Sleep and self-sufficiency

August 11, 2008

Kimberley writes:

Tonight my husband and I had our first near-fight regarding the ongoing saga of getting our 14-month-old daughter to sleep better. Thus far we’ve pretty much been on the same page (we were both happy co-sleepers back when co-sleeping seemed to work), although I’ve suspected that he was more comfortable with crying-it-out (CIO) as a sleep strategy.  Now it seems we might be heading toward heated discussion, as I am unwilling to accept CIO.
 
Our daughter has never been a terrific sleeper. She did pretty well with co-sleeping in the beginning, but typically woke a couple of times a night.  I chalked it up to her being so young, to nursing, to her needing us to soothe her, etc. I weaned her much earlier than I had planned (6 months) in an attempt to break her of all-night nursing (she refused to nurse consistently during the daytime, but more than made up for it at night). Though the weaning helped a bit, the bottle remained a very big crutch until just a month or so ago. At 9 months, we began putting her to sleep (with the bottle, rocking, singing, walking about, and, if all else failed, lying down with her for awhile), then placing her in her crib (located in our bedroom). She was usually asleep at the time she was placed in the crib, though sometimes she might be drowsy and quickly drift off on her own. Although she might wake a couple of times (sometimes for milk, sometimes not), she would go back down with minimal comforting. With this pattern, we typically put her in bed with us if she woke anytime after 3am or so (which occurred on most nights).
 
Over the last few months, things have become far less predictable.  She fights going to sleep, and sometimes won’t settle for anything but her swing (which, fortunately for us, goes up to 35 pounds!).  Regardless if she goes to sleep with little fuss or needs the swing, she has been waking at least a few times overnight.  This has been so tiring for us, that she is typically in bed with us by 12 or 1am (when I come to bed after working on my dissertation), though she remains restless even while co-sleeping. Sometimes it takes her over 30 minutes or more to go back to sleep. She might take a few sips of water, then I’ll put her back between my husband and me. Though I might rub her back a bit and sometimes have to stop her from trying to sit or stand up, I generally leave her to put herself back to sleep.
 
The husband and I are now considering our next move(s). We’ve thought about moving her to her own room now, though I’m not sure how she will handle sleeping in what she’s come to think of as her playroom.  And, as indicated above, we’ve begun to talk about CIO. The funny thing is that over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to get her to fall asleep in her crib by herself for naps during the day. Whereas before I might rock her or place her in her swing (then transfer her to the crib after she’s fallen asleep), I’ve been trying to catch her just as she gets tired and place her in the crib. To my utter surprise, she’s generally been going to sleep without me with very minimal fuss (usually a tiny bit of whining). I’m not sure if I should keep working on the naps, then eventually try putting her down at night alone. I can live with a little whining, but cannot tolerate what I call her “hysterical cry.” There seem to be so many variables at play that I don’t know where to begin–the swing dependency, (partial) co-sleeping, an exceedingly spirited, active, but good-natured baby who is unaccustomed to crying much at all (and thus very quickly devolves into hysterical crying), the foreignness of her own bedroom, etc. 

You’ve made one thing very clear and that is that you are unwilling to accept Cry It Out methods. Just remember your conviction on this. It seems to me that if you gave in and tried it, you just wouldn’t feel right about it. It’s really tricky getting kids to sleep once they’ve learned to fight it and can sense that there just might be something more interesting to do than settle down into blissful slumber.

The naps sound very promising at the moment, so I would go with that. Can you build in a little routine that she would learn to associate with going to sleep, such as read a book, close the curtains, sing a song, it doesn’t really matter what as long as it’s the same. Then when you feel the time is right, you can replicate this routine at night to try and get the message across.

If you want to move her to her room, she may not be too pleased at first, but actually kids are on the whole quite adaptable and if you persevere for a few weeks you might find it goes ok. The main thing is to realise she would probably need some extra reassurance during this time, so there might be a lot of sitting with her trying to help her to sleep in her own environment.

It’s a difficult transition (probably more so for the parents), but I think if you take baby steps in the direction you decide, with sensitivity, slowly slowly, your gorgeous happy, confident little girl will be able to take this step.


Ask SIFTW: Switching from 2 to 1 nap

July 22, 2008

Our lovely friend Kirsty writes:

I tried to find some posts about the 2-1 nap switcheroo. I  couldn’t find any.  Do you recall any such posts? My son is starting to fight nap time and I think he might be getting ready for one nap. Since its not going so well, I’d love to hear any tips or advice.

I don’t recall any such posts, but I do recall the switcheroo. There is a time when kids seem to need more than 1 nap a day and less than 2. And that obviously causes problems for all parties concerned. Parents do not know when the kid wants to sleep. The kid cannot make it sanely through the day on one nap, but can barely seem to fit in two.

Sometimes it might work to bring their bedtime forward to even 6pm or so, so they can have their early nap and try and get through the afternoon. The other possibility is for them to have their early nap, then have a short 1/2 hour rest in the afternoon to get through. Rest assured they will grow into the one nap though in time. And then eventually they will grow out of the one nap, which is when as a parent you really start to get nervous!

PS. I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your emails as well as I should be, but I’m doing my best to catch up this week (as long as nap times co-operate!)


Baby No Sleeping

April 22, 2008

The Giving-Up Guide for Parents Who Can’t Get Their Kids to Sleep


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: 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.


Moving forward while clinging to the old

November 23, 2007

The thing that scares me about the Imp dropping down to one nap in the day is not that I get less time to myself, not that it stuffs with my the Imp’s play dates and music groups, not that it means the Imp is growing up… It’s more that, like Eminem says, you only get one shot, one opportunity. There is no redeeming make-up-for-what-went-wrong-the-first-time second nap.

In order for a one nap day to be viable, the nap needs to be well timed, and it needs to be long. Otherwise, let’s face it, neither of us are going to make it through the day. And so I find myself tiptoeing through the house, trying not to clang dishes, pausing the washing machine, cursing the postman all because I’m worried the Imp will wake up too early and make it impossible for either of us to survive the afternoon stretch intact.

I’m on the edge waiting for the Imp to wake up at the moment, it’s 12.32pm, a little too early. Is that a noise?

Sshhhh, do you think I’m typing too loud?


Wishin’ and Hopin’

November 2, 2007

According to Dusty it doesn’t do much good, but I haven’t been doing anything more practical about Loudboy’s sleep for a good while.  He’s still co-sleeping, still being bfed to sleep and he naps when he’s tired rather than to a set routine.  Guess what?  Things are starting, very slowly, to get a little better.  He’s been sleeping for 3-4 hours at a time for the last few nights and we’re down to 2 or 3 wakings from 5 or 6 (not counting the ones before we go to bed, because they just don’t count, OK?).  And he’s napping for an hour or two at a time, having finally settled to one nap a day.

It may be a blip and will doubtless regress when he has his next set of immunisations, but for the time being we’re enjoying it.