Thursday, March 17, 2011

Future Allyson regarding your next Baby's Sleep

Ok so this post is mostly for me to read when I am nine months pregnant with my next baby...

I don't know why it is but I seem to have completely forgotten everything I swore I learned from having my first baby...I remember saying, oh I won't make this same mistake, or I will be better at this- but for some reason I forgot all these rules and promises I made myself - especially regarding sleep. Now I have tried to figure out how I could really forget the first five months of my sons life - not his cuteness or even fun things we did, but how I actually went about taking care of him and raising him - I am a complete blank. I certainly can't remember how I used to put him to sleep or what sort of eat/sleep routine we had. Then last night as I was laying in bed at 4am with my baby Kyla screaming in the background it hit me, I can't remember because I was so sleep deprived then that even the most foundational parenting principles were not retained - its like now I am so sleep deprived that sometimes it takes me a good five minutes to remember what month it is, a few days ago I literally could not remember the word for lettuce. As I laid there last night I really tried hard to remember Calvin's infancy and some distinct memories came back to me. I think I forgot some of them because I like to block out negative in my life - but I do remember he was also a horrible sleeper and that I got maybe 3 hours of sleep a night the first three months of his life. I also remember reading parenting books like crazy, such as Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and loving them and swearing I would put all the principles into practice from the beginning with my next baby...did I do it, NO. In fact I reread the book before I had Kyla but I still didn't do it. So here are some things I am telling myself, in the future, in simple terms so that even in a sleep deprived state I can understand them.

1. It is a totally and complete lie that you can not spoil a newborn - the books tell you up and down but I am convinced they just say that because they don't want mothers to neglect their children. As my sister Lucinda so eloquently put it, "that is a load of Fooie". From the very first day you better start your routines and rules cause babies get used to things quickly and then there is no going back without a lot of pain. Of course you have to hold your baby and love your baby and respond to your baby, but my definition of spoiling in this case is - getting your baby used to something and him/her preferring it over anything else.

2. Never, NEVER feed your baby while in bed. Now we all know we shouldn't let a baby fall asleep while nursing - that is impossible by the way cause they always fall asleep while nursing - but a more important rule is: YOU never fall asleep while your baby is nursing. Why, because then before you know it you wake up -three hours have passed and your baby has come to realize she loves sleeping next to her warm comfy mom and snacking whenever she wants and I got news for you, her bassinet is not going to cut it after that. It is so hard because we are so tired and we just don't want to get up and go to the rocking chair, we want to pull the baby out of the bassinet, lay in bed and we promise we will put her right back - yeah right!

3. Don't even start the baby in a bassinet, just start her out in another room altogether - Again, all these things we do are because we are so tired, we don't want to walk down the hall to get the baby every time they cry. We want a little bassinet right by our side so it is easier. Well yeah but then trying to move them into a big scary crib and a lonely room is virtually impossible. Also, if the baby is in another room you aren't as likely to pick her up at every noise, and she isn't as likely to be awakened every time Moema sneezes.

4. At night, don't pick the baby up if she isn't hungry, calm her but don't pick her up - Now this is something all the parenting books say and I know I have tried to do it but maybe I just gave up to easy...I am not convinced this is even possible but I guess with the next one I will give it a try. This means you pat her belly or give her her paci (also perhaps not a good idea) but don't pick her up. Now with my little Kyla this is her big issue, any little noise or any little bit of gas and she is up like a light and won't calm down unless I hold her, rock her, and put her back to sleep. Now this can happen every ten minutes sometimes...right now I am up at least every hour with her.

5. Put her down to sleep awake - Again I have never been successful doing this but all the parenting books say to do this, I think the baby would just scream and you don't like a newborn to scream. Anyway, they are supposed to learn to soothe themselves form the beginning, Kyla absolutely does not know how to do be sure and try and allow the baby to soothe themselves to sleep without nursing, paci, or any other intervention from you.

6. Really think twice about the Pacifier. Now I love the paci, it makes life so much easier for me. But the problem is that if the baby loves the paci too much and needs it to sleep then that means that if it falls out- you are the one who has to put it back in. Now newborns to 6 months old have no ability to hold it in their mouths so you are going to be replacing the paci dozens of times a night. In some ways I think sucking thumb would be better in the early I know it is harder to break them of that habit but it might help with infant sleeping. Calvin is two and he still has his paci for naps and nighttime and we still have to go in several times a night when it falls out and he can't find it in his crib.

7. Cry it out Method - Now this is what I am doing with Kyla right now and let me tell you it is hell, and I have to do it because I have not followed the rules above, I feel like a horrible mother and it is a very sad few days...but I did it with Calvin and he was cured after one night of crying...Kyla seems to be stubborn but she is also a worse sleeper - she wakes up so frequently at night that I really had no choice, I had to sleep train her or die of exhaustion. I pray she gets it soon because it is so painful not going to your child when they cry! I lay their thinking: is she hating me, is she being traumatized, what damage am I doing to my child. But in the end, with Calvin he still loves me and it was way worth it! He is a great sleeper now (other than the paci addiction). Kyla seemed to be fine today after last night and doesn't seem to hold a grudge.

8. Swaddling - Do not swaddle beyond six weeks. I think six weeks is when the jerking is mostly subsided. Beyond that I think it really helps get the baby to sleep but I am convinced it makes them more gassy cause they can't move around and I know with Kyla it is another hard habit to break. With Kyla now when I don't swaddle her she wakes herself up easily when moving around, I don't think this would be such a problem if I had stopped swaddling earlier.

9. Naps and Schedules are so importnat - This is a lesson I learned with Calvin and have been trying to implement with Kyla. Depending on the age you will have different schedules but I think it is so important to read up on when your baby should be sleeping during the day and make sure it happens. This curtails your ability to do need to be home between 9 and 11 for morning nap, and between 12 and 2 for afternoon nap...but it is worth it for your baby and for yourself. It should make her a better sleeper at night (hasn't worked so far for Kyla) and a happier child in general.

10. Never let your baby sleep on the bed - Now this is something I used to do with Calvin that I remember well the horrible outcome. I would take an afternoon nap with him on the bed. Now this was nice but then when he got to around six months I started to worry he would roll over and fall off the bed. When I tried to switch him to his crib for naps but he decided it was not going to happen, he simply would not sleep anywehre but on the bed. I had to build an elaborate fortresses to make sure he couldn't fall off the bed and bought a video baby monitor to watch him when I wasn't sleeping by him.

11. Tummy sleeping is not as evil as some people think - Yes I know about SIDS and I am sure in the long run you baby is less likely to die when on the back...however, I think that babies sleep so much better on their tummies, they can work their gas out, and Calvin would only sleep that way. I think if you make sure their are no pillows or blankets in the crib and their is breathable fabric on the sides you are pretty safe. But again, try the back first.

12. Don't nurse your baby everytime she wakes up - This is a hard rule to keep because you know as soon as you nurse her she will go back to sleep and be happy as a clam and you won't have to work to get her calm down again...but guess what, then she will be up every hour and will only calm down when you nurse and suddenly you are no better than a milk cow - even they have several hours between milkings.

Basically with anything you do with your baby you have to ask I willing to have live with this intervention for the next year of this child's life. I am sure there is more I am forgetting but I hope this helps you...future me, and that you listen to these words and avoid the hell I am experiencing right now.


  1. The no swaddling thing I broke early with Leah and I swear it helped. Oliver I don't swaddle really, but still kind of, he is still in a sleep sack that still makes it super hard to roll over and once Leah could roll over and sleep on her stomach she slept a lot better. I'm with you on rethinking the pacifier too. The stomach thing I swear I am doing with baby #3 too! With Oliver I really worked on doing all it took to make sure I had enough milk and I swear baby #3 I am going to do all I can to make sure he/she sleeps better or there will not be a baby #4.
    Sorry about your hell. :) Oliver I gave up him crying himself to sleep, but I do make him fall asleep out of my arms at night. I have to stay by the crib sometimes rubbing his tummy and/or singing, but he wakes up every 2-3 hours instead of every 45 minutes so we are making progress. And he only occasionally makes it to my bed and that is my pure laziness when I want a little extra sleep for like the last hour until I want to wake up. Our progress is slow, but it is there. Some day I will get to sleep through the night again.

  2. Amen Sister from Moema. You are a good wife and mother.

  3. I'm sorry!! I hope I can remember everything with Lydia but each child is different and I am praying he is just EASIER lol. I actually didn't do a lot of that stuff I tried to avoid the binky ( no she is addicted (@ nights and naptime) but earlier in the first 6 months she wasn't), I was too afraid to nurse in bed or let her sleep with us. I think that helped her always sleep well in her crib but we did have to have her cry it out, it only took 1 night for her to get the point. We calmed her down every 10 min or so and laid her back down. It's so hard not getting sleep and I know in 2 weeks I won't remember what sleep is so :( Thanks for all the reminders I hope you get more sleep very soon!

  4. Thanks for writing it down, Ally. I will need a detailed reminder for the next baby and I couldn't have put it better. If you are really able to stay strong next baby and follow all your own advice, and if your baby sleeps so much better as a result, then I think you should write the next baby sleep book, so you can share it with the world. But those are a lot of IF's, :) Writing all this down will make it a lot more possible, thanks for taking the time, I'll help you be strong

  5. Great post! Very informational and helpful for future mothers. I hope you get some sleep soon! xoxo

  6. Nice post! I too forget with each child what I am doing and end up having to correct something that I swore I wouldn't do again. Good Luck with Kayla, it will get better soon!

  7. OH I NEEDED THAT!! I am in the same situation, i just had another kid and i have forgotten EVERYTHING i promised not to do!! The tummy sleep thing is so true! Wesley was a choker so it was a choice, either lay him on his stomach and chance the SIDS or have him on his back and choke to death... we chose the stomach and he was such a great sleeper! oh and he didn't die! ALSO he started crawling at 5 months and i'm convinced it's because he spent SO much time on his belly that it made him stronger faster!

  8. Hey Ally,

    You are a wonderful strong mother! Use your intuition and you will succeed! Like you said this is all about what you are willing to do. Oh and it really made me think about getting ready for my little boy!


  9. I am rereading this when #3 comes. This is all exactly what I discovered with my first two!!! You should write your own book; I'm sure the entrenched baby/medical groupies would have a cow (especially the no sleep on tummy). But it's what all of us moms already know (and don't do!)!!!

  10. oh my gosh, i can so commiserate with everything you just wrote about! well, not right now (kailea fortunately is an amazing sleeper now) but the first 6 or 7 months of her life i thought i would die of sleep deprivation and having to hold her in my arms for her 20 minute cap naps during the day and the horribly long nights. i thought it would never end. it somehow miraculously did, but i need to remember what you wrote down for this baby coming in a few months! i think i have forgotten everything too!! i hope i do better this time around, but like you said...the sleep deprivation makes us go a little coo-coo. :)

    oh, and thank you for the sweet comment you left on our blog. you are too nice...i WISH i was an amazing party planner. my mom for sure is...totally a natural. i just try to be like her. :)

    AND kyla is so stinkin' cute! she may not be a great sleeper yet, but she sure makes up for it in her looks! i wanna squeeze her! congrats again!

    we miss you guys too!