Time keeps on slippin’ (10m)

I have no idea where this last month has gone.  Well, actually I do.  It went to a baby who had an awful tummy bug for two weeks, and then has had Mama and Daddy chasing him as he decided to crawl after all – and is surprisingly good at it!

Kieran picked up a tummy bug right after Grampa John and Great Grandma Cat were out at the beginning of April.  He spent the better part of the next 10 days barfing.  (Paul joined him about 2 days in.)  It took a full two weeks before we were able to get him back on solid food and regular bottles.  It was incredibly hard to watch him go through that, obviously feeling so awful with projectile vomiting and everything.  Three trips to the doctor (Ped and Urgent Care) to make sure he was really OK were necessary – especially after two days of chalky white diapers.  (Dr. Google and our baby books said that could indicate something VERY wrong with his liver, so that freaked us out but good.  Turned out his body just wasn’t digesting the little bit of formula he was taking in , so we were seeing dehydrated formula in his diapers.)  Two weeks after it started, the tummy bug FINALLY went away.  Kieran’s been eating like a champ to make up for it!

Apparently feeling the need to *prove* that he felt better mid-month, Kieran decided to start crawling.  He’d been pulling up on things when Grampa John and Great Grandma Cat were here, but still not crawling.  We’d assumed he would just skip crawling and go straight to walking, but we were wrong!  One Sunday morning (April 17th, to be precise) Kieran windmilled his arms, fell forward and started crawling.  He hasn’t looked back since.  He’s shockingly fast and can crawl surprisingly far before taking a breather.

(Kieran had other ideas during a diaper change one April evening, so Mama acquiesced to his demands to be put on the floor. Fortunately, he decided that he was too tired to go far and came back on his own, having realized that a cool breeze up the bum isn’t what he wanted that evening after all.)

For the most part, he likes to follow us around – pulling up on our legs when he gets to us.  This is a little difficult when I’m in the kitchen trying to make dinner.  Kieran has also discovered the dog door as well.  This is problematic – as I’m convinced he’s going to take a header through the door and topple over on his gigantic noggin any day.  I think for the time being we’re going to have to block the dog door and just let the dog and cats in and out manually.  (If anyone has any suggestions or advice on how to manage a dog door, I’d appreciate hearing it.)  Baby gates were ordered and arrived today, so that’s the project for this weekend.

Going along with pulling up on everything, we knew it was just a matter of time before Kieran started pulling up in his crib.  We’d been meaning to lower his mattress for weeks to head that problem off at the pass – but busy (and then sick) weekends kept stuffing up those plans.  Fortunately, Kieran waited to start pulling up until just last week.  So last weekend Paul lowered Kieran’s crib to the lowest setting, which works just great.  And just in time, as about half the time we go into get Kieran after a nap or in the morning, he’s standing up waiting for us. Kieran has been all over the place in his crib for several weeks now, even pulling upon all fours or sitting.  It’s annoyingly common now to hear him fighting a nap and to go check on him only to find him standing up, whinging.  Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about him toppling over the side now at least.

On the subject of naps though: sleeping at home has gotten pretty good in the last month.  (Pardon me while I go knock on some wood.)  Kieran is sleeping through the night more often than not.  And by sleeping through I mean pulling 9.5-11 hours straight from his 6:30pm bedtime.  If he wakes up around 4:00ish, I’ll go in to change his diaper and give him a bottle, after which he goes back to sleep for 1-3 hours more.  I’ve actually been able to get him to 7:00am!!  Paul is a HUGE fan of this obviously, since that means he gets a real full night’s sleep.  There’s still the occasional 5:15 wakeup, but usually Kieran’s staying down until around 6:00 at least.  He takes 2-3 naps a day on weekends.  During the week though, it’s not so good.  We don’t know why he’s not napping at school for the last 2-3 weeks; or more precisely why he’s not napping for his main teachers at school.  The couple of days he’s had substitute teachers all day, he’s napped like a champ: two 45-90 minute naps each day.  We’ve talked to the teachers and director about some concerns we had and that seems to have helped.  Here’s hoping Kieran gets back to napping at school because our evenings are fairly well ruined when he hasn’t napped all day.  I have to start our bedtime routine within 15 minutes of walking in the door if Kieran hasn’t napped at school.  Which really blows, because we get no time for dinner or baths or play.  Ah well, I know naps change as the kid grows, so maybe he’ll settle into just one HUGE afternoon nap in the next few weeks.  That would be pretty awesome, actually.

Kieran continues to talk up a storm, but nothing specific.  He talks to himself when he’s playing, like he’s narrating what he’s doing.  He mimics sounds we make, and is getting really good with “Mom” and “Mama” – but I’m not ready to say that he’s talking about or to me quite yet.  He talks to himself in his crib in the mornings – sometimes we hear him wake up but he lays in there for upwards of 30+ minutes just hanging out and talking to his hands and feet.

Kieran shows off his Dinosaur impression as he plays with a letter from a friend. (Also, check out the awesome Easter gift Auntie Cassie sent from Belgium! What a cool gift box!)

Kieran is 10 months old as of yesterday, so we’ll be taking his 10 month photos today. (He was too sick for his 9 month photos, but there were plenty of pictures taken during the month, so it’s not like we won’t remember what he looked like, ya know?) 10 months already. How is that possible?

Sleep Training / Nap Awareness (15w1d)

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.

And in the meantime, he’s so stinking cute that it makes up for any crankypants moments he may have!
Couch Potato?Helping Mama with the diaper laundrySweet little (wet) face.  Seriously, the drool is epic these days.

Sleep Training / Cry it Out (14w5d)

Kieran has never been a good sleeper. Overnight he’s been OK, dependable for the most part with regular wakings that have gotten increasingly longer apart as he’s gotten older. He has been an increasingly early riser though, much to Paul’s annoyance. (I catch Kieran’s overnight wake-ups so Paul can sleep through the night and be able to get up with Kieran in the morning and be with him all day while I’m at work.)

Kieran has always been a crappy napper though. And since I’ve gone back to work, it’s only gotten worse. Most days, he naps once, if at all – or does a couple of 20 minute naps throughout the day which don’t seem to leave him feeling rested. What this leaves us with is a VERY tired baby who is on a downward slide from about 2:30pm on. We were initially aiming for a 7:00pm bedtime, but recently he’s been going to bed earlier and earlier (like 5:30pm) because we can’t keep him up any longer and frankly, wouldn’t want to.

Enter Sleep Training. We’ve just gone along with whatever works up until now because all the books say that before 3-4 months, babies don’t have the physiological maturity to be on a schedule – if they sleep “through the night” before 3 months, it’s the luck of the draw and you have an especially easy baby. (Mind you, “through the night” just means a 5-6 hour stretch before 6 months – which isn’t particularly helpful when that 6 hours starts at 5:30pm.) We’re also fighting against the fact that even though you’d never know it now, Kieran *was* 3 weeks early – and that makes a difference in his growth and maturity for milestone things like this. But Kieran is 3.5 months old now and his lack of naps is really making life difficult – so we’re diving in.

We’ve settled on the methods prescribed by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. His technique is usually referred to as “Cry It Out” although he’s the first to say that different babies will respond differently to this. He actually espouses three levels of ‘extinction’: Let Cry, Maybe Cry and No Cry. He recommends ‘Let Cry’ if Mama and Daddy can handle it, as it works the fastest. (Dr. Ferber’s method – commonly referred to as “Ferberizing” – most resembles Dr. Weissbltuh’s ‘Maybe Cry’ option.) Dr. Weissbluth emphasizes that helping our baby to sleep is just like taking care of any of his other needs: we feed him when he’s hungry, change him when he’s dirty, play with him when he’s awake, and help him sleep when he’s tired. That rings true with us.

According to Dr. Weissbluth, at this age, Kieran can’t really handle more than 2 hours or so of wakefulness before he needs to sleep again, preferably for 1-2 hours at a shot. Starting now, and over the next 1-2 months, Kieran will naturally start to develop a mid-morning and afternoon nap: both of which we can and should encourage on Kieran’s personal schedule. The morning nap will develop first, followed by the afternoon one.

Problem is, Kieran doesn’t want to nap. He’d greatly prefer to stay up and play with Daddy. (or look at his toys or listen to us talk… or do anything but sleep.) This has lead to a chronically overtired baby. This starts (and perpetuates) a vicious cycle which has (we believe) caused Kieran’s night-time sleeping to deteriorate. Dr. Weissbluth explains it best: “…When [baby] becomes overtired – from nap deprivation or any other reason – [his] body produces stimulating hormones to fight the fatigue. This chemical stimulation interferes with sleeping well. This is why sleeping well during the day will improve night sleeping and why, conversely, nap deprivation causes night waking.” Kieran has recently been waking up after only 2.5 hours at night after his first big sleep, as opposed to the 4 hours we had a month ago – and his 5:00am wake-up has been pushing closer and closer to 4:30am.

So: this weekend we committed to sleep training – working to put ourselves and Kieran on a schedule for naps and nighttime sleeping as Kieran’s natural nap proclivities emerge. The hardest part of this is putting Kieran down for naps. Regardless of how tired he may be, he doesn’t wanna nap and he protests. Volubly. We are prepared for this though, and will steel ourselves to not go in and get our crying baby for at least 20 minutes, and up to an hour. The hope is that he will cry himself out and actually sleep – well before that hour mark. (Or to put it in a nicer fashion: he’ll learn to self-soothe and put himself to sleep on his own.) So after making sure he’s full and dry: we walk and rock and sing and soothe until he’s drowsy but awake, place him in the crib and then walk out of the room.

So far today, we’ve been lucky: the protest crying has been limited to 7 minutes, and two 4-minute bouts. But, the naps haven’t been great. 45 minutes for the first one, and 55 minutes for the second. A third nap attempt was thwarted after 20 minutes of solid crying/shrieking. We opted to move the operation over to Grampy’s house where we’re having dinner and try again. I’m typing this now from their living room, listening to the crying from the guest room and watching the clock…. We’re approaching 30 minutes or protesting now. (sigh)

Here’s hoping that enforcing naps during the day will help him sleep better at night, which will, in turn, help him nap better. Helping Kieran learn to put himself to sleep will be one of the best things we can teach him, for life. (OK, I think I’ve drunk a little too much of the Kool-Aid.) Paul has his work cut out for him during the day, watching for Kieran’s sleepy signals – before he gets overtired. I have no illusions of who has the much harder job for the next week or two. Paul wins, hands-down.