Baby Shrink asked me these questions, and they made me realize I haven’t truly fleshed out our situation. First, I will show you The Wedge. You can laugh; you should laugh; we laugh. But let me explain before you report me to CPS.
It’s for reflux. The idea is that if the baby is diagonal instead of horizontal, there won’t be as much reflux, the esophagus will have more of a break and not get as irritated. It isn’t one of those things babies need; it just helps make them more comfortable, if they do have reflux. It is mainly intended for younger infants (under 5 months I guess?), and we were told by the OT that made it for him that “we would know” when “he didn’t need it anymore.” ha. We don’t know, and He doesn’t need it, but he likes it, and naturally has come to depend on it, and the swaddle, to go to sleep. The swaddle is another thing we are mysteriously supposed to know when to stop using and that he is mysteriously supposed to stop wanting. We have tried sporadically taking the wedge and/or swaddle away in different combinations and circumstances. All of these attempts end in misery. We came very close to having a Christmas miracle, for on Christmas night we made the most progress sans swaddle OR wedge than we have ever before: A. slept for two one-hour stretches with neither crutch. He slept sweetly with his hands floating around his head and his legs still in their bent position, as though he were still in the wedge. But then he kept waking through the night, upset, and Wifey eventually put the wedge back in.
So, now for Baby Shrink’s questions:
Does he associate his crib with the crying episodes?
I don’t think so. He is a pretty good napper during the day. We look for tiredness cues and then put him in his crib (in the wedge) and let him suck on our finger for a minute or two. We used to switch the finger out with the paci, but now he doesn’t want the paci, and is fine when we take our finger out when he is still awake. Sometimes he fusses for a minute, but then goes to sleep. Often when he wakes after 30 minutes to 1 hour, he sings and chats with his mobile. Other times, he cries and we go get him.
Then when it comes to bed time, does it help to stay in the room with him until he’s asleep?
Not really. At bed time, he is clearly tired but he gets hyper, and when we stay with him he kicks his legs and laughs and screeches and when we don’t take him out he cries. He doesn’t stop crying, and it escalates in severity, to the point where he is hot and truly distraught and he seems in real distress. All while we are standing right there, soothing, singing, shushing, stroking his head, offering our finger, in all different combinations. I also gently blow on his face to cool him, which calms him momentarily.
What happens if you sit next to the crib with your arm through the slats, patting him? Talking to him? Does that ever work?
Those things do work to calm him momentarily, but do not get him to sleep. See above.
What if his Dad puts him down?
No Dad, but we’ll assume you mean Mommy. Same thing as when I, Mama, put him down.
What if you hold him until he’s asleep (or almost asleep) and then transfer him to his crib?
Works well for naps, does not work at bedtime. If he is sound asleep in my arms, he will stay asleep transfered to the crib. To get him sound asleep, even in my arms, at bedtime, is the hard part. He is hyper. Even after I’ve nursed him. Not hyper-sad; actually, he’s usually hyper-happy at night, doing all of his tricks, showing off how not-tired he is. All the while, intermittently fussing, screaming, yawning, rubbing his eyes. Oh no no wait! Look! Kicking! Smiling! Laughing! We can even listen to your music, Mama! I am so awake! Yawn. Fuss. Eyes drooping.
I can hear your next question! Earlier bedtime? Why yes, we’ve tried that! As early as 6pm. We’ve also tried 6:30, 7, 7:30, all the way to 11:30.
What about a binkie/lovey?
We have no qualms about pacis; but he doesn’t want them anymore. Aren’t we supposed to worry about the baby suffocating on a lovey? He can’t cuddle with his pink monkey in his bed anyway, because he is strapped down to a giant foam spaceship. By choice.
And let me also explain how smart and wonderful he is! He is developmentally right on cue, except for social interaction, which was described by his doctors as advanced. He has been teething for over four months but has still not yet broken a tooth. He nurses well, and eats solids precariously. He is held often, cuddled, danced with, worn rarely, rests calmly, rolls around, sits pensively, jumps in his jumper, strolls in his stroller, reads books with studied interest, concentrates on his toys, the whole gamut of baby activities.
I now also realize I should describe what has been “working.” Not working, really, more like “happening.” We hang out for hours with a manic, fussy but determined, sleep-deprived infant (whose mood vacillates wildly between two vastly different poles) until 11pm-ish, when he eventually gives into exhaustion and falls asleep nursing. All previous nursing-to-sleep attempts were met with screeching and fussing and singing and crying. Not sleeping. I guess I could call this “working” (or at least, working for him– we, on the other hand, would love to have a quiet evening together!) but the reason I would hesitate is that he often seems sleepy during the day, even with good naps.