31 January 2010

Baby Sleep 3

Wow!  I am amazed at the difference between Friday night and Saturday night, and I am humbled by the impact of how difficult this process can be. 

Previously, Jackson was sleeping in a cosleeper attached to the bed or sleeping in our bed, snuggled right up to mommy.  The early teething was the main reason he ended up sleeping next to me, but I did quite enjoy it until he started getting more active in his sleep.  The hardest part was feigning sleep when Jackson woke up in the middle of the night laughing and cooing.  Once Big Brother Jason was sleeping well in his new room, the time came to help Jackson learn to sleep in a crib in the nursery.

Our process for this first stage of encouraging sleep:
Step 0:  Respond as quickly as I know it isn't just normal nighttime sounds.  The less he wakes himself up, the more quickly he will settle down.
Step 1:  Pick up baby; rock, bounce, and sing him to sleep.  Expect to feed him a couple times during the night. 
Step 2:  Rock side to side, then forward and back (as if I was laying him down, to get him accustomed to the motion) a few times while walking to the crib.
Step 3:  Lay baby gently in the crib, and place my hands on him so he knows I'm still there.  Gently rock him on the mattress if he stirs, and spend a long time slowly removing my hands, so as not to startle him.
Step 4:  If he wakes up a little once he's in the crib, I'll try the methods in step 3 to calm him for a moment, but if that doesn't work quickly, I just start over at step1.

Dave and I are taking ~2 hour shifts at this.  The baby sleeps in a cotton one piece pajama, and we use a Merino Kids Baby Sleep Bag to keep him warm and dry.  Unfortunately, the size rating is only accurate for babies of average height- Jason outgrew the sleep bag by 14 months.

Friday night:  

We got Jackson to sleep around 8p.  The first part of the night wasn't fun, but it got even worse as the night wore on.  From 8p to 11p, he woke up every half hour, and each time it took a short time to settle him down and lay him in the crib.  The first part of the night wasn't fun, but it got even worse as the night wore on. 

Around 11, he must have figured out that he didn't like the situation, and it would take 10 minutes or more get him to stay asleep while in the crib.  I was really happy to have the Snuggle Wool on the mattress because it wasn't so cold to the touch when he first lay down.  After all this, he would stay asleep 15 minutes at most, until I gave up at 3a and brought him to bed with me.

The strangest thing about the night was my insomnia.   While I always take more time to fall asleep than I appreciate, I was only able to sleep 30 minutes between 10p and 3a, even while Dave was dealing with the not-sleeping-boy.  However, once my precious boy was snuggled next to me, we both slept soundly until 7a.

Saturday night:

Since Dave got marginally more sleep than I did the night before, he took care of getting Jackson to sleep from 8p to 11:30p.  Things started out as frustrating as before, but when my turn came shortly before midnight, I started by feeding Jackson a bottle.  The feeding took a long time since he was barely awake enough to eat, but the time was well worthwhile.  From then on, he slept 45 minutes at a stretch- even a couple of hour-long spells, to my amazement.  He slept well until 8:15a, when he woke up with a smile.

I may not have appreciated how well it went, had things not been so rough on Friday night.  We couldn't do this every night, but it is a process.  We are all learning.  This is our second time going through this process, and it helps my confidence immeasurably having a toddler who sleeps for 11 hours straight with no drama.  Not that I think that clearly at 3a.  I often want to give up, give in, do anything to get myself to sleep immediately.  Our only saving grace in this process is that when Dave or I am ready to give up, the other is still able to pick up the slack.

Thank you to Elizabeth Pantly for The No Cry Sleep Solution. I can also recommend The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child's Sleep.

29 January 2010

Baby Sleep 2

It is 40 minutes past my bedtime, and I am afraid to get in bed and relax.  Tonight is Jackson's first night in the nursery.  Between 7:30p and 8:30p, he woke up about 4 or 5 times, spit up twice, and drank a bottle.  He hasn't stirred for nearly an hour, but I still fear that he will cry as soon as I let down my guard.  I need to take a step back, breath, and enjoy the fact that both boys are asleep in their own spaces, leaving me time to write and Dave time to play guitar.

From the book, The No Cry Sleep Solution, the first task is to create a safe, comfortable sleep environment.  The nursery is equipped with a nice crib, found via craigslist (after checking for recalls, of course).  That alone is an important feat, since many friends were affected by the crib recall announced in late 2009. We have a standard crib mattress that fits well, and since I can't imagine getting a good night's sleep on a plastic mattress, it is topped with a Snuggle Wool mattress pad.  I love wool for baby stuff because it can neutralize urine while keeping baby warm and allowing air to circulate.  The Snuggle Wool products are nice because they can be washed and dried by machine.  The light is kept to a minimum with light blocking curtains lined with two layers of polyester felt.  It is a west facing window, and even at sunset, we only get a little light in the room with this setup.  To reduce noise distractions, there is a SleepMate White Noise Machine in the nursery, and it works so well that we bought a second for Jason's Big Boy Room. 

Our biggest stumbling block with Jackson's sleep is the lack of bedtime routine.  Jason sleeps so well that his bedtime routine only takes 10 to 15 minutes, so I have a difficult time figuring out how to incorporate an hour long bedtime routine for Jackson into our current evening.  During the week, nap time is difficult for both boys:  Jason isn't old enough (21 months) to be left to his own devices for as long as it takes to get Jackson to sleep, and Jackson (5 months) doesn't like to be alone as long as it takes Jason to settle down.

What we learned the first time around, though, is that having the plan and the perseverance will pay off.  Eventually.  Jackson woke up at 9:50, but was easily settled.  It is now time to accept this night for the unknown that it is and try to get some sleep.

27 January 2010

Baby Sleep 1

My toddler, Jason, sleeps like a dream:  we have a short bedtime and naptime schedule, we lay him down (very recently on a mattress on the floor), cover him up, and leave the room.  90% of the time, he sleeps at least 2 hous for naps and 11 hours at night with no further help from us.  This is not luck, by any means.

Like many new parents, we struggled with how to get more sleep for our baby and ourselves.  While I am happy many families have more rested lives due to the many cry-it-out methods, we wanted to find a less stressful way to teach our baby how to sleep.  Cue The No Cry Sleep Solution. In this book, author Elizabeth Pantly provides a process for teaching babies to sleep on their own. She even has editions specifically for toddlers and for nap time.  The information in the book was very helpful, but we didn't have a great deal of success until we stopped feeding him at night -a transition he didn't fuss about at all- around 9 months of age.  The timeline is rather foggy, but by 11 months, we were all sleeping soundly most nights, and Jason knew that if he needed us at any time of the day or night, we would respond.

Enter: the second baby, Jackson.  For the first 5 months, he has slept in a cosleeper attached to our bed or in our bed.  Now that big brother has moved out of the crib and loves his new room, it is time to move baby to the crib. He currently naps, swaddled, in his carrier/car seat, but he is quickly outgrowing it.

First goal:  napping in the crib twice a day, at least 45 minutes each time
Ultimate goal:  sleeping all night in the crib, napping over an hour in the crib

I plan to write a series of posts about the process- to keep me focused on the goals, to share the progress with friends, and to see what comments are made.