Sleep Habits

16 May

Timothy and I are attending new mom classes – every week they invite various specialists to talk to the group. Last week it was a baby massage specialist, this week – baby food/solids specialist and a sleep consultant.

SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT

While I don’t remember all the specifics (they’ll send the details by email later), the core message was that babies are supposed to sleep through the night by the age of 2 months (I think 6-8 hours straight) and by the time they turn 4 months old, they should sleep 10-12 hours straight.

So the idea is that babies don’t need to nurse at night. We shouldn’t pick them up when they fuss a bit – they most likely will fall back asleep again. We shouldn’t feed them if they start crying – pick them up, yes, but try to soothe them and put back to sleep. Her advice was to keep trying to soothe them for 20 minutes – if they still cry – then feed them, but catch a moment when they calm down a bit (or else they’ll think that they always need to scream their head off to get a feeding).

She says that most people start with something like a 12-5 am night stretch. Once the baby makes it all the way to 7 am, put the baby to bed half an hour earlier. If he still sleeps until 7 am, add another half hour. And so on.

Well.

That’s what we’ve been doing – adding gradually 30 minutes to bed time, the only thing is that we started doing that when Timothy had begun to sleep until 6-6:30. That’s why he keeps waking at 6 am, eating, and then sleeping some more until 7-8 am. This should not be the case.

Furthermore, it looks like we rushed with the 8 pm bedtime. He is now waking at odd hours for the feeding – today it was 3:50 am, for example. I thought it’s no big deal – he still wakes up only once, who cares if it’s at 3 am or 6 am? But if the idea is to get him to sleep all the way to 7 am, then we should move back to 9 pm bedtime and wait until he can make it consistently all the way to 7 am. As much as I enjoy putting him to bed at 8:45 and having the rest of the evening to spend with my hubby, it’s too early for that (and hey… compared to some other babies out there, I seriously shouldn’t complain).

DAYTIME NAPS

And then daytime sleep. This is where things are really messy for us, according to the sleep consultant. Timothy is supposed to get 1.5-2 hour naps, 3-4 times a day.

So here’s the thing: babies have a shallow sleep phase for 45 minutes, and a deep sleep phase for another 45 minutes. What often happens is that they wake up at the end of that first phase and start playing or crying or whatever – bottom line, they don’t get really good sleep. Chances are, they’ll have to take another catnap before the next feed. Or right after the next feed – but then they won’t be tired enough for the following nap (are you following my train of thought?)

So what I need to do is to encourage him to nap longer – get him back to sleep if he wakes up too early. Rock him, give a paci, whatever. But – BUT – not to let him sleep for more than 2 hours at a time.

So this is what I did today – when he got tired in the morning, I put him in his crib upstairs, He slept for some 30 minutes, woke up. I went it, gave him the paci, re-swaddled him, stroke him, kissed him, left. He slept some more, woke up, I repeated the whole thing. And now it’s been 2 hours nap time! Interrupted, yes – but he napped for 2 hours!

Now I’m gonna go wake him up.

The idea is that after a few days of enforced long naps, he will get used to the long naps and will crave them.

The idea is that at this point, I should be able to say what I am doing at, say, 2 pm next Monday. His schedule should be that predictable.

So – this is what we’re gonna do for the next few days: get back to 9 pm bedtime. Enforce long naps.

Are you still with me? Thank you for your attention šŸ™‚

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4 Responses to “Sleep Habits”

  1. BleedingTulip May 16, 2012 at 11:04 PM #

    Hurray for sleep schedules! I’ve only heard good things from moms about having a set schedule. It gives the baby comfort in the routine, and the parents can actually plan and schedule things. Sounds like you got a lot of great advice and have a good plan! šŸ™‚

  2. babiesandus May 17, 2012 at 4:12 AM #

    Very usefull info! Thank you for sharing.

  3. deemacnc May 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM #

    Hi,

    My neice sent me a book from the UK called the complete sleep guide for contented babies by Gina Ford. With this book’s help, I started a night time routine at 8 weeks old and we are three weeks in and it is going pretty good. One suggestion is establishing a bedtime routine between 6-7pm so baby is asleep by 7pm, waking her up at 10pm to a full feed, change diaper and put right back to bed and M sleeps through until 4 or 5am. So I try to schedule my day with a morning nap of 1 hour, try to get her to sleep between 12.30 until 2.30pm and then a nap around 4pm ish for approx 30/45 mins and then start bedtime at 6pm. Sometimes I start at 5.30 5.45 if she is getting grumpy. M is sleeping from 10.30pm through 4 or 5am and I get a decent block of sleep time. By four/six months you should be able to cut out the 10pm feed. Good luck.

  4. Shannon May 18, 2012 at 10:15 PM #

    Good for you!! I think in the next day or two, Timothy should be able to nap unassisted (remember the 3 day thing??). šŸ™‚ Even though some mothers rail against schedules and such, I love knowing the order of our days, and it’s particularly helpful when scheduling things for an older sibling too.

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