12 Mar 2006

Sleep: the Final Frontier

Posted by feecaro

Dear Readers of ChoicyWhiteBoy:

Help! Sammy Mammy here. Our darling baby Samantha does not want to go to sleep. Ever. Well, she sleeps pretty well between midnight and 6am, getting up once around 2am to eat. But we continue to have a devil of a time getting her to sleep. Nap irregularity during the day we can handle; however, the nightly bedtime battle is really getting to me.

We have been doing the same nightly routine (bath, book, breast) for over a month. We can never seem to get her to sleep until 11pm even when we start the routine early. Some nights we’re lucky and she falls asleep while nursing. Other nights (like tonight) we are cursed with the baby who screams in her daddy’s arms as he tries to sing and rock her to sleep. Screams like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. We did not want to follow the cry it out method of Ferber and others, and generally we do not mind rocking, singing, or nursing her to sleep. But sometimes she resists sleep with every fiber of her little being. It can sometimes take an hour to get her to sleep and then she will sleep only 30 minutes.

This almost makes me miss the newborn days when she would fall asleep on top of us anytime, anywhere. Almost.

Sam sleeps in a crib in our bedroom, but we would welcome her in our bed if that would help. Problem is when she’s lying between us she gets so excited that she kicks and squirms and flashes her beautiful smile. But fall asleep? Nah. Who needs sleep?

We do, kiddo!

So, I ask you, readers, what is your experience with getting babies to sleep? Specifically:
• how do you / did you get your babies to fall asleep?
• how do you/ did you get your babies to stay asleep?
• how old were they when you were able to stick to a regular bedtime?

We’re not even worrying about getting her to sleep through the night. Sam is still small and feeding her round the clock is not a problem. We just need her to embrace sleep a little more easily.

Thanks for any and all comments, advice, stories, encouragement.

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5 Responses to “Sleep: the Final Frontier”

  1. AC,

    We relied on some methodology from the “On Becoming Baby Wise” book. They seemed to work well. Overall, as with any book with its methodologies, we always let our intuition, discretion, and common sense prevail over any strict code, yet the basic principles we found useful were:
    1) get on a schedule based on the child’s natural schedule
    2) teach the child to put themselves to sleep. We used some sleep aids such as pacifiers which become a pain when you try to wean them off the device… but we tried to avoid rocking the baby to sleep, feeding the baby to sleep, etc… since this sometimes becomes the required sleep aid.

    We basically adopted the cycle of eat, play, sleep. It helped keep the child from becoming dependent on food to fall asleep, and it also helped make sure the baby got enough food to eat (instead of falling asleep at mealtime).

    We liked rituals too. We read stories every night. We used music too (World Music for Little Ears was one of our favorites).

    When the baby woke-up crying and it was time to sleep, we would pick him/her up, console to a calm state, and then put them back to bed. Sometimes we went through this up & down many times during a night… but the basic idea was that crying is not a way to escape from the crib. It was like, “we love you, but it’s time for bed.” Eventually, our kids realized that while they could get our attention, love, and reassurance, it was still going to be time for bed. If they wanted the former, they could get it on demand. If they wanted to end bedtime, crying was not the way to do it, it was more of a futile effort.

    Like I said, we used our discretion. IF it was bed time and not feeding time, but the kid wouldn’t go back to sleep, or he/she acted hungry… it became mealtime. Our kids went through several growth spurts, approximately every 3 months. During these spurts, the schedule changed a bit.

    Getting the child to sleep through the night was one of our top priorities. I remember when our first child learned to put the pacifier back into his mouth… what a wonderful moment. We heard the cry as he woke, but before we got to his room, he had put himslef back to sleep. Neither of us had to walk to his room and comfort him (or feign an attempt to go to his room hoping the other parent would beat you to the task).

    I don’t want to sound preachy, but you asked. I’m sure there are many good answers to this question. This is the one that worked for us. Hope this helps.

    Good Luck,
    -Allen

     

    Allen

  2. Thanks, Allen! That didn’t sound preachy at all. It’s good to hear.

     

    AC

  3. Hey Guys,

    I can vaguely remember the days and nights of seeking slumber while my babies were young. I am sorry that I don’t have any great advice for you… Just encouragement: All of my children (ranging in age from 5 to 15) now sleep all night by themselves and I simply read them a book, say prayers and kiss them good night. I can’t say that the routine came early…..but it did come. My children always shared Mark and I’s bed until the next child was born. When they were about 2 years old they would move into thier own bed to make way for the new baby (my oldest was about 5 when this happened to him, the rest about 2). They seemed ready at that time for a nice peaceful routine… Then it was time to stay up all evening w/ the newest one. It was helpful for me to re-frame the situation: I saw that as my special time to be with the new baby, …… all of the other children were sleeping and it was one on one time for me, mark and the baby. (Not so applicable with an only baby, I admit)

    Continue to follow what feels right and if it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right for you guys.

    Peace!
    Myra

     

    MyraD

  4. It is a tough one, isn’t it?? Very hard to keep a sense of humor and your wits about you when you are tired and frustrated. Have you tried just laying her down in the crib when you get to the point in the routine that calls for it? Maybe she is overstimulated from all the carrying and rocking? Sounds counterintuitive but it’s worth a try. If she cries, you can lay your hands on her and reassure her w/o picking her up. I spent many nights sitting with a hand thru the bars, and often even laying down and sleeping (on a cot mattress) next to the crib. It seemed better that we each had our own space. More of a desperation thing…the swing or a vibrating bouncy seat? (she may be too wiggly for the latter now).
    What would happen if you just take a week or two off and let happen what may, go about your evening routine as if it were any other time of day. Just give yourself that break from the carefully crafted bedtime routine and see what happens. Ultimately having that bedtime routine is key, but if you are too worn out by the whole thing, just give yourself a break from tackling this one head-on. It was *considerably* older than 5 mo that the bedtime routine was set in stone around here. Over a year, probably. Do you have Elizabeth Pantley’s book, “The No Cry Sleep Solution”? She has some good ideas although as a whole package I’m not sure it works. My own personal thing would be to steer a moderate course, not taking the baby into the bed (too hard to end the habit, plus clearly it feels like playtime to her) and not letting her “cry it out” (doesn’t work and is HORRIBLE to endure). Eventually something will give. It will! It really will! I know it doesn’t feel like it now but you WILL get more sleep. Hang in there!!

     

    amanda

  5. […] Maybe all of this developmental progress has been helped by your sleeping. You still aren’t getting the 14-15 that the books say you should be, but you’ve pretty much never been a textbook baby. However, you are, generally, sleeping through the night now. Last night’s hour wakefulness between 3 and 4 AM has now, thankfully, become the exception rather than the rule. We usually start the ritual anywhere between 8:00 and 10:00 depending partly on our schedule, and partly on yours. When I write that down, it seems so irresponsible, and we should start it every night at 7:15 sharp or something, and maybe we should, but I’m sure that doing so would be tough on the whole household. Still, now that we’ve got you sleeping regularly between at least midnight and 6:00 AM, maybe we can begin to slide your night start-time earlier and earlier. While Mom and I still don’t get as much sleep as we’d like, your extended night sleeping has wafted through the family like a cool breeze on a sweltering summer day. As if to make sure we knew you still weren’t a textbook baby, and to add a small note of irony, you started this pattern 1) while you were sleeping in your pack-and-play in a hotel in New Jersey, and 2) just after we begged, begged, the Internet for help. […]

     

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