Posted in Newborn, Parenting

Confused

Dear Amélie,

I know that you have spent the better part of your existence inside the womb and that the outside can be confusing, so allow me to give you a few pointers on how things work out here.

  • When I swaddle you, it’s not for you to attempt Houdini-like escapes only to get pissed off when you’re unsuccessful (which, admittedly, doesn’t happen very often).  In fact, it’s to help contain your Moro reflex so that you (and I) can sleep.
  • Speaking of sleep, being rocked isn’t supposed to be an overstimulating activity that keeps you awake and a brightly lit living room with a toddler screaming (from joy or anger) and running around isn’t supposed to be conductive to sleep (though I’m certainly not going to complain that you manage to fall asleep in that environment).
  • Nursing time isn’t supposed to be guzzle-down-my-milk-ASAP-and-then-proceed-to-spit-up-and-have-the-hiccups-for-15-minutes.
  • When I put you up against my shoulder, it isn’t an invitation to work out you neck muscles.  It’s to burp you so that we might skip the spitting up part of your nursing routine.
  • Alternatively, the whole point of putting you on your tummy after diaper changes is 
  • By the way, you are allowed to poop in a wet diaper.  Seriously, you really don’t have to wait until the moment where I have just finished swaddling you after changing your diaper to poop.
  • I don’t mind that you prefer to sleep on your side or tummy and am happy to indulge your preferences during your daytime naps because I can keep an eye on you, but during the night, I would really, really like it if you could stay on your back.

There, I hope that clears up a few things for you.

Love you to bits,

Mama

Posted in Parenting

Sleeping Arrangements

Ahhh, peacefully sleeping.

Ever since we brought Charles home roughly 16 months ago, we’ve had to make several changes to our/his sleeping arrangements.  I thought I’d break down what changed when for future reference (y’know, so I don’t wonder how we managed when Peanut comes along 😉 ).

The newborn phase

Since a newborn’s circadian rhythm isn’t programmed the way ours is (from my understanding, that happens around 4 months) they have no conception of the difference between day and night.  Knowing this, we decided to establish a visible difference between naps and nighttime sleep from the getgo.  During the day, the little guy slept in his moses basket wherever his father and I were hanging out.  During nights, though we considered many options (co-sleeping, having a cot in our room…), we decided to get him used to sleeping in his own crib in his own room.  Since his room is right next to ours, we just kept both bedroom doors opened and we could hear him very quickly when he awoke for a feed in the middle of the night (or, rather I woke up very quickly – often my partner didn’t even hear him).

We swaddled him for the first week or two before stopping because he just seemed to hate it.

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1 week old and snoozing away in the living room.

Eventually, when the little guy started too get big for his basket, we moved him to a baby park bed for his daytime naps.  We also started to swaddle again when he was about 6 weeks old and his moro reflex (startle reflex) started to kick in.

2 months old.  The swaddle is officially back.
2 months old. The swaddle is officially back.

The infant phase

At around the age of 4 months, we felt that Charles was ready to do his naps in his own room and so that’s where he went.  We were still swaddling (as he was still aaaages away from being able to roll) and we had started using the pacifier sparingly to help him settle down for naps when he was overtired.  Except the “sparingly” part eventually led to “frequently” and so we began our road down pacifier hell.

Weaning off the pacifier and the swaddle

By the time Charles was nearly 6 months old, I was way past the mombie phase because I had to keep on replugging the darned pacifier all night long.  I was also getting frustrated with my little Houdini’s ability to break out of every single swaddle, no matter how tight or how creative and so, after trying a gentle method  of pacifier removal (Pantley’s gentle removal), I decided to embark on the sleep training wagon get rid or both the paci and the swaddle cold turkey with the baby whisperer’s PU/PD method.  It was hard, but it ended up paying off.  Oh and this is when we invested in a lovey and when we started using a white noise machine for his sleep.

Of course, the little guy was very happy with his newfound liberty…

…and he got himself into a whole bunch of weird positions…

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Looks…um…comfortable…

6 months to 16 months

…so we ended up setting his mattress to the lowest setting and we decided to invest in some sleep sacks.

Isn't a sleeping baby the cutest thing!
Isn’t a sleeping baby the cutest thing!

It took a while, but eventually, Charles started to really “get” what a lovey was meant to be used for.  When he was about 12 months old, he would grab on to his lovey when it was story time and keep hold of it when I set him in his bed.  A couple of months later, he would recognize it by name and go get it when we asked him where his friend the ghost (that’s what his lovey is called ’round here) was.  Then, at about 15 months, he started to go and grab it by himself as soon as he was out of the tub and in his pyjamas.

16 months onwards

A couple of weeks ago, after months of pretty smooth sailing when it came to putting him down for naps and bedtime, Charles started to get into a fit when it was time for bed.  Thinking that he had developed a fear of the dark, we started to turn on the little nightlight that comes with his white noise machine.  Then, one night, out of the blue, he reached out for one of his blankies.  I’d never let him sleep with one before because I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to sleep and the possibility that he might suffocate himself (he also doesn’t have any bumpers on his bed or any stuffed animals with him), but I figured that if he was old enough to ask for it, he was old enough to sleep with it (of course, there’s also the fact that he is super mobile now).  He was very happy and now grabs both his lovey and blankie once he’s in his sleepsack and ready for bed.  For the record, this is the shop where I bought the sleepsack from (seen below with a dinosaur print).  I’m not affiliated with the Etsy shop owner in any way, I was just so in love with the product (I mean, it has feet holes which means that my son can walk around in it and easily move around once he’s down for sleep!) that I decided to give it a shout out here.

Blankie: check, lovey: check, sleep sack: check.  Ready for his bedtime story!
Blankie: check, lovey: check, sleep sack: check. Ready for his bedtime story!

Another change in preparation

In preparation for Peanut’s arrival, Charles will be going through another sleeping arrangement change.  We have decided that the baby will be moving into the nursery that Little Dude is sleeping in right now and that the little guy will be moving to a “big boy room”.  We’ll be moving him to a floor bed so that he’ll be able to get in and out on his own and he’ll be allowed to bring stuffed animals to bed with him if he wants to.  I’m really excited (and, let’s face it, anxious) to see how the transition will go.  I will definitely be keeping you guys posted when we go through the move this summer.

What do the sleeping arrangements look like in your household?

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Posted in Parenting

The Secret To Baby Sleep!

Reblogged from http://starcrossedkayla.tumblr.com

I went on amazon and bought all the top books on baby sleep and development. I read through them all, as well as several blogs and sleep websites. I gathered lots of advice.

You shouldn’t sleep train at all, before a year, before 6 months, or before 4 months, but if you wait too late, your baby will never be able to sleep without you. College-aged children never need to be nursed, rocked, helped to sleep, so don’t worry about any bad habits. Nursing, rocking, singing, swaddling, etc to sleep are all bad habits and should be stopped immediately. White noise will help them fall asleep. White noise, heartbeart sounds, etc, don’t work. Naps should only be taken in the bed, never in a swing, carseat, stroller, or when worn. Letting them sleep in the carseat or swing will damage their skulls. If your baby has trouble falling asleep in the bed, put them in a swing, carseat, stroller, or wear them.

Put the baby in a nursery, bed in your room, in your bed. Cosleeping is the best way to get sleep, except that it can kill your baby, so never, ever do it. If your baby doesn’t die, you will need to bedshare until college.

Use the same cues as night: cut lights, keep the house quiet and still. Differentiate naps from nightly sleep by leaving the lights on and making a regular amount of noise. Keep the room warm, but not too warm. Swaddle the baby tightly, but not too tightly. Put them on their back to sleep, but don’t let them be on their backs too long or they will be developmentally delayed. Give them a pacifier to reduce SIDS. Be careful about pacifiers because they can cause nursing problems and stop your baby from sleeping soundly. If your baby sleeps too soundly, they’ll die of SIDS.

Don’t let your baby sleep too long, except when they’ve been napping too much, then you should wake them. Never wake a sleeping baby. Any baby problem can be solved by putting them to bed earlier, even if they are waking up too early. If your baby wakes up too early, put them to bed later or cut out a nap. Don’t let them nap after 5 pm. Sleep begets sleep, so try to get your child to sleep as much as possible. Put the baby to bed awake but drowsy. Don’t wake the baby if it fell asleep while nursing.

You should start a routine and keep track of everything. Not just when they sleep and how long, but how long it has been between sleep, how many naps they’ve had per day, and what you were doing before they slept. Have a set time per day that you put them to bed. Don’t watch the clock. Put them on a schedule. Scheduling will make your life impossible because they will constantly be thrown off of it and you will become a prisoner in your home.

Using CIO will make them think they’ve been abandoned and will be eaten by a lion shortly. It also causes brain damage. Not getting enough sleep will cause behavior and mental problems, so be sure to put them to sleep by any means necessary, especially CIO, which is the most effective form. Extinction CIO is cruel beyond belief and the only thing that truly works because parents are a distraction. The Sleep Lady Shuffle and Ferber method are really CIO in disguise or Controlled Crying and so much better than Extinction. All three of these will prevent your child from ever bonding with you in a healthy way. Bedsharing and gentler forms of settling will cause your child to become too dependent on you.

Topping the baby off before bed will help prevent night wakings. When babies wake at night, it isn’t because they are hungry. If the baby wants to nurse to sleep, press on the baby’s chin to close its mouth. Don’t stop the baby from nursing when asleep because that doesn’t cause a bad habit. Be wary of night feeds. If you respond too quickly with food or comfort, your baby is manipulating you. Babies can’t manipulate. Babies older than six months can manipulate.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Clean when the baby cleans. Don’t worry. Stress causes your baby stress and a stressed baby won’t sleep.

Well, that clears things up!  Not that we have any problems with sleep around here… *whistles innocently*.

Posted in Infant, Parenting

The Aussie Inspired Baby Burrito

In light of my last post on weaning my son off his pacifier, I’ve decided to let you in on the swaddling technique I’ve recently started to use.  It’s a cross between the traditional swaddle and the Aussie swaddle (which I recently learned existed).

My son has recently outgrown his Swaddle Me blanket (to my great chagrin) but isn’t ready to go swaddle-free even though he frequently breaks out of his swaddles (or attempts to).  If I don’t cocoon him up, he ends up waking himself up by rubbing his little fists all over his face and scratching himself (when I haven’t trimmed his nails properly).  Furthermore, now that he is at an age where he has trouble transitioning between sleep cycles because he hasn’t learned to self-soothe yet, I need to keep wrapping him up so that he doesn’t have more opportunities to wake up at night and during naps.

The problem with the traditional swaddle, though, is that it takes away anything that he can suck on (let’s not forget here, that I’m weaning him off the pacifier even though I know he has a need to suck to fall asleep).  I’ve tried swaddling with one arm out, but it always ended in disaster: he would wake up because he was rubbing his face, or he would grab his pacifier and pull it out and then get pissed off because he was unable to put it back in.

I then tried the Aussie swaddle.  However, access to two hands seemed to be too much for him to handle because no matter which side he turned his head, there would be a blanket covered hand right in front of him.

So, I decided to merge the two methods.  Here’s how it works.

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Step 1: Find a tired, squirmy and cranky baby (if you’re looking for one, I’ll gladly lend you mine; he’s got an inexhaustible reserve of crankiness).
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Step 2: grab a large blanket (I use a twin sized sheet cut in half) and fold the top part down to form an approximately 6 in. flap.
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Place Sir (or Madam) Cranky in the center of the blanket with his/her shoulders slightly below the top of the fabric.
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Fold your baby’s arm upwards placing his/her forearm inside the fold of the blanket.
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Bring outer edge of the blanket down at an angle and tuck the edge under your little one’s bum.
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As with a traditional swaddle, wrap the excess fabric around your baby’s body, tucking it under his/her back.
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Fold the excess fabric at the bottom upwards.
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Place your baby’s other arm against his/her body and wrap the remaining fabric around his/her body.

Then, you can place your little Aussie burrito in his/her crib.

This swaddle is really great for my son because it allows him access to one hand (he can suck on it through the blanket if he wants to) while keeping his other arm snugly pinned against his body.  It was important for me to allow him some means of fulfilling his intense need to suck, give him a chance to learn to self-soothe all while providing him with the snug environment he still needs.  Furthermore, I see this as a nice transition between a full swaddle and the partial swaddle (one arm out) that is used to help wean babies off the swaddle.

What’s your experience with the swaddle?  Did you use a special swaddle blanket ?  How long did you swaddle, when and how?

Posted in Infant

Bawling Bedtime Brawl

I’m an insomniac.  I’ve been fighting to fall asleep ever since my early teens.  I’ve had some good periods, periods that have given me a shard of hope that I may have finally gotten over the insomnia.  But it was not to be.  In the days following the arrival of my son, I was so sleep-deprived and exhausted that I had no issues falling asleep.  But it did not last.  Gone are the days where I could fall asleep quickly when I went to bed and fall back asleep without issue after a middle of the night nursing session despite my “non-snoring” boyfriend”s seamless imitation of some type of motor.

As for my son, well, he does not fight to fall asleep.  No, he battles sleep.  He seems to do everything in his power to remain awake and, when my partner or I are finally able to help him fall asleep, it is only to have him wake up and fuss as soon as he hits the mattress of his crib.  I love the little bugger, but after two weeks of this, he is very quickly eroding any sanity and self-confidence I have left.

You might recall that I started my son on E.A.S.Y. when he turned seven weeks.  Simultaneously, I started swaddling him again.  I had a new baby, on that would give me three 90 minute naps and one 45 minute nap per day.  It was great!  He was in an awesome mood.  Both of our lives had become more predictable and I found it easier to manage motherhood with a three hour schedule.   Life was good.

And then, about two days before he turned three months old, all hell broke loose.  I’ve already posted on his three month growth spurt, so I won’t detail it again here.  Suffices to say, he didn’t sleep much.  I naively thought that when he would get back to normal when he finished his spurt; I had forgotten that my son made a point of changing things up each time I figured him out.  Well, now, he’s gone from being a great napper to being a crap-napper cat-napper. For the past week, I can consider that I’m having a good day when he naps for two hours total.

The E.A.S.Y. routine has worked so well that now he knows exactly when he’s going down for a nap or for bedtime.  As soon as he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes, I bring him to his room.  As soon as we are in his room, he starts crying his head off.  And we’re not talking about a small whimper cry.  Oh no!  We’re talking full-blown-red-faced-scream-myself-hoarse cry.  Of course, the same is true for bedtime.  He’ll go from fussy at the breast for his last nursing session, to calm and smiling while I undress him and his father runs his bath, to happy while he’s in the bath and then BAM as soon as his father takes him out of the tub, he starts screaming his head off.  Holy, am I glad to not be in an apartment building anymore; I’m sure the neighbors would call child services!

I don’t know what to think right now.  What I do know is that he seems to be going through a transition phase.  He is at a point where he cannot be swaddled anymore because he breaks out of it all the time.  He seems to want to learn to self-soothe because he is always spitting out his pacifier and sucking on his hands.  However, we need to put mitts on his hands when he goes to bed because otherwise he’ll scratch his face up pretty badly even though I trim and file down the darned things every other day.

What to do, what to do?

Posted in Sleep (and lack thereof)

Sweet Dreams

I’ve got a curious little fella.  I mean, really curious.  From the time he wakes from his two-hour nightly sleep spurts to the time nighttime comes again, he usually refuses to fall asleep.  He yawns, his eyes become glazed over and his eyelids start to shut.  Sometimes, this means sleep, but other times, he refuses to let sleep claim him.  As soon as I think he will finally fall asleep, he forces his eyes open wide again and then, it’s almost impossible to get him to sleep.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love to see his eyes open, staring at my face, his hands grasping the strands of hair that are within arms reach.  I love to see the faces he makes, love to see his lips curl into a smile.  The problem is, when he stays awake for too long, he gets overstimulated, which in turn causes him to become overtired and an overtired newborn (well, my overtired newborn) is even harder to get to sleep!

In the days following our return from the hospital, my son would fall asleep consistently at the breast.  It was so simple: I would nurse, he would fall asleep, I would put him to bed, then put myself to bed.  However, this no longer works systematically.  So I’ve been reading and have tried different things to get my little one to sleep.

  1. Distinguishing night and day: Now I know that newborns don’t know the difference between day and night.  As far as I understand, this comprehension can’t come in until a baby is about six weeks of age.  However, I’ve implemented some things to help my son make the distinction more easily.  First, his day naps happen in his moses basket wherever my boyfriend or I are.  This means he sleeps in a bright place with usual household noises going on around him.  We do not whisper when we talk or tiptoe around, we go about our business.  This seems to reassure our little one as he knows that we are nearby.  When night comes, we move him to his crib.  His room is kept dark with only a nightlight bright enough to allow me to see him when he wakes during the night for a feeding or diaper change (or pyjama change when his father or I had trouble putting on his diaper properly…).  This *knock on wood* seems to be working so far.
  2. Swaddling: My mother-in-law swears by this method, but it hasn’t worked for me.  My son HATES, I mean REALLY HATES being swaddled.  He always screams out in anger and frustration when he loses the use of his arms because they are pinned down against him by a blanket.  I would say that the only time during which he actually agreed to be swaddled, was in the 24 hours following his exit from the womb.
  3. Burping him:  Oddly enough, this seems to be one of his preferred methods of falling asleep these days.  When we finish a feed, I put him over my shoulder and switch between lightly tapping and rubbing his back.  Generally, within about five to ten minutes he has not only burped but has fallen asleep against me.  Now, perhaps it is because he is in contact with his mother, perhaps it is because he is being held in an upright position, perhaps it is because it helps his stomach settle, I don’t know what the reason is, but I am very happy that this method works – most of the time!
  4. Singing/Rocking:  Pretty self-explanatory.  Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t…
  5. Holding him: This usually helps a lot.  Sometimes, my son seems to only want to be held.  He needs this contact with his mother (and sometimes his father).  The only problem is that when he is sleeping in my arms, I can’t allow myself to fall asleep and usually when he is seeking contact, even if he does fall asleep in my arms, he will almost assuredly always wake up as soon as I put him in his moses or crib.
  6. Secret weapon: the pacifier: There are times during which nothing seems to work.  Sometimes, my little one only needs to suck.  I am becoming better at recognizing these moments – though I am by no means ever 100% right – and will offer him a pacifier to help him get to sleep.  I usually try out this method when I am zombie tired and need to sleep, even for 30 minutes.  However, I refuse to give him a pacifier to fall asleep in his crib at night and I usually use this tool as a last resort.
  7. Ultimate secret weapon: co-sleeping: When I learned I was pregnant I swore I would never co-sleep with my child.  The idea has always scared me to death.  There are waaay too many thing that could go wrong for my liking.  However, it has happened to me.  Though unintentional, my co-sleeping experience has opened my eyes to the fact that it can be a good idea.  Though I would definitely not do it every night, I think that it is something I may do again in the future when my son will be going through another growth spurt.  The way I see it, it is less dangerous to co-sleep when I haven’t slept in over 24 hours than to risk falling asleep nursing my son on the couch or in the rocking chair that is in his room.  Of course, though I know that this method is not recommended, I follow all safety guidelines that have been set for parents who choose to do this.  I sleep in the spare bedroom on the firm mattress bed with my son between myself and the wall.  I sleep in my pyjamas so that I don’t have to use a blanket; our mutual body heat keeps us warm.  Of course, I would NEVER even think of doing this if I had consumed even one glass of wine in the evening.

Sleep Tight