Sleep at Leah's House

Posted by  | Tuesday, October 21, 2008  at 12:00 AM  

Hi! First off, let me apologize for being completely MIA the past two weeks. We are re-doing our basement because of the flood damage a few weekends ago. In the middle of that, we decided to go ahead and re-do the bathroom, too. Go figure! I have been painting like a mad woman each evening after putting the boys to bed. And there, is where this post is heading - sleep!

The first time we covered this topic, my son Samuel was 15 months old and I was 4 months pregnant with my son Joel. You can read my post here. I actually had to go back and read what I wrote to see if I still agreed with it! Now that I've sleep-trained two boys, I think I still agree with most of what I said.

Like Christina, I have two different sleepers. Although I didn't do any sleep training with Samuel in the beginning, he was a good eater/sleeper and worked himself into a pretty good routine that lasted for about 8 months. We endured about 4 months of sleep problems before we finally "Cried It Out" at 13 months old. After three days he was napping twice a day and sleeping 13 hours at night without any crying. He is just a good sleeper.

Enter Joel. Oh, Joel. I think he pretty much ate, slept in my arms/next to me, or cried for the first 4 months of his life. He is not a natural born sleeper. He also had a lot working against him. We moved when he was 2 1/2 months old and we didn't have a crib for him for another month, so he was sleeping in bed with me. I took a bad sleeper and really did him in. He enjoyed sleeping at night with me because he nursed the ENTIRE time. No joke. I, on the other hand, was going completely insane because I was getting NO sleep. Now, I am a super-duper pro-breastfeeding person. BUT, I am definitely not one of those people who thinks co-sleeping and nursing all night long is convenient because I HATE nursing for a long time. I can't explain it, but it makes my skin crawl! :) (Are all my La Leche League friends dying right now?). We were in a bind, though, and he was stuck in bed with us for that month.

We finally got the boys room set up and we were now faced with a double task: 1) Put Samuel to bed in his Big Boy Bed (a twin mattress on the floor with a bed rail) and 2) Put Joel to bed in his crib. Here's how we tackled both.

1) Putting a 23 month old in a Big Boy Bed. This is the easy one. We had the bed set up in his room and the crib. We said he was going to start sleeping in his Big Boy Bed. We laid him down for naps and betime and he went to sleep and that was it. Two times he asked to sleep in his crib and we let him. But then he was back in the Big Boy Bed. He stays in it for naps and all through the night. When he gets up in the morning, he comes out of his room and comes into our room to get me up. I don't have any real advice here except to say - just try it, you may be surprised. I was so nervous after hearing other people, but it was no big deal for us.

2) Switching Joel from co-sleeping to independent sleeping. Ugh. I'll be honest, this was a battle. At four months, I talked it over with my pediatrician and she gave me the green light to Cry It Out with Joel. She assured me that he was physiologically able to make it 11-12 hours at night without eating. But she also warned me that we had a real fight on our hands because Joel is just not a good sleeper. We said, though, that we were going to fight this battle one way or another and it was better to do it now than to let him establish 6-8-10-12 months of bad sleep habits. I started working on his nighttime sleep, and waited to work on naps until he had gotten nighttime sleep down. The first night he cried for over two hours and I finally broke down and went and got him. I couldn't take it. I called the doctor the next day and assured her that this wasn't going to work. She assured me it would. She told me to take the night off and try again the following night. I did that and he cried for 30 minutes, slept for an hour, cried for 20 minutes, slept for 3 hours, I fed him, he cried for 10 minutes and then slept for 4 hours. I fed him again and he slept for another 2 hours. The next morning I said to Ed, I think I'm supposed to make him go all night long without feeding him. So we did that. He went down at 7:45, cried for 45 minutes, slept 5 hours, cried for 15 minutes, and then slept until 6 am. I fed him and he slept another 2 hours. We've battled back and forth since then for bedtime. He now goes down to sleep at 6:15/6:30 and sleeps until 5:30/6:00. He cries for 20 minutes max about 4 nights a week. At 7 months he is still working on napping consistently. I lay him down at 9:30am and 2:30pm. Sometimes he goes to sleep, sometimes it takes 10-20 minutes of crying and sometimes he cries for a full hour before I go and get him (1 hour is my max for naptimes). I am a strong believer now, though, in consistent sleep and so I continue to try to get him to nap each day. I know that he needs the sleep.

I agree with everything Christina wrote and with Meagan's comment. Children need sleep. Just because your child "doesn't nap" during the day doesn't mean that s/he doesn't need sleep. It means they need help learning how to sleep on their own. And an early bedtime is such a great thing. Yikes! I just realized how long this post is - sorry!

For those of you who just scrolled to the bottom, here's my boys' sleep schedules in a nutshell:

6:30pm - Joel (7 months old) to bed
7:30pm - Samuel (2 years old) to bed
6:00am - Joel wakes, eats, and goes back to bed
6:45am-ish - Samuel wakes
7:30am-ish - Joel wakes
9:30am to 11:30am - Joel naps
1:00pm to 3:30pm (often later!) - Samuel naps
2:30pm to 3:30pm - Joel naps (we're working on this one right now - should be longer)

Last thing, I swear. My boys share a room. I put Joel to bed first at night so he can cry if he needs to. Then I come in and put Samuel in his bed. If Joel cries in the night, I let him. I also come in and nurse Joel in their room in the morning. Samuel sleeps through it. We are working on room sharing during naps. But it can be done - your children can share a bedroom. Okay, that's it, I swear!


KC said...

Question about early bedtimes. My husband often does not get home until 6pm or so. If the baby goes to bed at 6:30, that means he wouldn't get much time with his dad (who misses the baby all day long). Also, what age are they typically going to bed this early?

Christina said...

I'll answer this one as my husband gets home at 5:30. (Leah's has a wierd work schedule and is home a lot during the day...) Yes, there is less time for Dad to play with the baby. But in our house we make a lot of sacrifices for sleep. This is just one of them. I would rather have a well rested child that is pleasant for Dad to play with on the weekends.

As far as an age for the early bedtime, we moved my son's bedtime to 6:30 around 3 months old (actually this was the first night he completely slept through the night). My daughter didn't do as well - as I outlined in my post. Her current bedtime is 6:30 (at 7 months) and my sons is around 7:30. The thing with bedtimes is that it is more important to have a consistent routine than a consistent time. Sometimes they need an earlier bedtime! Last night both our kids were OUT by 6:30 b/c we had a big day. (And they're still asleep now at 7am)

Mark'sMeg said...

Leah, thanks for the encouragement about switching to the toddler bed. I was not looking forward to tackling that next spring :)

Also, we are getting ready to have another baby and thinking about getting an Amby bed (I've seen some good deals on craigslist! :) I was just curious if any Moms have used it and how they liked it and especially how long the baby can stay in it. The website says a year, but I couldn't imagine a mobile baby in it that long. Thanks for any advice you can give me :)
Meagan DeLong

Leah said...

Thanks for taking that question. Yes, my hubby is home during the day with us, so we don't deal with the daddy time issue.
I will give the piece of advice that if your child has a later bedtime but you would like them to have an earlier bedtime, take it slowly! Don't just switch from a 9:00 bedtime to a 6:30 bedtime. Make bedtime 15 minutes earlier every few days until you are to a point where your baby is sleeping through the night and waking up happy.
Samuel went to a 6:00/6:30 bedtime upon CIO at 13 months. When we CIO with Joel at 4 months, we started at 8:00 and made our way back to 6:00/6:30.

Krista said...

I have to chime in on the discussion of bedtimes. While we'll see what happens when the twins arrive, I can speak now for Lydia. An early bedtime did NOT fit our lifestyle at all. While I totally agree on the importance of sleep and the fact that sleep definately begets sleep, if you can't be salt and light because you are bound to your house, then that isn't something we wanted either. In the culture we live in, if we had to be home to have our child in bed by 6:00 we'd never have an opportunity to share. Lydia adjusted VERY WELL and went to bed later and SLEPT LATER. She started sleeping through the night at 9 1/2 weeks and has ever since. For a long time (before she was a year old) she would go to bed at 9 or 10 at night and sleep until 10 in the morning. Around a year we noticed her needing to go to bed earlier and for almost a year we had to adjust her bedtime to as early as 8 p.m. Now that she's 2, it is easier to keep her up later if we are out and she is very resilient to adjust. She typically goes to bed around 9 and sleeps until 9 or 10 in the morning. She will also take a 3 hour nap. I know the theory the author gives in Healthy Sleep Habits, and maybe Lydia is just a rare exception, but what I've learned from my experience with her is we can flex on the time she goes to bed and flex on when she gets up in the morning. I also think having black-out shades in her room helps to allow her to sleep later in the morning and take good naps. But we love having her on this schedule so we can play and be a family together in the evening when Josh is home.

Christina said...

I can totally see the need for that schedule where you live! Do the nationals think the 9pm bedtime is early?? It's funny because it seems like 9pm might be a compromise between cultures...that's what I thought of at least.

I think there is definately a balance in determining your kids sleep schedule based on other family needs/obligations/etc. I often think about all those families that used to have to drive through FA carpool right during what should be naptimes for most preschoolers. So many of those younger siblings were sacked out in the back of the minivans...point being that each season of life brings change and our sleep schedules are constantly evolving!

Another quick story...Jacob just told me about when one of our pastors (Leon for those reading from my church) was in seminary. He was working full time as a business man and in seminary full time. He didn't get home for the day until about 10pm. His wife put their three sons to bed at "normal time" (I'm guessing 7:30ish - they were very young) and their Dad (our pastor) would wake them up when he got home at 10pm and spend about an hour with them before putting them back to sleep. Haha! How funny!

Hollie said...


I have an Amby bed and LOVED it when I used it with Laney. My only regret is not finding out about it sooner and ordering it sooner. If you can get a good deal on one on craigslist, go for it! I have only seen one on CL and that was in Atlanta. They are hard to come by since not a lot of people know about them. Well, they may now, but when I heard about the Amby bed, none of my friends had even heard of it.

I put Laney in it when she was between three and four months old. We used it for a good while, but then when she got squirmy and started rolling over, I wasn't comfortable with her in there since it's slanted upward, designed to keep their head inclined (great for reflux and colicky babies). But then again, Laney has ALWAYS been a very, VERY active baby, rolling over from stomach to back when she was only 2.5 months old. And she's still VERY active, quite the climber and runner.

So, as a whole, I'd highly recommend it. If we are blessed with another baby one day, and I hope we are, I will keep the Amby bed at my bedside so I can scoop him/her up and nurse in bed in the middle of the night. Another advantage to having an AB is that it doesn't take up much space in your room, like a pack'n play does.

Please ask away if you have any questions. Thanks for stopping by!

The Hudgins said...

hollie, or anyone else...
how did you transition OUT of the amby?
jaxon is very colicky, and right now he sleeps in his carseat with a quilt draped across it so it's comfy and like a little cocoon.
he's doing Okay, wakes 2-3 x a night to nurse but at least he sleeps there.
we tried him on his back in his crib last night and it wasnt happening.
so, how do you transition from an amby or bouncy seat or carseat sleeper to a crib sleeper.

and yes, to agree with some of the #1 was and still is a WONDERFUL sleeper and this one totally baffles me. some days he'll go all day without 8 weeks old. and i give him opportunitys, plenty.

Christina said...

I'll tell you our experience transitioning from carseat to crib...first of all - she only spent an entire night in her carseat a few times in the beginning. What we did eventually was put her to sleep in the carseat and move her to her crib before we went to bed. It usually worked.

My best advice is to not push it. I decided that with #2 - my sanity and sleep were WAY more important. I didn't stress about where and how she slept, just that she actually slept. I waited until about 5 months to "wean" her from the carseat.

Once she outgrew the colic, it was fairly easy to transition. Her bedtime routine went from only being soothed by the carseat/dryer combo during the colicky days, to being able to be rocked to sleep, to falling asleep on her own. Once she reached about 5 months and would cry while I rocked her - I knew that my presence and rocking wasn't helping anymore so I laid her in her crib to "cry it out."

I can so sympathize with you on the colic - endless crying is no fun!!

The Hudgins said...

thanks christina,
that's a good idea to let him fall asleep in the carseat then move to the crib once out.

my husband tells me not to stress but i'm very anal and schedule oriented :)
he does sleep well there...i should count my blessings!

and i know they say btw 3-5 months the colic i guess we'll wait until then to CIO.

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