Thursday, July 12, 2012

The most important subject for new moms

That’s right, it’s sleep! Ryder and I are still working on getting our sleep schedule figured out. He has slept 5-6 hours in a row at night 3 nights so far, and I am working towards getting that consistently, so I’m not sleeping/tired all day. That was the cruel irony I found after giving birth: the most exhausting experience of my life and not getting to sleep more than 3 hours at a time for the next 3 weeks.


This is his bed:

mexico city 004

It’s basically a tent. We put it on a glass table next to our bed. It has no pillows or sheets and it has a firm mattress, and it’s big enough to last for years. This will be Ryder’s bed—his familiar home—for the next several years. It’s no longer on sale on Amazon, but you can find it here: It’s only 4.5 pounds and was $69.95. It folds completely flat and pops out easily.

If I had a second choice it would be this one. It’s only 3 pounds and $29.99, but it’s only for infants, not usable past age 4-5 months.

I’m cosleeping a lot more than I ever intended I would, though, because it’s easier than lifting him in and out of bed. I read that 70% of parents cosleep with their babies despite the recommendations of the American Pediatric Association. It’s very sweet to snuggle in the mornings that way, and Ryder seems to prefer it to sleeping alone. I only do it when it’s daylight, though, so I can see him, and after Jacob’s gone to work. He’s running a basketball camp right now for Mexican kids.

I started Ryder  on his binky when he was little over three weeks old, and it’s a lifesaver. I don’t know how some parents manage without it. Ryder sucked his thumb in the womb (we saw it on the ultrasound) and sometimes it seems like nothing will satisfy him except to suck—anything.

I’ve read two books about baby sleeping— On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep and The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night .  They are basically two completely different styles. Babywise is a controversial book . Its author, Gary Ezzo, is very anti-attachment parenting, which is the style of the other author, Elizabeth Pantley. I think I lean toward the more attachment parenting style, while not thinking “crying it out” is evil. Also, I am not a very scheduled person these days, and Babywise is pretty strict when it comes to feeding times. I’m trying to take ideas from both, though. The most important thing I got from Babywise was this: get a full feeding in, and don’t just let the baby snack or fall asleep at the breast. Then they won’t get the “hind milk” which is what makes them feel full. I’ve had days with Ryder where it felt like I was feeding him every hour, and it was exhausting. The full feedings help to avoid that. I also learned to let Ryder cry just a little bit will sometimes mean he will go to sleep—that he’s fussy because he’s tired.

The ideas I got from Elizabeth Pantley are these:

  • Don’t just pick him up as soon as he makes a noise in the night. Sometimes they are just sleeping noises and not hungry noises.
  • Don’t turn on the lights or do anything terribly exciting at bedtime or during the night, so he can distinguish between night and day. Develop a bedtime routine to calm him down, like reading books, giving a bath, massage, and other peaceful things with dimmed lights.

 Grandma Hiller’s forehead massage relaxed Ryder nicely:

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  • Don’t let the baby nap too long during the day, or he will get his days and nights mixed up. Three hours should be the max and less than one hour doesn’t really make them less fussy.
  • Establish an early bedtime for baby, around 7-8 pm.
  • Don’t let the baby become dependent on having something in his mouth to go to sleep—the “sucking-to-sleep association.”
  • If the baby needs help going back to sleep, use key words, patting, rocking, to help them, and use breastfeeding as a last resort.
  • Make a book about sleep for children who are toddlers and still not sleeping well.

BOTH books say that routine is important for baby. Routine is not something I have had in my life for quite a while, so wish me luck as I try to figure out Ryder and I’s routine and stick with it. One way we are choosing to avoid routine is not having him have to fall asleep in the same place. We want him to be able to fall asleep on the go. Here he is in our Boba wrap, on the way home from the hospital:mexico city 005

Babywise says a baby can sleep through the night at 2 months (that’s part of the controversy) No Cry says 4 months. I’m aiming for the two-month goal of 5 hours a night while trying to be realistic.

Any tips/ideas that have worked for you and your baby?


Sarah Franz said...

The first few months were really rough for me, so they are kinda a blurr. Mostly it was recovering from a c-section while having a cold on top of little sleep and figuring out breastfeeding. Joshua was never a snuggly baby, and dave does strange things in his sleep, so we never did cosleeping with him and he was only swaddled in his bassinet in our room until 2 months, when we quit all three (in a crib, unswaddled, in his own room). With sleeping I never tried to change anything suddenly so the abruptness didn't throw him off. Ie: I would swaddle him, but not re-swaddle when he broke free until he didn't need to be swaddled anymore, I would put him down for naps in the crib until he got used to it enough to do nighttime in there, too. Same story with switching to a regular bed, which kinda happened by accident. (We were on a trip sharing a room with my sister and 2 daughters, and he would end up sleeping half the night with me, refusing to go in the pack n play, refused to go into the crib when we got home, switched to a twin and he cried for 30 min that night before putting himself into bed and has done better and better each night).
I think it is great that you are doing your research and not absolutely preaching and practicing one school of thought on baby sleep. I think that is the most important thing to do: realize that there are good points everywhere and that they don't all work for every child (even week to week, they may stop working).
What I wish I would have done differently is to let him sleep better during the day. I tried to keep it bright and not quiet and he has never taken great naps. For the longest time he didn't take more than a 45 min nap (per nap, even when he was taking multiple naps). Even now i'm lucky if he gets more than an hour nap. He does sleep pretty solidly through the night though.

Sarah Franz said...

Ps: good luck!

Erica said...

Oh I love new babies. And not so much the struggle of schedules. We're still working on daytime naps, but the nights have been great. It's really worked to make it different in the night compared to day and also swaddle her to start off the night.

The sleeping breakthrough I had with her was to get her out of my bed. When she was in my bed I would wake up with every grunt and fidget and feed her just to make her quiet. This was about every two hours. When I put her in her own room she slept for seven hours straight just because I wasn't waking her up all the time. We're all happier for it!

I loved your postpartum surprises post to and can related to most all of it. Being a mom is so much better than I expected, and I was looking forward to it from the start.

Hugh said...

We're sleep-training child of three loosely based on the ideas in Babywise. She is 12 weeks old and sleeping from 11:30pm to 7:30am, but we recognize she's also a champion sleeper. (Whoever coined "sleeping like a baby"?).

Our main impetus for sticking with something was motherly sanity and friends who had tried something with success. Motherhood is rough, so best of luck to you.

Adespain said...

One of my good friends once said that if you had enough kids everything from every spectrum of parenting would eventually apply. We read the baby whisperer (which I would recommend- but absolutely NOT her DVD- especially since most moms who are "staying at home" have a very not-strict schedule) and Happiest Baby on the block. They worked great for us for William- not at all for James. We tried everything, read every book people suggested- the kid would not sleep. My only hope was that people kept saying when he was weaned it would get better- and Hallelujah!! It did! He's a champ now.

And I remember after giving birth to William, when I was finally all stitched up and in my own room, thinking: ahhh, now I just need to sleep for a day and I'll be great! And then they brought him in to be fed- oh my gosh!! I am never again going to sleep for a day! This kid eats every two hours! How am I supposed to recover!! Well, okay, so that wasn't completely true. Since then I have been able to get long stretches of sleep. But that's what I thought!

And similar to your friend, at 2 months we moved William to his own room and he slept 7 hours that night (same amount even) and everyone slept much better from then on. We didn't really every have to let William cry it out. He did those 7 hours and just got longer and longer. Although, I also fed William a lot in the bed and let him sleep there too. More than I thought I would as well. James didn't sleep well in bed with us. Worse than his crib.

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