The Holy Grail of Sleep

Oliver YawnSo after our feeding issues were/are mostly resolved, I need something new to research and control like the Type A mom that I am. You know…the all consuming obsession I need since I am not working all day? The one where I google like a mad man while nursing at night.

Next up: sleep.

With Landon, we had our sleep issues. Nothing much different than most first time parents. He was colicky. He was a ticking time bomb when you put him down. He didn’t nap anywhere but a swing, carseat or chest. The usual…but it lead to me going a little crazy. I was terrified he would go to daycare and be the only kid who couldn’t sleep in the crib. They don’t have swings and such to pacify him. They would shun me, I just knew it. FTR, they will sleep at daycare…so stop stressin but I stressed. I cried. I had no idea what I was doing.

I had lived in Raleigh for 8 years and finally got a library card just so I could check out books on sleep. ALL OF THE BOOKS. Now granted, I probably made it worse but I did learn a lot from those books. I knew what to take away and what wouldn’t work for us. I learned about sleep cycles, sleep cues, schedules, eat/play/sleep patterns. ALL OF IT. (I will note my favorite reads and such below…so keep reading.)

So this go round, I have a little knowledge under my belt. I also have a HEAVILY routine oriented toddler. We work off the clock to make a happy family. It works for us. Point fingers and scoff all you want. IWe live and die by naps. Now we have to add another to the equation. Not only  that, routine saves my sanity. I can plan a day. I don’t feel like there is so much chaos. I feel like I am not losing control and overwhelmed.

Pause here: If you don’t believe in putting a baby on a schedule, you probably aren’t going to like where this post is going. You aren’t going to agree with me and that’s fine. What works for us might not work for you…this is just to show how WE work. As noted above, this helps my mental state as much as the baby. A happy mom is a better mom. Case closed.

Our plan thus far is still flying by the seat of our pants. I mean, that ‘s what you need to do at this point. Survive. We have slept on separate floors, with him on our chest, in the swing, humming, swaying, ergo napping. We know we are still learning each other. Feeding cues, which white noise he likes, if he has gas/reflux, etc. So we started trying to get him to sleep in a little cosleeper bassinet in our bed. Idea here was to keep noise to a minimum for Landon while learning. Well that never worked consistently. We could get him down sometimes but like 10 minutes later he would be up again. Rinse and repeat. Also? Noisy ass sleeper. Oy. At this point, Kevin would usually take him downstairs to sleep in the bouncy seat and I would get some sleep before the next feeding. (Remember how much he rocks? We know my sleep = my sanity even if it is a little) It sucked for us all really…but once again…surviving. Tempers flared and we may have said curse words to the little blob…we aren’t proud. We needed to get back in the swing of things.

But my main conundrum is “bedtime”. How to get both boys down around the same time so Kevin and I can be a married couple. {not like that, perv…this kid only exited < 3 weeks ago} How to orchestrate this? So for a couple of nights, I have fed Oliver while we watch TV with Landon before bed. Family bonding.  Landon likes to sit next to me and hold Ollie’s feet and give him kisses. Yeah it’s mindless Thomas or whatever but we can all do SOMETHING together. Daddy gives him a small bottle and then we all go upstairs together. Daddy does bath with Landon while I get Oliver ready for bed. He is usually pretty stuffed from his meal and sleepy. So jammies, swaddle, white noise and a little bit of rocking to set the stage. Put him down and walk away. No big production. It would work for maybe 20 minutes and he would be up again but I think we are on the right track. So that is my overarching rule at this point:

Setting the stage.

Landon has had the generally same routine since he was about 5 months old. Bath, jammies, boob/bottle/books (over time), song and bed. Make things predictable. I do a shorter version at naps. The glory of a routine is you can do it anywhere. Hotel, grandparents house, etc. To this day at 1pm, Landon goes to his room, puts on his diaper, white noise and picks 3 books to read. I sing him a few songs and turn out the light. My plan is to mimic for Oliver. We just do the routine until it sticks for now. I remind myself that he is still learning but I have to set him up to succeed…not just try to mind read what I want from him. And speaking of learning, I believe it is never too early for my next rule:

Put them down awake.

Yup. I remember in my Hey Baby class before Landon, they told us this. I rolled my eyes. They suggested that if they were asleep in your arms, to jostle them when you put them down so they learned to go back to sleep on their own. How insane right? Wrong. They were right. It took us some time to get this down with Landon but once we did, it was glorious. He could go to sleep and STAY ASLEEP. No more 20 minutes naps to be woken at the first sleep cycle. And let me emphasize that I am not calling for CIO here. They are too little. There is no need for that. Don’t think of me as some machine. But if you get the timing right of when they are sleepy, you don’t have to. They just fall asleep. They might need an aid (paci, lovey, etc) but they can do it. You just have to show them. I admit Oliver seems more of the type to be able to fuss a bit to go to sleep already just by chance. Like I was washing bottles during a nap. By the time I rinsed the bottle and put in on the rack and headed to his room, he had gone back to sleep. 2-3 cries max. So there is another example of every kid is different. There would have been NO WAY this would have happened with Landon. Live and learn.

Now all this sounds great on paper but in practice, it’s tough. you have to watch your kid like a hawk for signs of being sleepy. There are also times I don’t really want to just sit on the damn couch and not move. I still roll with the punches. Hell I wrote part of this post with Oliver in the Ergo asleep (irony!) but

Resources I found Helpful:

As I said above, I read A LOT. I learned a lot too. Here are a few things I found had some good advice. Once again, I didn’t do any of this 100%…I just took what made sense for me and my family.

  • Blogs
    • Ask Moxie – Great website about parenting questions in general. This was where I found the infamous “tension increasers” concept with L. Made me realize the type of kid he was and how to deal with that. Just an overall great place to read about different situations with sleep and other parenting stuff.
    • Baby Wise Mom – Just found this recently. Woman who believes in baby wise .She breaks down the concepts into posts and how she used them with her 3 kids. It made the concepts more practical to see them in use. Found it way easier to read than the book. Great site organization too! She JUST had her 4th baby too!
    • Alpha Mom – I remember reading up on here with Landon a lot. I honestly can’t remember specific posts at this point.
  • Books
    • No Cry Sleep Solution – I never mastered the actual process with Landon but I am seeing it more possible with Oliver. He is a different crier (see Ask Moxie above). Great info just about sleep cycles of children and how it all works from that standpoint.
    • Happiest Baby on the Block – 5 Ss…plain and simple. Best ways to calm a fussy baby. I didn’t take much away for formal sleeping here but just understanding those 5 Ss helped understand the “4th trimester” and how babies are programmed. I recommend the DVD over the book. Especially for dads.
    • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – Another book to explore sleep in general. I think this one most lines up with my philosophy. Set your kid up to succeed and build a healthy routine for THEM…then everything else falls into place.
    • Baby Wise – Oh the controversial one. I am not going to weigh in on that debate but I found that this helped him game plan a schedule. Like I know it would be nice for the boys to go to bed around the same time…so this helped me plot how they could potentially work. How to set that up. Also they emphasize the eat/play/sleep pattern that I believe in. I didn’t take away much from their feeding philosophy and I still feed on demand for the most part (though both boys seem to follow a 3 hour pattern). As a book, this is a tough read. It is heavy and boring.
  • Podcasts:
    • No Cry Sleep Solutions – With the author of the book listed above. This is a great intro to the concept without having to read. Highly recommend.
    • How Much Sleep? – This author has a book I haven’t read but this is where I got the idea for an earlier bedtime. It got rid of the “witching” hour and helped us be together as a couple when there is little time for that early on.
    • 4th Trimester – Dr. Harvery Karp (Happiest Baby on the Block author) talks about the concept of the 4th trimester and how to survive it 🙂
So there ya go. A TON of writing on sleep. Sadly, I could keep going. It is one of the most researched parenting things I obsessed over. I love sleep and I love a happy kid. These 2 things always go hand in hand in my book. We decided this was the best course for our family and I hope to keep that going with Oliver.

 

 

17 Comments

  1. Oh thank you Jesus! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you wrote this post. I swear Noah and Landon sound like the same kind of kid. We followed the exact same routine. It’s nice to find someone who did things the same way. Lately I have been wracking my brain to remember how exactly we got to where we are with Noah. Only four weeks (or less) to go and I get to do it all over again too. Thanks for all of these resources. I’ve got all the same books, but I hadn’t heard of those blogs. Goingto follow them now!

    • Try not to stress about it. It will fall into place if you know what you are looking for hopefully. It was amazing how I keep saying “oh yeah I remember this” as I go along. You start to see the patterns and signs of sleepy earlier this time from the last time. HUGE leg up.

  2. Nice post! When thinking about getting pg for the second time I had all these ideas of things I would do differently, esp in the sleep category- much of what you are mentioning. However, with twins on the way, I’m pretty sure that is a drastic game changer & will have a whole other set of blogs & books to research! I’m hoping to at least get to use the whole “put to sleep awake” idea to our advantage though! *Crosses fingers*

    I will sadly say though, children are NOT guaranteed to sleep at daycare. Emily took maybe one to 2 “naps” 30 min (per day) at most for the majority of time that she was in the infant room. It stressed me out soooo bad. Luckily the routine of all the kids going down at once on the cots did seem to work with her, so she finally started getting decent naps at about 10 months when she moved to the next room.

    • Yeah I don’t know how to do it with twins. I expect it takes longer since you are learning 2 people. But I can imagine still keepin up with Emily will make you have some since of routine…so they may fall into it. God speed 🙂

      And yes very true with daycare. Should have said “they will do what they want at daycare” Landon slept 4 hours straight the first day after no napping at home with me. I was stressed in a different way.

  3. Haha. I also spent my maternity leave at the library reading all the books on sleep. There wasn’t one miracle book out there, but I got tips from each. I felt that if I had something “new” to try then I was at least doing something (other than cursing a newborn at 2 am). I love how practical you are. I must remember this post for when/if we have a newborn again.

  4. Great post, Brandy! We also loved Happiest Baby on the Block, and putting Noah down awake when he was little bitty has possibly been the best thing we’ve ever done for our sanity. Now we have a super easy nighttime routine, and he rarely fusses at all when we put him down (he’s 16 months).

    Another book that helped us tremendously with getting Noah sleeping through the night was The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems (though the title is definitely a lie!). This is where the “dream feed” concept comes from — giving him a bottle around 10 p.m. while he’s asleep to help him stay full longer overnight. It took a few nights to get the routine down, but we went from getting up at 11, 2 and 5 to doing a feed around 6 p.m., one around 10 and then one around 4 or 5 within about a week. Within a few weeks, he was sleeping from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. consistently.

    The main thing is just, like you emphasized, learning your kid. The same things might not work for all of them, but willingness to try a few different things and be a little flexible is key!

    • Thanks. Yeah I remember the Baby Whisperer too. We are having trouble with dream feeding here because A) he is so asleep he won’t nurse and B) usually poops. DOH. Maybe I should pump and give a bottle tonight and see how that works. Thanks for the reminder! My goal here isn’t even sleeping through the night. I don’t expect him too yet. I just want consistency.

  5. I don’t usually comment, but I wanted to put my two cents in for your “controversial” BabyWise. I LOVE BabyWise!!! Both of my kids were BabyWise and both slept through the night at 7 weeks. My first, my son, was a super scheduled baby and thrived on a 3-hour routine that started at 6:30 every morning. To this day, he is 4, he needs a schedule or he will be super cranky and not fun to be around (and he still gets up at 6:30). My daughter was not as scheduled, but I still used most of the BabyWise techniques with some variations. She also needs to cry a bit to release tension before she goes to sleep. When she was an infant, she cried (not loud, just whimpers) for a minute or so. It got longer as she got older, but if my husband or I went in there, she would get even more upset. She honestly wanted to be left alone to CIO for a little while! Now she almost two and releases her tension with singing instead of crying. It is hilarious, she will sing (and by sing I mean scream) for about 30-45 minutes before falling asleep. Again, if we go in there she will get upset and say “Night Night Mommy, Goodbye”.

    • Well hi! I say “controversial” because I have seen some camps REALLY against it. SAying that babies don’t need schedules and a strict Baby Wise follower could cause their baby to not thrive (not on demand feeding, too much sleep, etc). I think anyone with common sense can steer well clear of this but whatever. I think we all have natural rhythms…even babies. We just have to help them get theirs. Learning your kid is key..just like you said. You know she needs her space. Landon needs time to play by himself too…and I am happy to give him what he needs to rest.

  6. All hail routines!! This is a wonderful post! I am in no way shape or form initiating a Mommy War here but… do you think being a full-time working mom has anything to do with your dependency on routines? For me, that is absolutely the case! I thrive on routine and planning and our son had to fit right in that routine and plan as well. As you mentioned, it’s not because we are hard asses it’s because that is how our family is happiest. I also appreciate how you said more than once that it takes time and it’s not like you aren’t willing to “roll with the punches” at first. You HAVE to in the beginning. But once you are able to start a solid routine and the baby appears to be thriving themselves, oh man, is that a glorious thing or what?!?!

    We also have the “wind down for bedtime” routine and our son is now at a point where he knows what is going on and will ask to be placed in this crib. He takes his time to fall asleep as we can hear him talking to himself and his lovie (we assume). 😉 Then there is that time my husband and I have on the weeknights after our little man is in bed, between 7:30pm – 9:00pm (yes, we go to bed at 9pm). It is the most relaxing and enjoyable time of the day! We can sit on the couch and get caught up on DVR action, we can talk and get caught up with each other, we can read, we get to just be. It is lovely.

    I truly appreciate you sharing your resources and the amount of research and time that went into a post like this. Thank you!

    • I imagine the working mom thing does have something to do with it. I mean i worked until I gave birth. So get up at a certain time, eat at a certain time, dinner on the table, etc. I can just wing it all the time…not to say SAHMs do…but they have a choice more than I do. If I don’t shower at 6am and get ready, the rest of the family suffers from the domino effect. SO I keep up a routine with a newborn to help keep me trained. And yes, watching him thriving with enough sleep and enough food is great. He is so much more predictable. If he is crying at an off time, I can usually figure it out really quick (dirty diaper, gas, overtired). Once again, I can control the chaos a little better.

  7. Oh Brandy, you are so adorably Type A!!! In all seriousness, the only thing I regret not putting more effort into was establishing a firm sleeping routine with D as an infant. Overall he slept pretty well, but I know we could have done a better job on a day-to-day basis.

    • It truly is comforting knowing he is more regulated this early on. He is just a more chill baby as well but I can only imagine this helps. He is getting enough sleep and we are fried. Everyone wins.

  8. Amen Momma. I had my second going down for the night at 7pm at a month. Granted he was up nursing a few times but still. It started his routine. My dr compared falling asleep in mommas arms to falling asleep in a huge cloud of pillows and then waking up on the cold basement floor aka the crib. It makes sense and hard but will make that first yr so much less stressful. Jack also fusses himself to sleep most nights but really he works it out in a minute or two. That would have never in a million yrs worked with my first. Those kiddos they keep you on your toes good luck!

  9. I’m a big believer in routine and naps for babies/kids. All three of mine have it… to this day. Thing is each child is different and what works for one will not necessarily work for the next. We got all three of ours on the same type of routine and schedule but may not have used the same exact way to get there… as long as you are flexible to what each child’s needs are you’ll be fine. And your little one is only three weeks old… he needs time to adjust to the routine. As you said, you are putting him up for success!!! Good luck.

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