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!)


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).

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.

Ultra bad night? Chuck the clock out the window

October 17, 2007

My little travel clock that I used to have by my bed finally faded to a quiet death. It would no longer display those ungodly times containing 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s as their first digit. Since that, I’ve been searching for the perfect little bedside clock. Not too big, not those monster digital clocks with LED display that set the room alight like fireworks. I have to admit also that it’s probably not high on my list of priorities, so for the moment I am clockless.

And sometimes, that’s honestly not a bad thing. You see I’m in the habit of ‘clocking’ the time of each wakeup as I get out of bed and again as I get into bed. So most times I will therefore know:

  • – what times the Imp woke up
  • – how long each waking was
  • – and perhaps how many times he woke up (if I can still count them on my fingers)

Under the clockless system you stumble out of bed wondering was it half an hour ago when he was awake, or 4 hours ago. Sometimes you don’t have a clue. Often in the morning it’s a bit of a blur. What time did he wake up? How long was he in bed with us? Was he awake for long? I found myself in this state the other day not really knowing what kind of night we’d had. So I analysed how I felt … hmm, strangely not too bad. After a coffee, half decent even. So conclusion – the night was not that bad.

Had I been under the clock system, I may have overanalysed the number and length of wakings and concluded I should be tired, therefore I would feel tired if you see what I mean. The mind is very impressionable with these kinds of things.

So in summary, hurl your clock out the window and get a better nights sleep without it.

Bringing up baby (or just putting it in the garden)?

October 4, 2007


Have you seen this show on Channel 4? It’s a disgrace. The poor parents having their lives dissected in front of the camera in those first precious weeks. I had to turn it off half way into the episode this week. I think I’m done. Not to mention the famed Claire Verity and her sleep through the night at 8 weeks methods. Sleep Is For the Weak is here to tell you THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT!

Melanie at Melanie’s Daily Blurb has written a brilliant piece on the show, the approaches, and the “£1000 a day don’t look at your baby or dare pick them up” nanny.

Nap update

September 21, 2007

Today the Imp’s first nap was 10 minutes. Ah, sweet 2 steps back.