Sweet Pea is 4 months old, which means we have already cycled through many sleep phases in her short life. Despite this being my second child and despite the fact that Babykins now sleeps through the night even though we let her sleep with many “bad habits” (Nap in the swing? Check. No schedule? Check. Nursing to sleep? Check. Nursing in the middle of the night? Check.), I still find myself subject to the roller coaster of emotions relating to baby sleep.
Sweet Pea will go through a few days that she sleeps “by the book”. Her awake times are predictable, she goes down for naps without a fight, and she drifts off to sleep at night in a timely manner. Then I feel like a sleep master–I unlocked the magical door to my baby’s sleep!
But then everything will fall apart and Sweet Pea just. won’t. sleep. Careful observation of her wake times does nothing. Turning off all the lights in the bedroom just means she yells in the dark. Leaving the house doesn’t make her sleepy. And when she does sleep, it’s only for a short time. At that point, it’s fairly clear that I’m a failure as a sleep guru and a mother.
But here’s the secret that all those sleep books and blog posts never fully admit: YOU CAN’T MAKE A BABY SLEEP! Sure, there are things you can do to encourage sleep but babies do what they want, when they want.
Now could someone please remind me of this about every other day? Thanks.
Many mothers with babies swear by the Eat, Play, Sleep routine. It’s a simple enough concept: Feed your baby as soon as she wakes up, then let her play (or squirm around on the floor), and then put her down for a nap. Volia! Baby now has a “schedule” or a “rhythm”.
I tried to implement the Eat, Play, Sleep routine with both my girls. Babykins had dismal results–we had more of an Eat, Play, Burp, Cry, Eat, Cry, Sleep routine. Sweet Pea isn’t proving to do any better–she currently has an Eat, Play, Burp, Eat, Freak Out Because She Doesn’t Actually Want To Eat, Fall Asleep in the Moby Wrap. Sometimes she even throws in Spit Up a Prodigious Amount for good measure.
So, has anyone had real success with the Eat, Play, Sleep routine? Likewise, why do breastfeeding books claim that breastfed babies almost never need to be burped? My little ladies beg to differ on that point.
Things have been quiet around my blog lately for various reasons. We’ve had a busy October with guests and preparations for Sweet Pea. We’ve also been going through a vicious nap strike with 2-year-old Babykins.
I understand that nap strikes are developmentally normal for a toddler. Consequently, every day I put Babykins down for a nap. For the past 3 weeks, naps have gone 1 of 3 ways.
- Babykins quickly quiets down in her crib and SLEEPS!
- Babykins plays in her crib for 90 minutes or so and decides she is done with naptime.
- Babykins flips out after about 30 minutes (or less) and the rest of naptime is crying, frustrating mess.
On no nap days–which have occurred about 2/3 of the time the last few weeks–bedtime is at 6 p.m. Babykins typically passes out within minutes of going into her crib and then wakes up 11 or 12 hours later ready to take on the world again (sometimes there’s an early evening wake-up involving a missing pacifier).
To be fair, there are a plethora of reasons Babykins may not be napping right now. We had one week that our friends visited AND we had new windows put into the parsonage (not exactly conductive for settling down in the middle of the day). Babykins has been chatting more than ever and is probably going through a developmental spurt. She is also pushing her canines through and those teeth are vicious.
I try to remember that the nap strike isn’t a personal attack on me and Babykins is just being a toddler. But my selfish nature just gets so tired. No nap days are long with little downtime. Even when the 6 p.m. bedtime comes and I finally have time to catch up, I’m too exhausted to do anything productive. Of course, the exhaustion could also be related to being 35 weeks pregnant.
At any rate, that is my tale of naptime woe from the past 3 weeks. Babykins has deigned today to be a “sleeping in” day and has graciously given me an hour of glorious free time this morning. Ahhhhh. . . But now it is 6:45, she is starting to chat in her crib, and we must get this Sunday morning show on the road, so I bid you adieu!
We’re getting a lovely winter storm–snow, ice, and wind–so it wasn’t surprising that we lost electricity for a bit. Unfortunately, my plan to sleep in this morning (a.k.a.–sleep until Babykins woke up) was thwarted by a power outage early this morning.
I don’t think the outage itself was long enough to wake up any of us. The house was still tolerably warm and the eerie silence didn’t disturb our slumber. However, certain pieces of equipment apparently feel it’s necessary to let us know that there isn’t any electricity.
First off, we have a battery on our sump pump. Whenever the power goes out, it emits a high-pitched eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee until someone pushes the reset button.
Then there’s the baby monitor. If the monitor piece in Babykins’s room looses access to electricity, the receiver starts beeping. I understand that perhaps the manufacturers thought parents would find it useful to know if the monitor wasn’t actually working. What I don’t understand is why the transmitting piece has to be manually turned on again even if it is still plugged in to an outlet. I can’t imagine that any parent wants to sneak into their child’s room to reset the monitor while the child is sleeping.
Finally, there is Babykins’s noise machine. The handy little device has several setting options, but we keep it on “White Noise” since it is close to the same noise that the space heater and the box fan makes. However, it doesn’t return to the setting I chose when it turns back on after a power outage (because unlike the baby monitor, it can figure out that it is still plugged into an outlet). It instead automatically goes to the creepiest setting: Beating Heart. It may be soothing for a newborn, but it’s jarring for a toddler who has been outside the womb for 16 months and eerie for an adult who has read The Tell-Tale Heart.
Consequently, I was woken at 4:40 a.m. to an obtrusive Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep as the monitor receiver told me that the transmitter wasn’t on. I tried to just turn off the receiver, only to hear the faint Thump-thump thump-thump thump-thump coming from Babykins’s room. As I started to open the nursery door, I heard the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee from the sump pump battery’s whining that it needed to be reset.
I tried to quite everything as quickly as I could. Slipping into Babykins’s room, I pushed the “White Noise” button on the noise machine and found the power button on the monitor. Alas, Babykins still woke up despite my stealthy maneuvering. Thankfully, she went back to sleep without much fuss.
Once Babykins was back in her crib, I went downstairs to reset the sump pump battery. I was fairly alert by the time I made it back to bed. Still, I settled under the covers again in hopes of sleeping a little bit longer.
I must have dozed off for a moment, because I was jolted awake again by that obtrusive Beep Beep. . .Beep Beep. . . Beep Beep.
Yup, the electricity had flickered off again and the process of quieting everything needed to start over. It was clear that sleeping wasn’t going to be an option after this round of fiddling. The good news was that I had made it to 5:30 a.m.–the time I normally try to get up.
Happy New Year!
As of late, Babykins has been sleeping better at night. Sometimes she even sleeps through the night. Since her nighttime sleep has been settling, I’ve been trying to get up early to have some time to myself before Babykins wakes. However, after a year of extreme sleep deprivation and still getting up with Babykins several times a week, I find myself on the tired end of the wakefulness spectrum. Part of this is the fact that I’ve been pushing my bedtime back later and later. Of course, by “later” I mean “10 p.m.”
Nevertheless, a logical way to counteract tiredness is to go to bed earlier (I suppose I could also eat better and exercise more, but that sounds like a lot of work). So last night I told my husband that I wanted to start getting ready for bed at about 8:30. When the proverbial clock struck that time, I softly walked down the hall to check on the quiet Babykins who had been asleep for over an hour. I cracked open her door slowly, only to see a pair of small, but very awake, blue eyes staring at me.
Naturally, Babykins started crying because she saw me. My husband went in to try to soothe her but after a few minutes it was apparent that Babykins wasn’t going back to sleep with him. I relieved my husband of the sobbing Babykins and started nursing her.
Fortunately, Babykins went back to a full sleep fairly quickly. Unfortunately, by the time this was all done I wasn’t going to bed any early than I have been.
But you know what they say, “Early to bed and early to rise means diddly-squat when a toddler is involved.” Wait, that’s not how the saying goes?
You may remember some of my past laments about Babykins’s terrible sleeping skills. After a year of sleep angst, I’ve concluded that she a) is a terrible self-soother and b) isn’t a high sleep need kid. The combination of the two left me convinced that she would never, ever sleep through the night.
However, a few weeks after her first birthday, she started to do just that. Not every night, but often enough that I could always hope for a full night’s sleep. For those of you wondering, we didn’t do any sort of intense sleep training. We had a few nights that my husband sat with her for awhile as she cried because I was so exhausted. Other than that, she started to use the pacifier to sooth herself and that was that. Of course, between her learning how to walk and possibly teething (the kid still doesn’t have any teeth, so I never know if she’s actually teething or just being a baby) there are still plenty of nights with wakings. But an occasional full night’s rest is a marvelous thing.
Naps are a different story. We transitioned Babykins to 1 nap around her birthday. There were several indicators that she was ready to make the transition: Short naps and battling (and sometimes skipping) the second nap were the two big ones. I was hoping that the transition to 1 nap would lead to more sleep-time during the day. That hope has proven futile thus far.
Babykins typically naps about 1 hour and 20 minutes (She is just starting to coo to herself as I write this. Her nap was 1 hour and 10 minutes. Wait. . . now she’s crying. Great.). Since she goes down about 12 p.m., that makes for a really long afternoon. It also means that I struggle to figure out what to do during naps. Do I do the chores that are next to impossible to complete while Babykins is awake? Or do I enjoy some of the only downtime I get during the day and do things like read, write, and
peruse Facebook correspond with friends and family?
(Hold that thought, Babykins is now screaming)
(And now she’s up)
The obvious answer is to split the time, but it never seems to work. On the days I try to do some housework before fun, Babykins seems to wake even earlier from her nap. When I do fun before housework, I get sucked into whatever project or brainless activity I’m working on and never start the housework.
I suppose it comes down to having more discipline and cutting myself off from my fun activities to get actual work done. Either way, it’s time to wrap up this post because Babykins is crabbing around the living room. Perhaps she’s hungry.
What do you do during your children’s naptime?
Most of my life I have been mistaken for being younger than I actually am. I’ve been told that I will appreciate this as I age, but it can still be awkward explaining that I’m actually an adult who lives with my husband (especially when I’m 8 months pregnant–true story).
When I found out I was pregnant with Babykins, a new concern arose. What if I starting looking older than my age? After all, motherhood can be hard on a woman’s body. Pregnancy and prolonged sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your youthful vigor.
However, I now know the issue of age and motherhood isn’t whether I look younger or older. It’s actually the fact that I’m too tired and distracted to remember my age.
Babykins has two very distinct relationships with her father. They take occur at two different times of day.
7 a.m.-7 p.m.: “Daddy is the Best” Relationship
7 p.m.-7 a.m.: “Daddy is the Worst” Relationship
I’ve been trying to tell Babykins that Daddy is okay 24/7. She still doesn’t believe me.
Yesterday was our 5th wedding anniversary. It was also our first anniversary since we became parents.
Okay, technically we were parents last year, but Babykins was still in-utero. It was easy to bring her with us and impossible to leave her with a babysitter.
Anyway, my husband and I decided to go on our first date in almost 11 months to celebrate our anniversary. My parents graciously watched Babykins for a couple of hours so we could go out to eat.
We had this conversation on the way to the restaurant: