Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Sleep (or the Lack Thereof)

I've been mulling over a post on sleep since we returned from our vacation.

Last Christmas.

I've been waiting and waiting for Second Daughter to sleep well. I'd hate to tell you what worked for us if it wasn't working.

Well, it's still not really working, but I'm getting tired of seeing this post in my list of drafts, so I'm going to modify it a bit and publish it.

Maybe then she'll sleep.

We were having lots of trouble with both daughters, specifically in getting them to go to sleep (Second Daughter during the day for her nap and First Daughter in the evening who would talk and sing for hours). I was so happy to discover the biggest part of our problem in Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition: we were expecting them to sleep too much. Second Daughter, in particular, was sleeping about eleven hours at night, so of course she wasn't tired for a nap during the day. We delayed bedtime an hour (from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm), encouraged earlier waking, and saw immediate benefits. I found much of interest in Dr. Ferber's book. Our sleep training methods (when we employ them) are a combination of his suggestions and those found in The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night. (You'd be surprised how well they can be blended.)

Mostly, though, our kids have been relatively good sleepers, so we're not very well-versed in sleep training methods. Mind you, I write "relatively" for good reason. I think it's unreasonable for a parent of very young children to have undisturbed sleep at night. Even First Son will occasionally wake at night and need reassurance.

The main problem we have now is how often Second Daughter wakes up to nurse at night. (And by we, I mean mainly me.) One of these nights I plan to pay attention to the time and limit her. I expect after a few nights she'll get used to it and eventually sleep better all night long. It's just so much easier to nurse her to quiet her down and I'm usually too sleepy to think straight. The real problem is my hope that, all on her own, she'll just start sleeping without nursing. First Son did, so I know it can happen, but I think it's rather on the rare side. I should decide to either night-wean her or happily night-nurse her.

Eventually this time will end and then I'll probably be sorry to realize how quickly she's growing. I think that's partly why I haven't taken more action.

But mostly I think it's because I don't think about not nursing her until after I realize she's nursing.


  1. My oldest will tell her stuffed angel (she's had it since she was a baby) stories and sing songs for hours too. I have to remind her she's supposed to be sleeping once or twice a night on most nights. I've found that happens if I've put her to bed too early, too ... so I also bumped up her bedtime (like you, from 7:30 to 8:30pm). It works out much better. She knows she can tell her angel one story, then I expect her to close her eyes and go to sleep ... ... and since she's being allowed to stay up later, she happily does as she's told. And as an added bonus, she gets up an hour earlier too ... instead of 7am, she's no up between 8 and 8:30am.

    Our youngest (almost 13 months) also wakes up at night to nurse still too. At least once ... usually twice ... but sometimes three times. I've thought of night weaning ... but I'm usually too tired when she wakes me to even bother with it. So I guess I'm in the happily nursing, even at night, club LOL

    Like you said, eventually this time will end :-)

  2. Brandy, it's so cute your daughter tells her angel stories at night. Our two oldest share a room so they talk to each other quite a bit. It's a lot less now that we moved back bedtime, which is good, though it was cute to listen to them sometimes.

  3. Our girls like to talk for a while at night and I find it funny that they act so surprised when we come in to tell them to be quiet. Like they think we can't hear them! It's the boys though who wake up the most at night. I weaned Joseph at about 14 months or so and that got it down to 1-2 times per night. He didn't really start sleeping through the night most of the time until he was two. But you are right about parents of little ones. They shouldn't expect an uninterrupted night of sleep. Many nights at least one of them needs something. My aunt told me once (I think when the twins were little and I was very sleep deprived): You can always sleep when you are 60.

  4. thanks for sending this!!
    -- jo

  5. Jo, I hope it helps!

    It's hard to believe I'll be looking forward to more newborn sleep deprivation in a few months.

  6. Very interesting!! Ahh sleep, I agree sometimes when it comes to kids it helps a lot to just change your expectations. Not lower, just change ;-D I've read "No Cry" and like what it has to say, and have heard of Ferber. You should read more Sears, I really don't ever have a bad thing to say about him. Ever. That is SO cool about them returning to the Church. I've often wondered what their religious persuasion was, so I am so glad you shared that with me. I would be happy to loan you the Newland book, yes I own it. I have it for a Sophia review in fact, so let me finish up with that and I'll get it to you (maybe when I bring your meal).

    Thanks, as always, for the comments!!

  7. Gemma night-weaned and started sleeping thru the night at the same time, at 17 months, and then weaned the rest of the way (again, without any prompting) when we put her in her big girl bed at 22 months. We'll see how it goes with Kolbe, but that's not for a long time!!

  8. Thanks, Monica, in advance for loaning me the book! Now I'm more tempted by the Sophia review program...but I really have enough to handle with the Catholic Company one.

    Second Daughter ended up weaning completely at 17 months, pretty much on her own, certainly without any complaining. I was a little sad, but also pregnant and ready for her to be done.


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