Monday, December 8, 2014

for the record...

My six month old son is having some sleep problems; therefore, so too my husband and I are having some sleep problems.

He's in a crib with one open side, jammed next to our bed. I give him a bath, say prayers and nurse him down between 6 and 6:45. He usually goes to sleep pretty well, and stays asleep until 10 or 11. He wakes up, I nurse him again, and he goes back to sleep until midnight or so. From then on he's waking up every couple of hours, if not more frenquently, only going to sleep again when nursing. He wakes up pretty much for good around 6 and kind of plays by himself in bed if we're still asleep. That part seems fine since I put him to bed about 12 hours earlier. It's just the stuff in between that kills me.

He does not transfer well from the bed where I nurse him to his crib. Part of that is probably the feeling of the cold crib blanket on his face; sometimes if I lift him up with blanket where we were nursing underneath his body and face, he makes the transfer.

So I think we have two problems. The first is that he can only go to sleep while nursing. The second is that he wakes up when I put him in his crib. That is as far as my analysis has gotten. Another possible problem is that we are waking him up with our movements (the feeling is definitely mutual,) but we don't have another place to put the crib.

We tried the Ferber thing for a while, where you let them cry (not scream) for about five minutes, and then go and comfort them with singing or back patting, but not holding or nursing, for a couple minutes, and continue that until they learn that all they get out of crying is a pat on the back. That seemed like it was working for the initial bedtime, but then he would wake up every hour after that until we went to bed, as if he were only sleeping rather grudgingly. (We're sort of in the middle of one of these struggles as I'm writing this.)

Then we felt terrible and concluded that Dr. Sears was right all along and we should just go with our instincts, which tell us (me at least) to nurse and soothe your poor little baby when he cries, not to ignore him. That feels right in my gut, but I don't know that guts are the only decision-making facuties to employ in parenting. Dr. Sears doesn't really have any answers as to how to stop co-sleeping. Surely after eight or nine kids he should have something to say about that.

Also, eff Facebook again, I'm so over it. Ain't nobody got time for that. That's my new catchphrase (although it's from an old meme,) and I use it in response to almost everything that isn't essential to loving and taking care of the people I'm responsible for right now. Ain't nobody got time for that.


  1. The theory that I operate on when it comes to babies and sleep is sort of a mish mash of all the popular advice. I am an avid supporter of co-sleeping as long as everybody is sleeping comfortably. I have found that somewhere around 6 months or so I am no longer sleeping with my baby - only the baby gets any sleep as s/he comfortably kicks everyone else in the bed all night, making actual sleep impossible. So once we reach that point baby gets kicked out of our bed. We do have a crib in another room to use at that point, but if you don't maybe you could use a pack n play? Even a little mattress on the floor in another room would probably work if you make it sort of enclosed do all that space doesn't freak him out.

    But, even though I kick the baby out of our bed at this point I do go into the other room and nurse as often as is needed, and sometimes that's more than I'd like. But I'm of the opinion that all babies need some kind of prop when falling asleep. For us the daytime sleep prop is a wrap, at night it's nursing. For others it might be a pacifier or a special song or white noise, etc. The list could be endless, but the point is that there's always something being used to help baby fall asleep. So instead of helplessly going with whatever prop happens to work on a given day and hoping against hope that it will work again next time, I've come to the realization that I can choose the prop (nursing and/or wrap being my picks) and insist that this is the way we fall asleep every time. It's the same idea as Ferber really, except I can't stand the crying, so I do what I can stand.

    Naturally the night time nursing does have to stop eventually, but if you look at it how I've described above you can choose a different prop to replace nursing and gradually phase the nursing out. (Although I will admit that in the middle of the night I'm not usually up to dealing with the crying that accompanies change and so I don't really phase out night time nursing - I just do it until they they start sleeping through the night on their own, which so far has been as late as 25 months. Obviously you don't have to let it go that long if you don't want, which is why I said what I did above).

    Sleep is ALL about consistency. Older babies resist change with gusto and the older they are the harder they resist, so it's up to you to think it through, make a plan and then STICK to the plan come hell or high water. Once you get past the initial resistance things really will settle down..... for a minute. Then he'll have a growth spurt, or cut a tooth, or catch a cold and everything will fly out the window and you'll feel like you're starting all over again. Except, if you've stayed as consistent as possible you'll still be starting back ahead of where you were the last time.

    Sorry if that's more discouraging than helpful. It just seems to me like nothing really settles down well until the first year (or even sometimes the second). But the consistency is still important. We parents have to develop an iron will - not the will to have things our own way, but the will to persevere in providing security and structure. After all, kids, and especially baby kids, don't have a clue what's best for them, so we have to take up the responsibility. None of us will do it perfectly, but no one else can step in and do it for us.

  2. Wow. I didn't realize I'd written a whole lecture. I get carried away sometimes. *sheepish grin*

  3. Have you read Bringing Up Bébé? It's a bit insufferable at times, but the section on sleep was helpful for me, when I'm very-temporarily caring for a kid. It's a different ballgame raising one, but maybe it'll be handy for you too. For sleep, the gist is a pause for just a minute, when the kid starts to wake up and is fussing but not wailing, to see if they can settle themselves and get back to sleep. The goal is to teach him how to self-soothe and learn to sleep, since it can be hard on the wee one if they need external soothing to get to sleep every time.

    1. This is a great point, and one that I always forget to mention because I was not blessed with babies who did very well with self-soothing without a lot of help along the way. But if your baby can do this you should totally try this way before anything else!

    2. Brigid, we loved Bringing Up Bebe, although I agree that it is a little annoying at times. All in all, it's the first appealing thing that I have read that isn't pure attachment parenting. I really agree with the so called French premise (if I understand it correctly) that children aren't just monkeys who need to be nurtured in their "natural" state, but rather they are to be part of a human society, which is founded in that more primitive nature to be sure, but which also exists because of reason, whereby we all agree to make compromises to get along! Very Rousseau.

      The Pause does seem to help in a lot of situations! I think it's very true that often we're disturbing Scott even more by rushing in as soon as he starts crying. It hasn't yielded amazing results across the board, but I think it's a really healthy thing to incorporate and he does solve more of his own problems now.

      Lisa, thank you for your long response! It's good to hear you reiterate that we need to find something and stick to it. I like what you said about the iron will. I also think we just need to get the crib away from our bed, because it's too easy NOT to do "La Pause" in the middle of the night when I just want him to stop crying! A bit of a remove might make it easier to be consistent. Now I'm brainstorming how we can rearrange our room.