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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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!)


Ask SIFTW: Early Wakeup Calls

February 17, 2008

ok, so i just wrote the world’s longest post, published it and then somehow (don’t ask me, i’m tired) deleted it. i’m sorry. i’ll try to recreate my genius tomorrow. in the meantime if anyone has any super ideas how to retrieve a lost post from wordpress, i’m open to suggestions.

and if anyone subscribes to us on a feed and happens to be able to magically copy and paste the text of that deleted post (with the above title), i promise you many many years of sleep filled nights. nah, seriously, i will send you a copy of Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution for your efforts.

It was a stupid rambley post anyway. Sigh.


The other side of sleep deprivation

February 7, 2008

This is not going to be a smug my-baby-sleeps-through post, partly because he has reverted to waking before 6am and we are feeling a little frazzled.  Still, we have our evenings back which is fabulous.

This brings me to the point of today’s post: the other things that fall apart when you’re not getting enough sleep.  The obvious candidates are housework (what housework?), laundry, co-ordinated outfits, pampering (remember when your sole aim wasn’t just to get vaguely clean before you had to leap out of the shower or bath?), hot meals, any meals that involve more than 5 minutes preparation, polished shoes… and functioning relationships.

After a whole, ooh, month of time to myself in the evenings and sleep at night (OK, slap me now) I’m wondering how I managed to get through that first year without getting divorced, sacked, ostracised from my family and losing all my friends.  I put it down to being surrounded by exceptionally nice people.  Relationships are hard when you’re not sleeping.  Marriages are particularly tough, especially if as in our case you’re co-sleeping and sharing childcare so neither of you are getting a break.

I’m not sure I have any answers, especially as I suspect I made a balls-up much of the time, but here are some things that might help.

1. Do not make any life-changing decisions when you are going through this.  Your partner does not hate you, your friends aren’t ignoring you and your family aren’t being any more irritating than usual.  Step back from edged weapons and anything involving a lawyer.

2. Be kind to each other.  Really, try.  One good tip I heard is try treating your partner like a work colleague and be polite.  This is harder than you would expect. Also, think about your family and friends once in a while.  They’ll probably forgive you for neglecting them, but you might miss something important.

3. Remember that this will not last forever.  At some point you will be sleeping for longer than an hour or so at a time and you will be amazed at the difference it makes.  In the meantime, give yourself some slack and afford the same luxury to others.


55 weeks and the Imp can’t get back to sleep

January 21, 2008

Whatever bad patch  you are going through, someone has always been through it before. I take a little comfort in that thought during these marathon night wakings. Just as well we are going on another holiday next week which would have sent the sleep haywire anyway. Might as well enjoy the sleep regression as best as we can by enjoying the snow and building lots of snowmen.

So I would be completely justified in bringing the Imp downstairs and watching TV at 3am? Better load up on some dvds that I would love and would bore the Imp to death ….


Partying at all hours

November 24, 2007

We had a couple of weeks where the Imp slept. Amazing. Sometimes he slept through, sometimes until 5am for a feed, then back til 8am (ah bliss), or sometimes just a brief waking at 1 or so. I was a new person. I actually believed I could do anything. I was wonderwoman. I hardly even needed coffee (though I still indulged).

And now, we are back at the waking up at 3am and not going back to sleep routine. Any attempt to place the Imp in his cot results in standing and screaming. Any attempt to bring the Imp into bed results in much cute chatting and poking and climbing and hair pulling, but definitely no sleeping. So what do you do? Really, if you have any advice, I’d be grateful because there seems to be no way of getting him to sleep. Not even feeding will cut it. No amount of Dad’s rocking will do.

I’m tempted to come downstairs and put In the Night Garden on, at least for my sanity, if not the Imp’s.