Posts Tagged ‘Baby Sleep’

I didn’t think this day would come. Nicki rebelled against nap time in the crib from the start, so I gave up and put her back in the rock and play. Then we decided to try sleep training in the crib. We had marginal improvements that first week at home where I could be consistent, but her day care teachers are only allowed to let babies cry for 5 minutes. Naps at daycare were non-existent. She’d go the whole day without sleeping and pass out in the car on our way home. Without true consistency, it was looking bleak.

On Tuesday Nicki had her first fever. I broke out the rock and play for the first time in over two weeks just so she could get some sleep and start to heal. She embraced the rock n’ play like a long lost friend, as though we had never tried this dastardly sleep training thing. I put her down awake and she happily drifted off to sleep on her own, napping longer than she ever did in the crib. I was sure I was resetting the clock on all our hard sleep training work.

I was bracing myself for epic melt down for her Wednesday morning nap. I put her down. No wails. Wait, what? She was looking up at me, dry eyed, sucking away on her Binky. I hesitated a moment in shock, then quickly left the room and shut the door. I listened. Still quiet. I tip toed down stairs to check the monitor. She was curled up on her side ready to go to sleep, but fidgeting. A minute later, she was out. She slept for 28 minutes. The only difference I could think of was I let her keep the Binky when I put her down. Usually I don’t give it to her at all. So when the afternoon nap I made sure to give it to her again. She lay peacefully on her back for a few minutes before rolling over and going to sleep for 21 minutes (an average length nap these days).

We had suddenly turned a corner. Thursday she had her first nap in the crib at daycare in weeks. It was 30 minutes even! She was home with me again Friday. After our morning success of 38 minutes (!!!) I decided to try sans binky. She fussed for about 90 seconds before sleeping for 24 minutes. Since then we’ve had 3 more 30-40 minutes naps and no tears.

My goal is to get back up to two 60-90 minute naps a day. In the mean time we’re doing three ~30 minute naps so she gets adequate rest. I’m mixing it up with regards to the binky. I plan to not let her go more then 3 naps in a row with it. It appears to be helping, but I know it’s a sleep crutch and I don’t want her to become dependent on it. She stopped using the binky at night time around 5 months, and she is able to nap without it during the day.

Do you realize what this means?! Our sleep struggles might be OVER. That is until her next bought of teething. And when she next gets sick. And when she starts voicing an opinion about when bed time should be. And night terrors. But, beside that, OVER.

Back in the days of the Good Nap

I never posted a follow up to my last baby sleep post, but Nicki slept through the night the very next day. Even though she was no longer waking up, she was once again crying for an average of 15 minutes, sometimes as much as 30 minutes, after being put down. While she never stopped crying after we started sleep training, the crying sessions would not typically last beyond the time it took me to walk down stairs, so the uptick in crying was a little worry some.

I called her pediatrician, who was one of the many many people who recommended sleep training, to ask if we were doing something wrong or if something could be wrong. The pediatrician’s advice was that some babies are just more sensitive to being left alone at night and to make sure she was not hearing or seing any sign. A friend also suggested moving her bed time up from 8:30 to 7:30. We took both pieces of advice to heart, the crying ended completely and she now is sleeping for an average of 11 hours, 23 minutes (with a standard deviation of 13 minutes). All was happy in baby sleep land.


It was past time to end the nap time in the rock and play. Not only were we worried about her rolling out, or trying to sit up in the rock n’ play, but she also wasn’t napping as well in it. She’d wake up at the end of each sleep cycle and need me to put her back to sleep. That, by the way, was also our criteria for moving her to the crib at night. (Note to my future self when the next baby comes: when the current sleeping arrangement isn’t working, it’s past time to change it.)

Since my parents were visiting this week, and Nicki was off from day care, it seemed like the perfect time to try. Moral support from my mom, and no day care to disrupt the attempt at establishing the new routine.

For naptimes I was still rocking her to sleep and putting her down in the rocking play. She’d wake up as I put her down, but happily drift off to sleep again in the rock n’ play for a sleep cycle. I tried rocking her to sleep and putting her down in the crib on Sunday. Didn’t work. As soon as I tried to put her down somewhere other than the rock n’ play she revolted. She’s too alert these days for me to put her down in her sleep, she always wakes up. So Monday we had no choice but to start sleep training in the crib, which meant she had to put herself to sleep in the crib.

Nap time sleep training is way harder than bed time sleep training.

I’m sure the fact that she’s older and more capable of resisting is part of the problem. Another part of the problem is we didn’t have a gradual transition to the crib for naps. Logically she happily sleeps in the crib at night, and she likes her naps, so it she shouldn’t mind sleeping in the crib at nap time right, right? Except babies aren’t logical. They pattern match. And putting her down in the crib doesn’t match the pattern, ergo Nicki doesn’t seem to know she should fall asleep.

We’ve been doing this for a week and her average time crying is down to seven minutes, but naps are only 15-30 minutes. Way short of what she needs. On the one hand, I feel validated in my assertion that moving her to the crib and simultaneously crying it out at bed time would not have worked. On the other hand, I feel terrible that nap time has become so difficult. I feel a bit helpless and not sure what to do other than just stay the course.

At least this hasn’t disrupted bed time.

February 16, 2013

Sleep, and Lack There Of

My once perfect little sleeper is rebelling. We had three months of glorious, unheard of, newborn sleeping through the night. Then colds, travel, and transitioning to the crib hit. Crying-it-out was working, but this week was about as miserable as it could be. Last night, Nicki woke up not once, not twice, but five times. Even though she went back to sleep on her own four of those times, mommy got maybe three hours of sleep. Total.

We have three theories as to what might be going on

Teething – Her bottom left tooth has now cut through the gum although it still hasn’t fully erupted, but we only have a corner of her bottom right tooth peeking through. Although she’s showing some mild signs of teething discomfort, she doesn’t really seem effected by it. She’s still a very happy baby during the day. She’ll chomp on her teething toys, but doesn’t appear to need them.

Lingering Cough – Nick had her third baby cold from last Sunday to Wednesday. She had bad congestion and a cough and for a couple of nights needed to sleep at an incline. Her symptoms are mostly gone, but every once in a while we hear an errant cough.

Physically Cold – The last three times she woke up the temperature in the nursery was 66 and 67 degrees as reported by the bay monitor. (We didn’t think to check the temperature before that.) The thermometer in the nursery tracks the high and low temperatures at 64 and 75 degrees. That’s quite a range! We noticed over the summer that Nicki, like mommy, sleeps better in slightly warmer temperatures to colder temperatures. She had her longest stretch of sleep last night after we upped the thermostat.

Unfamiliar with the new routine – Once upon a time Nicki used to get drowsy in the bath tub. These days our little ducky prefers to swim and splash and play with all her bath toys. This left us with two options: (1) no toys in bath and a moratorium on splashing or (2) make bath time earlier and not part of bedtime. Since I love that she enjoys her bath so much, we opted for the second option. She now gets twenty plus minutes of light play after the bath to wind down. She’s adjusted to that part very well. That left the bed time routine at vitamin, night time milk, and story. Since that only last ten minutes, and the books say bed time routines should be 20 to 30 minutes, we’re adding in some lullaby and rocking cuddles. When I sing to her (which is so off key I’m surprised it doesn’t re-energize her to get away from mommy) I stroke her face. I’ve been doing this at nap time, so it’s nice nap time and bed time routines are becoming a little more similar.

So many variables when debugging baby behavior! I contemplated getting the baby connect app to track baby’s feeding and sleeping in the early days, but ultimately passed. We kept a log on paper for a few weeks, but didn’t end up needing it after that. It’s time we start again. We couldn’t remember when the difficulty sleeping started. Before teething? After teething? Has it been trending bad for a while? So I created a custom excel spreadsheet to track the variables I was interested in and show me trends. Time to put my data science skills to test.

I just have to keep reminding myself that she does have good nights. The last three months we’ve had bad weeks, but there are good weeks too. We will get back there again. This phase, too, shall pass.

January 7, 2013

Crying it out

Sleep Training is Hard. I know, I know, Tautology is tautology (geek speak for “duh”.)

Good morning, Mama! I haven’t seen you since last night!

Our wait and see approach was going well, but slowly. Nicki was up to 5 hours (longer than a sleep cycle!) continuous sleep in the crib. She was learning to stay asleep in the crib. I thought we were going to go all the way – to learn to sleep in the crib the full night through sans tears.

Then we went back east for the holidays. The sleeping routine wasn’t well established and Nicki didn’t like the port-a-crib. She ended up sleeping on us a lot, which of course she loved. Once we got back home, she still preferred sleeping on people and thought it was now an option. She was no longer trying to sleep in the crib. Once she started to stir, she realized she wasn’t in our arms and would wake herself up fully. There was no way our wait and see approach would work.

So we started sleep training.

Nicki had just recently added ‘ma’ and ‘da’ to her jabbering lexicon. (She smacks her lips when she wants purees, and it’s the sound you make through smacking lips.) I kept hearing ‘mama ma da dada mama’ between wails. I felt like the Worst.Mom.Ever. Ever time I went in to reassure her that first night, she’d scream louder than before. But 25 minutes into it? She was out cold, like someone had just flipped a switch. I checked on again a a little while later and she sounded like she was whimpering in her sleep. Worst.Mom.Ever.

But Nicki slept through the night. And she was in such a good mood the next day. She’s been a pretty amazing kid, even sick with the sniffles she was all smiles, but on a full night of uninterrupted sleep? Wow. I’ve never seen her have so many gigglefits, or be so adventurous with her play. That’s when I realized how much the night time wakings must have been affecting her. She may have been in bed for the same number of hours, but it was clearly not the same amount of rest. I figured the few minutes of crying up front was worth it so she would have a much better day. It gave me the courage to continue, and now she is doing much better with it.

Could we have cried it out sooner? Maybe. I still think it was important to have a gradual transition to the crib.

December 14, 2012

Why not just Cry-It-Out?

Crib training, for lack of a better phrase, is going about as well as to be expected. Which is to say, not particularly well. For the past couple nights, Nicki has been up just about every 90 minutes (the length of a typical baby sleep cycle.). I turned to Facebook to vent/commiserate with fellow parents, but most of the suggestions were to try cry-it-out, and specifically to let her cry. It’s not that I have a problem with cry-it-out; I expect to be employing that technique in the next month or so. I just don’t think it will work for us now, at this point in time.

The point of cry-it-out is to give babies the chance to develop a new skill, that of falling asleep on their own. That way, when baby inevitably stirs or starts to wakes up in the night he or she can put him or herself back to sleep. That may seem like our problem, but it’s actually not.

Nicki knows how to go back to sleep in her rock-n-play. Both Domingo and I have seen her do this on the video baby monitor many times.

Diagram of Rock n’ Play Sleep Position

The problem is the rock-n-play is very different from the crib and she hasn’t been able to transfer that skill to the crib yet. When she starts to stir in the crib she tries to get back in a position that she’s familiar sleeping in, the pike position from the rock-n-play. When she starts to wake up, she sticks her feet up in the air.

Rock n’ play sleep position does not work in the crib!

Of course this method, despite being very cute, doesn’t work. Nicki wakes up and becomes very frustrated and upset. She wakes up fully and breaks down.

The second, and much larger issue is that Nicki has never slept we’ll in the crib, even despite our nap time efforts. In terms of nighttime, it’s a different room, different way of sleeping and she’s alone for the first time ever. That’s a lot of change for a baby! If she doesn’t yet associate the crib with sleep, I don’t feel we can put her down “drowsy but awake” and hope she can figure it out.

So our first goal is to teach her that she can sleep in the crib. Then we’ll work on falling asleep on her own.

Our bed time routine is the same, right down to rocking her to sleep. When she wakes up we let her fuss. Unless the light turns red on the baby monitor for a sustained period of time, we let her be. Once she starts crying, however, we go get her, regardless of how long (or short) she’s been up.

There is a silver lining. Nicki tends to wake up more when she’s on her back than when she’s on her side. (I always put her down on her back per AAP’s recommendation.) I’ve noticed Nicki sleeping on her side from time to time. Last night she did go back to sleep once on her own. Maybe she’s learning after all?

Aside: there are lots of different cry-it-out strategies. The phrase uses the term ‘cry’ because crying is often inevitable, but that is obviously not the goal. Our wait-and-see approach is similar, but not a standard cry-it-out approach that I’ve seen.

November 2, 2012

A New Sleeping Arrangement

A long time ago I read a fellow mommy blogger’s post about how difficult it was to adjust her to move her 5 month old from sleeping in the pack n’ play to the crib. I swore that wouldn’t be me. The pack n’ play is more similar to a crib than the rock n’ play, and I knew it would be even more difficult if I waited too long. I was going to do it early.

The baby book said to begin the process at two months, but I wasn’t ready for the change. It felt too soon. At three months Nicki got sick and needed to sleep at an incline. For two and a half weeks! Here we are at four months and still in the rock n’ play. Oops.

This week we decided all naps were going to be in the crib. I knew that meant they wouldn’t be long, but I figured she’d tire herself out enough to sleep eventually. I thought she would get used to the crib and today would be “eventually” and we could transition her night time sleeping to the crib. Wrong.

We’ve had 7 attempts to nap today. She was still asleep after I put her down in the crib in 4.

Right after morning feeding (still in pjs). Asleep for 5 minutes.

Second attempt. Asleep for 19 minutes.

Third and forth attempts she woke up instantly after putting her down.

Fifth attempt, I get desperate and try a swaddle even though she’s hated them for a few months now. Success, she slept 23 minutes. Note the bed head from all the napping attempts.

Sixth attempt. I got the camera looked back and saw this.

She was getting frustrated so I decided to do a little tummy time hoping it would tire her out. It did. Too well.

I gave in. I needed a nap too. Now we have matching bed head.

It’s going to be a long weekend. Hopefully by Monday we will be successfully napping in the crib.

September 25, 2012

On sleep

As a first time mom I don’t always know what’s normal. I thought 30 to 45 minute cat naps were too short and Nicki wasn’t getting enough sleep throughout the day, until my mommy friends set me straight. One thing I’ve always known is that Nicki is an unusually good night time sleeper.

My champion sleeper

She slept from midnight to six am without waking starting at around three weeks. She’d usually go down for four hours again around 7/7:30. At two weeks she slept five to six hours, and prior to two weeks we would wake her up to eat after four or five hours.

With the exception of one day since she has been five weeks old she has been getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Lately it’s been 10 hours. She will stir during the night, and sometimes appears to wake up, but she settles down on her own.


Your guess is as good as mine. She didn’t have day night reversal and she doesn’t appear to need or want night time feedings which makes me think it might have something to do with the way we feed her. When I nurse she usually gets hungry again quickly. She appears to get more from the bottle, so I always give her a bottle before bed. (We often nurse before bed too, but I make sure she has had plenty from the bottle first.) It could also be the amount she eats. She can pound down 4oz like a champ. My other theory is the rock n’ play. She’s might comfortable sleeping it. Most likely, though, we just got lucky in this aspect.

What about engorgement overnight?

My body adapted pretty quickly to Nicki’s schedule. Sure the first time she went from 6 to 8 hours, or 8 to 10, and even the day she slept 12 (!!) I woke up pretty engorged. But for the most part it hasn’t been a problem. I think most working moms also experience this. Their supply adapts to match their pumping schedule.

Keep in mind just because Nicki gets 10 hours of sleep a night doesn’t mean I do. I pump more then I nurse. Whenever she’s napping I need to devote time to pumping. I have quite a bit of chores pile up in the evening. After she goes to bed, I stay up for another couple of hours doing chores. I then pump right before I got to bed.

Do you get up in the middle of the night to pump?

No. I always pump/nurse when I wake up, but I never set an alarm or anything to wake up in order to pump. I have woken up once or twice from being engorged and pumped then.

Aren’t you worried about your supply? I heard you shouldn’t go more then 5 hours without pumping/nursing.

Sure, in that same new-mom way I worry about everything. But every parenting choice comes with its pluses and minuses. We found I’m a very different mom with sleep then without. Even an hour or two can make a difference. Without, I’m very mechanical, just going through the motions. I have to constantly remind myself to interact with her while changing her or feeding her. With sleep I do a much better job at stimulating her. To us, the risk to my supply is worth it.

Then again, adequate rest is supposed to help production. So maybe it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other?

What about growth and development? I heard you shouldn’t let the baby sleep too long without eating

According to our pediatrician, once baby has regained her birth weight it’s safe to let her sleep as long as she wants. She regained her birth weight and then some by one week. She’s reaching all her milestones and the pediatrician is happy with her development, so we don’t worry about it.

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