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.