Dealing with Sleep Issues

Posted by  | Monday, October 20, 2008  at 9:43 AM  
Sleep is one of the most stressful parts of being a parent. I truly think that sleep is so important to a child's development. Giving your baby (and your big kid too!) plenty of sleep is just as important as giving them plenty of food. So much about sleep is counter-intuitive and many parents find themselves not able to figure out how to get their baby to sleep!

You can find my first post on sleep issues and routines here. I can't speak highly enough for the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. That post gives my thoughts on the book. Many of which will probably be repeated here.

All of my thoughts on sleep and sleep issues were completely challenged when Adeline came along. From the first night home, it became clear she was not going to be an easy sleeper like Will. Don't misread that to mean she needs less sleep. She needs just as much, if not more, sleep than Will did as a baby.



The difference is that Adeline was colicky (just extremely fussy). She proved the "six week peak" theory as described in Healthy Sleep Habits. Basically, Dr. Weisbluth says that most babies' fussiness will peak at around six weeks of age and gradually get better from there. Boy did it peak! Adeline also met his criteria for being colicky. For at least six weeks, we spent every evening from 6pm (on the dot!) to at least 11pm intensely soothing Adeline to prevent crying. Sometimes it didn't work and we had to endure the screams. Sometimes it did, as long as we kept up the soothing efforts. To say she was high maintenance would be an understatement.

Dr. Weisbluth also warned that colicky babies may have a more difficult time learning sleep patterns and good naps. This is precisely why she fell asleep and napped in her car seat on the dryer, with it running, for at least 5 months. (At least my laundry was always done!) Around 5 months, we decided to let her cry it out for bedtime. It took a while, but finally she learned to fall asleep on her own. During that time, she still napped on the dryer as it seems bedtime habits develop before consistent naps do. Eventually she started napping in the crib.



Now at 7 months, she finally goes to sleep and naps with little to no crying. She is still more sensitive to changes in her sleep. For example, last night she went down about a half hour too late and spent about thirty minutes crying because of it. Her sleep schedule is naps from 9-11 and 1-4, bed at 6:30 and awake around 7am.

I wrote my first sleep post when Will was 17 months old. Since then, we've dealt with the following:
  • Getting rid of the pacifier
  • Dropping morning nap
  • Transition to a toddler bed
  • Addition of a new sister
Some have been more successful with than others. All had some affect on Will's sleep patterns. None were completely disastrous, in part because he started as a good sleeper and one who had a predictable routine. Naps and sleep times have been one area that I've been very protective over. We've spent many nights in while one or both of our kids needed a 6pm bedtime. I can remember times when Will needed a 5:30 bedtime. And yes, he slept until 7am or later.

Myth: The earlier to bed, the earlier they will rise. Truth is, sleep begets sleep. The more well rested they are, the more they will sleep. And a happy child will be the result!

When we dropped the paci, I went cold turkey. He was only using them in his crib at sleep times, but I'm not sure I would do it this way again. The good news is that I won't have to because Adeline has never taken to a pacifier, despite my GREAT EFFORTS. She prefers her thumb. Loosing the paci seemed to hurt naps more than night sleep. But after about a week, he was back to normal! One thing I would do is take the paci away earlier. He was far less attached to that paci around 12 months versus 19 months when we got rid of it.

Dropping the morning nap simply meant a slightly earlier afternoon nap time and an earlier bedtime for a while. As I've written before, we transitioned that nap time to a morning quiet time that he still does now.



The transition to the toddler bed was most detrimental to naps. He had the freedom to play more and has missed several naps completely since getting the big boy bed in July. He had just turned two when we went to the toddler bed and at first it went smoothly. But the novelty soon wore off and he learned to exercise his new freedoms. It took a few months, but he mostly naps well now. If he doesn't nap well, then that means an earlier bedtime for sure!


There is my rundown of our sleep issues for the past year or so! How have you dealt with sleep issues in your house?



7 comments:

Christy said...

One very helpful piece of advice I got before Lily was born was from a lady at church with four children.

She encouraged me to let Lily take her naps anywhere but the crib after she was born. That way the baby learns that she is supposed to sleep for just a little while in the swing, bouncy seat, pack-n-play etc. when it is light outside and noisy in the house. But that she sleeps for a long time when it is dark and quiet and she's in the crib.

I know this would probably be much more difficult to do with a toddler in the house, but it worked really well for us with our first. For months, Lily would sleep anywhere which made my life much easier.

Eventually you have to transition to the crib for naps when they can roll around but by that time it was no problem.

ChezDeshotels said...

does anyone have any advice for dealing with nightmares, refusing to take naps even when you are tired, and having a long ordeal at bedtime every night????

Lydia just turned 3 and she has started having nightmares we have to go lay on her floor with her until she can fall back asleep. I might add she is still in her crib and I think it it like her security blanket she is been very attached to her room and bed since leaving the orphanage she wants nothing to do with a big girl bed...but on one side I like this because this is easier (yes she could climb out but doesn't) and I don't have to worry about her roaming a 2400sq ft house at night but is this good?


As far as naps I put her down becasue she acts tired but she will NOT go to sleep and ends of by dinner a nightmare. IF I put her to bed early she doesn't go to sleep until 9 or so if I put her to bed at 8:00 or 8:30 she goes to sleep at 9 or so but wakes up early and is tired thus our cycle. With a new baby due in Jan i need any advice I can get!!

HELP

AJ

Lauren said...

I love this post, and I love Healthy Sleep Habits!! That book saved my sanity when our refluxing son was 4 and 1/2 months old. When our daughter was born, it was a matter of days before she was completely dominating our sleeping situation - in Mama's arms only, please! I called a very wise friend of mine who reminded me of the grand scope of things, and to keep my children in perspective of all the other children in the world. It was heartbreaking, but I started letting her cry herself to sleep at around 5 or 6 weeks. Now both my little angels go from wide awake and playing happily to sleeping peacefully within 10 minutes of laying down from our "sleepy routines"!

AJ - My son has nightmares and night terrors. It's terrible, and I feel so helpless. I've found there's not much I can do but hold him when he'll let me (sometimes with the night terrors he doesn't even want to be touched until he comes out of it), or sit near him until he's lucid and then hold him, and sing to him. We recite his memory verses to him, sing him the praise songs he knows, pray together, give him his lovies, and leave his room while he's still awake. I think, though, that you have to determine what to do based on your child's temperament. The way we do things like that are very cohesive with our general style of parenting, so it's just what he's used to.

Sorry about your other sleep issues - it's such a tough road to navigate! Have you talked to a pediatrician or child counselor who could help you work through the emotional issues of an adopted child?

Robin Baker said...

great post! I am a nap/ sleep nazi! Forget the feeding schedule, let them eat when they're hungry... but FORCE the nap / bedtime routine! It is SO TRUE that the earlier they go to bed the LONGER they sleep. Amazing! Just the other day my boys were so grouchy all morning - so at 9:30am I put them both to bed for a nap (it's usually at 12 or 12:30) and they are 18 months and 3! They woke up super happy and went to bed happy around 7pm. It's hard when you work and don't get the benefit of hanging out all day, but sometimes you just have to do it.

Mark'sMeg said...

I totally agree that the more sleep my baby gets, the more she sleeps! I've found that if she wakes up happy, then its time to get up, but if she is fussy, then she needs to go back to sleep and she will if I just leave her for a couple of minutes. I read in one of my books that if a baby wakes up fussy, try putting her down 15 minutes earlier the next night, and keep moving the bedtime up til the baby wakes up happy. And it worked great for us! We usually put Karis down for bed at 6:30 and she is never awake before 7:00 the next morning. If she has gotten plenty of sleep, she will play in her crib for almost a half hour by herself, as happy as can be. She is 17 months and has been doing this since at least 11 months when we started putting her down earlier. The early bedtime is also great for my husband and I to have plenty of time together!
Meagan DeLong

Terra Jones said...

Our first (now 18 months) was (can still be, lol) an AWFUL sleeper as a newborn (up until about 3 months when we were both DRAGGING and we finally let him CIO, just once to "see what would happen"...and then he slept for 13 hours!!!) After that, he's mostly been a GREAT night time sleeper...naps...that's another story. I think some baby's just don't "need" as much sleep as others. Keaton rarely cries at bedtime now (he did last night b/c his brother, 2.5 months, was screaming when he was trying to go to sleep, lol) Keaton was also very "colicky" and would wake up to nurse around 12am...and then stay awake screaming until 5am! We didn't know WHERE we went wrong! But with that one night of CIO, it all stopped...Keaton has had a 6pm bedtime since he was 1 year old...he sleeps til atleast 6am (no matter what time he goes to bed, his internal clock that he got from me goes off and he wakes at 6)...some days we're lucky and get closer to 7, but it's rare...and usually if he goes to bed BEFORE 6...

Benjamin. If we had him first, we would have been spoiled! He slept thru the night for the first time around 7 weeks and ...I'm afraid to say it, but, he has done so for a week & 1/2 straight now (9pm-630/7am) He just knows how much his mama wants/needs to sleep!

I hate sleep issues!!!

Dominey Family said...

Our first son (now 3 yrs) slept through the night once or twice during the first year and a half of his life. I was chronicly exhausted. He would get up anywhere from every two hours to every 30 minutes. He fought going to sleep for all naps and bedtime. It took at least 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to get him asleep. We tried to let him cry it out at 1 year and he climbed out of his crib and landed on the floor twice. To avoid future hurts we gave up on that idea. Boys are tough to get to sleep, so I'm told. Our second son is now 8 months old and loves to sleep. He goes to bed around 7:30 every night. He gets up to nurse about 3 or 4 times a night. He takes two naps during the day. I am finding with both boys that routine is what they need. The routine signals to them what is about to happen so that it is not just an all of the sudden "nap time" sprung on them. Sleep is tough when you have little ones around but I remind myself when they are 16 they won't be doing this. Haaha!
Oh and one thought on the nightmares. What are they watching on tv? I know if my son sees something that is scary to him he will have nightmares. Also, has anyone considered it could be a spiritual war going on? I have felt this that Satan will use anything possible to get our children. Just a thought.

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