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Sleep… again



Sabine's first nap in the crib one month ago. It lasted about 5 minutes - just long enough for Mama to pee.

Sabine’s first nap in the crib one month ago. It lasted about 5 minutes – just long enough for Mama to pee.

Oh, I do not know how you stay at home Mamas handle baby care and blogging. I am still struggling to find my rhythm. I miss writing daily SO MUCH but find it nearly impossible to make time. Much of this is because it is incredibly difficult to get Sabine to sleep. And to keep her asleep.

I jinxed things a few weeks back when I boasted on Facebook about what an awesome sleeper my kid was. Since my last sleep post Sabine has made one very promising step towards good sleep, given me a handful of great nights and a pile of bad nights. Let’s praise her first: Sabine has transitioned from the Rock ‘n Play to the crib!

You guys, the initial sleep trouble was caused largely by her not wanting to be in the Rock ‘n Play in our room! She prefers sleeping swaddled in her crib at night. She will take some naps in the crib and occasionally conks out in the Rock ‘n Play or in the swing I caved into buying. Most naps, though, are taken in mama’s arms, which is sweet, but really does not allow me to nap, or blog, or clean, or cook, or pee, or anything. But nights are in the crib and THAT feels like a huge accomplishment.

Now the bad. This week has been the worst yet. For four nights in a row we were up every 1 to 2 hours. By yesterday I was a desperate, sleep deprived nut and called the pediatrician to rule out any potential sickness.

The good news is that Sabs is healthy AND growing like a rock star (more on breast feeding soon) and is up to 11 pounds 6 ounces so she is clearly not losing sleep due to hunger. She also does not show any signs of reflux.

I gotta take a minute to say that it Β gives me ridiculous pride to announce my baby is no longer lighter than my cat… at least my Maine Coon. Fermi is still tremendously fat and has Sabine beat by quite a bit! πŸ™‚

Sabine napping in her crib two weeks ago. She lasted about 30 minutes this time. Had I remembered to swaddle her I think it would have lasted longer! (Mer, this is my favorite of all her sleepers!)

Sabine napping in her crib two weeks ago. She lasted about 30 minutes this time. Had I remembered to swaddle her I think it would have lasted longer! (Mer, this is my favorite of all her sleepers!)

Anyways, the doctor and I analyzed the past few nights. I get Sabine down by nursing her to sleep, meaning she spends anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes swaddled up and chewing on my boob, occasionally chugging some milk and fighting sleep like it were a demon. When I finally get her down she is back up in an hour or two, needing comfort boob. Only once during the night does she eat well. The rest of the time she just nibbles at the breast, clearly using it to fall back asleep and not as nourishment.

We both agreed that it sounds like she could be hitting the 4 month sleep regression a little early, which while the doctor said was unusual is not unheard of. From what I understand in the Wonder Weeks and Troublesome Tots, at about four months babies develop “object permanence,” meaning they wake up and realize the Mama that had put them to sleep is no longer there. Nor is her boob. Cue frantic crying and writhing in bed. Β This fits Sabine pretty darn well the past few days. She sees me and smiles, I walk away and she cries. She falls asleep in Mama’s loving arms with happy boob in her mouth and wakes up all alone in a crib without a boob in sight. I’d cry too.

Sabine last weekend. This is what an over-tired, poor sleeping Bean looks like. No good. My sweet friend, CR, was so patient with her, though!

Sabine last weekend. This is what an over-tired, poor sleeping Bean looks like. No good. My sweet friend, CR, was so patient with her, though!

So what are my options? Sleep training or waiting it out. Neither of which sound good to me. Personally, I feel that for my high-need baby major Cry It Out sleep training is too harsh. I also don’t think I have what it takes to do the no cry methods, which seem painfully slow and require an attention to detail that no sleep deprived Mama should be expected to maintain. And I’m too Type A to play the wait it out game.

So Sabine’s awesome doctor and I drafted a gentle starter sleep training program. First we are starting a bedtime routine – bath with play time (Sabine LOVES her baths), jammies and book (if she wants a book, sometimes she wants to skip that step) and then boob. I’m going to work on putting Sabine to bed while drowsy but awake. Some nights it might work really well, and others it might backfire royally and we will let her nurse to sleep. If she wakes up 1-2 hours after I put her down either myself or the Professor will offer comfort in the crib with belly rubs, head rubs and gentle talking. If she keeps crying I will offer her the breast. I don’t want to deprive a potentially hungry baby, but I also don’t want to jump to the boob right off the bat.

Naps will focus heavily on putting her down awake, using swaddles, loud white noise and at times her swing. I want her to learn how to nap on her own and hope that in time that new skill will trickle down to learning how to put herself back to sleep when she wakes up at night.

We will see how this goes for the next few months. If we get to six months or so and are still having terrible nights I will look into a more rigorous sleep training program and reevaluate my feelings on Cry It Out.

I long for the newborn nights, when sleep was easy, long and deep enough that a cat could meow and not wake up baby!

I long for the newborn nights, when sleep was easy, long and deep enough that a cat could meow and not wake up baby!

Last night was our first night of new techniques and we had some success and some failure. She went to bed drowsy but awake and after some minor fussing fell asleep. WIN! She woke up three hours later and nursed and I put her back down drowsy but awake. She lasted 15 minutes and started crying. The Professor went in and offered comfort and she fell asleep almost instantly. WIN!

Then she continued to wake up every 2.5 to 3 hours and would not settle without a little comfort boob. But you know what? I’m proud of the wins while am prepared for more bad nights. Hopefully in time we will find a nice happy medium of waking only once a night to feed – something I’m happy to do for as long as she needs it.

So there you have it, an update on my poor sleeper πŸ™‚ How are your babies sleeping? For those still seeking their babies, how do you feel about baby sleep? What wise words have you heard from your grandmothers that you plan to try with your babies?



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  1. September 27, 2013

    those are big wins!!! D is sleeping good now, but honestly, 4 month sleep regression kicked our butts. My best friend’s daughter though, had absolutely no sleep regression! D went from sleeping through the night to waking up every 2 hours and crying. Weeks 14-19 were really tough for us, but after that, it’s been amazing. We have some slight sleep regression right now since D is learning to crawl, but that’s normal. Bravo, momma! You’re doing amazing!

  2. APE #
    September 27, 2013

    One day you will look back and be amazed that you ever went through this. It all changes all the time and so quickly. I have a 3 1/2 year old who normally always sleeps through the night…except for the few bad dreams here and there, or the need to pee. We started a bedtime routine right away, and have just stuck to it adjusting it as his age/needs change. We did do the cry-it-out method, but not until he was closer to 4-6 months. First I would let him cry for about 3 minutes and then go in and comfort. Then the next time I would wait longer, like 5-7 minutes, and make it longer each time. But he usually fell asleep before I could get back in there a third time. I felt like it worked great…it was hard, but worth it for us in the end. I have a great sleeper now. Also, I went in about once a night to nurse and then after 6 months he quit waking up for it. By a year old we only nursed after i got home from work, right before bedtime (I laid him down drowsy but awake too) and first thing in the morning. He self-weaned right after he turned one. I was sad. πŸ™‚

  3. September 27, 2013

    That’s great that your doctor helped you work out a gentle plan that you’re comfortable with. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works for you!

    Seamus has been sleeping fairly well, but has had a rough week this week. I don’t know if it’s because he had a cold or if he’s experiencing the sleep regression thing. It could be a bit of both. I have to confess that I’m probably doing things wrong with him because I still feed or rock him to sleep 98% of the time (occasionally he’ll drift off on his own while he’s in his playpen). I just really don’t have the mental/emotional stamina to try to train him to get to sleep on his own right now. Once I get him to sleep I’ll move him to his playpen or crib and he does well for the most part, sleeping for 5 or 6 hour stretches. His mother, however, could definitely benefit from sleep training for herself. I’ve become extremely anxious about sleep and have a terrible time drifting off because I’m constantly worrying about how much sleep I’m going to get. He’s a very noisy sleeper who thrashes and grunts all through the night (and sleeps right through it) and every little noise wakes me up. Even when he’s quiet, my body has become accustomed to waking up every couple of hours and the result is that I’m an exhausted mess while my child is well-rested and jolly. People have suggested that I turn off the baby monitor so I don’t hear his nighttime noises but I’m not sure if that would help. Then I’d just lay awake wondering how he’s doing. :S Have I mentioned that I’m neurotic?

    I don’t know what to do. It’s like my kid has sleep figured out but I don’t. *sigh*

  4. September 27, 2013

    I was reading this post, holding Bryson as he drifted off, and thought, “put him in his crib you idiot!” So I did. It took some work. He’s in there now – has been 20 minutes. WIN. (And I just heard and saw him wake up on the monitor. SHIT!)

    So sleep is going SUPER well… because he’s in the newborn rocker thingy (the thing you have). I am scared to DEATH to move him to his crib, but I’m going to try tonight. He was doing great in the crib for two-three nights (I don’t remember), but then the monitor broke and he got sick, and it was back in the rocker for him. Honestly, I just like having his with us. Matthew left our room at 5 weeks and that was too soon for me. Bryson only wakes up once a night after I wake him for a dream feed around 11:00. I feed him at 8:00, he stays up until he falls asleep on B, we put him in the rocker around 10:00, and I stay up to get him up around 11-11:30. Then he wakes up once to eat around 3 and then sleeps until 6-7. This is WAY better than Matthew was. Matthew was a NIGHTMARE. If Bryson wants to get up just once a night for several months – who cares! Matthew got up 2-4 times a night as he got older. It was dreadful.

    We did Ferber with Matthew after trying all the “gentle” solutions. The gentle solutions made his sleeping WORSE. HOLY HELL! We went from 1-2 wakings a night at 6 months to 3-4 at 8 months. Elizabeth Pantly caused us the worst of it and “Pantly” was a swear word in our house for a long time after that. Ferber was all that worked, and it took for-freaking-ever (14 nights). But it worked. The night before he turned 10 months old, he was sleeping through the night (and not just 5-7 hours like the books say – I mean 9:00 – 6:00 AM). I posted throughout the whole ordeal and they’re categorized under sleep.

    I will not Ferberize Bryson just yet, but will around 6 months if he’s not sleeping well. We waited too damned long last time. It’s really hard – it is – but we have no doubts it was the right thing to do. But Even Ferber would tell you Sabine and Bryson are too young right now.

    (And in the time it took me to crank out this comment, Bryson is back to sleep. Huzzah!)

    • September 27, 2013

      Just a quick note. I was skyping with B who’s in our basement right now working – Bryson was crying and I wanted him to know that I could hear him, but that I’m coaching him to help himself to sleep. I said that it’s hard, but needs to be done. B HATED Ferber – HATED it. But when it was done, he said it was the best thing we did. When I was just skyping with him, he said, “best to help him now while he’s little. It sucked doing it last time, but it was best.” I’m not saying Ferber works for everyone – just that it’s the only damned thing that worked for Matthew. I think the sleep shuffle lady (and that’s what you’re sort of doing) would work for Bryson.

  5. September 27, 2013

    When our babe developed object permanence she regressed hard and was up every 90 minutes. We had a bedtime routine that included a CD of lullabies for the 5 year old and it stopped on its own. Then we discovered that she woke the first time every night when the dang thing stopped playing so we have it on repeat all night now, and much more sleeping happens. She does wake from naps when the CD is starting over sometimes but honestly an 80 minute nap isn’t such a bad thing if we can manage it. I’d also suggest getting her a soothing thing – we succeeded with getting Little Monster to take a pacifier at her 4ish month sleep regression when she’d hated it before and popping that back in when she wakes up is nice. We now let her fuss for 5 minutes if she just seems grumpy but not terribly upset, and if she’s still awake at the end of 5 minutes, my spouse gives her the pacifier back and then leaves. She wanted to play in the middle of the night and if we just walk off, she is less about play and settles in with the pacifier to sleep again. If she’s safe to have a blanket (can roll both directions) she might like that. Our baby sure adores rubbing her soft blanket all over her face as part of her little going to sleep routine (face in blanket, grin, pull blanket to chin, roll onto side, she’s 7.5 months now).

    For us, it works better to have the non-milk-supply person do the bedtime routine so she doesn’t go straight from boob to bed. It helps us put her down drowsy but not asleep. I’m not sure that would work for everyone but I give baby her kiss goodnight and leave the girls’ room with her awake a little bit at least.

    Good luck for something that works for you! If whatever you try doesn’t work, try the next thing. You’ll find your Bean-specific successful strategy eventually.

  6. stupidstork #
    September 27, 2013

    Good Lord she’s too cute. She looks like a doll. πŸ˜‰

  7. September 28, 2013

    Huge wins for you, and gosh darn if she’s not aborable even when she’s cranky and sleep deprived! I don’t want to jinx anything but despite the fussiness we’ve experienced during the day, our night sleeping has been pretty good. Although one big component may be that I’m not breast feeding. We do have our snuggle moments when shes on the bottle but the longest our meal sessions last is 30 minutes and she doesn’t associate the bottle with the intense physical bond that breast feeding provides. Its something Iam sad we are missing, but I think it might separate her association of me with her food. Right now she naps sporadically during the day in 30-45 minute spurts usually in her stroller or swing. I feed on demand and generally if she’s tired during the day she will fall asleep in my arms at thebottle and I will put her down. I love when she sleeps in my arms but have been pretty firm about moving her when she sleeps (mainly so I can wash a dish!) If she doesnt fall asleep after a bottle I m ake sure she is put down in her swing every 90 minutes or so, and I can generally rock her to sleep (sometimes I hold her arms down when I do this x which soothes her). At night, we start a bed time routine at 6-630. She gets a bath and after that I let her coo and play on the changing table until she fusses which means…swaddle time! We also use a Bum Genius diaper at night with a thick soaker pad–they are AMAZING! They keep her dry for 7 hours and i think this really helps her sleep. I will then feed her and pop her in the stroller and take a walk which lulls her to sleep. She will usually conk out at 715 and she sleeps until 1 or 2am. I don’t change or unswaddle her at this time and feed her 4 ounces and she’s back to sleep until 4, feed and change, and then officially gets up around 6. Every baby is different, and it sounds like you are slowly but surely finding a routine that works, but babies are so unpredictable sometimes!

    • September 28, 2013

      I should also note that at night she sleeps in the co-sleeper by our bed bit we never put her in that during naps. I think it may help her associate “night sleep” with day sleep.

  8. September 28, 2013

    She’s gorgeous. I think it helps if daddy does the resettles. Everyone gets more sleep when the shusher doesn’t smell like dinner.

    I don’t agree with any kind of CIO. That’s just us. We pat and hug jman to sleep each night, it takes about ten minutes, and it is nice daddy bonding time. I doubt we’ll still be doing it when he’s 18. When he was smaller we always swaddled, and always did the awake but drowsy thing. Now he always goes into his cot asleep. When he is due for a nap he stops playing, walks up to us, says up, we hold him, he puts his head down, he whinges for about two minutes, then sings himself to sleep. Don’t get too caught up in the “if you do this you’ll be stuck with it” stuff, people just say that to sell CIO books. Babies don’t need to be “trained”, they need to be responded to. Trust your gut, not the “we shoulds”. πŸ™‚

    • Shinara #
      September 29, 2013

      “Smell like dinner!” Hahahahaaaaa…that’s me. Oh, and my husband thinks it’s great to play with the babe in the evening. He gets him all riled up and excited to the point he’s cranky about going to sleep. great…

      I haven’t checked your blog in a while. It’s great to see your little chickadee doing extremely well. Caring for a babe is like learning a new language. I discovered when my little one pumps his leg/legs like crazy while nursing, it means burp me, change me, or give me the other boob. It could also mean play with me…or I want to sleep. Sometimes I do all of those things in a row and discover all he wanted was to go to sleep….zzzzz

    • jak #
      September 30, 2013

      totally second everything said here.

      smells like dinner, i never thought of, but that is brilliant and could probably help my chupacabra on some occasions… will try dad settling more for sure now!!

  9. Karaleen #
    September 29, 2013

    I had a good sleeper and a bad sleeper. Thank goodness the bad sleeper came 2nd or I think an only child would have been the case for us. I completely empathize with you. I think your establishment of a bedtime routine is great. I always anchored my baby’s day with the same wake up time and then a very soothing bedtime routine with bath, quiet snuggle time and nursing in a dim room. Then baby went down drowsy. It takes a bit of time once you start the routine….but then little bits of improvement took place. I actually think the plan you have sounds really good. You recognize she doesn’t need a feeding each time so that is good. And the soothing without taking her out of her bed is also really good. I think your first night sounds quite successful. She will eventually fuss and maybe just wait a tad bit longer each time before you go to her and she may naturally start the self soothing process. I think you are on the right path. And….she is mighty cute…..pouty face and all!

  10. Jillian #
    September 29, 2013

    Every baby is different, needs different things, but all babies have one thing in common…they need to be taught how to sleep. Don’t think of it as making them cry, think of it as one of the many thing you will have to teach your child, this being one of the most important. Falling asleep and staying asleep on their own is a skill. I have 4 children and my last child is 17 weeks old. We did some form of CIO with all of them and this 4th time was the easiest. I did it at 13.5 weeks and it took 3 days. Now I put her in her crib at 7pm wide awake and she falls asleep on her own with in minutes…I sleepy nurse her at 10 just to get her through the night and then I won’t go in to her until 5. Anytime after that I will…Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth is a great book.

  11. jak #
    September 30, 2013

    those are great wins! very much so. you should be proud of the bean! but dont put too much stake in looking for phases and milestones and trying to find them. that just becomes self-fulfilling and sometimes in a bad way. she’s doing great and thriving. but you, you need to carve yourself time to pee at least!!….

    CIO carries the danger of teaching your kid they cant rely on you. if you dont believe cio can condition a baby not to rely or trust, look to the medical literature on babies of heroin addicts. heroin is not a teratogen. it causes its affects after baby is born. heroin moms cant respond to their babies because they are zombies. their babies stop trying to get their attention and give up crying. heroin babies wont even cry when they are hurting. it crushes me to think about babies that are so alone. and cio is a piece of this. and i’m not doing this to my kid. i want to hear everything he has to say. and crying is communication with me. i’m going to listen to him. and the pay off has been that i totally understand him. and he is totally a confident baby. our daycare provider told us he is the happiest and most good-natured baby she has ever cared for and this was after his very first week. he didnt even hit a full cry on his first day, because he didnt need to, because our responding to him taught him to effectively communicate his needs rather than scream, and rather than give up altogether. in short, we “Fockerized” him πŸ™‚ and its paying off :))

    also, breastfed babies can need little top-offs during the night – it’s a blood sugar issue. until they get a little more weight on them (more muscle and liver storage for glycogen, etc), they are just going to need more frequent feedings (although i’m not sure why the bean is taking an hour or more to eat?). top-offs and ease of dealing with them are why we co-sleep. baby in the bed between mom and dad. if he’s fussy after eating (which is almost never), dad can take him and snuggle him tight (bear hug swaddle) until he goes to sleep. if he’s hungry, i just feed him right there and mostly sleep through it. some nights i dont even remember how many times i feed him, but he doesnt cry and mostly goes right back to sleep and i am refreshed enough when i wake up that my high stress full time job is totally doable and i am not a mental mess.

    anyway, that’s just my plugs about anti-CIO and co-sleeping, for what its worth! but you guys are actually doing great, and the bean is sprouting!!!

  12. October 2, 2013

    I love that you are blogging about Sabine’s sleep. It’s sort of my obsession (not your daughter’s sleep, but MY daughter’s sleep, hah). I’m certainly no doctor or sleep expert, but my opinion as a new mother is that we all need to continue talking about our children’s sleep, in the sense that it helps normalize our children’s behavior. I *really* think that if our baby wakes up frequently or gets up in the middle of the night to play, or wants to nurse all the time, that that is all normal. Somehow, we tend to pathologize our child’s sleep if it doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter description of what they are “supposed” to be doing or are “capable” of doing. I.E., “by 4 months old, your child is capable of going 9 hours without a feeding.” But that doesn’t mean that is what she’s going to do, or that it’s normal or the thing she is supposed to do. I think the only pathological thing is the disruption it causes in *our* lives because it’s difficult for *us* to deal with. I just don’t necessarily think that some of the issues I have faced with Tabitha are things that need a remedy. She’s not ill. She’s 4 months old and growing constantly and a baby. Duh. I don’t know who made me think that babies are supposed to be perfect sleepers because hot dog if she’s anything like my husband, we’re in total trouble. Many ADULTS have serious sleep problems. Every person is different. I really still feel like do what works for you. Your plan sounds wonderful. I hope it helps πŸ™‚

    • jak #
      October 3, 2013


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