Friday, September 28, 2012

Sleeping Update: Scheduling

Since reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child a few weeks ago, I started implementing a more regimented sleep schedule for Michael. I previously avoided a strict sleep schedule because I thought we would become slaves to the schedule and therefore become that couple that can't do anything because baby has to nap (as if we do so much socializing now???). After reading this book, I now know that a schedule actually works for you and your baby as long as you follow your baby's sleep cues and realize that his/her sleep patterns (as in timing) are biologically wired. In my first post on sleep, I mentioned that Michael had fallen into a nap pattern on his own, napping around 9am and 1pm, where he would fall asleep while nursing, and I would let him sleep on the boppy on me (where was I going?). Turns out those times are exactly when he's supposed to be napping, when baby naturally feels sleepy and are all part of the overall development of baby's circadian rhythms.

The last couple of months though Michael had started to catch on that nursing makes him sleepy, so he would cut feedings short before he fell asleep. It was time to implement a nap routine so he would know that his 8:30am and 12:00pm-ish feedings were followed by naps. The first couple of weeks were filled with resistance--screaming, crying, wriggling, just ugliness. Same at bedtime which was between 6 and 7. The Ergo carrier has become my nap buddy because I can't keep my big baby still when he writhes around! It usually helps to calm him down, frees my hands to stroke his head or back, and most importantly keeps him secure while I swing or squat (yes squat, or sometimes more of a side lunge) or rock him to sleep. Lately the rocking chair seems to be sufficient. His sleepy song is Apples and Bananas--for some reason it soothes him (and it's fun to sing!).

So, the big question, has his sleep improved? It's been about 5 weeks. Nap and bedtimes are much more peaceful. Bedtime is now between 5 and 6pm, wake up for the day between 6 and 7. Naps are still around 9am and 1pm, lasting 30min to one hour. Michael doesn't resist or cry as much (or at all some days) and I no longer feel like I'm forcing him to sleep. Our pre-sleep routine is very sweet and snuggly now--sometimes he'll just stare up at me while I sing and just fall asleep. Although, since he's a high needs baby, he manages to find a distraction while rocking, even if it's my face. As long as he's not getting too worked up, I let him fidget with whatever's caught his attention, and he usually stops after a few minutes and puts his head down. His naps were running 1-2 hours, but they've been getting shorter with morning being the shortest, around 30 min. He's still waking up at night, but there does seem to be an overall progression to fewer wake-ups, this week especially with about 3 wake ups, so I'm very hopeful that the schedule is working and he is catching up on his sleep debt. I'm also only nursing at night if he seems really upset and absolutely can't fall asleep. Just as the book says, he usually has a wake up between 4am and 6am where he has a hard time going back to sleep. Even nursing doesn't work unless I catch him before he fully wakes up. Otherwise I usually have to use the rocking chair, where he squirms and squirms until working his way down to my lap with his head in my tummy--not very comfy for me to hold but it works! I can't believe I never heard of this book before! I think this would be a great read for mommas of high needs babies wsho just don't want to sleep! Now if only there's a book on transitioning a 10 month old high needs baby with separation anxiety from the family bed to the crib...Maybe I'll have to write that one. ;-)


  1. So glad things are improving! We had to transition our younger son from the swing and family bed to his crib around 10-12 months, and my husband had to help me a lot with that. Since my little guy associated me with nursing, it helped if I wasn't in the room to get him back to sleep if he didn't fall asleep right away. My husband would usually rock him in the rocker or standing up, and that would eventually work. Hang in there!

  2. Thanks Catherine! I hope my husband can help because I've been doing everything! I think moving to the crib will be much easier if he gets used to fewer wake ups and fewer nursings at night and he seems to be headed in the right direction. He really likes to play in his room so hopefully that positive association will help too!