Friday, March 11, 2011


Sleep is a big topic. Especially if you're talking to a mom with a baby who is not letting her have much of it. Or to the Daddy of said baby for that matter.

Tonight, Max sleeps in his own room for the first time!

It's about time I think.

See, my parenting/baby sleep philosophy lies somewhere in the middle between the attachment parent co-sleepers and the schedule stickler let 'em cry-it-out-ers.

I royally screwed up Thane's sleep abilities. Again with my sympathies to the firstborn. I nursed and rocked him to sleep each nap and night, but forced him to sleep in his own crib, because I was told he was supposed to. I'm pretty sure he still has no idea how to put himself to sleep.

Max is still getting up, we're basically back to four hour stretches of sleep at best, nursing on and off seemingly all night at worst. He was really settling into a routine pre-Christmas, developing the beginnings of good sleep habits and routines on his own, before his eczema took over his little body and my brain. But then over the past few months while he's been feeling so miserable we've gotten into Max depending on me again for sleep, for night and naps.

In general, I follow babies lead and allow them to develop their own routines, nursing them whenever they want to nurse, picking them up whenever they cry. We're co-sleepers from the beginning for many reasons. I strongly believe in the benefits of babe and mom sleeping together. The mother-baby waking each other intermittently all night is actually important, something I don't think a lot of people realize. It gives baby a different kind of extra-nourishing night milk and promotes good milk production, by not taking an eight hour break. Sleeping together (and disturbing each other) causes mother to check on the baby throughout the night, and makes the baby practice putting themselves back to sleep that many more times a night.

In short though, at eight months old we've outgrown the goodness cosleeping was giving us, and both Max and I could be sleeping better if we were doing so apart. Even having his crib beside the bed, he knows I'm there. I'm pretty sure he can smell the milk, and he definitely senses us, no matter how quietly we try to sneak into bed or turn in the night. So it's time to get a sleep plan in action.

This is what I find works best for sleep training in our house. (When I feel like I need to do some kind of sleep training, which isn't always the case. Seth trained us really, he had sleep all figured out. Or sometimes we need it when something has changed, they've been sick or teething and we need a sleep schedule reboot.) I find their daytime naps have a lot to do with their quality of nighttime sleep, so I start with the naps routine. When baby seems ready, I begin to lay them down in their crib for a nap drowsy but awake, around semi-regular times, attempting to promote a routine and sometimes just to get them used to their crib. For me, this readiness depends on baby not panicking when you lay them down for a nap awake. There's a difference to me between small, intermittent pre-sleep fussing and full-blown baby panic, which I feel is not fair or warranted. (Something else I put my poor guinea-baby Thane through.) Then once they're napping routinely and comfortably in their own crib, I will start putting them to bed there at night as well, in their own crib and room. Usually they'll sleep there until they wake to nurse the first time, and then join me in my bed.

Although I'm crossing my fingers that without Troy and I so much as breathing and waking him up, the first time he wakes up will be considerably later in the night.

Hopefully it all goes that easy peasy with Max tonight! Wish him luck.

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