Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Posted by  | Friday, November 16, 2007  at 11:32 AM  


I think it was Hollie that mentioned that Babywise was the MOST recommended book to her during her pregnancy. I would definitely agree with that! I too read this book along with Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and the Happiest Baby on the Block. Of course, it wasn't until a few weeks after Will was born since his arrival was so early, but I read most of those three books. Basically, I found myself taking away pieces of information from each to form the routine that worked best for Will.

Simply put, Babywise just didn't totally click with me and seemed too rigid for my little 3 pound preemie. You have to remember that since Will was so early he literally slept all the time until he was at least 8 weeks old. Our biggest battle was getting him to wake up enough to eat and get his calories! Either way - the babywise program by itself was not for me. I felt like a failure when Will wasn't taking organized naps yet. He did however sleep through the night right at 12 weeks old. I will say that reading Krista's post reminded me about the part about getting a full meal including both hind and foremilk and that part of Babywise I DID like and made sense.

The strategies for soothing in the Happiest Baby on the block are priceless. These strategies kept us sane once he woke up and became a real newborn. Also as we battled terrible reflux as well. (I do need to add that I do not agree with the first part about evolution and the missing "fourth trimester.") We shushed with the sound machine, swaddled with a swaddle blanket, used the swing or carried him in a sling for soothing during times of fussiness.

Being a science minded person - I still felt like there was more to know about infant sleep. It was around this time that a friend from church recommended "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." This is the ONLY infant sleep related book that I recommend to anyone who asks. I have referred back to this book numerous times and probably read the entire thing at least twice. It just plain makes sense! The best summary I can give from what I learned (and this is quoted from the book) is that "sleep begets sleep." This is definitely counterintuitive and is hard to fathom at first, but it is so true! The more rested they are, the better sleepers they are. Along with this, we quickly learned that we needed to move Will's bedtime earlier. This was our golden ticket to sleeping through the night! The earlier he went to bed, the better he slept. At one point, he was going to bed around 5:30pm and sleeping until 7:30am!

I found this book to be a happy medium for us and sleep training. It explained the biological aspects to sleep, what we should expect sleep-wise with each developmental stage and how to keep our child well rested. There were several times around 6 months that I felt like Will was ready to cry it out, so we have used that on occasion (mainly with nap times). I realized that even though he slept through the night by 12 weeks old, it was normal that his naps weren't organized and predictable until almost 6 months old. I think babywise set my expectations too high for Will's sleep patterns, but this book helped me develop a more realistic and practical approach to his sleeping.

I still get crazy looks from people when they find out that Will's general sleep routine looks something like this at 17 months old:

7am - wake up
9am - nap
10:30am - wake up
1pm - nap
3:30pm - wake up
7pm - bed


I like to refer to our approach as a "routine" and not a "schedule" that we follow and change according to the cues Will gives us or our family schedule for that day! Because my child is fairly laid back and formed his own routine easily, I think I have too quickly forgotten all the moments of desperation that I know I felt in the beginning concerning sleep. (I'll get a wake up call come next March!)

We still do have occasional sleep issues that we have to work through, but the routines we have established have helped keep those to a minimum and for that I am SO THANKFUL!! The things that interupt his routine include teething, poopy diapers (we still have TONS of these), illness and reflux.

We recently realized that reflux was a big culprit in his sleep troubles lately. At 17 months Will is still on reflux medication despite several weaning attempts. In the beginning Will's reflux really didn't affect his sleep as much as it did his eating. He was not a good eater whether by bottle or breast. But now, it seems that it really affects his sleep. Are there any readers out there that have dealt with reflux beyond a year? Any tips for helping an active toddler that takes 15mg of prevacid once a day already?

I have really enjoyed reading all the comments everyone has posted about sleep this week! Many of you have so wonderfully shared your stories and thoughts on infant sleep and in ways far more eloquent that I could ever write. I think some common themes are:

1. It's all trial and error because every baby is different.
2. As the Mom, you have to be confident in whatever routine/schedule you establish and how exactly you establish it.
3. No one book is going to give you all the answers - read carefully taking advice with a grain of salt and applying it your situation.

Looking forward to next week!

11 comments:

NotesbyNewsome said...

I don't find your routine crazy at all! My son was on the same routine until 19 mo when his first nap dropped out and he began taking only one nap in the middle of the day. I'm hoping my daughter will follow the same. She's only 3 months and has been sleeping through the night for 3 weeks now. I lay her in her crib at night as soon as she appears tired. She doesn't cry and goes of to sleep. I'm hoping this contributes to a lessened "Cry It Out" period. I think my two biggest pieces of advice for parents are 1. You know your child better than anyone else and 2. Children progress at different rates, don't try to "keep up with the Jones'" where your children are concerned (as my mom says, "you never see children in college with a paci, blankie, in diapers, being held by their mom, etc."). Parenting is the most challenging/ rewarding experience ever! Enjoy your babies while you can b/c the do grow up fast!!

Ruth Palmer said...

I have enjoyed the various comments on these posts. As I read through most of them, the one thing that keeps coming to mind is what everyone's idea of CIO is...I think for me, when I say I let my child "cry it out" at say 4 weeks old, I don't mean I let them cry for an hour! Usually at that age, I give them about 5 minutes & if they haven't settled down, I try to do something for them. Obviously as they get a little older I wait a little longer, but as most of you have said, I highly doubt it's easy for ANY mother to just let her child cry & not have it drive her nuts! And yes, I make sure that before I let them cry it out that I know there's nothing wrong. The best advice I can give for getting yourself ready to let them cry it out at a younger age is to set a timer or something for like 5 minutes & try to find something to do to take your mind off of it, or go somewhere where you can't hear them, otherwise it will seem like forever. You'll find that 5 minutes really is do-able. And like most everyone else has said, I think you'd be surprised at the changes you'll see in just 3 or 4 days. Plus, if you get them to a point where they don't cry for long, it helps later on when they do cry for longer than usual to know that there probably IS something wrong. This may not be the case for everyone, but I think (& this is just my opinion) that as they get older, it's only going to be harder to let them cry it out mainly because the older they get, the more "gumption" they have to really cry & cry when for all of their lives thus far, they've gotten what they wanted when they cry. I don't want to sound mean or judging, but think about it this way....if you have a habit of doing something for say 10 years & then all of a sudden you're expected to change that habit, it would be a little frustrating. I know that may be a bad example, but I guess the point I'm trying to make is that as the adult, you're training your child from day 1 how things work. You're the one setting them up for good or bad habits, and if you suddenly decide at 10 or 11 months old to change the habit you've set, it's gonna be hard on them & you. Where as if you start at a younger age, and ease them into a good habit, it's easier on them I think. Like I said, I'm not saying anyone should let their 10 day old cry it out for a long period of time, but at the same time, if you "train" them that every time they cry you're going to feed them or pick them up, or whatever, then obviously expect that they'll continue to cry to get what they want. If you have a routine set up for them, they shouldn't need to cry for every little thing that they want. They will learn that their needs are being met. Children are definitely smarter than we give them credit for!!!

I didn't mean for this to end up being such a long post, but I guess it all came from the fact that I wanted to clarify for myself what I meant when I say I let my kids cry it out at a young age.

Ruth Palmer said...

I have enjoyed the various comments on these posts. As I read through most of them, the one thing that keeps coming to mind is what everyone's idea of CIO is...I think for me, when I say I let my child "cry it out" at say 4 weeks old, I don't mean I let them cry for an hour! Usually at that age, I give them about 5 minutes & if they haven't settled down, I try to do something for them. Obviously as they get a little older I wait a little longer, but as most of you have said, I highly doubt it's easy for ANY mother to just let her child cry & not have it drive her nuts! And yes, I make sure that before I let them cry it out that I know there's nothing wrong. The best advice I can give for getting yourself ready to let them cry it out at a younger age is to set a timer or something for like 5 minutes & try to find something to do to take your mind off of it, or go somewhere where you can't hear them, otherwise it will seem like forever. You'll find that 5 minutes really is do-able. And like most everyone else has said, I think you'd be surprised at the changes you'll see in just 3 or 4 days. Plus, if you get them to a point where they don't cry for long, it helps later on when they do cry for longer than usual to know that there probably IS something wrong. This may not be the case for everyone, but I think (& this is just my opinion) that as they get older, it's only going to be harder to let them cry it out mainly because the older they get, the more "gumption" they have to really cry & cry when for all of their lives thus far, they've gotten what they wanted when they cry. I don't want to sound mean or judging, but think about it this way....if you have a habit of doing something for say 10 years & then all of a sudden you're expected to change that habit, it would be a little frustrating. I know that may be a bad example, but I guess the point I'm trying to make is that as the adult, you're training your child from day 1 how things work. You're the one setting them up for good or bad habits, and if you suddenly decide at 10 or 11 months old to change the habit you've set, it's gonna be hard on them & you. Where as if you start at a younger age, and ease them into a good habit, it's easier on them I think. Like I said, I'm not saying anyone should let their 10 day old cry it out for a long period of time, but at the same time, if you "train" them that every time they cry you're going to feed them or pick them up, or whatever, then obviously expect that they'll continue to cry to get what they want. If you have a routine set up for them, they shouldn't need to cry for every little thing that they want. They will learn that their needs are being met. Children are definitely smarter than we give them credit for!!!

I didn't mean for this to end up being such a long post, but I guess it all came from the fact that I wanted to clarify for myself what I meant when I say I let my kids cry it out at a young age.

The Hudgins said...

my son Jordan just dropped the am nap, he was on the exact same sleep schedule...he's now 19 months and only a few weeks ago did he drop his 1st nap.

his nap is now around 11:30 or 12-2:00pm. He gets a little cranky in the late pm but it's too late for another nap so we do "quiet time" and read books until dinner is ready.

Hollie said...

Great to see you on here Tara! Let me ask you this, should I expect most toddlers to drop their second nap around 18-19 months or does it "typically" happen at another time? I know that every child is on their own time table, but what should I "expect" as a typical time for this to happen? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

I admit I have been a bit jealous... my little guy Landen started taking only one nap at around 16 months. Maybe 1-2x a month he takes two. I too read a bunch of sleep books, and I thought that this one was the best (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child). Landen also goes to bed by 7 each night and this morning he slept till 8am. He is now 19.5 months. - Courtney W.

Christina said...

Hollie,
In Healthy sleep habits, it says the average age for dropping the morning nap is 18 months. In fact it says that at 18 months 77% only take one nap. The range is like from 16-21 months though and varies by kid obviously. Will is clearly not ready at 17 months based on the meltdowns he has around dinner time on the days when he does miss morning nap (like Sundays for church!). We plan to try around 18 months (over my Christmas track out when we'll be traveling lots anyways...)

The Hudgins said...

some of my friends have 12 month olds who have already dropped the a.m. nap. i think it depends on the child. we "tried" with Jordan around 14 months and it was way too early....like christina said he had major meltdowns around dinner time (5 or so). Hollie, just watch Laney...she'll let you know. The way we found out with J is he just refused to lay down in the a.m. I'd put him in the bed at 10 and he'd just play for an hour. so we'd get up, eat lunch and lay back down around 12 or 1 when he was truly tired. Just watch for her cues and she'll let ya know when shes ready. During the transition from 2 naps to one...we had several 2 nap days, then a 1 nap day, and so on until he got his new schedule worked out. to be honest i kind of like one long nap better because we can do errands, etc in the morning then he sleeps in the P.M. allowing me to get chores, my work for clients from home, etc done.

megan p. said...

I too was recommended Babywise more than any other book during my first pregnancy. I used their methods with my first child and less with my second. I was just more relaxed with number two, and she pretty much put herself on the same schedule. However, one thing I am realizing that is a definite flaw with the Babywise method is this: making children sleep through the night early, for some moms, can decrease your milk supply. I had both my kids sleeping through the night by three months old after several nights of crying it out. And with both of them, by six or seven months, my milk was completely gone. I would loved to have nursed longer than that, and tried hard to pump, used tons of fenugreek, did everything the lactation consultants said, but to no avail. I think this idea of making babies sleep through the night as fast as possible is not necessarily for the baby, but for the parent. It is a selfish desire to have more sleep. Eventually, kids will learn to sleep through the night without us forcing them to. With my next one, I am going to feed them at night as long as they'll let me, and see if my milk lasts longer. I suspect it will. This can also be a huge thing for those of us with moral questions about contraception. Regaining your menstruation at 6 months as opposed to an average of 14 months for moms who continue to feed through the night is a big difference and puts 8 extra months of space between kids! Just something to think about! :)

Courtney said...

Something coming from the person who doesn't have any kids...
it has been proven that children get their best sleep before midnight. This means that they need to go to bed way before midnight. I have lots of families that I work with that talk about thier child getting up too early in the morning. When I ask what time the child goes to bed and they say 9 0r 10, I just want to scream!!!! I love that your kids are going down early!!!

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

My 14 month old (today!) daughter Carli has almost the same routine! It is so neat to read your blog and learn more about other babies and mothers!

Mariah

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...