This is a side effect that is common for parents, though there are some of you out there that have really good sleepers that catch on to full nights quickly. It's not that I'm asking to trade babies or anything, but everyone likes to have a good night filled with dreams and restful sleep from time to time.
|The Lap Nap: Newborns Sleep Anywhere - Quincy 1 Week Old|
Quincy has slept through the night four times (not consecutively) in his seven months of life, and by Slept Through the Night I'm talking about ten to twelve hours straight without any feedings, no search and rescues of pacifiers, or any need for mom or dad to go into his room or listen to him cry. Were they blissful nights? Not really - your body can get accustomed to waking up every few hours with a baby; nursing mommas know of the discomfort that comes from long stretches without feedings [Holy Engorgement, Batwoman!], or you go into Why-Hasn't-He-Gotten-Up-Oh-My-Goodness-Is-He-Still-Breathing-??! Hyper Mode. The morning after these four days was pleasant, realizing that he had made it through the full night, and brimming with hope that he would begin a pattern...
However, no such pattern developed. There were complications added to this case of Sleepitis, such as teething, vacations, traveling, poor napping during the day... the challenges go on. I write this post not to freak out other parents so that they worry their child will never sleep, or that all children are doomed to poor sleeping habits. Quincy is a relatively good sleeper, but his hunger seems to overpower his sleeping skills. As parents, Brad and I worried that Quincy needed those extra nighttime feedings to keep his body growing big and strong. After he reached six months, I cut out night feedings all together to train Quincy to self-soothe, and get his belly accustomed to making it through the night.
Though Quincy is still not sleeping through the night, we're working on it. There are some great techniques I've picked up from friends, books, and mommy intuition, and I thought I would share them. Feel free to add any of your tips in the comments section!
THREE, FIVE, SEVEN, TENI acquired this approach of waiting to soothe baby from another friend, which I think she got from a friend, who read it in a book (and yes, that seems to be the usual pattern of acquiring parenting techniques!) When you have determined that your child is not in imminent danger, does not need to be fed, and really just needs to cry a bit, this is a great way to ease those anxious nerves that flare up, begging you to run in and pick up your baby. No parent likes to listen to their baby or child cry, but sometimes it's necessary to let them figure out how to handle things. Instead of running to their room right away, wait for three minutes, go in and say "It's not time to wake up yet. We love you, but you need to go back to sleep", maybe rub their belly or back, and then leave and close the door.
|Using the timer on my phone has helped!|
If they continue crying, wait five minutes and go back in, repeating the same thing. Then wait seven minutes, then wait ten minutes, and continue doing ten minute segments until they fall back asleep. Be sure to have the same routine when you go in, make it short and simple, and then leave. Do NOT pick them up, or drag out the time you are in there; just go in, let them know it's okay, and leave.
GET SOME DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU & YOUR MONITORWhen Quincy was a teeny tiny guy, he was a grunter. We kept him in a bassinet in our room for the first five weeks, but then moved him to his crib because he was LOUD. Nowadays, he's a pretty quiet sleeper once he's asleep. It's the getting there that can be stressful. Being able to view him on our monitor has been great, but sometimes hearing every last little noise can be hard to block out, even when I know he'll fall asleep soon.
|Motorola® Digital Video Monitor|
Gotta love video - being able to see him, without going in his room!
I've found that waiting to turn the monitor on for a little bit of time after putting him down saves me from having to listen to him fall asleep - the grunts, possible cries, his struggle to ease into sleep. Similarly, since his bedroom is just across the hall from ours, I've more recently been able to turn off the monitor and close both doors. If he wakes up, he'll be loud enough for me to hear him if I'm needed, but if he wakes briefly and is able to go back to sleep, no need to interrupt mom and dad's sleep.
BLANKIE MAGICIt's not that we want to raise a Linus, however, we've discovered that blankets can be good indicators to baby that it's time to sleep. When Quincy was a newborn, we depended heavily on swaddling, then as he grew we turned to sleeper bags, and now we use a light weight muslin blanket by aden + anais®.
|Swaddling at the Hospital - 2 Days Old|
|Sleeper Bag - 9 Days Old|
|aden + anais® Blanket|
(There IS a Baby Under There...)
I'm not going to lie - this blanket works wonders. Quincy has a habit of rolling to his side when he's ready to sleep, but not until you've placed his blanket on him, then he smushes it into his face and goes to sleep. Yes, he literally crams as much fabric as he can into his nose, or pulls it over his head completely, and then goes to sleep. Don't worry! It's breathable.
|Another light-weight blanket he borrowed from a friend when napping.|
GET SOME TIME TO YOURSELF
I don't know about you all out there, but my skin starts to crawl if I haven't had time to myself, even for just a snippet of time. When you are constantly responsible for a little one (or little ones!), it can be tiring. When Quincy is down for a nap, I find myself freaking out, thinking, OH MY GOSH I HAVE TWENTY MINUTES TO TWO HOURS OF FREE TIME, WHAT SHOULD I DO? Honestly, I spend the first ten minutes just running through all the possibilities: do laundry, do the dishes, shower, stuff cloth diapers, eat, crochet, catch up on emails, have some devotional time, write on the blog, pay some bills... Sometimes, despite being on low sleep, you have to set aside some time for yourself. How have I had time to crochet or work on projects? I stay up after Quincy goes down for the night, sometimes until midnight or later. I've been able to adapt to the whole Low Sleep thing (most of the time), but this momma goes a bit batty when she doesn't get a little bit of time to unwind. Find your Chill Time, it will do wonders on refreshing your mind, *almost* as good as a quality nap.