When Jamie and Darren Feld were expecting, they discussed a lot of topics soon-to-be parents find important: Perfect name, room color, where to put the bassinet.
One subject not covered: A sleep strategy
When baby came, the bassinet was set up, the room looked great, and the name, Mira, was perfect.
Not perfect: Mira’s sleeping habits.
“She had acid reflux, so we’d hold her all night,” says Darren, an Arlington Heights native. “Then she didn’t want to sleep on her own.”
The couple needed a plan, so they read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by local pediatrician Dr. Marc Weissbluth, which instructs parents to let baby self-soothe without you.
But they couldn’t do it.
“I read the book when I was sleep deprived and going out of my mind, and I was emotional about it,” Jamie says. “If I had read it when I was pregnant, and it was clear in my head, it would have been so much easier.”
The Felds say a face-to-face meeting with Dr. Weissbluth gave them reassurance that this was the right strategy for their child.
“We didn’t know it was okay to put her down,” Jamie says. “We held her because she would sleep, not realizing we weren’t doing her a favor. We needed to let her settle herself. We had to force that self-soothing issue later.”
The Felds applied Weissbluth’s principles … and Mira slept! For a while, at least. Then, as always with growing kids, new issues presented themselves.
“She’d get sick and we’d go in there and sleep with her. Then we couldn’t kick that,” Darren says. “Or we’d go on vacation and she would sleep with us. Then we couldn’t kick that.”
This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks parents face, according to Dr. Virginia DePaul of North Suburban Pediatrics.
“Every time they get sick or you go on vacation, you have to reset the minute you come home or they’re better,” she says. “They will try to again change the system because they enjoyed the extra attention. Parents have to know when to turn it off.”
The Felds have learned. With sleep strategies tucked in place, Mira, and her parents, after 4-and-a-half years, are finally sleeping through the night.