Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last February, I have mused on the different techniques to get your baby to sleep a full night. Animal training theory clearly ridiculed these theories. I was looking with disdain at all of them, including the colonel method (extinction).

I know two colonels: Elisa and myself.

One week ago, I came back from work having read some more of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," by Mark Weissbluth, that recommended extinction. The rationale: it works, and it is the method that parents have an easiest time sticking to, because it will have effects very quickly (hence, positive feedback, for when you need to do it again after a sleep mess-up). Elisa, at the same time, had done some internet reading, in particular from Dario's pediatrician website. Claim: a baby is ready to do her nights at an early age. It's just the parents who are not ready.

At that time, Dario was being fed at 1:30am, 3:30am and 6am, roughly.

We looked deep inside ourselves, and thought that, if the conditions had been right, in a time of war, a war against an enemy set to destroy a good part of Humanity, that only the most resolved could stand a chance to defeat, if that had happened, it our president had asked for our help, had begged to put us in charge of a regiment, we thought, we would have accepted our responsibilities and the rank of colonel.

And thus, that same night, we moved Dario back to his room, closed behind him the steel doors of our hearts, and didn't answer his cries until the pre-specified time of 5am. Two nights later, he was sleeping seven hours in a row.

Last night, he slept nine hours and gulped down eight ounces of formula upon waking up at 5:20am. Two personal records that we will remind him of, with tears, for his twentieth birthday.

Where is animal training and positive feedback in all that? My belief system is shaken if not ground to bits.

With a way out: what we did was: "Ignore inconsequential undesirable behavior." We were using principles of animal training after all. Like any colonel who knows his men well.

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