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I mentioned in my previous post that I would probably be broaching the subject of sleep and nap times. So as promised, here it is. Sleeping and nap times are not my forte.
What? Isn’t the reason you write a blog is to tell people how to handle things more efficiently and better? To solve the problem? I wish I could help you. I kind of got lucky and unlucky at the same time. Here’s how.
I got lucky.
My daughter, Danaerys, has always gone to sleep in her crib on her own when I put her there, which is at night and 50-75% of her naps. I lay her in bed, give her the paci, place her Minnie Mouse lovie in her arms, cover her with her blanket, and walk out the door. Sometimes her eyes are closing before the paci is completely inserted into her mouth. Other times, it’s only moments after I leave the room.
I got unlucky.
Danaerys and I share a room while we are living with my brother and his wife. (This is not unlucky, I’m very blessed here.) However, since we sleep in the same room, she knows I am there. So when I have tried to wean her off the first night feeding, she knows I’m there and refuses to go back to sleep. And since birth, I have found it extremely difficult to get myself to get up after feeding her during the night to return her to her bed. I also oftentimes fell asleep while she was nursing and woke up an hour later or so to her re-latching. So she has become accustomed to going to sleep in her bed and then transitioning into bed with me for the night. She’s also attached to her all night open bar. She’s 8.5 months to the date of this post and she’s still eating all night long.
She goes to bed around 7:45 p.m. Her wake times are inconsistent. She slept until 7 a.m. yesterday. Today she was up at 6:07. Last week she was up before 6 a.m. 3 days in a row. And she doesn’t play with toys in her bed so mommy can catch a few extra minutes of sleep.
I don’t have it together.
I don’t get a lot of sleep at night because I don’t go to sleep when she does. I take the time she goes down in her bed to catch up on things, load the dishwasher, fold laundry, or chill. Then when I finally go to bed when she first wakes up, it becomes a cycle until she wakes up for the day. She is constantly waking up trying to eat and not getting anything because a) she’s sucked the one side dry for the last hour or two, or b) I woke up at some point and closed it up when she happened to release it.
So what am I writing a post about helping babies sleep for? Because it is admittedly my fault. I can’t complain a big deal over my lack of sleep because from the very beginning I did things which were counterproductive to establishing eating and sleeping patterns which would be beneficial to me in the long run.
I was aware…
Before my baby was even born, I read the book, Precious Little Sleep by Alexis Dubief. It is the gold mine of resources when it comes to sleep. Dubief developed an incredible tool for parents to use to help their babies go to sleep independently at night and for naps, as well as tools for weaning babies off night feedings along the way.
I knew that feeding my baby within 1 hour of bedtime can produce a sleep-suck association. That means that when her REM (active sleep) cycle is up (which according to Dubief is 50 minutes), her non-REM sleep cycle kicks in and she realizes she’s not sucking anymore. This creates a moment of panic and she begins to wake up enough that only reintroducing the boob or the bottle is the only way to pacify her.
I also knew…
To successfully co-sleep (something I initially was not planning on doing) and position my baby for successfully weaning off night feedings, I first had to avoid sleep-suck associations. Furthermore, I would have to put my baby to sleep in the bed she would be sleeping with me in for the night. I did that for a couple of weeks, but it made me so nervous that I had no idea when she would start rolling in her sleep. I couldn’t always go to bed when she did, nor did I want to, so she always went to bed in her crib past six weeks.
What I did…
I typically fed her within 30 minutes of going down. I put her down in her own crib. I never intended on co-sleeping, but half of the time I was too lazy to get myself out of bed to return her to her crib. The other half of the time I couldn’t give up the opportunity to snuggle my baby. (There is an entirely different post probably coming some day as to why I was not emotionally ready to lose my snuggle time after going to work in a 911 call center. Just let me say here now: snuggle your babies, hold them tight, and tell them you love them everyday.)
What if I had…
Now I told you when I put her in her bed and give her the paci she goes right to sleep? Now imagine if I had followed the rules in Precious Little Sleep, my child would be sleeping through the night right now. We would have a set schedule throughout the day. She would probably get up around the same decent hour each day.
And while it is certainly desirable to sleep throughout the night and wake up at a more decent hour, I actually wouldn’t change a thing. You see, this season is temporary. By the end of this year she won’t be breastfeeding anymore. In fact, the plan is to be done shortly after her first birthday in only 3 months (plus one week).
She’s already eating three meals a day. She actually likes the savory foods and not the sweet foods, so I’m in a good place to fill her with more and more healthy food options and avoiding the sugary junk.
How do you know…
How do I know this book would work for you if you got it? Because it has worked for so many moms out there, there is actually a Facebook support group for this book with over 44,000 members. They’ve read the book, used it for their kids, and it worked. They also come there to ask questions about how to tweak their own methods to improve the results if something isn’t working.
What does it entail?
Dubief uses various tools to help the baby go to sleep in the early days. These tools are called “Power Tools.” The paci and the swing are two of the power tools Dubief talks about.
She also has different methods to teach the baby to sleep independently of Mommy and Daddy. There is no judgment in Dubief’s writings. She talks about all methods including the “fuss It Out (FIO)” method. This is definitely a hard method for some to stick to, but Dubief does go over how long one should use the methods before deciding that it doesn’t work.
Dubief also gives lots of good information like how long a baby should sleep at night, during nap, length of wake periods, and all sorts of gold nuggets. It is really an amazing resource for parents struggling with getting your children to sleep at night and for naps. And as a single parent, it really is going to make your life so much easier.
Get the book. I promise you there will be more than one thing in it that will help you in your own journey, even if you have a 2-year-old and you’re coming in late to the game. It will help you out.
It’s actually a pretty thick book. My brief synopsis of the tools and methods she discusses is fairly short so you may be surprised. Don’t get overwhelmed when you get it. It is so good. You’ll see what I was talking about with sleep-suck associations in more detail. This book is going to improve your life. (I know, why don’t I use it? Again, emotional reasons. I don’t know if I’ll ever get this time of life again, so I’ll sacrifice for some extra snuggling time.)
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