Monthly Archives: February 2013

How we sleep trained our baby

So we’ve already established that some of you will cringe at the following blog entry (and YES, we’d like to hear from you), but we promised we would share our experiences in sleep training our babies. You’ve already seen our entry on night nurses, which is one way of sleep training your munchkin. However, if your pockets won’t allow it, or you simply would rather do it yourself (or you’re stubborn like one of us was), then you may have opted to do it yourself. This blog post will share those experiences.

twins

“My husband and I are big sleepers. When I say big, I mean we were used to our 12 hour night sleep (weekends of course were another matter). Then came along our gorgeous baby boy- who didn’t seem to share in this alien sleeping ritual. Worst yet, he possessed the inability to discern day from night. The world, as far as he was concerned, revolved around him 24 hours a day. During this time, we patiently followed the “Your Baby Week by Week” book, which gives you tips on developing healthy sleeping habits for your baby, but basically expects the baby to naturally sleep on its own at some stage.

That stage couldn’t come soon enough for us. So, 2.5 months in, when we realised our perennial bickering was due to our lack of sleep, we pleaded our parents for help. What we got, was the next best thing to a ring on the doorbell telling us they were taking over (they don’t live in the UK like us), we got a magical book on sleep training from Dr. Eduard Estivill called “5 Days to a Perfect Night Sleep For your Child”. He is a renown Spanish paediatrician and expert on infant sleep disorders and took his knowledge of sleep cycles, eating cycles, and babies development to create a very simple to follow book.

5 nightsHe argues that sleep and eating habits are interlinked in a baby, and that it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children to sleep  – an acquired skill like anything else. If you think about it, when you teach your child how to eat, everyone teaches them in the same way: you take a spoon, you pick up the food, and you bring the spoon to your mouth, not to mention the fact that you usually eat around the same time every day. However, when parents are trying to teach their baby to sleep they rock, sing, cuddle, push a stroller around at night, walk around the room at 5 am, etc, and they try to do this by taking a little munchkin’s queues (someone who doesn’t know night from day!) The point? Consistency in methodology is of utmost importance. It helps if you have a constant location for the baby to sleep in (so that once you start traveling they continue to have familiar places and things), which is why the moomboo is so helpful to support this process. But in addition to consistency in location, everyone in the house needs to be in agreement and adhere to the same approach. And boy do you need that agreement.  Dr Estivill’s method can be hard to stick to, because, yes, it does entail your baby crying a little bit. As a Spaniard, you can imagine that loving, cuddling, and ensuring your baby is full of self esteem is of utmost importance, so his method is all about empowering the baby to acquire a skill that will carry them through life, while feeling entirely loved through the process (the crying is extremely controlled to ensure the baby never feels abandoned or hurt).

Here is how it works.

  1. Identify 2-3 external objects that you want your child to associate with falling asleep (could be a pacifier and a comfort blanket, or anything you like so long as YOU are not one of those objects- i.e. you don’t want your baby needing you at 3am to fall back asleep when they are just linking sleep cycles).
  2. Introduce those objects to your baby in an assured voice with a big smile, explaining (s)he will now fall asleep with these two new friends. Then with a big smile let your baby know you are going to leave them to sleep with their new friends and will be back when its time to wake up. They will have no clue what you are saying, so your voice and facial expression is what will convey the comfort and confidence they need.
  3. Then walk out of the room. Your baby will complain, but you need to stay strong and walk out.
  4. Then the hard part begins- turn your gaze to your watch and wait 2 minutes. You MUST wait those two minutes. I/my husband used to take our iPad into the room next door and tried to read or watch videos – anything to distract ourselves. We’d support each other to ensure we did not walk in before the 2 minutes were up. This was definitely difficult, but we reminded ourselves that we were doing this for our baby’s own good. We were teaching him something, and it wasn’t going to be easy, but we owed to it to him to give him the best.
  5. If your baby is still crying after 2 minutes (and the first nights they usually will be), then walk back into the room. Tell them that you love them, are there for them, are teaching them how to sleep, that you know its hard but you know they will learn, and that you are leaving them with their objects (just name the objects you selected in step 1) to fall asleep. Then you walk out again.
  6. Look at your watch and wait 3 minutes and repeat this process as often as necessary until the baby falls asleep. Although book recommends to wait 3 minutes in the 2nd go and to progressively increase the time intervals, my husband and I did not feel comfortable leaving our baby to cry for longer than 2 minutes. So we adhered to a 2 minutes wait and went back in as many times necessary.

It usually takes a baby 2 hours to fall asleep on the first night. This, however, will reduce drastically the next night, and in 5 days if you’ve stuck to this method (no matter what time the baby wakes up) then you will have a sleeping baby that knows how to fall asleep on their own! Besides finding it hard to wait those 2 minutes, we found it very hard to stick to this method in the middle of the night. All you want is for the baby to go back to sleep so you’re tempted to nurse, rock, or cuddle. If you do that, you will waste all your hard effort, and you’ll be short changing your baby. This is where a short term sacrifice will make the world of difference in the long term, and this is where you most need your partner to support you. I won’t lie, we had our difficult nights in that sleep training week, but overall we supported each other and got through it.

I know, I know -you’re probably thinking “I can’t do it”. I thought exactly the same. I remember second guessing myself, thinking I was a horrible parent, and having to deal with my friends glances when they would come over and see me trying to put the baby down for a nap looking at my watch to count down those dreaded 2  minute crying intervals. However, we stuck to our guns and our baby learned how to sleep on his own in 1 week.

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Today our 9 month old couldn’t be happier, falls asleep on his own without crying, and sleeps through from  7pm-7am without fail. He no longer needs us to fall asleep, and he looks forward to bedtime – just one more opportunity to put his acquired skills to use. I am convinced that this has made him more confident and self assured rather than the opposite. He has certainty that we will never abandon him and he knows that when we leave we always come back. This is why, I believe, he doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety when I leave the room, and it is why he will happily continue to play with his baby friends if I am out of the picture for a bit.

Sleep training is a very personal decision, but for those considering it, I can not recommend it enough. Ultimately, it helped our marriage as we now have uninterrupted evenings to ourselves. We can also confidently leave our baby with a babysitter as he sleeps through and requires no specific instructions to fall back asleep. Better yet, we know that every morning our adorable baby boy wakes up with a big smile on his face looking forward to the day ahead”.

Please share our thoughts with us. If you’ve sleep trained your baby, we’d love to hear from you. If you haven’t and are adamantly opposed to what is written on this post, please also share your thoughts with us. Our aim is to facilitate information and give parents choices. Please join the debate!

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On Night Nannies

babies in cuddlesFor some, there is a stigma attached to having a night nurse, as if you are somehow outsourcing motherhood. But for others (like one of us) it was a life saver. We thought that it would be helpful to share our experience. At moomboo corner we belive that there is nothing wrong with getting some help once in a while!

For those who do not know, here is how it works in London. The night nurse comes to your place usually around 7.00 or 8.00 pm. She helps with the bath, night feed and to get the baby to sleep. But where the real value of it comes in, is during those feeds at 2, 3 or 4 am; by the time you have fed, changed and settled the baby, you feel like it is time to get up again! The night nurse, takes care of all of this so you can either feed and then go straight back to sleep or even express so you can get a proper night sleep (well, until your breasts feel like they will explode, that is). She then leaves at 7.00 or 8.00 am when you have hopefully had a good night sleep and are ready to start the day. During the first few weeks, I was so obsessed with whether baby was still breathing, that I only slept when the night nurse was around.

twinsGranted, it is a very personal/ intrusive thing. My night nurse would bring the baby into our room for a feed in the middle of the night and come and take her away – all this whilst my husband was snoring next to me blissfully. That is why it is important to chose the right person and keep the same person with whom you will build a rapport. Some agencies that send a different person each time have probably put people off by making what is a really personal thing, quite impersonal and business like.

The best night nurses, and I can say that I was lucky enough to have one of them, will also start sleep training the baby at an early age (from a week old or so) so that by the time they go, baby is close to or actually sleeps through the night. An added bonus for clueless people like me, was that I actually learned how to do most baby things from the night nurse. She taught me how to bathe, change, feed the baby. She even helped with establishing breast-feeding and expressing. The moomboo came in so handy; baby would sleep in our room and move to the nursery when the night nurse was there. The moomboo made the transition from one room to the other very smooth.

photo (11)Having a night nurse is expensive, there is no way around that (usually ranging from £100 to £180 per night). But it really depends on how much value you place on your sleep and if you take into account the added benefits (i.e. that you do not have to check if the baby is breathing or not every 5 minutes), it is definitely worth it.

Choose someone you like and that will make the experience 100 times better. During the precious first months a good night nurse will enhance your confidence and help you enjoy the experience more. Try Carol Mae Consulting (http://www.carolmaeconsulting.co.uk/) for a very personal and unique experience or Night Nannies (http://www.nightnannies.com/).

Share your night nurse experience with us.

Baby it’s cold outside!

Given the changes in weather it is no surprise that your baby may now have its first cold. Other humans may look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them how worried you are that your baby is coughing, has snot dripping down their nose, and maybe even a slight fever, but you feel passionately that this could be threatening and therefore need to share this concern with your friends to double check. We’ve all been there, and know exactly what you’re going through.

baby coldPerhaps you’ve even gone into the hospital at 3am because your crying baby has a blocked nose or is making a slightly “different” noise when breathing. After putting your uncoordinated socks on in the middle of the night and hopping into the car, you feel slightly embarrassed when the skeptical paediatrician examines your, what is now a laughing, baby (how fun is it to be out at night and take the mickey out of you?) and determines they have “just a cold”.  Well, we know how disappointing it can be to hear there isn’t much you can do other than home remedies, but here at moomboo, we want to make this unpleasant experience as pleasant as possible for you and your baby. So we decided to write a little blog about our top tips to keeping your little one as comfortable as  possible so they can get over their cold quickly. Besides keeping your baby hydrated:

  1. icon blue woombooTurn on the humidifier– if you have one, doctors recommend you turn it on in your baby’s room if humidity levels are below 30%. Although most babies love the sound of humidifiers, a silent humidifier is always best, so you can hear your baby’s breathing through the baby monitor on those more challenging nights.
  2. Incline your baby ensuring their head is a little higher than their feet– The best way to achieve this safely is to insert the moomboo wedge under the moomboo. If you’re waiting to get your hands on a moomboo, for now you can place a cushion under their crib mattress – oh and don’t forget to get yourself on the wait list.
  3. Buy menthol drops – You can put a few drops inside a bowl of warm water by the baby’s crib and/or on a muslin that you can place between the crib and the mattress. We do both to maximize the menthol, and place the humidifier close to both of those so they can spread the smell throughout the nursery (you should smell it in the morning!). In the UK you can buy lots of over-the-counter brands like Olmitos, Vicks, etc at your local chemist.
  4. baby cuddlesLots and lots of cuddles– even for babies on a routine, now is the time to relax your rules/routine and spoil them a little (or a lot). If you can ensure that you don’t bend your routine or rules for longer than 3 days, your baby will revert seamlessly into their old routine. If you have to stretch beyond that because the cold doesn’t get better, then you may just have to work a little harder to get them to fall asleep on their own (if you were in the middle of sleep training), or fall asleep without that extra cuddle.
  5. Buy nasal spray/ drops– Saline drops/spray are a great way to unblock those tiny little noses, especially if stiffer little buggers are in sight. The challenge is of course  to get them to go in if your baby is wiggly or very strong like one ours! Again lots of over-the-counter options at Boots.
  6. Take your baby into a steamed shower/bathroom – running a hot shower and closing all the doors, you can create a mini steam room for your baby. Just hold your baby in your arms and go into the room for 10-15 minutes, and you’ll see how their airways unblock and their breathing gets instantly better.
  7. sleep suitMake sure they are wearing appropriate clothes– ensure they are dressed appropriately for the season, but regulate clothing based on your baby’s preference. For example, one of our babies is very sensitive to heat, so we usually have put on one layer less than most other babies to bed. We get around that by adjusting the tog of his sleeping bags rather than the clothes he wears underneath. We love this JojoMaman Bebe sleep suit with removable sleeves which can also be used to transport baby from car seat/pram into bed without waking (great for the trip to the hospital if you have to take one!)
  8. Finally, if your baby has a predisposition for bronchiolitis (an inflammation of the bronchioles, causing those scary breathing noises which combined with a cold can make anyone panic)  then ask your doctor about Ventolin– you need a prescription and it isn’t for everyone, but we wish we’d asked sooner as its helped our baby immensely!

sleeping soundly

Did we miss any of your favourite tips? If so, please let us know and we’ll add it to upcoming posts.

We hope you and your little one ride the cold out soon.

Here is to many restful nights of sleep ahead!

Routine or no routine? Our happy inbetween

alarm clockAs part of our routine or no routine series, we have tapped into our network of multi-cultural mummy friends who have shared their experiences with us. Part three of this series, is written by Mrs C who has adopted a more…. relaxed approach to a baby routine.

“When I was pregnant, I would observe our friends with kids and I always thought that the best behaved children were the ones on a routine. It was probably just a coincidence, but it anyway made my mind up that routine was the way forward for us. The benefits seemed endless…predictability, well behaved baby, rested mummy… I was so set on this, that we actually employed an expert as soon as we could, to help us establish the routine.

And the routine worked great. Our baby girl was one of the first to sleep through the night, and the predictability of the feeding and napping cycles, meant that I was very attuned to her needs. However, what I found very hard, and what I think that most people on a routine do not always admit to, is that for it to work you have to continue working at it (sometimes hard) and that it also means that you are a little imprisoned by it.

a2ed3ad1e971c8322436775d1b51aeefI am a very active and sociable person and I found that having to stay indoors between 12.00 and 2.30 EVERY day very limiting. It was probably also that my baby is such a light sleeper that she would not follow the routine when out and about. After a couple of weeks of not joining my NCT friends on the various activities because ‘it is nap time’, I decided that this was not going to work for us. A happy mummy is a happy baby, and this mummy was the happiest when surrounded by her friends, their babies and a nice skinny cappuccino.

There came a period of adjustment. After being on a routine for a while, when she found herself in a soft play area during nap time, baby was a little confused. But being sociable and adaptable little creature, she soon figured it out. I also figured out that she was happiest when in the company of other babies, and in some ways became more manageable as a result of a more flexible routine. So here is how it works for us:

  •  we roughly follow the Gina Ford routine with the three naps a day (short morning nap, long lunchtime nap and short afternoon nap). We are flexible and vary the nap times depending on our activities. If she does not take a long enough lunchtime nap, she will make it up later by having longer than the 45 minutes recommended by most routines
  • two to three times a week, we stay at home and try to follow the routine by the book. This bores baby and mummy but I think it is important to avoid her getting over tired
  • we are more strict when it comes to feeding times. There we only vary by 15 minutes here or there. Although not so at the beginning, she will now have meals anywhere. This fits with our lifestyle as we love eating out
  •  we are religious about the nighttime routine of bath, little story, bottle of milk and off to bed. She knows that there is no room for negotiation. It is always at the same time and done in the same way.

This more relaxed approach to a routine is not for everyone, but it has really worked for us by giving us a rough outline to the day. What is interesting is that one way or another, all babies (whether on a routine or not) all end up falling into a similar schedule naturally.”