This has been an interesting week so far. We quickly re-christened our efforts from Sleep Training to “Nap Awareness” as that’s really what it’s become at this point.
By really working hard to be aware of Kieran’s status (and how long he’s been awake during a given ‘cycle’) we’ve been able to start something of a routine of naps. Dr. Weissbluth (he of the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child fame) and just about every other sleep doctor out there agree that at Kieran’s age (birth or gestational) he can’t handle more than about 2 hours awake at a time.
So Paul has been diligent about watching Kieran for sleepy signals: rubbing eyes, yawning, slowing down in general, staring off into the distance, etc. Taking cues from Kieran when he’s getting sleepy has made it possible (not necessarily easy) to get him down for naps during the day. He’s sleeping for only 30-45 minutes at a time though, which is FAR from ideal. Kieran wakes grumpy/fussy most of the time, although he usually gets his happy back within 10 minutes or so.
Problem is, these 3-4 short naps a day don’t seem to be helping anything. Kieran’s disposition hasn’t changed really. We’re hitting a 5:30 bedtime, even though we’re not aiming for it – just impossible to keep Kieran up any later than that. He’s sleeping 4.5-6 hours starting at 5:30ish, and then ~3 hours after a bottle and fresh diaper. He’s up again around 2:30am or so for another bottle and diaper change. (I’m certain he needs these bottles as I can hear his tummy growling when I pick him up from the crib.) The last sleep of the night is getting harder and harder though. Kieran fights going back down even though he’s yawning and rubbing his eyes. And, he’s only sleeping 45 minutes to an hour – I’m ending up having to settle him back down to sleep between 3:30 and 4:00 to try to get him closer to a 5:00am wakeup with Paul. This morning wakeup was at 4:37am.
So the night looks like this:
5:30pm – Bedtime
10:30pm / 11:00pm – up for bottle and diaper change with Mama
11:00m / 11:30pm – Back down to sleep
2:30am / 3:00am – up for bottle and diaper change with Mama
3:00am / 3:30am – back down to sleep
3:45am / 4:15am – tummy rubbing and pacifier to try to extend sleep to or past 5:00am
4:30am / 5:00am – WAKEUP with Daddy
There hasn’t been any “crying it out” though. There’s sometimes some protest crying before naps or bedtime, but that’s usually less than 2-3 minutes. If he continues longer than that, one of us goes in and rubs his tummy while offering his pacifier until he falls asleep. But even the protest crying is only like 10% of the time. We quickly figured out that if he’s gonna cry/whine/complain past 8-10 minutes, he’s not gonna sleep.
We’re taking it one day at a time right now. It seems that Kieran is *just* starting to get to where a nap schedule is feasible. We just hope we can figure out a way to lengthen these naps soon – it’s hard to have a little guy who seems tired and cranky even with so much napping. Keeping him up doesn’t seem to be the answer – but neither does leaving him in the crib to cry when he wakes up before an hour. How do you get a baby to sleep *longer*?
A friend of mine in Canada questioned why this subject isn’t even touched on in Baby Care classes. There’s so many conflicting theories out there, and it’s something that EVERY new parent struggles with. Why on earth aren’t we given some training about this, especially when we’re already seeking out training on other ways to care for our new babies? We plan on asking our Pediatrician for guidance when we’re at Kieran’s 4 month well-check in early November, but that seems like a very long way off right now.
We do realize how lucky we are though. For the most part, Kieran is a very happy little guy. He isn’t colicky at all, which is a HUGE blessing. He never had his days and nights mixed up. We’re just at a little bit of a rough patch right now, but I’m sure it will be over soon enough.