Permanently attached …

August 14, 2008

Carrie writes:

My 10 1/2 month old son has decided to ONLY sleep when being held. We practice attachment parenting to the best of our abilities (co-sleeping included) and strongly feel that CIO is not for us. I am however, at a loss. He has a pretty consistent nap schedule (2/day) but for months I have nursed him to sleep. During his naps his preference is to stay attached to my breast, nipple in mouth. There are times when I am able to detach him from my breast and as long as I hold him, he stays asleep. If I even attempt to lie him down (in his crib, in our bed, etc) he immediately wakes up and starts screaming in protest/terror. His nap is over at that point, which one of the main reasons I have found it easier to keep him in my arms in order to ensure he sleeps, thus continuing this terribly inconvenient pattern. In the early months, when I needed to catch up on my sleep I would just nap with him/nurse him in our bed and sometimes he would nap for 2 1/2, 3 hours long, which was great at the time, but now it’s not so great. It’s about time that I do the dishes and answer emails and clean the bathroom, all the stuff that I imagine most moms being able to do by the time their baby is almost a year old…
 
So that’s the napping part. Now there is the bedtime part. I nurse him to sleep around 8pm and he usually falls asleep pretty quickly. I’m able to detach him from my breast with out him crying and waking up (sometimes he even lets go himself once he’s in a deep sleep) but there’s still no way he’s letting me put him down. I have tried waiting for 20 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour and a half, 3 hours, it doesn’t matter in how deep of a sleep he’s in. The second I try to put him down – actually the second I adjust my arms/hands to maneuver him away from my body – he wakes up, clutches at me like a little wild animal and screams in terror. Thankfully, my husband is able to take him and hold him as well, so I do get some breaks on the evenings he’s home (sometimes he works the night shift). But the same thing happens for him when he tries to put him down. This has been happening for the last few weeks. Before that when we would put him in his crib 50% of the time when we would lay him down he would stay asleep and 50% of the time he would wake up. When he would stay asleep, on average he would wake up crying every 30 minutes. We would go in, pick him up, and sooth him back to sleep (sometimes he would fall asleep without nursing, sometimes he would need the boob). This waking every 30 minutes cycle would continue until I brought him to bed with me, where he could nurse all night long and we were all finally able to get some rest. Well, I would get as much rest as one can get with a babe attached to one’s boob all night. I felt, and still feel, that it’s better than hopping in and out of bed every 30 minutes all night long… Also, to add to the problem, lately he’s been so active at night, kicking me and flopping all over the place (sometimes with my nipple still in his mouth – not pleasant) and at about 3am he starts to cry out in his sleep like he’s having nightmares. This continues until 6am when he wakes up and is all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to start the day. Ugh.
 
A few months ago I tried nursing him to sleep laying next to him and trying to sneak away once he’s asleep. This would work sometimes but he would still wake up anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes after I left his side. It’s out of the question now because he’s so mobile he would wake up and crawl right off the bed in a matter of seconds (which he’s done once before).
 
So I’m at a loss for a few reasons. I need some time to myself and my husband and I need some time together which is not happening AT ALL right now. I am scared that I am perpetuating the problem by continuing to hold him like this, but in my heart I see no other alternative. If I put him down he cries. Hysterically, as if he is dying. I am worried that this is going to last forever. And I need some good rest, which I haven’t had since he was born. I refuse to let him CIO but I cannot bear to continue on like this for much longer…
 
ANY advice/help/suggestions would be SO GREATLY appreciated. I am sorry this is so foggy and disjointed. It’s late, I am exhausted and I need to go relieve my husband from munchkin duty.

I hear you. By about 10 months you’re yelling from the depths of parenthood “hey, could I just have a little bit of life back?????” I don’t know what to say, but it sounds like you are doing it quite tough. Some kids are just like this and the parents of super compliant sleep anywhere kids will just never, never ever understand what you go through on a daily (and nightly) basis.

You say from the outset that CIO is not your style. So let’s stay completely away from that. But it sounds like something has to give doesn’t it. I think the key is to work out what is the minimum change that you would need to feel a little better in yourself. Do you need more sleep? More time to yourself? More time with your husband? Of course, I know you need ALL of these, but which is most pressing at the moment? Once you figure that out, work towards that. It might be that you can live with lying down for naptimes, but you really need your evenings back. Or maybe you’d like to get some stuff done at home in the day. Or get your hair cut. Or whatever.

In terms of getting your son to sleep a bit more on his own, so at least you are not bound to be in bed for 13 hours a day or whatever, I’m thinking a gradual retreat method might be the best option if you feel you need to work towards a bit more independence in sleeping. Actually let me rephrase it, it’s probably a gradual gradual gradual retreat. The key is to take it slow. Each time your kid is comfortable with the next step of getting to sleep, you can retreat one tiny bit further.

So for you the first step might be to try to get him to fall asleep ‘off the breast’. So maybe you would try cuddle him to sleep. Then when that is okay, you might try stroking to sleep, then singing to sleep, then sitting next to him.

Sounds easy? It’s not so easy, it’s going to take a lot of patience and reassurance. But you’ll feel a lot better with it than CIO as you are never leaving them to scream themselves to exhaustion. There may be some crying, but you’ll be there to help them through it.

But I really recommend having a look if there are any small changes you can make to help you feel a bit more human. Sometimes getting a cleaner or someone to help put on a load of laundry can make a world of difference. Or I’m quite keen on begging friends to bring home cooked dinners around!

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Part time co-sleeping

July 23, 2008

Hannah writes: 

I have a 9 month old who just will not stay in his bed the entire night.
He goes to bed like an angel, bed time is between 8-9 depending and he gets put in pj’s, given bottle, a little cuddle time and then off to bed. We do not hear another peep out of him until some-where between 1-3 am when he wakes and almost refuses to return to sleep in his cot. I have tried on a couple of occasions to implement some sort of rapid return or feed and settle type plan, but given that he has to sleep in our room and I have to be up for work at 6am, I normally cave and allow him to co-sleep. He normally wants to suckle, but I don’t think that it is for food, generally. When I get up, I am able to transfer him back to the cot as I do not trust hubby to ensure that he doesn’t fall out of bed.
Do you have any suggestions to keep him in his own bed, cos I end up sleeping in really funny positions in order to accommodate hubby/baby, bearing in mind that neither have to get up anyway!

I think the co-sleeping is such a common thing, more than people like to admit. It may not be a conscious decision, but we put our kids to bed hoping for the best, but then they wake up in the middle of the night and who can be bothered to rock them back to a deep slumber and carefully lower them into their cot, praying for them not to wake up in the process. No! A lot of the time, we sleepily grab them, pull them into our own bed and cuddle them to sleep. Far more pleasant.

Except when you are squished between a husband and a bed hogging baby with limbs flayed everywhere. Call me mean, but when the Imp has to come into our bed (not too often these days thank goodness), I kick hubby out onto the couch. I cannot sleep with more than one person at a time, no matter how small one of those people are. That’s just me. I’m a bad sleeper at best, and I just need that room. Last time I tried to sleep with both, I think I nearly dislocated my shoulder!

I’m wondering if you gave him a feed, would he be sleepy enough to transfer back into the cot? I think it’s a question or kicking the baby or the husband out of bed. Or going to sleep on the couch yourself and putting up a bed rail.

Do any readers have some suggestions for getting a comfortable night’s sleep in the family bed? Buying a huge futon on the floor perhaps??


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!)


Ask SIFTW: Windy minxes and dream feeding

March 4, 2008

Simone has a question about dreamfeeding:

How does it work? My nearly 10 week old, sleeps really well from 6.30/7 pm until about 11pm, feeds and thinks it’s playtime. She doesnt settle again till about 12-12.30am, sleeps and wakes at 3.30-4 am, and at this point it really is playtime, and she is so fidgety and frantic and takes forever to settle. When she does it’s till 7-7.30 am, she feeds and then we are ready for the day.

Should i dream feed at 11pm? Will it make her stay asleep and settled till 3.30?Also why does she not fall asleep after her bottle, but fidget and frantically thrash about for an hour? do you think she may be windy or just a minx?

Simone, please feel free to slap me for this because I totally know you are in sleepless hell at the moment, but it sounds like your little minx (do you mind if I call her that, affectionately of course!) is doing quite well in the sleep stakes. 10 weeks is pretty early days and babies are still working out the difference between night and day and I figure if they can do a couple of 3-4 hour stretches at night, then they are already starting to figure out that nighttime is for sleeping. 10 weeks is probably too early to be expecting much more in respect of sleeping (or in respect of anything really), so go with it, do the best you can, and get the sleep you can in the meantime.

3 or 4 hours doesn’t seem like much when you are craving 7 or 8 hours in a row (or perhaps 24 hours straight as the case may be), but take what you can get and hopefully you’ve been blessed with a good sleeper who will get into a nice pattern as she gets a little older.

As for dreamfeeding, my feeling is that you could give it a try and see what happened. I think dreamfeeding can work well when the reason that the baby wakes up is because of hunger. Unfortunately there are a myriad of other reasons babies wake and can’t settle back that dreamfeeding just won’t fix. I tried dreamfeeding with the Imp a few times and it really did nothing other than to give him an extra milk feed in the night as he still woke up at exactly the same times even after the dreamfeed.

Probably the reason she doesn’t fall asleep straight after her bottle is to do with the day/night distinction thing and also your scintillating company. Babies don’t see the imperative of sleeping at particular times, so if there is something more interesting to do at 4am than sleep, then likelihood is, they will do that instead. Over time, you can try and teach them that nighttime is for sleeping, but for the moment, just keep the mood chilled and the lights off and see if you can coax her back to sleepyland.

If she’s crying a lot after feeds, maybe she’s windy, you can try to bring up some burps, but again, as they get older, they are better at dealing with wind. And as for being a minx? I’ll leave that to you to decide.


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!)


Ask SIFTW: Early Wakeup Calls

February 17, 2008

ok, so i just wrote the world’s longest post, published it and then somehow (don’t ask me, i’m tired) deleted it. i’m sorry. i’ll try to recreate my genius tomorrow. in the meantime if anyone has any super ideas how to retrieve a lost post from wordpress, i’m open to suggestions.

and if anyone subscribes to us on a feed and happens to be able to magically copy and paste the text of that deleted post (with the above title), i promise you many many years of sleep filled nights. nah, seriously, i will send you a copy of Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution for your efforts.

It was a stupid rambley post anyway. Sigh.


Night weaning = Night mare

October 30, 2007

So I’ve had a long standing wish now to stop feeding the Imp at night. Now that I dissect that wish, I realise I’d been making a fatal assumption that if he stopped feeding, he would stop waking. WRONG! In fact, not feeding makes things worse. I have been desperately trying to feed the Imp back to sleep for a few nights now and he won’t have it. He won’t feed. And he won’t sleep. I have realised I have no other tricks up my sleeve. Feed or nothing. And so, the Imp has been awake. Why was I in such a hurry to night wean? The Imp doesn’t wake for milk. He wakes simply because he wakes.