Archive for February, 2011

This is going really well. I think I finally understand baby sleep and how to avoid a whole bunch of problems.

As an attachment parent, any time a sleep book mentioned crying of any kind, I would put the book right back on the library shelf. However, now while I am still not into ‘plop the baby in bed, say ‘goodnight’ and walk away’ philosophy, I do understand that if my baby is going to be a good sleeper, I will need to gently take charge.

Just like a baby doesn’t necessarily relish going in a carseat and will probably protest, it doesn’t mean that his idea of not riding in one is the best thing for him.  Of course, as with the carseat I am going to be there to support him through and minimize distress.

However, this method really isn’t all that distressing to be honest.

One thing that I have gleaned from several sleep books that I have checked out from the library right now is that the most important first step is to just worry about teaching baby to go to sleep on his own in his own space. Several sleep books said that after a baby is going to sleep well on his own the nighttime should work itself out (read — baby will most likely be sleeping through the night) within about 2 weeks regardless of what I do during the night.  Several books have also said that until about 6 months, some babies continue to have 1-2 hunger-based night-wakings.

Onto our last 24 hours.  Yesterday, I left you with our first nap in progress.

Thursday Morning to Friday Morning:

7:14am Woke up for the day
8:39am Started bedtime Routine/soothing to sleep (6 mins)
8:45am Fell asleep for Nap One
10:19am Woke up (Nap One 1h 34 min)
11:44am Started bedtime Routine/Soothing to sleep (4 min)
11:48am Fell asleep for Nap Two
2:08pm Woke up (Nap Two 2h 20 min)
3:33pm Started bedtime Routine/Soothing to sleep (9 min)
3:42pm Fell asleep for Nap Three
4:22pm Woke up (Nap Three 39 min)
6:00pm Seemed tired; started Bedtime Routine/Soothing to sleep (8 min)
6:08pm Clearly a no-go — have been thinking he is giving this up; got him up and rejoined the family
7:07pm Started Bedtime Routine/Soothing to sleep (7 min)
7:14pm Asleep for the night

Now, probably a total of three times in the night, A. fussed or cried briefly (never more than a few seconds per cry burst).  I held back and asked myself, “Would I be up to this bedroom yet if I heard him and was walking from downstairs?”  If not, I waited and several times, he put himself back to sleep easily.

2:39am Woke up (7h 25 min at this point!); I nursed since I had decided not to offer a dream feed and I thought he was probably hungry.  It ended up being a good move.  I sat up to nurse (8 min) and then returned him to the co-sleeper where he wiggled a bit and settled himself.
2:51am Fell asleep
7:02am Woke for the day (4h  11 min)

Isn’t that too good to be true?!  This attachment parenting mama is seriously happy.

So, the key lesson for today (reminding myself here, too!):
If you want to have a good sleeper, baby needs to learn to fall asleep in his own bed (or your bed if you are co-sleeping) from awake, so without nursing/rocking/wearing then being transferred.  This is the first thing to work on and is best worked on early, starting at about 6 weeks to 4 months.  It can be done gently and humanely, but baby needs to go to sleep in the place where he/she will sleep without any sleep associations that you don’t want to have to replicate later in the night.

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In an earlier post, I shared with you an incredible discovery I made in a book recommended to me on baby sleep cycles. As a result, we have the best sleeper we have ever had.  At 8 weeks, our little guy was regularly giving us 6-8 hours in a row at night.  While we are, theoretically, big proponents of co-sleeping, in practice it has, if I am honest, lead to some very non-restful nights for us and some very difficult sleep issues.  I feel terrible sharing this on a blog because I truly do believe in the natural closeness and the beauty of co-sleeping.  I just love snuggling up with a sweet, fat baby in the wee hours of the night and seeing his smiling face next to mine in the morning.  It is just that I have come to believe that the constant night-wakings and night-nursings that it often leads to are not practical for many moms in today’s culture and are also unnecessary.

I have read a number of books on sleep teaching that have left me frustrated. It seems like the books either work quickly, but painfully or work very slowly, but gently (so slowly in fact that it is actually painful in a different way).  Crying-it-out works for many, many families and I certainly don’t judge anyone for using the method.  I have come to respect how important a good night’s sleep is for a mom.  For me, though, I just can’t do it.  I just can’t shut the door and walk away with my baby crying despite knowing that in a few nights we would be likely all sleeping better.

Our current baby has been a great sleeper thanks mostly to The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program, however we recently ran into a snag when he developed a skin issue that was itchy and uncomfortable. His sleep was disrupted and he has learned that instead of sleeping really long stretches at night, he would prefer to go back to sleep by rocking with mom (or nursing).

This time, though, I’m onto these little guys! It has taken me 7 babies, but I now know that they don’t need to nurse every two hours all night long.

I have been researching and researching and have settled on a plan. We are trying The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan, which seems to me like a great balance between way too gentle to work in a reasonable time and quick, but way too painful for me to follow-through on.  The  bare essentials of the plan are outlined here.

Our plan:

Before A gets over-tired at nap or nighttime, we will get him to bed using our routine.

Our routine is:

  • Potty and fresh diaper, if necessary
  • Up to the bedroom, door closed
  • Close the blinds and say, “Bye-bye sunshine”
  • Turn on white noise
  • Cuddle on the edge of the bed while I sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” twice
  • Put A down in co-sleeper awake (essential step!)
  • Talk gently until he dozes off, adjusting voice as necessary to get his attention if he cries
  • If he cries, I will pat or rub his back, hold his hand or jiggle the co-sleeper a little
  • If he cannot settle, I may pick him up, but will put him back down awake and gently parent him to sleep
  • I will offer a ‘dream feed’ when I go to bed (between 10:30 and 11pm) and then will not nurse until 5am, but rather gently help him return to sleep in his bed Changed my mind about this one.  I am not going to do a dream-feed or set a 5am limit, but am going to wait and see if helping him fall asleep in his own bed will look after the night-wakings on its own.

I am going to post daily to update you on our progress. Last night was rough, but I am convinced that this will be worth it, so I am going to stay strong.  Steve was up with me, too, and since he loves electronic gadgets, his job was to use the Total Baby App on our new-to-us iPod Touch to track our progress!  Here is how things have gone so far:

(Normally, A goes to bed earlier, but I had to take the kids to a program last night, so it was later than usual.)

8:29pm A fell asleep in the car and was transferred seamlessly into the co-sleeper
11:03pm Dream feed that lead to him waking and needing help to go back to sleep
11:14pm Started soothing back to sleep
11:31pm A fell asleep in the co-sleeper!
2:34am Woke up; I started soothing back to sleep (lots of crying, picked up once, but it didn’t seem to help)
3:42am Fell asleep in co-sleeper, finally
3:47am Woke up, UGH; soothing back to sleep was not so rough this time — mostly sleepy sounding cries
3:55am Back to sleep in co-sleeper
4:52am Woke up (our room clock said 5:02am, after my 5am cutoff); Nursed for 9 minutes
5:02am Tucked in beside me (probably a no-no, but the author does say the method works for co-sleeping, so we’ll see how this turns out)
7:14am Woke up for the morning

Morning nap went like this:
8:39am Showing sleepy signs; started bed/nap routine with some crying, but manageable and settled fairly quickly with soothing talking (repeated in a gentle singing voice, “You’re okay.  I love you.”) a little co-sleeper jiggling and some back patting.  I try to stop the jiggling as soon as possible and then stop the back patting.  I keep talking as long as needed, making my voice quieter as he drifts off.
8:45am  A fell asleep in the co-sleeper and has been asleep now for 51 minutes.

For those of you who used to read my blog for my intelligent discussions of food or homeschooling, I beg your forgiveness. God-willing I will write about these things again, but at the moment, my focus is basic needs!

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As I have been saying to a dear friend of mine (Hi Shannon!), way too many crockpot hot cereal recipes are mushy by morning. I can remember one particular recipe we used for oatmeal that included raisins put in the night before.  By morning, the oats were mush, the ‘raisins’ truly became the re-hydrated grapes that they were and, as a result, I now have one child who is completely turned off raisins in food.

Onto the recipe.  I don’t know the source for this as it was passed onto me by a dear friend.  It is a wonderful cereal with excellent consistency, not pasty like many others I have tried.  This makes a lot, so of course, feel free to cut back if you don’t have a whole bunch of kids!

Combine in crockpot:
10 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup wheat berries
1 cup barley
A pinch of salt, if desired

Turn on low overnight.

Serve with this dried fruit compote.  It is absolutely excellent and really makes the cereal heavenly.  You can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until morning when you should gently reheat it.  You will not need any added sweetening if you use it.

Dried Fruit Compote:
4 cups water
3 cups mixed dried fruit (such as prunes, dates, apricots)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup whole almonds

Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve warm or hot over cereal.

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