The case of the pretty hostess and the baby who didn’t sleep a wink

January 9, 2008

It’s 10.20am and I’ve already had my first round of chocolate cake. Ah, no-ones looking!

A week ago we got back from our around the world in 30 days adventure.

When the Imp was little, it appeared he was a little different from other babies. Mostly, he stayed awake. He cried when he was tired, but he didn’t go to sleep. Other babies we knew would fall asleep. In pushchairs, in cots, wherever. The Imp took no notice. He thought those babies were weak.

Fast forward 11 months or so and put the Imp on a plane from London to Hong Kong. An overnight flight of 13 hours or so. Despite the flight being during the Imp’s nighttime hours, despite cuddling and feeding and snuggling and the dull drone of the airplane, the Imp does not sleep. His father manages to get him to sleep for an hour or so by bouncing him in the sling. But when he sits down, the Imp is up. But he is not crying. He is happy. He is flirting with the airline hostess. He plays peek-a-boo with the other passengers. For 13 hours. This child is not of this world.

Hong Kong to Sydney, he pretty much does the same, although this time the Imp has a partner in crime, a lovely little kid a couple of months his senior. By 5 hours into the flight though the fellow rogue falls into a deep sleep for the rest of the flight and the Imp is left disappointed by his mate’s lack of stamina.

I laugh at all the people who consoled me about the trip saying, “oh, all babies sleep on planes, they just love the motion and the sound, it literally lulls them to sleep”, “they give you a bassinet for them to sleep in don’t they?”

Yeah, no problem, I’ll just lie back and watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Good times.

Ok, so my kid doesn’t like sleep. I get it now. But he also needs it less than I think he should given he was a complete angel on the flights (sleep aside).

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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: Baby waking at 7 months after sleeping through

November 30, 2007

David writes:

Our 7 month old has been sleep trained for about a month (what took us so long?) and now he goes to sleep at 6:30 or7pm and is fine. But today he had an odd day and had an extra nap. So, although he went to sleep fine, he has woken up. What should we do? Let him cry it out or go comfort him, take him out of bed, play for a while, night feed and then put him back? Or something else?

Firstly, sounds like you’ve been getting a bit of sleep in the last month David, so well done, that’s not an easy achievement in itself. Firstly, crazy nap days are going to happen. We’re off on holidays tomorrow and the Imp does not nap so well in the pushchair, so I think we are in for an interesting time with loads of overtiredness. For some babies, naps really do seem to dictate the flow of nighttime sleep, for others the connection is somewhat dubious at best.

Your baby has woken up in the night after sleeping through for a month or so. There’s a couple of ways you could take this (off the top of my head). Hopefully it is a one off for you and he will go back to sleeping soon.

  1. Baby had too much sleep in the day and is now awake at some ungodly hour thinking about playing and entertainment. As tempting as it is to play a bit of hide and seek at 3am, I tend to think keeping the mood dull and sleepy with the lights low is key. Even if baby won’t nod off straight away, at least you may be instilling the message that nighttimes are very very boring and it is way better to keep sleeping. When the Imp really insists on doing stuff at ungodly hours, I usually lie down and feign sleep while he climbs over me, pulls my hair, pokes my eyes until he lets out a little yawn and then I try to rush him off to bed again.
  2. Since Baby has been sleeping through for a month, I would consider whether there is something new that might be waking him up, teething, illness, that kind of thing. He might need a little more comfort than usual until this passes. The Imp is a terrible co-sleeper, but will happily sleep with us if he’s sick or teething.
  3. At this age, you might want to consider if Baby is going through some developmental spurt, such as learning to crawl as this can cause them to wake up at night rocking on hands and knees and such and such.
  4. Concede that you don’t know what the hell is causing this night waking and get your baby to sleep by any means possible and hope that it’s just a phase.
  5. If this waking becomes a habitual night after night, then you are back to considering the way forward. Can you live with some interrupted sleep for a bit, or do you need to revisit the sleep training?

What do our readers think? Post your thoughts/advice in the comments.


There’s one thing guaranteed to mess up a baby’s sleep…

November 21, 2007

Chops in hospital…and that’s three nights in hospital, with oxygen tubes attached at one end and a heart rate monitor at the other, suffering from bronchiolitis and with nurses coming and poking you every ten minutes through the night.The good news is that after a serious bout of this horrid illness left him breathless and miserable, Chops is on the mend. The bad news is that three nights of messed-up sleep plus a lingering cough have played havoc with his (already unreliable) sleeping habits and we have had a week of sleep hell since getting home from hospital. Here’s hoping for a steady improvement…


Colds and other nasties

October 23, 2007

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, along comes a cold.  Loudboy was up all last night, coughing and snotting all over me (the downside to breastfeeding is that I am the comforter of choice, leaving his dad to roll over and try and get a bit of sleep in between coughing fits).  Now, other mums speak of the glories of Medised, which helps clear up snot and knocks babies out for hours.  Unless you’re Loudboy, who is immune to sleep-inducing drugs.  Two large doses of Medised during the night had little effect other than a gigantic nappy explosion at about 6am.    I left him muttering and staring moodily at a rice cake.  It’s going to be a fun few days…


Getting through the day …

September 25, 2007

I used to be of the school of thought that you should suffer through a cold. You should grab a bottomless hot lemon and manuka honey drink and throw your doona on the couch for the duration, subjecting yourself to reruns of friends and updating yourself on Oprah’s latest weight struggle.

No more. Give me the panadol. The nurofen. The cold and flu tablets. For heaven’s sake get me one of each enticing packet that the pharmacy has on offer. I’ve got a 9 month old to look after, and he won’t let me lie on the couch for hours with Oprah as my best friend.

So I still fall back on the faithful natural rememdies, but with a few pharmaceuticals to get us through. It’s the same as with sleep really, you’ve just got to do what you can to get through in the best way that you can.

And if you need to take anything while breastfeeding, you can get great information from the Breastfeeding Network’s Drugline.