Good times, bad times

January 17, 2008

Thinking back over the last year and a half of being a parent and talking to other mothers, there are definite times when babies are easier: 15 months is an obvious one for me at the moment (one waking last night!  hurrah!).  10 months is often a good window to change things, although I don’t remember it being great for us.  20 months to 2 years (depending on the child) is supposed to be much easier as well.  These are probably good times to alter things (night weaning, moving to own bed etc.).

Conversely, there are bad times you have to grit your teeth and get through however you can.  There seem to be far more of these, or maybe I am remembering the bad times more than the good.  Moxie has a great summary of some of these spurt times (I found growth spurts the most difficult times to get through as sleep was replaced with the need to feed constantly).  My own memory of months 1-15 goes like this:

Day 3: just before milk comes in, feeding ALL THE TIME. No sleep.  Still shell-shocked.

Week 3: first big growth spurt, constant feeding for a week.  Most people tell you spurts last for a few days, well not for us.

Week 6: another one.  Grrrrrrr.

Week 12: getting bored of this now…

Month 4: even more disruption as a big sleep regression kicks in

Month 6: I thought starting solids was supposed to help with sleep!  Not in this house, baby is waking more because he’s unsettled.  Going back to work probably doesn’t help.  This is the point where we give up on the cot completely and co-sleep to preserve what little sanity I have left.

Months 7/8/9: at least one growth spurt, feels like lots.  Sleep is disrupted for a looooong time.  Also teeth popping through constantly.  Not good.  Sanity lost a long time ago.

Month 12/13: another ****** growth spurt.  Baby is behaving like a newborn again.  Tempers fray.  Molars breaking through.

Month 14: things start settling down and a few 3 hour blocks of sleep keep us away from the loony bin.  Naps settle down.  Bedtimes start to be an issue.

Month 15: action taken on sleep (getting baby alseep before midnight, into cot and not feeding at night).  Rather shocked when it actually works. Good thing too, because

Month 18: things are supposed to go belly-up again.  Time to bank some sleep now…


Going pear-shaped at a year (or so)

October 16, 2007

Thanks to Amber for pointing this out:

So we have a good reason why our nights are really, really awful at the moment.  This reason makes a lot of sense to me: Loudboy is definitely starting to work out that things follow on from each other (mainly that bedtime = milk!).  Any tips for getting through on hourly wakings or worse?

Recipe for disaster

October 2, 2007

The Imp turns 9 months in two days

Take one growth spurt

And a pinch of separation anxiety

Take one baby trying desperately to stand and cruise all the time

Add in a full moon a few nights back

Mix in some teething pain

Sift in a cranky mamma who is over being a walking milk dispenser and human climbing frame

Seems we’re not making chocolate cake here folks…

Things I will not be doing again

September 14, 2007

Now Loudboy is nearly one (where did the time go?) it’s a good time to reflect on his first year and the things I will definitely not be repeating if (IF) we have another baby.

1. Settling to sleep in his cot.  Took weeks and many tearful nights (me and him) where I was trying for hours to get him to sleep from a sleepy/awake state in his cot.  I had read the books.  This was Important.  What they don’t tell you is that as soon as you manage it they have a big developmental spurt/develop separation anxiety/restart teething and refuse to do it ever again.  Save yourself the angst until they’re ready to do it by themselves.  Oh, and it makes s** all difference to the number of wakings/settling themselves back to sleep/going back to sleep in the cot. 

2. Consistent naptime/bedtime routines.  Again, takes ages and then everything changes (see 1).

3. Getting the baby out of your bed and into the cot.  See 1.

4. Worrying about breastfeeding.  Loudboy fed well from the beginning.  He just fed often: every 2 hours (or less during a growth spurt) for the first five months.  He was gaining weight, was happy and settled, developing well, so of course I didn’t worry if he was getting enough/latching on well/feeding too often.  Ha. Of course I did.  Completely pointless.  Feed the baby when he’s hungry, get used to feeding in public and ignore anyone who tells you babies only need to feed every 3 or 4 hours.

5. Worrying about weaning.  You get to 6 months, offer a bit of pureed carrot and they refuse it!  Disaster!  They will starve!  Er, no.  Takes some babies longer to get interested in food, but they get there eventually.  Loudboy now chomping his way through three meals a day and pinching everyone else’s food when he can get away with it.

6. But the books say… Endless arguments with my husband as I was wearily trying to get Loudboy to sleep/eat/nap ‘but The Books Say to do this’.  Husband: ‘It’s a waste of time, it isn’t working, give up and do something else’.  I hate to say it, but he was right.  Dammit.

Struggling through

August 10, 2007

It’s great when you can see progress, however slight, in your baby’s sleeping habits.  Longer naps, easier bedtimes, longer gaps between wakings.  What about when there isn’t any progress and things seem to be regressing?  That’s where we are at the moment – Loudboy is still waking at least every couple of hours at night, he’s refusing to stay in his cot for long periods and his naps are up the shoot.  Excuses? Well, he’s hit the 10 month cling zone and hates to be separated from me or his dad, whoever is on duty.  He’s hyper during the day, crawling, climbing, thinking about walking, destroying anything he can see.  He’s also restless at night.  The warm nights don’t help as he gets very thirsty so is feeding more, meaning more nappy changes and so it goes on.

So how to get through?  First, it’s a phase.   It’s always a phase, even if it has lasted for ages.  It Will Pass.

Second, we relax and do what we need to get through alive and sane.  For us, that means bringing Loudboy into bed with us when he gets too restless for his cot, wearing him out during the day (and not worrying too much about nap times) and giving him lots of cuddles and playtime.

Is it time for sleep training? I don’t know.  The timing isn’t right at the moment, as we’ll soon be on holiday and in strange rooms and beds.  Then we will hopefully be moving house.  But if Loudboy doesn’t get his head around this sleep business on his own, it may be time to gently intervene, so watch this space.

Excuses, excuses …

July 9, 2007

You know the drill. You’re wearing your comfiest trackies (which you may or may not admit to still being maternity wear) fast approaching the other pram wielding lady in the park with her twin set and pearls whom you met at your antenatal NCT class. You’re full of dread. She’s going to ask all the usual questions.

It’s so lovely to see you A, and how is the little Imp?

Oh he’s wonderful, really growing up fast. And how is your little Monster?

Yes, great at 6 months, he’s already eating a four course dinner, and of course he can sign all the letters in the alphabet forwards and backwards. His nanny taught him that. And how is the Imp sleeping now, I remember you were having a hard time …

Oh, so there’s the awful question. At this stage, you could quickly lie and run a mile or delve into our bag of excuses that we have created for situations like this.

A. The Growth Spurt

So I know some babies have been on a growth spurt for 9 months continuously. Feeding like crazy at night. However, this does not invalidate the strength of this great excuse. Who cares that growth spurts are meant to come at certain intervals. Babies are growing all the time aren’t they?

B. The Developmental Milestone

Use this as an excuse, especially if your friend’s baby has not reached the relevant milestone. Oh little Imp is so busy reciting Dylan Thomas poetry at night in his head that he can’t stay asleep. It’s just too exciting for him. (note, may be more convincing if you use an actual milestone such as sitting up, rolling, talking, crawling etc.)

C. The “he’s so advanced, he doesn’t need that much sleep” response

This is a good one if you want to talk up your baby, and insinuate that s/he’s likely to work in a high powered job where you often need to function on little sleep. Oh, little Imp would be brilliant in London’s top law firm. He just doesn’t need more than a few hours sleep a night. Of course then, you might have to hide the fact your baby is about to have a screaming breakdown because s/he is so tired.

D. The age old teething excuse

Red cheeks, dribbling for England, a little grizzly at times? Why not blame baby’s sleeping on teeth. The poor little Imp couldn’t possibly sleep for more than an hour at a time with pain like that. We’ve tried Calpol and Medised but they’re just not doing the trick. We think he’s after something harder …