Ask SIFTW: Developmental hell

December 28, 2007

Janelle from Athens, GA writes:


Our daughter is six and half months old. She slept with us for the first three months and then we gradually moved her into a crib right next to our bed. She did great in it for a couple of months. We had several nights where she would sleep three hours, then five, then three more. We got used to this. Now, she is crawling, trying to pull herself up in her crib and teething. She is waking up every thirty minutes or so and needs to be parented back to sleep. My husband and I are fried today after her waking every 25 minutes last night. We don’t believe in crying it out and are into attachment parenting. We had a home birth and are trying to be compassionate conscious parents, and frankly, we’re both a little forlorn right now. Any help, suggestions you can offer would be more than welcome.


Oh god, yes, developmental milestones may be amazing to see but they are a total pain in the arse at night when baby decides there’s far too much going on to sleep. Combine this with teething and it’s no wonder you’re feeling knackered. Here’s a few of my thoughts.


On the teething, some people swear by homeopathic powders like Ashton & Parsons. They might not work for everyone but they’ve gotta be worth a go — and you can use them alongside conventional pain relief. Then I would rub Bonjela on the gums at bedtime and give Calpol if necessary. 


On the frequent wakings, how about taking her back into your bed for a while until she gets through this stage? As she slept fine in her crib up til all this kicked off, I’m sure it won’t be a problem to get her back in the crib once she’s settled down again.


Just another thought, presumably you’ve started weaning her pretty recently, and this could also be causing discomfort. Might be worth keeping a food diary and seeing if she’s more unsettled after eating a particular food, or if she has solids too late in the day. 


As for the developmental spurts, well, there’s sadly not much you can do apart from wait until she’s learned the new skill and stops needing to practise it in the night. At which point hopefully she’ll start sleeping more again… until she starts working on the next skill.


I am thankful that I did not spend my night searching for poo

December 8, 2007

Everytime I think things aren’t going my way, I just have to come back here for a laugh and to regain my perspective. The case of the missing poop. Brilliant.

Not sleeping. Standing.

December 5, 2007

Dear Baby,

Why will  you not give yourself a chance to fall asleep? You cannot fall asleep if when I put you down in your cot, you immediately stand up holding onto the side. Is it because of developmental imperative – you cannot help but stand up? Your poor frustrated mother trying to catch you every second from slipping and smacking your head on the taps because you insist on standing up for the whole of bath time. And now this standing mission is translated to bedtime too. Please lie down and go to sleep. You used to go to sleep so nicely while feeding. You used to go to sleep with daddy rocking you. Now there is just standing. And with the standing comes the yelling.

I once heard of a mother putting her baby in his cot standing up. At least then, there was only one direction for him to go. 

Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad things

December 3, 2007

So I made a start on night weaning.  Then stuff happened.

Things that are bound to mess up your well-meaning efforts at sleep training:

1. Illness (me).  When you’re struggling with a cold, cough and other unidentified bugs, you are not in the mood for spacing feeds, checking clocks and all the rest that goes with sleep training.  Feed the baby and go back to sleep.

2. Illness (him).  If your partner is ill as well, you’ll definitely be taking the easiest route.  He will also not appreciate an exposition of baby sleep habits at 3am.

3. Illness (baby).  Colds are not good for sleep.  Neither are coughs that wake the baby up 30 minutes after he’s reluctantly gone down for the night.  The worst one is the tummy bug that leads to 3am baths and much swearing when locating the last clean sheet in the house. (Tip: if you can’t face changing the bed, small amounts of vomit can be dealt with using baby wipes and a clean muslin over the damp spot).

4. Immunisations.  I forgot to mention that Loudboy had his MMR last week: the effects should start kicking in, ooh, tomorrow or the next day.  Fun.

5. Temperature.  Room too cold? Bung baby in pjs and a vest.  But then he’ll be too hot if you’re co-sleeping so you have to take off some layers when you go to bed (if you think you can do this without waking the baby up you’re on the wrong blog).  Then when he’s kicked his way out of the duvet in the early hours he’ll be cold again.  Have you tried searching for those pj bottoms at the end of the bed at 3am?  In the dark?  The sooner they invent automatic retractable baby clothes the better.

6.  Teeth.  Molars.  No need to elaborate.

To sum up: winter is BAD NEWS.  Or maybe just November.  Or maybe just me.  At least December holds the prospect of time off work and presents and sherry and the possibility of family babysitting.  Roll on Christmas (and the hope, some time, somewhere, of a good night’s sleep).

 In the meantime, put your feet up and have a listen to the man himself, Fela Kuti.

Ask SIFTW: Another 7 month bub causing havoc

December 2, 2007

We got two emails about 7 month olds within 12 hours of each other. So what is going on with the 7 month olds of this world? Jane writes:

This isn’t really a question, more of a shout-out across the fog of sleep deprivation to say thanks for your blog, which has, at moments, retained my sanity after returning from another mum and baby group where I was surrounded by 3 and 4 month old babies sleeping 7-7 and their smug mothers.

My baby, now 7 months, isn’t a great sleeper at all, and we’ve currently hit a particularly bad spot that involves wakings every one to two hours at night. Aside from feeling terrible physically it makes me feel resentful of my child (who is otherwise a gorgeous, happy baby), tearful at embarrassing moments (at the doctor’s, in a shop, at the bank …), and constantly worried about what the next night will bring. And sad that I could be enjoying my maternity leave and this precious time with my child so much more than I am.

Am currently reading Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution and starting to implement some of its suggestions – be interested to know what you think. I also took her to a paediatric osteopath yesterday and wondered if any of you had done this.

Right. This is probably not so much of an answer to your question as me saying: It’s hell. I’ve been there. It’s hell. I feel your pain. And yeah. It’s hell. If we at SIFTW are doing anything, I’m glad to know that we are letting parents know that not all babies sleep. And it’s not your fault. Sometimes nothing you can do will make any difference other than riding it out.

What is with all those smug mothers with their 7-7 babies? I only have two explanations.

Perhaps there are two breeds of babies, the sleepers and the non-sleepers. The parents of the sleepers get to believe that they were endowed with superior parenting skills that have enabled their child to be a fantastic sleeper, while the parents of the non-sleepers worry that their parenting is somehow lacking and causing their child to sleep so badly. I’m thinking it may be all down to personality. My evidence? Mothers who have had two children, one of whom has been a sleeper and one who hasn’t. Have they parented any differently? No.

My other explanation is that there are a lot of parental lies going on. I’ll let you judge that one for yourself.

It’s really difficult to enjoy life when you are not getting sleep. I’ve gone through those times feeling bad for not ‘enjoying my baby’. I felt it was my right to enjoy this special baby time and I felt ripped off because it was so hard and I constantly felt like I’d been run over by a bus. It’s okay to feel tired. It’s okay to feel a bit resentful. But try to focus on each day as it comes and treat yourself a little.

7 months is a hard time. There is so much going on. I won’t even attempt to guess the reason that your baby has started sleeping worse lately (though sounds like s/he’s never been a great sleeper). The list of things is a mile long. Sometimes I get exhausted just thinking about all the physical and mental development a 7 month old has to do. Add to that, they are probably approaching separation anxiety territory, so your baby may be very reluctant to part with you, especially at night.

I did take the Imp to a cranial osteopath when he was very little to try and help with breastfeeding and with sleeping. I really like the approach, but I can’t say that I saw any tangible improvement at the time. Though I’ve heard reports of them doing amazing things with kids. There are a few SIFTWers who are very familiar with Pantley too. Her methods are so much gentler than some other parenting gurus out there. I’ll call on the gang to give their experiences in the comments perhaps.

Best of luck getting through this trying time.