29.11.10

Controlled crying?

Controlled crying: behaviour management strategy often employed by babies whereby they control their parents by timely (and sometimes untimely) crying. Anyone who tells you that 'controlled crying' is a way of blablablah is bullshitting.

Mia, 4-months-2-weeks-old has developed this habit of sleeping "at the boob". Or rather at the teat since I bottle-feed her. In other words, she will feed right till the moment she falls asleep. There was perhaps one week when I managed to put her in the cot and pat her to sleep. I think that was only because she was deciding if she liked it. Along with sleeping at the teat, Mia will only go to sleep if it's me putting her to bed. Each time Partner has tried, I've come back to find her wide-awake and staring at him, while he has nodded off. When asked what-does-he-think-he's-doing, Partner has said, "But honestly, she makes me sleepy!" (?) So it's always me. Mostly I don't mind, but sometimes it sucks. 'It' being the situation and not the baby.


So the other night Partner and I decided that perhaps we should try and start teaching her how to fall asleep by herself. Mia was fed, burped, cuddled and when she was drowsy enough, laid into her cot. Of course she was wide awake in an instant and started crying. We let her cry and went downstairs -- we live in a townhouse -- to wait it out.

'Controlled crying' manual/experts etc say that once babies realise they are not getting their way with the crying, they usually give up -- or get tired -- and fall asleep. The proponents of cc also say babies should be allowed to cry for a while, then cuddled to soothe and then put down in the cot again. If they cry, the whole process should be repeated. There is some debate on the 'cry for a while'. Some say it's all right to let bubs cry for 30 minutes while others suggest 5 minutes. We decided to take the middle ground and planned to let her cry for 15 minutes before a cuddle.

After five minutes of incessant crying where Mia sounded like we were a) starving her b) beating her c) pinching her d) all of those together, Mia suddenly shut-up. My mommy-sense tingled alarmingly and despite Partner telling me I didn't need to -- "Hah, see it worked, she's gone to sleep," he said -- I had to go and check.

All I could see were her big eyes in a sea of white (with some lumpy bits). It was as if someone had whitewashed most of her face and her upper body in vomit. As I stared at her, shocked into immobility, she smiled at me. There was some spew still in her mouth. I yelled out for Partner quietly. (Quiet yell: When you yell, quietly, enough to let the other person know they better listen to you right now.) He came, he saw, he laughed. She gurgled. I was the only one who didn't get the joke. (And felt extremely guilty) But it wasn't over yet. She needed a bath, so I ran hot water and jumped into the tub. Partner held her out to me. I asked him to take her singlet and diapers off. And my god. It was another whitewash, only this time it was khaki-green and all over her bum and back.

A big spew, a bigger shit, whole lot of crying; all in 5 minutes. A bath and a quick feed (just 20 mls) later, Mia was sleeping soundly. Like nothing had happened. I learnt an important lesson. No controlled crying. Seems Mia has learnt an important lesson too. Strangely since that day, each time now she wants something and I ignore her, she pretends to vomit. Not kidding. :|

PS: Any tips on how to get her to sleep without the bottle? Also can babies develop habits at 4 months...y' know the whole thing about 'spoiling a baby'?

10 comments:

the cowlick said...

Don't leave her alone to cry for a whole 15 mins.. you need to check every 5 mins or so.. or better still just stay with her near her cot, patting her maybe, but do NOT pick her up. She'll take about a month to really get what you're trying to do and then start falling asleep without crying when you put her down. I have tried it -- he's 3 months now -- and succeeded.

Sree said...

:D go Mia go!

Rohini said...

Story of my life :)

Get "Healthy sleep habits, happy child" by Marc Weissbluth.

Mia behaviour is very typical of 3-6 mths old, book will give you a few techniques to tackle the situation.

Gud luck!!!

JB said...

@ Cowlick: 3 months and sleeping by himself? You lucky mumma.

JB said...

@ rohini: did the book help? I'm reading some council hand-outs here and asking the other mums in our mothers' group. What I'm confused about is the whole right-age thing. Is 4 months too young to try techniques? will it stress the baby? What if I wait till 6 months and the habit's set in and its harder later?!

JB said...

@ Sree: Just because you have an older child. You conspirator.

Shady said...

been there , done that with two daughters I thought i will be wiser with the younger one but she outsmarted me .Dont read any books play the game in the end she will win .

JB said...

@ Shady: Dang. WHY did I know someone will say so? I did have a nagging suspicion she is winning...

Rajnish said...

In my case he would want himself rocked to sleep every night since the age of 2m+ but sleeping in his cot then sometime by 6m+ we decided it was enough and we just 'let him be' and he now plays himself off to sleep.
We can more often than not, time it better on weekdays than weekends ;)

JB said...

@ Rajnish: Really? Hmmm. Perhaps I should start it slowly. There are days when she is happy to be patted to sleep. It all depends on how much she's eaten before. Sometimes she will drink in one go and will then be patted to sleep. Most days she will feed a little, then break, then more and will usually suck-till-she-sleeps. Sigh. Guess we'll get there.

@ everyone: thanks for sharing!

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