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…


The unfairness of parenting

January 5, 2008

This is partially inspired by the question Amberjee answered below with my own rambling thoughts on the thorny question of parenting styles. I think it was Amberjee (if I were more organised I’d search her posts and find out) who said something quite early on which made me think a lot: that she wasn’t the parent she’d expected to be.  There may be perfect parents who did all the reading, decided on a Parenting Style that suited their expectations and lifestyles and slotted Perfect Junior into their regime or routine when he or she arrived.  I’m sure there are, whether they are Attachment Parents or Contented Little Baby owners or Baby Whisperer devotees.  And good luck to them.  I am not.  I do not know anyone else who is.  Life in SIFTW goes somewhat differently.

  1.  Look at the problem (a new baby, a non-sleeping baby, a baby who will not be put down, colic, slow weight gain, fast weight gain, whatever)
  2. Do the research: read the books, look at the websites, ask health professionals
  3. Come up with a Plan.  It’s an excellent plan, it covers all the bases and it makes you feel all warm and organised and a Perfect Parent when you look at it
  4. Apply the Plan to the Baby
  5. Watch
  6. ???
  7. ???!!!
  8. ????!!!***&&&$%^%££!!
    The thing I always forget is that while babies as a group are predictable, babies as individuals are not.  Which is annoying.  It’s especially annoying if you on the Attachment Parenting side of the great parenting debate.  You do all the right things: you breastfeed, you babywear, you co-sleep, you do all you can to make sure your child is loved and secure and guess what?  They still get colic/refuse to sleep/have tantrums (oh yes, the terrible twos have hit early in the Swizzler house) and you feel so resentful.  ‘We have done everything right’, we cry, ‘ and he doesn’t appreciate it!
     Of course, if you step back and have a large gin and a good think, he does appreciate it.  He loves you unconditionally and reaches for you whenever he’s in distress (or just bored) and considers you the centre of his world.  Which is rather nice.  He isn’t judging you according to your success or failure at the style you’ve adopted.  So try not to get too invested in it (and I’m trying hard to take my own advice here).  If your plan doesn’t work, change it or (my preferred option) stop thinking about plans for the time being.  You may not be the parent you expected, but is anything turning out as you planned?  Really?  In that case, I have a teething, tantrumming 15 month old I need some help with…

    Ask SIFTW: Developmental hell

    December 28, 2007

    Janelle from Athens, GA writes:


    Our daughter is six and half months old. She slept with us for the first three months and then we gradually moved her into a crib right next to our bed. She did great in it for a couple of months. We had several nights where she would sleep three hours, then five, then three more. We got used to this. Now, she is crawling, trying to pull herself up in her crib and teething. She is waking up every thirty minutes or so and needs to be parented back to sleep. My husband and I are fried today after her waking every 25 minutes last night. We don’t believe in crying it out and are into attachment parenting. We had a home birth and are trying to be compassionate conscious parents, and frankly, we’re both a little forlorn right now. Any help, suggestions you can offer would be more than welcome.


    Oh god, yes, developmental milestones may be amazing to see but they are a total pain in the arse at night when baby decides there’s far too much going on to sleep. Combine this with teething and it’s no wonder you’re feeling knackered. Here’s a few of my thoughts.


    On the teething, some people swear by homeopathic powders like Ashton & Parsons. They might not work for everyone but they’ve gotta be worth a go — and you can use them alongside conventional pain relief. Then I would rub Bonjela on the gums at bedtime and give Calpol if necessary. 


    On the frequent wakings, how about taking her back into your bed for a while until she gets through this stage? As she slept fine in her crib up til all this kicked off, I’m sure it won’t be a problem to get her back in the crib once she’s settled down again.


    Just another thought, presumably you’ve started weaning her pretty recently, and this could also be causing discomfort. Might be worth keeping a food diary and seeing if she’s more unsettled after eating a particular food, or if she has solids too late in the day. 


    As for the developmental spurts, well, there’s sadly not much you can do apart from wait until she’s learned the new skill and stops needing to practise it in the night. At which point hopefully she’ll start sleeping more again… until she starts working on the next skill.


    October 11, 2007

    What is up with Loudboy at the moment?  He’s OK during the day but very unsettled at night.  Going to sleep is not a problem. but he is waking up a lot, crying for a feed, kicking and wriggling and not letting his long-suffering parents get any sleep.  I think he was waking hourly last night, but I was too tired to look at my watch or do anything apart from feed him and try to doze off again.

    Whenever we have periods like this everything is so much harder: getting up, working, getting through the day without any major arguments.  So what does the SIFTW sisterhood say?

    1. Get through the day (and night) any way you can.  Now is not the time to be worrying about routines etc.

    2. Do the bare minimum.  Are you worrying about cleaning the kitchen or sorting the laundry?  Why?

    3. Get yourself a good excuse: I’m going with teeth.

    4. Repeat to yourself: it’s a phase, it will pass, we will get through this without killing each other/any nosy b*gger who asks if the baby is sleeping through yet.

    Teething keeping you up?

    September 27, 2007

    The lovely Isil at Veggie Way is giving away an Amber Teething Necklace from Little Sunflowers.

    Let us know if it works in getting you a little extra shut eye.

    Our 8 month sleep regression

    September 11, 2007

    After happily sleeping away the nights with 2 wakings or so for the last few months, we have hit a major regression. The lovely Moxie, fountain of all parenting wisdom, provides me with the ideal excuse to explain away this all night waking that is currently happening. It is officially the 8 month sleep regression.

    I’ve tried to get hold of this miracle book the Wonder Weeks, but it seems to be out of print and oh so hard to come across. We all know about the growth spurt and how that can lead to all night feed-a-thons. We have another night-waking friend called the developmental spurt. From what I’ve read on Moxie’s site, the Wonder Weeks explains that babies typically have developmental spurts around weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55.

    Well guess what, we are smack on the 37 week spurt. No wonder life is hell at the moment. Moxie says this 8 month spurt is one of the worst:

    “The “8-month sleep regression” (which for some babies is closer to a 9-month sleep regression) is related to the 37-week spurt. For some reason that one just seems to cause more waking, too, than some of the other spurts do. It might also be particularly hard because many babies are smack in the middle of working on crawling or walking, and also teething.”

    So cross my fingers and bring out the extra strong coffee, we’re hauling on through the 8 month sleep regression.

    Sleeping with your baby

    July 31, 2007

    “One of the biggest crises of confidence that new mothers face has to do with sleep. Mothers feel responsible for their babies’ sleep. Others ask mothers if their babies are sleeping through the night, as if this is something the mothers can control. Mothers lie to one another about whether or not their infants sleep through the night. And everyone lies about not bringing their babies into bed with them.

    We lie because our society has unrealistic expectations of babies, and therefore we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves as mothers. Our expectations for babies’ sleep simply do not coincide with babies’ actual capabilities, or with the normal behavior of our species.”

    Read the whole article here: Sleeping with your baby by Peggy O’Mara