Posts Tagged ‘baby sleep’

Sleep progress :-)

June 29, 2013

Thought I’d better update on our sleep progress with four month old Baby. A few weeks ago he was only getting to sleep through feeding and was waking increasingly often. We resorted to a ‘crying-but-not-abandoning’ approach (more info here.)

So a few weeks after the crunch time where are we? Although not all plain sailing things are generally really good. Baby will happily go into his cot wide awake. He kicks and murmurs to himself for a while before usually dozing off quite happily. About one time in four he gets a bit fussy and may cry a bit. During these times I stay in the room with him but don’t really do much beyond verbally soothing him. And very, very occasionally he gets very upset. Usually this is when I’ve mistimed things so he’s overtired. Then I verbally sooth and also do the Baby Whisperer’s pick up/put down. I also get him out of bed if he’s not asleep after an hour, do something different for fifteen minutes, and then try again.

Once asleep he often naps for 1.5 to 2.5 hours at a time. At night he sleeps for eight to ten hours (woo hoo!) He was doing this great night sleep before so I can’t say this approach was responsible. But it did stop a slide backwards towards two night wakings which had started.

I am so glad we decided to do this. Feeding to sleep is lovely in theory but the reality so often isn’t. He was getting less and less sleep and more and more grumpy. So often he was tired but not hungry resulting in tetchy feeds. I felt I was reinforcing a bad lesson about sleep. I still feed on demand and if he wants food before a sleep he can have it. I just make sure not to put him down asleep. And it means our feeds are more enjoyable too. He only has food when he wants and not because he is desperately trying to get to sleep.

As I said it’s not all plain sailing. It still takes him a while to settle to sleep for naps. He’s mostly very happy in the cot but it makes me question my timing when he is regularly taking thirty minutes to settle. Was I too early or too late? We also struggle outside of the house. He is fab in his cot but doesn’t fall asleep easily in a buggy and is increasingly resistant to sleeping in the sling or the car. I try not to have him miss too many naps but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

Bizarrely his night sleeping has got better and worse at the same time. He now sleeps for between eight and ten hours straight each night. Brilliant! But unfortunately it’s almost impossible to get him back to sleep after he then wakes for a feed. Before I used to do side-lying feeding and would basically keep him asleep by feeding him for an age. But now I feed him in the chair and he is normally awake at the end of the feed. And try as we might he just doesn’t want to go back to sleep. He still gets a good daily total amount of sleep because he takes good naps. But only having such short nights is taking it’s toll on me – I am not used to being up at six am! This will probably only be solved by putting him to bed earlier once he’ll take a bedtime bottle so this is my next priority.

Applying science to Baby’s sleep

June 14, 2013

Have been reading around the web in an attempt to solve our baby sleep issues. For now I am feeding Baby before each nap. However he is only taking super short 45 minute naps (cos when he stirs the boob isn’t there.) Plus there are times he is tired but not at all hungry which mean no sleep… The overall result is a tired and grouchy Baby who is getting about three hours less daytime sleep than he needs. Plus the prospect of even more night feeds as he unlearns how to sleep longer nighttime stretches. So this isn’t a long term solution.

In my Internet travels I’ve come across a fab blog by a mum who is also a scientist. She has read lots of studies on baby sleep and shares her views on her blog. I particularly liked her post called ‘6 little secrets of a sleeping baby’. I won’t re-blog it all but a couple of bits stood out for me.

On crying and self-soothing…

I believed that my success as a mother was tied to my ability to stop my baby’s cries, as quickly as possible. If she cried, I felt that I was failing…. There is a significant body of research that shows that infants will learn to self-soothe if given the chance. As a new mother, I wish that I had paused to listen before jumping to stop BabyC’s cries and, in doing so, perhaps given her a chance to develop her own ways of soothing. I wish that I had thought carefully about what my soothing techniques were teaching her about sleep. And I wish that, at least occasionally, I had given her the chance to try to fall asleep without my intervention. After all, she might have surprised me. It would have been easier for me to think clearly about these things if I had thought of my job as being to support my baby in learning how to sleep rather than being to stop the crying….BabyC cried because she was tired. I responded by distracting her with bounces until she was lulled to sleep. I now realize that what she needed was to be heard, not hushed. I am not suggesting that we should ignore babies’ cries – not at all – but simply that we be thoughtful about responding in a non-intrusive way that is consistent with how we want the baby to eventually learn to sleep. In reality, this may be just a small shift in our actions, but it is a huge shift in our intention, and it actually requires greater attention to our babies. I believe that this simple shift in thinking may have prevented the sleep problems we found down the road.

And on parental presence during sleep training…

Many sleep experts advise that extinction – letting babies cry-it-out without any reassurances – is the fastest way to good sleep and results in less crying in the long run. They’re probably right, but again, I think we need to stop measuring our success by minutes of crying. A more gradual approach may take longer and require more patience, but it is likely less stressful to the baby. A crying baby may be protesting, struggling to fall asleep in a new way, or frustrated by the change, but she is not necessarily in distress or despair. When we let our babies know that we hear them and acknowledge their emotions, they’ll probably keep telling us how they feel for a while, and that’s OK. Every baby is different, but I now believe that most babies benefit from a gradual approach with more parental support.

The author did use a cry-it-out approach with her baby and this clearly colours her views. Plus this seems to have involved only a few hours of crying in total. I think we went through that with Baby last week! Not to mention the bad experience we had with big brother Bub who cried for hours through weeks of sleep training. Ultimately there our success lay in preventing crying, not ignoring it, but only after he HAD learned to fall asleep without intervention at least sometimes.

I am still undecided about what we’ll do but this has given me some food for thought.

Feeding to sleep – no more (and no tears too!)

May 29, 2013

Am so pleased with our progress on three month old Baby’s sleep. I’ve gone from having to always feed him to sleep to popping him onto the bed awake and walking out after a very short time. His naps have also lengthened from 40 minutes or so to much longer – today he had one that was over three hours.

I was also very keen to avoid him having to cry it out. I tried (in desperation) a controlled crying approach with his older brother. I hated it and felt so disempowered. Having to ignore my instincts made me feel helpless. I really wanted to find another way.

So what did we do?

Firstly a few useful sleep facts which informed our approach. These are things I’ve read (mostly in the no cry sleep solution) and were reinforced by my experience with my two boys. Babies (and all people) stir frequently in their sleep. Usually this is between sleep cycles which in babies are around 40 minutes in length. The way babies fall asleep is often how they seek to go back to sleep when they stir between sleep cycles. So if a baby falls asleep in their bed on their own steam then after 40 minutes they’ll stir a little and almost always drop off for another cycle. All good. However if they are fed or rocked to sleep they are likely to stir after 40 minutes, wonder where they are, fret about where the boob/rocking has gone and wake up.

So armed with this knowledge I firstly tried to introduce a dummy. I hoped Baby could happily transition to falling asleep though sucking. But he wouldn’t take a dummy so this was not going to work.

Instead I started to rock him to sleep on my shoulder. I did this alongside introducing more of a routine so I could be assured that Baby wasn’t hungry when he was sleepy. At first he fussed A LOT before going to sleep. It wasn’t fun and took about twenty minutes for him to fall asleep in my arms. Once asleep I’d then put him down and he’d nap for (usually) 40 minutes.

Each time we did it he fell asleep faster. However it was back breaking stuff as he’s rather heavy. I had intended to gradually reduce the time I spent rocking etc. However after a week or so I was keen to move onto something else. By now he wasn’t looking for the breast to sleep. But he was still only taking a 40 minute nap.

It was more by luck than judgement that I found our next step. After rocking him for a while my back was aching and so I lay Baby on our double bed. I swaddled him and lay down next to him. When he fussed I put my hand on his tummy (whilst he was still in the swaddle) and rocked him gently back and forwards (more like side to side really.) Again he wasn’t all that happy but he fussed a bit, calmed down and eventually dozed off. My arm ached dreadfully but we’d done it – he’s fallen asleep on the bed!

Having done it once I was determined to carry on. Each time he went to sleep like this is was easier and he went to sleep with less fuss. I would swaddle him and jiggle him when he fussed. When he was calm I reduced the jiggling and just left my hand on his tummy. If for whatever reason he was fussier than usual then I found doing the jiggle and a shh-ing sound helpful. (Rather like the Baby Whisperer’s shh/pat.)

After about a week of doing this for all naps at home we’ve reached a new stage. When he is tired I carry him into the bedroom and swaddle him on our bed. I stay for a minute or so with my hand on him and then leave. He’s still awake at this point. He looks around and then dozes off. And sleeps for AGES – usually at least 90 minutes and sometimes more.

Am so pleased with what we’ve achieved. He is getting the sleep he needs and I have time to focus on his brother. And no tears! Or backache!! Plus I can always revert to the earlier stages if needed. So if for whatever reason he is cranky and struggling to doze off I can do some jiggling or even rocking. All safe in the knowledge that there is a path back to him falling asleep unaided. Very unlike ‘cry it out’ and the main reason I found it so disempowering.

My next step is to put him in his cot rather than on our bed. Now he’s regularly falling asleep virtually unaided this should be fine. I used the bed to save my arms but now he barely needs my help and so I hope this will be ok.

Our bigger future challenge is to remove the swaddle. I intend to do this when he has better arm control and will no longer bash himself in the face after each sleep cycle as he tries to suck his fingers. I hope to do the transition gradually. However my fear is that his naps will shorten considerably. Any tips on doing this gratefully received!

In praise of… swaddling

May 17, 2013

Have been using my magic swaddling blankets with eleven week old Baby. I found them invaluable with his older brother Bub who had a very strong Moro reflex and slept poorly from birth. Baby didn’t have this problem and was a great little sleeper at first. Now he’s older his naps aren’t great. He wants to suck his fingers but can’t do it for more than a second. So he just hits himself in the face and wakes himself up!

The main aim is to try to extend his naps but we’re also using them for night sleep. I can’t yet really comment on whether it is working on the naps. We have had a few longer naps with it. He can’t yet fall asleep independently and this is probably a bigger factor. But it’s definitely extended his night sleep. He was a good night sleeper anyway but he is now doing a stretch 2-4 hours longer 🙂

This isn’t a long term thing as I guess quite quickly he’ll be too big for swaddling. But hopefully by then he’ll have mastered the finger sucking and will stop whacking himself mid sleep!

Ten weeks old and feeding to sleep all the time

May 5, 2013

Have decided to bite the bullet and start to encourage our almost ten week old Baby into more of a day time routine. I’ve loved the flexibility of not having one. But he’s definitely now got a really strong feed to sleep association and I don’t really want it to continue. So in order to help me distinguish between hunger and tiredness cues I think we need a bit more structure to our day.

Baby feeds often at the moment, both when hungry or tired. Sometimes when he is tired and wants to suck but not feed he gets really cross when the milk comes down. I also can’t leave him for more than a few minutes and am the only one who can get him to sleep. He will sleep in the sling and (sometimes) in the car. But it’s almost always feeding that gets him to sleep at the moment. He’ll even doze off feeding straight after having had a long nap.

His older brother Bub was never one to feed to sleep as a newborn. He was much more influenced by movement and rocking was his sleep ‘prop’ for several months. Until my back could take no more, anyway!! He had very defined feeds – he’d feed happily for a time and then stop when he was full. He also had very definite growth spurts when he’d feed seemingly non-stop. Once my milk came in I’ve had no recognisable growth spurts with Baby at all. Perhaps he feeds more frequently but I don’t notice? Baby also dozes off during pretty much every feed so I never know if they have properly finished. If I wake him he then happily relatches and immediately starts to doze again. It’s easy to see why his feed to sleep association has developed!

I have had a fair bit of experience with entrenched sleep associations with Bub. We started with rocking. And when my back gave out at about five months we moved to feeding to sleep. Which was beautiful and snuggly. Until he started to wake hourly (yes, hourly!) all night in search of the breast. At about seven months I was a sleep deprived wreck and we had to undertake drastic measures. Fortunately we finally found a no-tears solution which eventually resolved these issues. But this time around I also have a toddler to contend with. Spending an hour getting Baby to sleep is a luxury I can’t really afford. So I’m keen to help him find another way sooner rather than later. And hopefully do it in a gentle way too.

Today was day one and it went rather well. Will update on what we did and our progress soon. In the meantime here’s a link to an old post giving five things I wish I’d known first time about baby sleep.

Sleeping with your baby

May 4, 2013

Have been chatting with friends about sleeping in bed with your baby and thought I might write about our experiences here.

First things first, safety. There is a good article here so I won’t repeat it. But suffice to say I think sleeping with your baby is safe so long as you take care.

With my first child Bub I hadn’t intended to co-sleep. We had a Moses basket and thought that he would sleep next to our bed. And most of the time he did. But Bub had a really strong Moro reflex and in the early days he’d wake himself frequently if not held. Swaddling was ultimately what resolved this but for a few weeks I found lying next to him and holding him when he stirred helped him stay asleep. So in the early weeks when I was desperately exhausted he came in bed with us. And then during growth spurts or any time he was waking a lot to feed I brought him into bed too. But actually most nights he slept entirely in his own bed. And I think he slept better like this too – after the first few weeks my presence seemed quite distracting for him and made it harder for him to fall and stay asleep.

I’m very strict now though and never have Bub sleep in our bed. His sleep is generally good but only because of a predictable routine and clear boundaries. I don’t want to open up the option of coming into our bed as I fear he’d want to do it a lot. That’s not to say we don’t occasionally sleep in with him though. If he’s ill or in need of companionship then we put a mattress on the floor of his bedroom and sleep next to him. And sometimes he’ll come down and sleep on it too. And then I get NO sleep! He’s just as distracted and distractable a co-sleeper as when he was a baby so it’s not a very restful experience. Hence my reluctance to have him come into our bed on a regular basis.

With Baby things are a little different. He’s a MUCH better sleeper than his brother (so far anyway.) Once asleep he tends to sleep well and not wake himself up. At nights he usually does 6 to 8 hours at a stretch. And then after a feed he’ll go down for another three hours. All highly satisfactory! 😉 But I’m more relaxed about co-sleeping this time around and have embraced it a little more. So Baby does his ‘big sleep’ in his own bed which is in our bedroom. Then at 6am (or whenever he wakes for his feed) I bring him into my bed. After feeding I’ll lay him next to me to sleep until he wakes properly. This is mainly to help him sleep as easily and as long as possible. It’s usually light by then and I want to move/disrupt him as little as possible. Also I can hold and respond to him quickly if necessary and avoid him waking fully should he stir prematurely. And it also reduces the chance he’ll make a noise that might wake up Bub.

I sleep much more easily with Baby in my bed than with Bub. I’ve temporarily turfed his daddy into the spare room so we have the whole kingsize to ourselves. And I’ve put a toddler bed guard on the edge of the bed. So I can rest easy knowing he’s safe. And he’s nearby without being squeezed in right next to me.

So that’s our co-sleeping experience so far. Not sure how it’ll continue with Baby but for now this arrangement seems to suit us both fine.

Almost four weeks in

March 25, 2013

In a couple of days Baby will be a month old. Scary how time flies – in a blur of nappies, breastfeeds and desperate attempts to entertain a toddler.

Poor Bub has been ill, again. This last month he’s been constantly tired, angry, bored. And occasionally ill too. It’s very sad. I expected bad behaviour but not the tiredness and frequent illness. Hopefully all will get back to normal soon. He starts going to nursery four afternoons a week in a while which I hope will provide him with a more diverse range of entertainment. At the moment it’s a constant stream of Angry Birds games and little else. Poor lad!

Baby is doing great. At almost four weeks the cluster feeding has reduced a bit. Still hard to predict though. I often venture out with him and hope he’ll take a lengthy nap and instead find myself having to do an unexpected feed. Am still not totally at home with breastfeeding in public again though have little choice so must persevere. Am keen to get a few more breastfeeding tops but can’t find much on the high street or eBay. Any recommendations?

I’ve noticed a slight change to Baby’s daytime sleep too. In the last few days he’s has a few fussy periods where he doesn’t want to feed, be changed or winded. He’s tired and yawning but won’t instantly drop off like he would a week or so ago. He still falls asleep pretty easily, really. But it’s not like when he was newborn and could fall asleep any time, any place, any where. He definitely has a preference for falling asleep in my arms (clever baby, really.) But fortunately he’ll sleep happily in his moses basket after that once I lay him down. Much better than his big brother who wouldn’t ever transfer from arms to cot – I spent months holding him.

And a final sleep brag. Baby slept ‘through the night’ yesterday – 1am to 6.30am, then 7am to 10am. And I slept too. Wonderful!!!

Day one

February 28, 2013

Hard to believe our new little one is only just over 24 hours old. Feels like a lifetime has passed already.

Fortunately my high blood pressure in labour came down immediately after the birth and has stayed normal ever since. And Baby is doing brilliantly too, no concerns or issues which is lovely.

He is feeding like a trouper, has a really strong suck on him! I think Bub took much longer to get the hang of it but that might have been more down to me than him. Though I had no idea how bad afterpains can be in second children – ouch that’s been painful!!

We were in hospital for around 15 hours all in and back home yesterday in time for tea. Bub therefore got to meet his little brother at home which was how I’d hoped it’d be. And fortunately Baby had had the foresight to bring Bub a present which made everything pretty much ok from his perspective. Here’s Bub showing the Baby his new Rex toy.

Am knackered, but did manage a few hours kip last night. More than I did for Bub when I think the adrenaline from the birth and general shock to my system kept me awake for several days. Baby is very sleepy at moment which I know won’t last but I hope to enjoy as fully as possible while I can!

Lost – one daytime nap….

August 1, 2011

Worrying trend developing with Bub’s naps. They seem to be dwindling and today he didn’t nap at all, despite being in bed over 90 minutes.

Since he was about one he has napped for 2-3.5 hours a day. Usually 12.00-3.30ish. This has been a bit of a bind as we’ve generally had to be in at this time but at least we all got a break. This had dropped to about 1.5-2 hours in recent months. But for about ten days now he’s had barely any sleep, 45 minutes at most. And today nothing.

Partly I think it’s the hot weather and the fact that some days he’s had to go without a gro-bag. I don’t think he’s teething. I don’t think he’s ill. I just hope this is temporary and he goes back to at least getting an hours kip. He still needs it, he yawns loads before going down, just doesn’t doze off.

We have been so lucky that sleep hasn’t been an issue for several months. I really don’t want to go back to nap-wars. Or a tired and cranky child. Any tips on keeping him napping gratefully received!

Post natal sleep deprivation (or when will I get some sleep?) pt 2

July 18, 2011

Yesterday I wrote about lack of sleep and how I struggled in the first months after Bub was born.

I read many different books and tried many different approaches. Some were a big success, like swaddling. Some were temporarily successful, like rocking or feeding him to sleep, but perhaps in the longer term just made it tougher. Babies seem to differ but whether being driven or rocked or fed Bub has always tended to wake up wondering why his environment has changed and then sought my intervention to help him get back to sleep. We also tried, briefly, some variants on crying it out (via the Baby Whisperer). They didn’t work for us but again might for some mums and some babies. You can read all about our various trials and tribulations with Bub’s sleep here.

Looking back with a bit of hindsight what do I think I might have done differently?

Well, firstly whilst I am super proud that I exclusively breastfed for six months I wish I’d been a bit less purist about it. Whilst I know it’s important to establish breastfeeding and not rush to express I wish I’d tried it earlier than I did (around three months). When we did try it we really struggled to get Bub to have a bottle and it never seemed worth bothering to express milk he’d never drink.

This led into the second thing. I wish I’d been able to let go and bring Bub’s daddy into the equation more. I do think breastfeeding was a brilliant choice but it did create a very exclusive relationship between me and Bub. But this isn’t the whole story. Bub’s daddy is a real night owl and the ridiculous thing was that most nights I’d be dealing with a restless baby whilst he’d also be awake. Why oh why didn’t I ask him to do more? I think my super protective and control freak side came through here. Much as I wanted his help (and often resented not getting it) I also didn’t want to cede control. I wanted things doing EXACTLY as I wanted them, or I’d prefer to do them myself. Not an ideal state of affairs.

You may wonder what happened at nine/ten months when my sleep began to improve? Well, and I hate to say it, that’s when I stopped breastfeeding. Bub still woke at night for a feed, at that age twice a night on average. But it meant we could both take turns to feed him meaning I wasn’t so much a slave to his sleeping patterns. Six hours consecutive sleep was no longer a dream, it happened, regularly.

I’m definitely not saying here that it was breastfeeding that caused our sleepless nights. Whilst Bub was very young he’d have woken almost as much if bottle fed and it’d have been much harder to meet his needs and get him back to sleep with formula. But it did add to my natural control freak inclination to try to do everything myself to mean that even when I wanted help I felt I couldn’t take it.

Bub’s daddy has never read any books about baby sleep. But he knows his son and had some interesting ideas about how to get him to sleep in a caring but effective way. And you know what, they worked pretty well. I really wish I’d encouraged him to try these ideas at four months old not ten! All those hours of sleep I might have potentially got.

So there you have it, a whistlestop tour of the most sleep deprived year of my life. Sends shivers of fear and apprehension down my spine to even think about it.

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