Emma's Birthday

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sleeping Like A . . . Baby

Hi, it's Katie here. Since Will is napping, I thought I would write this post for him!

As any of you who talked to me or spent any time at our house in the first ten weeks of Will's life well know, sleeping has been an issue for us. At around week six, Will decided that he needed to wake up every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Adding to that stress, during the day, he would not nap unless he was held. And not held laying down or even sitting down. No, Will wanted to be held while the holder was standing.

After fourteen consecutive sleepless days and nights, I was at my wit's end. It was then that I purchased the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. March Weissbluth. I tell you, if I wasn't already happily married, I would track this man down and propose to him!

The change didn't come overnight. Not at all. But slowly, I am starting to see the light at the end of the long, dark, sleepless tunnel.

Most of it was simply increasing my understanding how sleep works and that a baby's immature brain simply can't sleep the way we adults want it to. I felt as if I was not parenting Will correctly for him to be sleeping so poorly, but I soon learned that was not the case. Probably the most comforting thing that I learned was that I have to adjust Will's age to his sleep age, which is based not on the day that Will was born, but on his actual due date. Which means that while Will is 11 weeks old, his sleep development is actually only at 9 weeks.

The book was also very helpful in making me feel better about how we were handling Will's crying. Neither of us were okay with letting Will "cry it out" at this early age. Our pediatrician has advised us that we can attempt this method when Will is older - at around four months. Dr. Weissbluth supports that age as well, again adding two weeks on for his sleep age. It made me feel better to know that we were actually not supposed to let such a young baby cry it out.

So although the book didn't have me do much differently than what we were doing before, it gave us the confidence we needed to feel as if we were doing the right thing. And we were also able to start watching for little changes in his sleep development that let us know we were moving in the right direction. We have been having better night sleeping, starting about three weeks ago. It still isn't "through the night," but he gets at least one good five to six hour chunk in a night. Usually, I am only up once with him during my sleeping hours, around 2 - 3 AM. We still have a bad night every once in awhile, but even then, a bad night is getting up two to three times, instead of four to six.

But the biggest developmental milestone has come this week. Will is now able to go down for his naps on his own. We have a brief naptime routine, where I feed him, then change his diaper, and give him a brief massage with his nighttime lotion. We then read two stories, turn out the lights, and rock for five minutes. I put him down, fully awake, and leave the room. He usually doesn't even cry, but if he does, it is half-hearted and weak. I usually don't even have time to think about going back in before he is done with the crying. And the last two times that I have put him down, there has been no crying at all. I want to do victory laps around the house every time he goes down so easily! Then of course, I want to knock on wood in case I have jinxed us!

His naps are still short, about 45 minutes to an hour, but this is very normal for his age. He is then up for about an hour and a half to two hours. He does have the cutest little sleep cue, which lets me know he is ready to sleep. He will take his right hand and play with his ear. That, on top of a yawn or two, lets me know it's time for him to be back in bed.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we are all feeling better with more sleep. Even more importantly, Will seems so much happier now that he is well-rested.


Amy said...
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Amy said...

Good job Katie!! 6 months and it will all fall into place....see how fast these first few weeks have gone!! YOU GROW BOY!! xoxoxo Aunt Amy

Amy said...

PS LOVE the Craig David song you picked for the slideshow!! ;) xoxoxo Amy