. If the baby's cry changes at anytime to an emotional or hungry cry you should comfort straight away and offer milk.
Although Tizzie recommends starting the self settling process from birth I think it can be very difficult for new mum to differentiate between the two cries in new babies - and it is almost impossible to remain calm listening to your little one cry if in the back of your mind you are wondering if they are hungry or distressed. From my personal experience as your little one gets older it does become more apparent which cry is being used and when.
THIS BOOK IS BEST SUITED TO PARENTS WHO...
Save our Sleep appears to be one of those books where parents who have tried it either love it or hate it. The 'Save our Sleepers' swear by it, the haters despise it and there are even Facebook pages dedicated to both parties.
Save our Sleep appears to be a book that is best suited to parents who value sleep a lot - you have to value sleep more than you value the freedom of planning your own day because if you undertake the routines in book there is no more flexibility.
You also have to be okay with hearing your baby cry, even if it is a protest cry, and that can be easier said than done. But... in saying that you don't hear about a book that parents claim so emphatically that it works so if you think it could work for you it might be worth a read.