Perfecting Stella’s sleep routine is definitely a work in progress, but oh my gosh thank the Lord she is sleeping so much better than she was when I wrote this post two weeks ago. Both of the books I read said that you needed to have a few weeks to be really consistent when starting a new routine, and since I knew that we were going on vacation for a week (Aug1-8) I haven’t made any drastic changes yet or followed any certain program to a T. Also, we have decided to frame in the loft that is serving as Stella’s bedroom to make it an actual bedroom. This will help to keep out the light from the skylight over the stairwell, as well as let us shower/get ready in the morning without worrying about waking her up in her crib. In the meantime, there are a lot of little things I am doing differently that are already making a huge difference in our lives and Stella’s sleeping habits. Here is what we have done…
|Sleeping in her crib during an epic two hour nap today.
(1) I had no idea she liked to sleep on her side/belly.
(2) My child normally sleeps for 20-40 minutes. Two hours is unprecedented!
You all came through with so many great suggestions for me. Many of them I had heard before, but I needed the reminder..some tips I had never thought to try, and they also came in handy. I wasn’t ready to do full on CIO, but I also needed faster results than something that would take weeks and weeks.
I ended up reading two books thanks to suggestions from Sheelah: (The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight – Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy) and BU: (the sleep sense program – Proven Strategies for Teaching your Child to Sleep Through the Night)
The books were actually incredibly similar as was the core message of them both (and, I’d assume) of most sleep books ..
I needed to teach Stella how to fall asleep on her own.
Yep, I knew that. I just needed the reminder.
Also, both books stressed the importance of preparing them for sleep by teaching them predictable sleep cues, and then (and only then) letting them cry if need be. Also, neither book says you should set your baby down in the crib and walk out and let them cry – both have methods that allow you to sit in the room at first and gradually move farther away from the crib, which I really liked.
I don’t regret keeping Stella in our room for the first six months, and I don’t regret co-sleeping with her (either in her co-sleeper or in our bed) one bit. I have loved every second of those cuddles, and I truly felt like I got pretty good sleep. I didn’t mind nursing her every 3-4 hrs while she was so little, and I wasn’t concerned about getting her to sleep through the night at that point. However, when we transferred her into the crib in her own room at six months, I should have also used that as the time to eliminate sleep crutches before object permanence kicked in…namely, the crutch of me nursing and rocking her to sleep.
Lesson learned. 🙂
Small changes we have implemented over the past couple of weeks:
(1) Trying to follow more of an eat/play/sleep routine to start to break the nursing to sleep crutch.
I still nurse her before naps/bedtime sometimes if I can’t get her to calm down any other way, but if I do, I make sure to pop her off when she is still slightly awake and put her down drowsy. Sometimes she loses her mind when I put her down, and when that happens, I will try to pat her butt, *shhhh* her, and calm her down (without doing any of those things consistently b/c I don’t want to create yet another sleep crutch!), but often times I’ll still need to pick her up, rock her or nurse her a bit more, and try again. And again. Eventually, it works, and it’s getting easier to put her down every day.
(2) Letting her cry a little more in the crib.
I’m not talking CIO, but I’m letting her fuss longer. If she starts crying in a tone that’s going to turn hysterical, I go pick her up before that happens, because otherwise she is so worked up that she is awake forever. Otherwise, I let her fuss and see if she can get herself back to sleep. More and more often, she does! The first few nights I did the “sleep lady shuffle” described in the first book I linked to above, and that helped me feel better about letting her fuss a little louder and longer than usual, and it gave Stella more time to calm down, all at the same time.
(3) Following a more consistent bedtime routine.
Baths almost every night (we had only been doing 1-2x/week).
PJs and brush her hair.
Read a couple of books (usually ending with Goodnight Moon – her favorite.
Nurse and sing until drowsy but awake.
Say our prayers.
Lay her down to sleep.
Sometimes I try to nurse before books, but I usually end up nursing again afterwards, so for now, we’re pretty much following the routine above. It’s about 30 minutes from start to finish, depending on how tired she is acting. I speed things up if she’s acting really sleepy, and take the time to do a longer bath/extra book/etc if she needs more wind-down time.
(4) Earlier bedtime.
Before all of this, she was going to sleep around 9pm. I initially switched her to 7pm and skipped that last nap she was taking around 6pm. However, it was a long battle to get her down that early, so we switched to 8pm, and that’s a bit better. However, asleep at 8pm means up at 7am, and with my work schedule, it was WAY better for us to have her sleep at 9pm and up at 8am, because it gave me more time to shower/pump/get ready while she was still snoozing away. We are headed to MN on Wednesday (which is 1hr ahead of us) so I might switch back to 9pm-8am while there, and if that goes well, switch her back to 9pm-8am when we return to CO after a week. We shall see. I’ve read that as babies grow up, it’s more important to move towards 7pm, but for now, we like the 8-9pm, and she is still getting 11 hrs of sleep at night. That being said, an earlier bedtime means more time for Charlie and I to reconnect as well, so I’m not sure what we’ll do.
(5) Napping at home
Stells still naps in the car or stroller every once in awhile, but I’m trying really hard to get her to take a good nap in her crib first before taking her anywhere. It’s more restorative sleep, and it’s eliminating the sleep crutch of needing to be moving to fall asleep. I’m also going to start asking her daycare provider and my sis-n-law and mother-in-law to follow a more consistent nap routine moving forward.
After not even two weeks, we are all getting so much more sleep. With me being more insistent on putting her down awake so that she had to put herself to sleep, she reverted pretty quickly to waking 2x/night (1ish and 4ish – her old normal before the every 45 minute b.s. that precipitated my whole breakdown!)…and the last few nights we have had a couple incidences of the first feeding being at 4am. YES! Eventually I want her to sleep through the night, but I’m willing to giver her some time to adjust to not eating in the middle of the night.
An upside to Stells sleeping better at night and getting more used to her crib is that she is actually sleeping better during the day as well. Naps have been getting longer and longer (usually at least one good naps of 1-1.5 hrs and then two 20-45 minutes naps)….and today she actually woke up around 7am, nursed, and was so sleepy we put her back down and she slept 1h45…then a 2h nap….then a 1hr nap. That is the best she has ever slept!
(6) Blankie in the bed
My Mom bought Stells a soft little blanket that’s maybe 12″x12″ that is incredibly soft in the middle and has as satin edge. She used to love having it on her face when she was in the swing, and I’m making a point of always putting it into the crib with her now as well. I also just read that kids should really only have one blanket and one toy in the crib b/c it’s easier for them to form an attachment with a certain object, so I’m going to pull the rest of the toys out of there asap.
I know this is still a work in progress, and I am sure that I will be updating again, but I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you that wrote with suggestions and commiserations. I hope that all of the comments from that post will help other Moms in sleep battles to come as well. 🙂
Our daily sleep regimen that I’m going to be shooting for when we return from MN next week:
7:30 a.m. Wake up, eat, playtime.
10:00 a.m. Begin 1st nap
11:45 a.m. Wake up, eat, playtime.
3:00 p.m. Begin 2nd nap
4:45 p.m. Wake up, eat, playtime.
7:30 p.m. Bedtime (eating right before)