21 Feb 2006

Beating a Sleepy Horse

Posted by AC

As I think I mentioned in reporting on Sam’s most recent pediatric visit, we’ve learned that now is the time to be helping Sam develop good sleep habits. Everything we’ve heard is that infants and children do best with routine and that a good bed time ritual can really help the whole household. The child knows what to expect. It ends in sleep, so the whole house is calmer, happier. It’s all good.

Our ritual is simple, but perhaps a bit on the long side.

* We play some music and Sam and Dad dance (sway? lurch? wobble?) while Mom draws a bath.
* Mom bathes Sam (singing).
* Dad reads a book to Sam (lullabies in background).
* Mom nurses Sam (soft Enya in background).
* Dad puts Sam to sleep (soft Miles in background). 1

We’ve had this ritual in place for two nights now, and it has failed miserably each night. You can see in this image the huge block of “awake” in the early evening. We started the sleep ritual at a little before 6:00 PM. By 8:30, we gave up, and had dinner. By 9:30, we were at it again, finally getting her to sleep at about 10:40 PM — Over 4.5 hours after we started trying to get her to sleep.

The funny (scary?) thing is that Sam really is a good sleeper. She can put herself back to sleep when she wakes up during the night, and often even when she wakes during naps. Her crib is in our bedroom, so it passes as co-sleeping, even though it’s not family bed. I suspect that this arrangement helps her significantly, though I can’t say for sure.

  1. Someone who had foreknowledge of this post, “hoped I’d include the playlist.” I will. It’s here. But it’s an M3U file that references music that you can’t get to. For it to be of any use to you, you’d need to save it to disk and then open it as a text file and just read it. Since I imagine that one person in the world will bother to do this — they very person that asked for the playlist, I’ve put it here in this footnote.Return to body

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3 Responses to “Beating a Sleepy Horse”

  1. Definitely NOT failing miserably!! You are doing a great thing! Right now she is just reacting to the newness of the approach but a routine means doing it over and over and over and over again (even at Grandma’s, even if she has a sniffle). Eventually she will “get it” and feel comfort and security from it.

    I think 6 pm is a great time to start the routine, but if that is not normally a time that she is sleepy, just work backwards from her sleepy time 15 min every 1-2 days until 6 pm.



  2. […] We usually start the ritual anywhere between 8:00 and 10:00 depending partly on our schedule, and partly on yours. […]

  3. […] More excitementSpeaking of excitement, you really like your bedtime ritual. Or at least most of it. We start with you and me “dancing” to Boom-Shack-a-Lak by Apache Indian, and it’s great. As soon as you hear the first few notes, your eyes light up, your mouth opens in a big grin, and if we’re really lucky you shriek and buck. You and I have a dance routine for a few of the verses, as well as the chorus where by “dance routine” what I really mean is that I fling you around in predictable ways. It’s just a little bit odd to see the relaxed, contented look on your face as you suck on some fingers (or toes!) while I toss you into the air. You mostly still enjoy the bath, particularly now that you’ve discovered splashing. This requires a pretty regular clean-up in the bathroom each night. You only just now started enjoying story time—every night I read you the same book—Time for Bed by Mem Fox. On good days you’ll explore the pages with your hands, or mouth. On bad days, you just scream through story time. […]


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