Posts Tagged ‘Baby Sleep’

“Mommy”

Still dreaming, I opened my eyes. I’m in bed. It’s night. No, not quite. The faint light from the window indicates morning isn’t far away. What did I wake up? Was I dreaming?

“Mommy!” The faint voice comes over the baby monitor again. Nope, wasn’t dreaming.

I check my phone. 15 minutes before ‘wake up’ time. I get up and trudge down the hall.

“What is it, Alexis?”

“Bunny asleep!” Alexis jesters to her sleep trainer clock. The bottom half of the clock, depicting a sleeping bunny, is illuminated, indicating it’s not time to wake up yet. “Alexis go back to sleep!” she states proudly with an implied ‘by myself!’ before laying back down in the crib herself.


I love the bunny clocks. They helped both Nicole and Alexis through a few rough sleep patches. In both cases it seemed to curb the number of night time wakings, and help reduce the extra early mornings. I still remember one time I happen to check the baby monitor just as Nicole’s head was popping up from the pillow. She looked at the bunny, verified it was still sleeping, and lay back down. All by herself. The bunny doesn’t stop them from calling out if they need something – diaper change, potty, water, whatever – but it does seem to reduce the number of random wake ups that seem to happen for seemingly no reason.

Occasionally the clock has back fired on us. Once Nicole came in our room distraught that the bunny had forgotten to wake up (she had just woken up extra early and was tired of waiting.) But, overall, it’s clear the bunny has had a positive effect on their sleep, and, by transitivity, on our sleep as well.

One positive unintended consequence of the bunny clock? Explaining daylight savings time. Last fall we told the girls the bunny would be waking up later. This spring, we told them the bunny would be waking up extra early. When you’re two and three years old, the concept of a changing a clock’s time is rather abstract. At four, Nicole has a better understanding of daylight savings. It’s easy to just blame the bunny, though.

February 28, 2017

“Moo” and Other Things

Six-ish months ago we made the decision it was time to start weaning Alexis off of her binky. I fallowed our dental insurance advice to poke holes in her existing binkies which would break the suction and reduce the sucking satisfaction Alexis received from them, allowing her to break her binky habit more gradually.

The first time Alexis put the modified binky into her mouth it slid right out. It started slipping out of her mouth at night time as well. I’d sneak into her room to find Alexis holding her binky in her hand rather than keeping it in her mouth. Things were going according to plan. Until…

Alexis learned to bite down and chew on her binkies to keep them in her mouth. She ended up chewing through a few binkis. We ended up replacing them twice, before it became clear that we needed to take the next step. Enter the Binky Fairy.

For the uninitiated, the Binky fairy works by having the child gather up all his/her binkies. At some point when the child isn’t looking the binky fairy turns the binkies into toys.

The Binky fairy helped Nicole kick her binky habit, though there were a few rough nights. Nicole was more attached to the binky than Alexis when it was time to give it up, and there were a couple nights where she’d wake up in the middle of the night having forgotten about trading it for toys.

I had learned from my mistakes. We sang the “bye, bye, binky” song (or at least the refrain) while she gathered up the her binkies and put them on the ottoman for the binky fairy. The fairy replaced them with a new bath time toy, and new night time snuggle buddy, and owl she named “Moo”. That way when it night time approached we could easily keep reinforcing the idea that she traded her binkies for fun new toys.

Despite all that she didn’t 100% grasp what was happening. She asked for her binky during bed time story and cried “Alexis needs it!” when I reminded her that they were all gone. Fortunately the tears were short lived. I reminded her about Moo and she was content to hold him during story time instead. I was surprised that she did not ask for a binky when she awoke in the middle of the night!

The next day Alexis asked for her binky again, and again I reminded her about Moo. There were no tears, but she held Moo to her face, frowned, said “don’t like Moo” and tried to hand him back to me.

“Aww, Moo likes you!” I said, wrapping Moo’s wings around her in a big hug. That did it. She grabbed tightly and lied down with a huge grin on her f ace. So far she’s been asking about the Binky, but other than that first few minutes of that first night there have been no tears, only questions.

February 20, 2017

Mommy Naps

There are few things in life as perfect as a child sleeping in your arms. The way they snuggle into you as they find that perfect position, as though no matter how hard they try they can never be close enough. They way the go from squirmy to still as the sleepies take over and they drift of to sleep. The rhythmic breathing. The warmth of their little bodies. Tiny head resting in the crook of my neck. Fine baby hairs tickling my chin smelling of baby shampoo. Rocking a sleeping child is one of my favorite mommy moments.

This stage doesn’t last nearly long enough. Blink and it’s over.

I was caught off guard when it ended with Nicole. She was a feverish two and a half year old, used to napping in her bed but would take a “Mommy nap” whenever it was offered. This time she couldn’t get comfortable. I remember the way she cried when she couldn’t fall asleep until I lied her back down in her bed and sat next to her. I had had my last mommy nap with my first born, and never knew it.

So here we are with my youngest, two years and three months old. She’s not quite at the point of giving up naps, though she’s spent nap time in the crib waiting out the bunny clock before. Her nap days are numbered, as are her mommy naps. She’ll struggles to get comfortable in my lap, struggling to find a position where her feet don’t get squished against the cushions. But she still asks for Mommy naps, she still wants them, and I’m happy to oblidge. Who am I to say no?

I’m soaking in these moments while they last.

October 6, 2016

The Bunny is Magic

Toddler sleep has historically been a bit of a challenge for us. Alexis was at the age where things all went to pot with Nicole, so we’ve been fearing another long bought of terrible sleeping.

Things weren’t horrible, but they weren’t great either. For the most part there where at least a few good nights a week, giving us hope to cling to. Then, Alexis was struck with a week long cold. We figured her sleep would return to normal after she kicked her cold. It didn’t. We thought maybe she just needed a few more days, than a week, maybe a couple of weeks. Alexis was now waking up 4-6 times a night for a week straight, and sometimes those ups would last for an hour. She was clearly trying to sleep, but when she didn’t fall right back asleep she’d call to us for another drink of water while she waited, followed by another call shortly later for a diaper change.

That lack of sleep is a killer. Because her night time sleep was so bad she was often tired and cranky during the day. Little things that usually didn’t bother her before would cause a crying fit. Being overtired affected her naps as well, and created a feedback loop of exhaustion. Of course mom and dad were frayed a little thin as well.

Recent experiences have lead us to believe that Alexis understands much more than she can communicate. We decided to give an OK to Wake Clock a try, even though she was sub 2. Let me tell you that OK to Wake clock is pure magic!

Alexis has a thing for bunnies right now. Her favorite stuffed animal is the bunny from Pets. She loved having her own bunny clock, just like big sister Nicole. We made a big deal out of saying good night to the bunny every night. (Alexis still says goodnight to it and not to me!) Every time she’d wake up in the middle of the night I’d gently remind her that the bunny was sleeping when I went in to check in on her, and we’d say goodnight to it again when I left the room.

It took a bit over a week before the number of night time wakings started to decrease. For two or three weeks she’d just wake up once a night. Then sometimes never. The past week she’s slept through the night in it’s entirety. This morning I heard her on the monitor calling “Bunny sleep, Bunny sleep!” which is her way of saying “Look at the bunny clock!” (It had just woken up.) With her night time sleep finally in a good state, she’s also napping better than she has in a long time. She’s back to her happier, more carefree self. She’s even eating her vegetables better.

Of course, this could just be confirmation bias again, but I’m optimistic.

March 12, 2016

Reclaiming The Night

There was about an 18 to 24 month time period where we had really rotten sleep. I didn’t blog about it much because, well, who wants to be reminded about how little sleep they’re getting? Besides, it felt like some kind of cosmic payback from Nicole sleeping so well as an infant. I jinxed it. I must pay for it.

It started when we moved to Silicon Valley. One of the criteria’s in apartments we were looking for was location. We picked the complex in part to keep the amount of city street driving minimal, and therefore the commute time minimal. My exit was right across the street from our apartment complex. Domingo only had to drive a few blocks down the major through way to get to his highway. Those few blocks could easily add twenty minutes to his commute, so from a time saving perspective I can’t say the location was an entirely poor decision. What we didn’t anticipate was the amount of traffic noise we’d be hearing, punctuated by the not so occasional siren. What I did not know when we signed the lease was that the local hospital was just down that major through way in the opposite direction of Domingo’s exit. Any accident on either highway meant the ambulance would be barely down our street, usually followed by police and sometimes the fire department. And, of course, that took them right past Nicole’s window.

Nicole went from being a solid sleeper to waking nightly. We tried white noise machines, but to know avail. Sirens are meant to be heard.

In a small apartment, any one person waking up usually meant we’d all be waking up. By the baby was a few months old, she was already out sleeping the toddler. My infant was sleeping through the night far more consistently than my toddler. For . A . Year.

We had hoped the quite of suburbia would help Nicole return to her solid sleeping phase, but at that point she was too used to her night time wakings. There were more nights where she’d sleep through the night, but it was nothing like that glorious infant sleep of her first year of life. Back in November a friend recommended an OK to wake clock. We went with the Kid’Sleep Moon White/Blue Nightlight, her “bunny clock” as she calls it. There were a couple of rough nights, include the early morning insistence that the “bunny was broken” when the bunny didn’t wake up early enough for Nicole. We coupled the bunny with morning prizes (stickers, temporary tattoos, etc) for a night well done.

I’m not sure if it was the bunny clock, or the morning prizes, but things finally started turning around for us. After a week or so we started noticing a significant change in Nicole’s night time sleeping. She rarely woke in the middle of the night, and stayed in bed until the bunny “woke up”. I even caught her on the baby monitor in the middle of the night, sitting up to see if the bunny was awake before settling herself back down. We’ve been three months now without a single middle of the night waking from her.

We may still not be getting much sleep. The bunny gets up pretty early. But it’s consistent, uninterrupted sleep and that is such a life changer.

July 21, 2015

Timeline of a Baby Nap

0:00 – Place drowsy, but just barely conscious baby down in the crib. The goal: a two hour nap. The booby prize: a single sleep cycle.

Clock begins.

0:01 – Baby eyes flutter open. Head begins to rise off of mattresses. Hastily grab the nearest binki and insert it into baby mouth. Careful not to jab it in the eye! Baby head drops back down with a thud. Baby eyes are closed.

0:05 – Time to make the get away. Remember to avoid the squeaky floor board.

0:06 – %$&! Stepped on squeaky floor board.

0:16 – Haven’t moved. No sounds from the crib. Slowly arch neck to get a better view. Baby appears motionless. Possibly dead. Better not check. Continue to exit.

0:18 – Shut the door as slowly as humanly possible to avoid making a single sound.

1:00 – Door finally shut. Tip toe down stairs.

1:15 – Time for that bathroom break you’ve been pretending you didn’t need for the past hour. Also food. Definitely food.

Consume anything that can be eaten in it’s current state. Do not open chip bags, pop soda cans, or wrinkle wrappers. Opening the refrigerator door can be risky. Fruit is a good choice. Chocolate is a better choice. Remind self to buy more chocolate.

3:00 – Baby is still asleep. To nap or not to nap? Shower or not to shower? Better wait out the sleep cycle. Check mail.

10:00 – Hear a dull buzzing noise. The neighbor is mowing the lawn. Silently curse neighbor for making noise. The rational part of your brain that realizes it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to mow their own lawn in the middle of the day is too busy thinking about another piece of Chocolate to help you see this.

15:00 – Tummy still grumbling. Time to chance it and make a sandwich.

17:00 – Still no sounds from upstairs. Start daydreaming about napping. Open up laptop, start tinkering on the internet.

45:00 – Suddenly realize you’re past a sleep cycle! Do a little jig on the inside! On the inside! DO NOT MAKE NOISE! Head upstairs to nap yourself.

55:00 – Baby’s awake.

May 15, 2015

To the Crib

prenap
The face before the crash

Nicki hated being swaddled, but was quite content to be snug as a bug in the rock n play until almost nine months. Given that Alexis was my little cuddle bug and loved being swaddled all the way through four months, I thought she’d practically live in the rock ‘n play.

That would be a big, fat Nope.

For the past week or so she’s been really struggling at night, thrashing about in the rock ‘n play. She just doesn’t seem to be comfortable in it anymore. Since hitting the four month sleep regression her sleep has gotten steadily worse. She was to the point of waking up every 45-90 minutes for the first couple of hours when she first went to sleep, and then again starting at around 2 am. That, of course, means no sleep for the rest of us.

We were hoping to hold off moving her to the crib until we moved. We worry about the girls being practically on top of each other here in the apartment, and keeping each other awake. If we waited until we moved, we could get all our rocky transitions over with in a single shot, rather than stringing them out over a longer time interval. She’d move out of rock n play from the master bedroom at our apartment to a room of her own and her crib in the new house, all at once. At least that was our thinking. Even though we were only a week away from our planned move Alexis (and by transitivity us) was sleeping so little it just seemed like something that couldn’t wait.

So off to the crib she went.

I went with her. The crib was in the office, and I slept on the couch next to her. I wanted to be able to respond quickly, and sooth her back to sleep before she woke big sister.

As expected her first night was rocky. She woke up almost as frequently as she’s been waking up. Last night? So much better. She slept most of the way through the night. No more thrashing. No more frequent wakings. And equally as important, less waking each other up than we feared.

Hopefully this means better sleep for everyone.

January 23, 2015

Sleeping Again

sleeping with the boppy

I am now convinced Domingo and I had nothing to do with Nicki’s amazingly awesome newborn sleep. When Alexis was born I made the cardinal second time mom mistake of assuming raising her would be just like raising her big sister. I just assumed she’d have similar sleep patters. By the end of the first week or two, she’d already be sleeping 5 hours straight. Right?? She didn’t. Nor the next week. Nor the next. I didn’t blog enough the first time around to remember all the details of Nicki’s sleep pattern so I kept hoping, but by one month there was no denying that Alexis’ sleep patterns were more typical of someone her age than Nicole’s ever were.

I tried everything I could think of trying to find the magic combination that worked for Nicki: swaddled/unswaddled, breastfeeding/bottle feeding before bed, “tanking” her up by encouraging her to eat a little more when she was showing signs of being full. It was a colossal mistake. Rather then make her belly super full it made her bladder super full, and then her diaper super full. The worst nights was when her digestive track was out of sink and shed wake up hungry but sans pee, or with pee but sans hunger. You’d know another wake up wasn’t far behind.

A week or so ago it looked like we were in for a second round of day/night reversal. Alexis would wake up after only 90 minutes or so, and take another hour before falling back asleep. This was happening at the same time that Nicole decided to rebel against night time sleep. I’d be rocking Alexis whose eyes were just starting to close and hear Nicole wake up in the monitor. It was a no-win situation. If I’d put Alexis down before she was in a deep sleep in order to tend to Nicole, she’d start crying and wake Nicole back up. If I ignored Nicole, she’d start screaming and wake up Alexis. Domingo and I were taking shifts, as it was the only way we could each get a couple hours of sleep. In theory anyway. It’s hard to sleep through your child crying, even when you know your partner is tending to them and there’s nothing more you can do.

Then, out of the blue, something changed this week. She did seven to nine hours three of the past four days, completely on her own. My sanity is once again returning.

Hear that future self (should you decide to have more, and find yourself in the same prediciment): it does gets better

March 22, 2014

Hello Toddler Bed!

#$%! Cribs and their #$%! non-standard parts.

Last night, at around 2:45 am, Nicki discovered she was capable of scaling Mt. Crib. We thought this day might be coming. This month has been a whole different ball game at the park, she’s been much more independent and adventurous. Yesterday she tried to climb the cat tree, managing to get a foot securely planted in the platform above her head before mommy interviewed. At nearly 3 in the morning we weren’t going gamble whether her escape was a freak accident, or a new found ability. Nicki spent the rest of the night with us on the toddler cot we use for naptime.

In the morning I put Nicki in the crib with some toys to see what she’d do. She had no hesitation when she was done with her toys and ready for out. Rather than throw up the arms and ask for “up!”, she grappled onto the railing, swung her leg over, hooked her foot, and pulled herself up onto the rail. Before I had much of a chance to react, she was straddling the railing, and mighty pleased with herself about it too. I am not sure what her strategy would have been to get down. Probably gravity.

escape attempt
I snapped a couple photos with my cell phone until it became clear she was going to succeed in her endeavor. As cute as a pooky riding the railing photo would have been, skull fractures would not have been.

Looks like we’ve out grown the crib.

Our crib came with an extra front panel that could be used to convert it to a toddler bed. I had kept the panel, but apparently not the hardware. This was a major problem. As we learned last time, baby furniture typically uses custom hardware. I printed out the instructions online, including their description of the missing four screws: “1-3/4″ Allen Head Bolt”. Domingo came back from the hardware store with every 1-3/4ths screw they had. No Dice. They all had different groove sizes. #$% &$@#!

We felt like we needed some kind of fourth panel. Nicki doesn’t roll around that much anymore, but she does roll around some. I didn’t want her to roll out of bed any more than I wanted her to climb out. I ended up “borrowing” two screws used for the decorative top rail since they were at least the same size (different heads). After all, we don’t actually need a top rail, it’s just to for her to hold onto when she was a baby and unsure of her footing.

We needed at least three fixed points to keep the panel from rotating. For the third screw, I used one of the 2-1/2” Round Head Bolt that was originally used to keep the now defunct crib front panel in place. It sticks out about 3/8th an inch, but it’s between the slats, and lower than the mattress, so I doubt it’ll cause much of a problem.

My initial plan was to reuse this crib with any future children. This is the second time we’ve had to kludge together a working solution without the original manufacture’s hardware. I think it’s fine for now, but with another move on our horizon, I just don’t think it’s holding up well enough to survive another child. It’s a bummer, but paying for a second crib also beats skull fractures.

At least Nicki loves her new bed. She spent most of the day climbing in and out of it, jumping around on the matress, and throwing toys overboard. Domingo and I were convinced we were in for a long night of chasing her down and carting her back to bed. I’m stunned to report she fell asleep in the toddler bed tonight without a fuss, and didn’t climb out once.

asleep in the toddler bed
Happy sleeping toddler.
April 20, 2013

Analyzing Baby Sleep

A little over 2 months ago I decided to start tracking Nicki’s sleep. At the time she wasn’t sleeping very well and I wanted to have a dataset I could analyze.

nickisleepchart
Histogram of the number of hours Nicki spends sleeping.
It may appear like a left skew distribution, but that’s because I was using a sub optimal bedtime during the initial few weeks of my study. Without those weeks her histogram shows a normal distribution with mean 11:30-12:00.

For this analysis I mostly looked at correlation. Correlation shows the statistical relationship between two sets of numbers. It ranges from -1 to 1. Negative correlation [-1,0) shows two variables are inversely related. As one increases, the other decreases. Positive correlation shows two variables tend to increase or decrease together. The closer to 0, the weaker the correlation.

Correlation(Time put down, Time spent asleep) = -.72
When I put her to bed earlier, she tends to sleep longer.

The time I put Nicki down for bed is correlated with how long she sleeps – earlier bed times mean more sleeping! That makes intuitive sense. My circadian rhythm wakes me up at certain points, provided I’ve slept a decent amount. I’m now in the habbit of waking up at 7:00 am, regardless of what time Nicki wakes up. (Mommy misses sleeping in until noon on the weekend.) Nicki could be the same way. Earlier bedtimes mean there’s more hours between when she goes down and when she typically gets up, which could correspond to longer sleep intervals.

Every baby book I own says “Early to Bed Late To Rise“. In other words, put the baby to sleep early and she will sleep in longer. What do my numbers show?

Correlation(Time put down, Time Woken Up) = -.21
When I put her to bed earlier, she tends to wake up later.

So yes, she does tend to sleep in longer on days she goes down earlier, but it’s weak correlation. It could be that the relationship is weak, or that there are other factors at play. One possible factor is day light savings time. Specifically the position of the sun. We’re in the middle of Spring, sunrise is getting earlier and Nicki tends to wake up around sunrise. If I take a weekly average of her wake up time, I see it inching forward for the first three weeks.

Another aspect of sleep I care about is how long it takes her to fall asleep. The books all say over tired babies have a harder time falling asleep. Was it true for Nicki?

Correlation(Time put down, Number of Minutes needed to fall asleep) = 0.4
When I put her to bed earlier, she takes less time to fall asleep.

My analysis shows that, at least for Nicki, earlier bed times lead to better sleeping.

asleep
Still asleep after sunrise. Love the bear on her butt!

Of course, Correlation does not imply Causation. There could be other factors at play. Our bed time is between 7/7:30. On days she’s extra tired, she goes down a little earlier. Less sleepy, and bed time is closer to 7:30. A tired baby is more likely to fall asleep quickly and sleep longer.

If I were to do a true study I’d have to randomize her bedtime. That means some nights putting a wide awake baby down, and some nights trying to keep a tired baby awake. I may love data, but even I’m not that crazy. Still, it’s neat to see Nicki’s sleep numbers.

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