Suddenly Parents

Keeping Our Sanity During Baby's First Year

Moms On Call – How We Got Our Baby To Sleep 11 Hours At Night

20120205-212331.jpgEliza is almost 15 weeks and has been sleeping through the night (from 8:30 pm to 7:30 am) since she was 10 weeks. I am very aware that we are extremely lucky to have such a great sleeper but the road leading to all night sleep was very rocky. We switched tactics and routines multiple times and there were more than a few breakdowns along the way (it is amazing how long 10 weeks can seem when you aren’t getting any sleep!) Finally we called Moms On Call and I give credit to them for showing us the way and to myself and Rich for sticking with the program.

Rich and I thought we had a very easy baby from the start. Eliza did not have any latching/feeding issues, she slept all the time, etc. Life was good. We had this “new baby thing” under control. Until Eliza turned 3 weeks. Around that time, she started to develop gas pains. Or what seemed like gas pains. Call it colic, call it a growth spurt, acid reflux, digestive issues, whatever. We never did figure out what her problem was but she definitely was having problems. She would screw her face up and arch her back and cry and cry. She didn’t cry for hours like a true “colicky” baby but she would fall asleep for 15 minutes and then wake up. Fall asleep for 15 minutes and then wake up. Over and over and over.

I wrote about how we set her bassinet at an angle, gave her Maalox (my doctor’s suggestion) and gripe water, played the white noise machine, swaddled her with her hands under her butt (another suggestion), and used the 5 S’s to lull her to sleep. Nothing seemed to work very well.

Up until this time, I had been feeding her every 2.5 – 3 hours. I was flexible if she seemed extra hungry but, for the most part, I stuck to it. It was pretty easy because she seemed to naturally follow that schedule but now her schedule was way off. So I decided to switch to an on-demand system and feed Eliza whenever she seemed hungry and let her sleep when she wanted to sleep. This new approach, combined with everything we did to help her “gas”, seemed to work and Eliza started settling down and sleeping for 3 hour stretches at night. This worked very well during weeks 3, 4 and 5. So well that we were able to transition Eliza from the bassinet in our room to her crib in the without any issues.

When Eliza was 5 weeks, however, she started to demand food every 30 minutes. We started a bad cycle of her being hungry and me feeling like I didn’t have enough food to give her because she had just eaten. We were both very frustrated. Finally, Rich convinced me to start implementing the 3 hour feeding schedule again. I was resistant at first because I didn’t want to follow a regimen but I was willing to try anything. I re-focused on trying to get Eliza to eat as much as possible during her feedings and then made her wait 2.5 hours in between each feeding. I then slowly stretched it to 3 hours in between each feeding. We distracted her with pacifiers and other soothing techniques and soon, she was happily eating every 3 hours.

Weeks 5 and 6 were great. Eliza ate every 3-4 hours and slept 4-6 hours at night. She would go to bed at 10:00 pm, sleep until 3:00 am, and then go back down (after a diaper change and feeding) until around 8:00 am. I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and we were just days away from her sleeping through the night.

But then Week 7 hit and we regressed to a point that disheartened both me and Rich. Week 8 was the worst. On Christmas Eve, we found ourselves driving Eliza around the neighborhood at 1:00 am. It didn’t work. We then started what had become our new routine: put Eliza in the bouncy seat with the vibration on and have my husband bounce the chair on the sofa until 4:30 am. This “routine” continued through the New Year and we knew we needed help.

We had been thinking about calling Moms On Callafter receiving multiple recommendations from friends. Moms On Call is an infant/toddler service run by two pediatric nurses who offer in-home consultations, books, DVDs, webinars, etc. Several friends had hired MOC for in-home consultations and raved about their experiences. All of them swore that MOC helped them get their babies on a sleep schedule and sleep through the night.

I was skeptical and resistent at first but knew we needed help. I emailed MOC and set up an in-home consultation with Laura, one of the MOC founders. Laura came to our house and went right to work showing us the basics of baby care. She gave Eliza a bath, clipped her nails, used the bulb syringe, swaddled Eliza and put her down for a nap. Afterwards, we sat down with Laura and she gave us detailed instructions on feeding and and sleeping. Laura outlined a Eat, Wake, Sleep schedule and answered any questions we had. She also gave us a copy of the Moms On Call book which comes with a helpful DVD.

Perhaps even more helpful than the in-home visit, the consultation charge also includes 6 months of personal follow up via phone and email. I emailed Laura almost every day for two weeks and I still email her every few days with questions.

So, what is the magic of the MOC method and how long did it take for Eliza to sleep through the night? Well, to be honest, the MOC schedule isn’t very different from other Eat, Wake, Sleep schedules. Basically, you feed your baby, play with her for a hour to an hour and a half, then let her sleep until the next feeding. Feedings should be 3-3.5 hours apart. Laura told us that the key to this schedule is to wake baby up at the same time everyday and have a consistent bedtime routine.

MOC is also very keen on swaddling correctly. They have their own swaddle method which you can view on their DVDs or webinars and they sell their custom swaddle blankets on their website. There are some other little tips and tricks but I think we were able to get Eliza to sleep 11 hours after two weeks (!!!) because of several reasons:

1) We followed the schedule to the letter. I wrote the schedule down on a white board in Eliza’s room and I still use it. While I allow some flexibility and use my judgement based on my day, I always try to wake her up and put her down at the same time everyday.

2) We have a consistent bedtime routine: bath, bottle, bed.

3) We put Eliza to bed much earlier now. Before MOC, we didn’t put Eliza to “bed” until 10:00 because we didn’t think she would go to sleep. Now she goes down at 8:00.

4) We followed Laura’s advice and give her a pumped 7 oz bottle at her bedtime feeding. This allows us to see how much she is taking in before bed and ensures that she “tanks up” so she sleeps through the night

5) Whenever I am unsure of something, not feeling confident in my decision, etc. I email Laura and she either tells me what I need to do instead or she encourages me and tells me to keep at it – this makes a huge difference than just reading Baby Wise, Healthy Sleep Habits, etc.

6) We let her cry it out (to a point).

7) I spoke to Eliza’s pediatrician about the MOC program and methods and she approved it which makes us confident in following Laura’s advice.

#6 is the most controversial part of the MOC method. If you look at the reviews on Amazon, some people rail against the “cry it out” method in the book. To be honest, I don’t think the MOC book does a great job of explaining their method. The book makes it sound like MOC believes you should just lock your newborn away at night and let them cry through the night. The truth is MOC basically follows the Ferber Method which is “cry it out” but only to a point.

Laura told us to put Eliza down for bed and sooth her every 5-10 minutes if she cries. Keep doing this until 30 minutes is up. Then check her diaper, see if she is hungry and start the process over until she is asleep. So, the first night we put Eliza down, she was not a happy camper. We soothed her every 5 minutes by jiggling her with our hand, giving her a pacifier, repositioning her, etc. but we tried not to pick her up. Then, after 30 minutes we checked her diaper, gave her another ounce of milk and put her back down. She started crying again so it was back to soothing her every 5 minutes. After about 20 minutes, she fell asleep. She then slept until 3:00 am. I fed her and put her back to sleep and she slept until 7:00 am.

The second night Eliza cried for almost 25 minutes. We soothed her every 5 minutes during that time but then she magically we to sleep until 3 am. Again, I fed her and put her down and she slept until 7:00 am. After a few days, Eliza cried for only 5 or 10 minutes and we didn’t need to sooth her at all before she went to sleep.

A week or so later, Laura coached us through how to eliminate the nighttime feeding altogether. We set 3:30 am as Eliza’s feed time and we consoled her for a half hour if she woke before that. For example, if Eliza woke at 2:45 am, we soothed her every 5 or 10 minutes. If she was still awake by 3:15, I went ahead and fed her. We followed this until she started consistently sleeping past 3:30. Then, we pushed the feed time to 4:00 am and followed the same pattern. Then 4:30, 5:00, 5:30 and so on until her nighttime feeding disappeared. It only took about a week for her to start sleeping consistently from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am.

Laura was also very helpful in coaching us on how to get Eliza to sleep without her swaddle since her daycare doesn’t swaddle. Although it is basically the same process (soothing every 10 minutes until she falls asleep), there is something about having a professional “on call” to reassure you that you are doing the right thing and that what you are doing will work and will help your child.

These days, Eliza might fuss for a couple minutes when we put her down but then she falls right to sleep and sleeps soundly until morning. I know this blessing probably won’t last forever – teething, tantrums and nightmares could be in our future. But for now, this is bliss.

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  1. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with sleep. We are doing some serious re-evaluation on sleep strategies right now with our 3.5 month-old girl. We’re reading Dr. Wiessbluth’s book and trying his methods. I was interested to read that you’ve been successful at already weaned Eliza from her night time feeding. I hope we can be as successful with sleep as you have!!

    I’ve been following your blog since last summer when I found you after googling “round ligament pain.” I was having the same pains and having trouble finding info on the web! I discovered you were on a similar schedule as our pregnancy – we were due on Nov. 14th. Then, our little girl decided to come early too!! My water broke the morning of Oct 24th and she was born that evening.

    Anyway, thanks for blogging. I enjoy reading your stuff. I don’t think we have Moms On Call here in Colorado, but I’m definitely going to look into it :-)


    • Lindsay – So exciting to know I have a fan! :) Congrats on your little girl! I am sure, like Eliza, she is smiling more every day and becoming more and more fun. I am happy this information was helpful for you and I wish you the best of luck in getting your baby to sleep. If you ever reach a crisis point, Moms On Call will answer email questions even if you aren’t technically a “client.” They gave some great advice to my friend. You can also check out their facebook page and ask a question on their wall.

  2. I loved reading this! I loved MOC with baby #1! Baby #2 is a different story though! He’s a lot harder! I think we may have to get MOC here again! What was you schedule like at 10 weeks? It’s so hard to set a wake up time and get everyone to bed at a reasonable hour! Great work and good luck in the future!

  3. Gas pain can be avoided by being mindfull about the things that you eat. avoid too much carbonated drinks and junk foods. ;

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  4. My 18 month old (yes you read that correctly) won’t sleep and hasn’t since he was 4 monts. Desperate here.

  5. Months, sorry. And I meant “through the night” and in his own bed.

  6. Anything that causes intestinal gas or is associated with constipation or diarrhea can lead to gas pains. These pains generally occur when gas builds up in your intestines, and you’re not able to expel it. On average, most people pass gas at least 10 times a day.,

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