Monday, January 05, 2009

The Sleep Study



Sammy asked me to write about how I get my babies to sleep the night. And, I think it is great that she asked me because I am usually the one polling my friends for advice on everything under the sun. I am a perpetual student, always ready to learn a new tid bit of knowledge that might become useful to me at any time in the next 100 years. I ask questions like there is no tomorrow. So, to be asked a question was kind of an honor to me!

Only, I don't know that I have any great advice to give you, sweet mama, Sammy. I gathered lots of information on this topic before my Joshua was born. I read Babywise and Dr. Sears in order to get both perspectives. I felt that I was somewhere in between the two theories. I didn't want to do the "family bed" thing. And, though I love, love, love routine and schedules, I wasn't up to following babywise to the "t." And, so before I had formulated a plan, he came ~ 2 weeks early ~ perfect and wonderful ~ he came. And, I didn't really follow any particular plan. Three babies later, I am still playing it by ear. If I had to recommend a book that I like, because I am a perpetual student and I love to read nonfiction books, I would recommend Dr. Weisbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Baby.

Anyway, this is what I do from start to finish summed up in however long it takes me to describe it. . .

But, I do have a disclaimer. . . I have never had a baby with colic or reflux or anything like that, so this will probably not help if your baby struggles with tummy issues.

In the hospital I sleep with my babes on my chest. I just think they need to feel my heartbeat! Their little world has been rocked. All that they know has been taken from them. And, the only things familiar to them are the voices of those closest to them and the sound of my heartbeat and the rhythm of my breathing, etc. Besides I want them to be warm and comfortable and feel super loved as they are adjusting to this new phase of life ~ outside the womb!

When we get home, they sleep in a pack and play beside my bed. And, I pretty much let them determine their schedule. I feed them every 2-3 hours during the day. This is one of the few things in life that I am very layed back and relaxed about. I don't watch the clock very closely. If my baby acts hungry after only an hour and a half, then I am going to feed him! And, I rarely wake a sleeping baby unless it cannot be avoided!

At night, the way I do things is pretty routine. I nurse them in bed. So, when I hear the little one begin to stir, I go ahead and get him (I don't want to let the baby cry and wake up Erik). Then, I put the little one in our bed, nurse him, usually he falls asleep, then I slip him back into the pack and play. And, I go back to sleep. Some of my babies stayed asleep when I layed them down, some liked for me to rock them for 5-10 minutes before I lay them down. By 3-4 months I usually don't need to rock anymore, they just go back to sleep on their own. They've learned the routine. And, if they haven't, if they continually wake up and cry when I put them back in the pack and play after feeding them, then I let them cry a bit. Sometimes they just need to work it out on their own, and then they will fall into a peaceful sleep.

With each child, I ask God to give me wisdom to know how to care for this individual child best ~ when to rock them and when to let them cry and for how long. And, you know what? He always pricks my heart and lets me know. I can't explain it, but He always lets me know just what to do.

Eventually all my guys do the same thing. . . First they wake up twice at night ~ once between 12 & 2, and then again one more time between 4 & 6. Then, a few months later they drop one of those feedings and wake up once between 3 & 4. And, eventually they drop that feeding. As long as they go back to sleep easily after I feed them, I don't care how long they draw out the nighttime feedings. Usually it is around 8 to 9 months for us. But, Joshua was done with nighttime feedings by 2 months. So, like I said, each child is different.
As far as nap time/daytime routines go, again I just go with the flow. I let them kind of do their own thing. If they act even halfway sleepy, I put them down. By four months, where I am now with Erik Daniel, he has fallen into a morning nap, an afternoon nap, and an evening nap routine. All my kids have done the same thing. Then, eventually the evening nap goes. And, at around 13-15 months the morning nap goes. But, I let their need for sleep determine when I drop the evening and morning naps. Every child is unique and has unique needs. And, that is why all of this may be of no help to you, Sammy. You have to do what is best for your little man and for you. Every situation is unique.

Babies/kids love routine and if you let them and guide them gently, they will fall into a routine perfect for both of you.

Routines and schedules are awesome, but if you try to be rigid or forceful, well, you will probably end up feeling like you are beating your head up against a wall. Because if there is one thing I have learned in my 5 1/2 years of motherhood, it is that kids are not textbook material. There is no magic formula that works for every child. And, you will never rely on God more than you will as a mother. Period. He is the only one with the answers we need as mothers. No other mother or book or friend or grandparent can tell you how to correctly rear your child. That is between you, your husband, and God. It is a journey, an adventure, that will lead us straight to God's heart if we choose to seek His face as we parent. Because, after all, He is the ultimate parent! And, He created your little one, so He knows his inner workings, and He loves you both very much!

You learn a lot about their little personalities as you wade through these sleepy waters. Some babes have great inner strength, and they want what they want when they want it! And, some babes are more layed back, compliant, bending and going with the flow. . .

But, if I could say one thing to you, it would be ~ enjoy. Whatever issues you and your little one face ~ enjoy him. Never again will you have one baby to dote on and get silly over. I long for moments alone with Erik Daniel, moments to hold him and talk softly to him. Those moments are few and far between when there are older siblings. Your baby will fall into a routine. He will mature and grow, and he will eventually sleep all night. So, enjoy the baby days. They go by so fast, and they are so sweet!!!!!! Rub his little fuzzy head, kiss his chubby cheeks, listen quietly to his precious coos and giggles, hold his tiny little feet in the palm of your hand, and tickle his cute little belly!! Babies are the best fun ever!!!!
Best of luck to you and your sweet one!

6 comments:

Sammy said...

Wow. This is wonderful. Thank you so much for answering my question with such an informative, helpful post! I do many of the same things you did with your infants, but I have been extremely hesitant to let him cry for even a minute. (Even though he is right next to me in the co-sleeper attached to our bed.) Every time he fusses, I pick him up. Perhaps I should try letting him work it out himself for a few minutes, as you suggest. Overall, he's a very "easy" baby and just goes with the flow. It's his mama who's anxious! :-)

Your overall point, to trust in God and ask Him for guidance in how to best respond to my baby, is spot-on.

Thank you, Erin! This is so helpful! And I'm going to go order that book now! :-)

Amy said...

Great advice! Very similar to what I did with my own babies. Except for the first few months both of mine had tummy issues and I had to walk them to sleep and sometimes even hold them because they would wake as soon as I put them down on their backs. It was a little frustrating back then, but as I look back I'm so glad I had that extra snuggle time with them. And, the book you recommended IS terrific! I've lent it out to so many of my friends and the book really worked for me. My kids are terrific sleepers!

picturesofhisgrace said...

Wow, Erin! Your sweet words almost make me want another baby. I miss those sweet times. Thanks for reminding me where my strength comes from in parenting. With my feet getting wet in the preteen world I needed that gentle reminder. Love you!

Amy said...

Thanks for the reminder to ask God to help. I'm going through some sleep issues with my 4 month old. Isn't God wonderful. He answers when we just ask.

Belle said...

I don't have a baby at this point in time. My baby is 8! But I do read your blog regularly (never comment!) and I just wanted to say that your answer was so sweet and positive. It's becoming a somewhat rare occurence for one mom to give a positive, nonjudgmental answer to another mom when asked a question. Thanks for being one of the rare gifts to motherhood!

Monkey Momma said...

I love this post. Thank you for reminding us all that our Father is the Creator of our child and know his inner-workings. What a great quote!

I had a baby with colic the first 10 weeks. It was so hard! And yet, we muddled through it. Before I know it, he's crawling and pulling up.

We did the crying out at about 8 months, when he started walking. He wanted to be rocked to sleep and with his strong will, we knew we'd create a monster if we didn't draw the line at some point. The crying out worked for us. Took about three nights, each night getting easier, but man, that first night was HARD, HARD, HARD.

Today? We have a darling 16 month old that has wonderful sleep habits. He knows that when jammies are on, we "ree boos" (read books), we brush teeth and go "nigh-nigh". He crawls into bed himself and nary a peep for 11 hours. It's been wonderful! This child is such a blessing to us.

I hope our next one is this easy!

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Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.

 

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