Monday, July 12, 2010

Maybe It Is Time to Think About Sleep...

I've been a parent for 46 months and I have just picked up my first sleep book. I am starting to read sleep books for two reasons:
1. I need to be able to help my doula clients.
2. I need to make some changes at home. I am actually having sleep issues!

So, for some background on me and sleep. I never took naps as a baby or toddler. I took cap naps as an infant, but I stopped daytime sleep pretty early and never had a regular nap schedule. As an adult, I can sleep through noise and changes and generally fall asleep easily. I probably stay awake too late, though.

Ian fell asleep when he was tired and woke up when he was ready to wake up. I could transfer him from the bay carrier to the carseat to the baby carrier over and over again and he would stay completely asleep until he was ready to wake up. He was uneffected by light or noise.

Eva slept most of the first 6 months of her life. She, too, slept well and could be taken anywhere and still stay asleep. That was then....

So onto the sleep issues. Ian has been whiny and difficult since last summer, right before he turned three. I have thought it was just an annoying developmental phase, but I am starting to think it is due to a sleep shortage. He has always had a late bedtime, but he used to sleep in late as well. Since he started preschool, his bedtime is earlier, but he also has to get up earlier. Since he started Korean preschool (which is longer) in February, he has lost his afternoon nap.

Eva, an absolute angel for the first 6 months and fairly easy up until about a year old, has become hell on wheels for the last few months. She has had more babysitting during the day and has stopped napping for her babysitter, especially if other kids are around. She has also started waking up if I have to transfer her from carrier/stroller to carseat. She stopped nursing to sleep a lot earlier than Ian did, but we solved that by Curt putting her to sleep. However, at night she has been crazy night-waking. She jumps up and dive rolls over me and pushes against me to keep herself awake while nursing. Ian was powerless against the breast. I had to stop nursing him to sleep at 18 months because he started to resist falling asleep. However, if he woke up during the night, he would nurse quickly and stay asleep when I popped him off. Eva does not fall asleep, she screeches and dive rolls to my other side. She is good for most of the night, but the second half of the night is becoming more difficult.

Time for some changes.

Why did it take so long to figure out? Because they didn't have sleep problems before and their behavior isn't typical of the kids who do have sleep problems when they get tired. Meaning, it isn't that the behavior gets a lot worse over the course of the day, but that their behavior the whole day is worse than it used to be.

I have the No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Marc Weissbluth to start my reading. I will probably read what Dr. Sears has to say as well.

So, before I read, here's what I think I should do:

1. Ian-He either needs to go to bed earlier or add his afternoon nap back in or both. In order to accomplish this, I need to be more organized about dinner so that dinner happens earlier and then the bedtime routine needs to follow shortly afterwards. Right now, I finish the bedtime routine sometime between 8:30 and 9:30 if I am not paying attention to time. I would like to change that to turning the lights out between 7:30 and 8:00 (8:30 at the latest).

2. Eva-July will be tough because she will have a lot of babysitting as I help 4 moms get ready for birth. However, I need to get her to bed earlier as well and work with the babysitters to put her to sleep during the day. In August, when we are back in the US, she'll have jet lag to deal with, but hopefully I can get her down for at least 1 good, long afternoon nap. She was taking two solid naps a day up until a few months ago. I don't know if she needs to go back to two naps a day, but she definitely still needs one nap. Also, I am going to try to move her into the crib and out of our bed. When I am with her more in the day, I will concentrate on breastfeeding her more during the day and reducing or eliminating night feedings. She doesn't eat very well and since I am gone from her a lot during the day for my studying and doula work, I do not want to eliminate night feedings unless I can feed more during the day or she starts eating/drinking more food/cow's milk during the day. I really think that full changes will have to wait until September when we are back from our trip and she has recovered from jet-lag, but I know that improvements can be made in the meantime.

I will let you know if the behavior improves as a result. Ian has always been intense but he was much more pleasant when he was sleeping more. Hoping more sleep or turning 4, will bring back the cool kid I used to know! A return of my sweet angel (with a little bit of spunk) would be nice as well.


Sarah said...

Personally, I like Weissbluth's no-nonsense approach a bit watered down with Pantley's 'every baby is different' approach. I've got things worked out pretty well right now, but I know that they could change any time. For us, consistency has been key. Maybe some kids are different, but G thrives on a predicatable schedule and now goes to sleep for naps and bedtime like a dream. I think SJ thinks I'm a bit too crazy about consistency, but hey, I suffered from deep depression during G's first year due to sleep deprivation, so being home by 7:00 in the evening to start winding down is no problem at all for me now. If I wake up tired, it's my own fault for staying up too late. I can't blame G anymore!

It's hard when you're dealing with different caretakers. You really have to make sure they follow your wishes in order to maintain consistency. That's one reason SJ's mom doesn't take care of G. She doesn't know how to put her for a nap. We also had a few talks with daycare about making sure they put her down by one o-clock, and sometimes we still remind them to put her down on time.

I hope you get it all worked out. My sister said that she thought the "threes" were much harder than the "twos," so maybe it just is a phase for Ian.

Mama Seoul said...

I like Weissbluth's book so far, but reading the Amazon reviews he says some pretty crazy things in the book. Still, I think the explanation of true collic, the description of sleep needs and a lot of the advice about how to change it is good. He even says that most kids don't need to cry, but there are some who might need to. I am not a cry-it-out fan, but for some mother-baby pairs, crying-it-out is better than the alternative if mom is cracking and has tried everything else.

Sarah said...

Yes, Weissbluth definitely alienates some of his readers by saying some weird stuff. But like you say, there's valuable info in there and he knows his stuff. I wish he would have written in a warmer, more caring tone, but at times he comes off sounding cold and harsh. I remember one part where he recommends turning off the monitors, and trapping climbing babies inside the crib with a sleep tent!

I did so much reading (in books and online) about sleep and from what I read, yes, some kids cry about sleep almost daily. I was not a cry-it-out advocate, and luckily G is not one that cries daily (hardly at all). After I was pushed to it, we had one night (two hours) of crying and that, amazingly, solved all of her sleep issues. And of course, we keep things very regular and consistent for her. Sometimes she fights me a bit at night, but once I put her in her crib she knows I'm not coming to get her, so she goes to sleep after a bit of babbling. I hear for some others, it's not so easy. I don't think I read the entire book (the parts that would apply to kids Ian's age), but maybe I should, so I'm armed and ready!

Louise N Cena said...

I tried the no-cry sleep solution. It worked so so for us. It was a good start, but I was too inpatient.

I went to a more "aggressive method" But as you know it has worked wonder. Sam now sleeps 12 hours a night. and about 2 hours in the daytime (down to one nap now).

I give you the website and you can read about it. It has helped alot of parents and babies. Its not so well known internationally, but she has the book in english as well.

The book is called a good night sleep. She also runs a forum where licensed sleep helpers helps you through the hard ship. It took us 4 days to get the 12 hour nights. Coming from 3-4 hours stretches for the first 10 months!!!

gskee said...

My daughter's been a sensitive sleeper from the get go. I have Weissbluth's book, read thru Dr. Sears website and, tried the Baby Whisperer method and in the end went with Ferber's Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. Ferber's book is actually very informative - it discusses sleep issues thruout a child's life. I was very skeptical approaching the book but was at my wit's end and so was willing to give it a shot. He actually discusses other ways to help your child to sleep and helps you to figure the best approach for your child. He doesn't advocate only a CIO method like Weissbluth and he's not as cold and harsh in tone either. I was pleasantly surprised by the book and will prob. refer to it for any future sleep issues.

Mama Seoul said...

I haven't finished Weissbluth's book, but it doesn't seem to me that he is advocating only CIO. He discusses other methods as well, but from my interpretation he is saying that the only thing that will work with certain kids is CIO. I do need to read Ferber as well because his name is synonymous with CIO. It would be interesting to know what he actually says.

I think that it is important not to do CIO with a very young baby and I believe that both Weissbluth and Ferber say not under 4 months.