At 14 months, would you?

March 26, 2008

Colleen writes:

I am grappling with a near 8 month old who is deeply entrenched in the need to nurse to sleep, has super spidey where is mommy sense, and well, gets me up too many times in the night. He naps brilliantly twice daily but we get a three hour stretch maybe onceevery 2 nights, and otherwise it’s up every 1.5 hours.

It sucks, as you know, but I am staying home with him now and can somewhat afford to be groggy. When he is 13-14 months, however, I am starting grad school in a program that is very very demanding–neourscience, dissecting cadavers, and lots of physics probs in the first semester. The director of the program tried to intimidate me out of coming because a student with a three month old dropped out last year after a month (not fair, not cool, but she is the boss).

Obviously, you don’t know me or my kid, but can you give me an idea of how rested and ready to cope with life you felt at 13-14 months? It would be a big help to me in psyching up to go or maybe making a big decision to take another year and consider a program that is not going to try to scare me off.

Colleen, RESPECT going out to you for deciding to study neuroscience. This post is really tricky for me to answer, because at the end of the day, the real answer is IT DEPENDS. And I think it depends primarily on 3 things.

1. Your child.

I have to say that my 14 months old is a hell of a lot easier than my 8 month old was. Remarkably easier. But that doesn’t mean he’s a sleeping dream, or isn’t difficult at times, but it does mean that most of the time I’m not a walking zombie anymore. Your child is probably the aspect of this that you can least control, but I’d say working towards some kind of sleeping plan, slowly, slowly, so that you might envisage some kind of sensible blocks of sleep towards 14 months might be useful. That said, there are times when no sleep plans work and a kid just needs their mommy, so go with your gut instinct on what your kid can handle.

2. You

There are still going to be some sleepless nights, some tantruming episodes, some throwing food on the walls, some near-concussion falls (hopefully not too many) and to some extent I think it comes down to the personal question of how you balance the committments in your life. If you have to front up to dissect a cadaver after being up all night with a fever-y toddler, will you cope okay? I like to think sometimes that we do what we have to do and we get through, but I still tend to think we should try to maintain a modicum of sanity in the process.

3. Outside help

I think this is the most crucial aspect. How much support/babysitting/childcare/emotional support etc you will have at your disposal. If the people around you are incredbily supportive and you have good childcare arrangements, this could really make all the difference.

I’m sorry I can’t look into my crystal ball and tell you whether your child will be an easy or difficult 14 month old (and whether you’ll be getting much sleep). In my experience, yes, I’m getting more sleep, and yes, it’s a lot easier generally. But do I feel like embarking on a neuroscience degree? No. But then I never did without kids either!

Go for it Colleen.

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Sleep and time changes

March 10, 2008

and by the way, on the time change transition, Moxie has said everything I wanted to say, but much more clearly and succinctly. Here it is.


Feel free to hate me because …

March 10, 2008

the Imp is taking 1 nap a day that lasts between 2 and 3 hours. Can you believe? And this from a baby that would only sleep when held and had to be walked around in the sling to nap.

I love you 14 months naptime bliss! How long will you last?


Ask SIFTW: Windy minxes and dream feeding

March 4, 2008

Simone has a question about dreamfeeding:

How does it work? My nearly 10 week old, sleeps really well from 6.30/7 pm until about 11pm, feeds and thinks it’s playtime. She doesnt settle again till about 12-12.30am, sleeps and wakes at 3.30-4 am, and at this point it really is playtime, and she is so fidgety and frantic and takes forever to settle. When she does it’s till 7-7.30 am, she feeds and then we are ready for the day.

Should i dream feed at 11pm? Will it make her stay asleep and settled till 3.30?Also why does she not fall asleep after her bottle, but fidget and frantically thrash about for an hour? do you think she may be windy or just a minx?

Simone, please feel free to slap me for this because I totally know you are in sleepless hell at the moment, but it sounds like your little minx (do you mind if I call her that, affectionately of course!) is doing quite well in the sleep stakes. 10 weeks is pretty early days and babies are still working out the difference between night and day and I figure if they can do a couple of 3-4 hour stretches at night, then they are already starting to figure out that nighttime is for sleeping. 10 weeks is probably too early to be expecting much more in respect of sleeping (or in respect of anything really), so go with it, do the best you can, and get the sleep you can in the meantime.

3 or 4 hours doesn’t seem like much when you are craving 7 or 8 hours in a row (or perhaps 24 hours straight as the case may be), but take what you can get and hopefully you’ve been blessed with a good sleeper who will get into a nice pattern as she gets a little older.

As for dreamfeeding, my feeling is that you could give it a try and see what happened. I think dreamfeeding can work well when the reason that the baby wakes up is because of hunger. Unfortunately there are a myriad of other reasons babies wake and can’t settle back that dreamfeeding just won’t fix. I tried dreamfeeding with the Imp a few times and it really did nothing other than to give him an extra milk feed in the night as he still woke up at exactly the same times even after the dreamfeed.

Probably the reason she doesn’t fall asleep straight after her bottle is to do with the day/night distinction thing and also your scintillating company. Babies don’t see the imperative of sleeping at particular times, so if there is something more interesting to do at 4am than sleep, then likelihood is, they will do that instead. Over time, you can try and teach them that nighttime is for sleeping, but for the moment, just keep the mood chilled and the lights off and see if you can coax her back to sleepyland.

If she’s crying a lot after feeds, maybe she’s windy, you can try to bring up some burps, but again, as they get older, they are better at dealing with wind. And as for being a minx? I’ll leave that to you to decide.


Ask SIFTW: Early wakers rejoice at the imminent time change

March 3, 2008

Kirsty and Myk write:

Our lovely son is turning 1 year on the 25th of February. He has been a very good baby with the exception that he was a terrible sleeper. We say “was” because after many months of compassionate sleep training – He seems to be sleeping better. However, it’s only been a few weeks. We’re sure some awful sleep regression is heading our way.

His bedtime used to be 9pm, and after reading every baby sleep book decided to try for the early bed time. We made it 8pm and then when the last time change occurred, we used it as an opportunity to make his bedtime 7pm. All the books said he’d probably sleep just as long, if not longer. Ha! Of course that was not our case. He just woke up earlier. So now that he is sleeping better he is averaging 10.5 hrs a night (It used to be 11 hrs with frequent night wakings). So we put him to bed at 7pm and he wakes at 5:30am. If we’re lucky we can get him to sleep until 6am. But not usually. We hate the 5am wake ups! They are the worst. We’d like to push his bedtime back to 8pm.

With the time change occurring in March we are thinking of keeping him on the same schedule. He’ll feel like its 7pm when we put him down at 8pm. Then *hopefully* he’ll sleep until 6:30am and if we’re lucky 7pm. In your opinion does this seem like a good idea?

You know what – there is a reason it’s been taking me FOREVER to respond to this question.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

The Imp is now going to bed at 7pm (that’s as late as he can stay up without having a stellar meltdown performance) and getting up at … you guessed it … 5.30 bloody AM.

And guess what my first thought is … Kirsty is onto something with the March time change.

Frankly, I don’t really have the energy or patience to make changes any other way.

I love an email that says “all the books said”. What the hell do books know? They never knew my son. Or at least the Imp had never read those books. I guess yours hasn’t either. This bedtime thing seems to be a juggling act. My considerations seem to be – how long can they survive in the afternoon/evening before having a major meltdown? And what time does this mean they are going to wake up in the morning? Seriously, if I could put the Imp to bed at 5pm and have him sleep through until 7am the next morning, I wouldn’t have a problem with that! I sure would get a lot done in the evenings.

I would say that if your son is waking up at 5.30am happy and ready to play and making it through the day ok without having tired- related meltdowns, then he’s getting enough sleep and that is his rhythm. Of course you can try puttin him to bed a little later and see if it helps, and by all means the time change may work in your favour.

But also be prepared for the scenario that it may not work. An interesting thing happened when we travelled half way around the world. I thought to myself: Wonderful! Since the Imp’s body clock will be messed with anyway, I’ll just put him to bed around 10pm each night and that way we can take him out to dinner with us each night and he’ll just sleep in each morning. It worked like that for a few nights, but as he adjusted to the local time, he seemed to NEED to go to bed around 7pm. So maybe it’s something to do with the daylight, the sunrise and sunset or whatever.

So just in case, you are still getting up at 5.30am next month, try and get earlier nights yourself, and maybe get a coffee maker that switches itself on in the mornings. Best of luck. I hope it works for you (and us!)