January 18, 2009

Reader Question: Sleep Issues

I am trying out a chocolate-chip cookie variation, and so far it seems Very Good, but the problem is that, as my dad says, pretty much ALL chocolate-chip cookies are good when still warm, so the real test is a FULLY-COOLED chocolate-chip cookie, and ideally a chocolate-chip cookie the NEXT DAY. But I am having some trouble saving the cookies for that long. Also, I feel kind of sick. Also, we seem to be running low on milk.

Let's change the subject.

Sara writes:
I am hoping that you, in your infinite mommy wisdom, can help me. I have a 3 year old and a 4 month old, and I am at my wits end with regards to sleep. In fact, sleep or lack therof is the reason that we have 3 1/2 years between our daughters.

Kelly, the baby, slept great for the first three weeks and then was done sleeping in long stretches during the day. I didn't like it, but she was sleeping 8 hours a night and taking little catnaps. She would fall asleep in my arms, and sleep maybe 15 minutes once I put her down. Since then, she has stopped sleeping that long at night and won't nap at all unless she is in someone's arms. She wakes up immediately regardless of where we put her--crib, pack n play, car seat, swing, etc. In the last two weeks, she has refused to sleep anywhere but our arms at night as well.

We are possibly dealing with both a milk allergy and reflux, so I don't want to just let her cry too long. We went through this with our first daughter, wound up co-sleeping and it took years to get her to sleep on her own. In fact, she still comes into our bed! I'm not against co-sleeping, but I can't have both kids in the bed. Kelly really doesn't like her bouncy or swing, so I don't know if I should look for a different bouncy that she might sleep in. I am hoping that since you have 5 kids, that you have some really good sleep advice! Do you or your readers have any suggestions? I am exhausted and cranky!

However, if you don't want to deal with this while wallowing, I understand that too! But you could look at this as another good point--hopefully, you are getting more sleep than I am! :o)

Thanks a lot!

I've been letting this percolate in my inbox for DAYS now, hoping that some Wisdom will occur to me, or that at least I'll be able to come up with an Impressive Fake.


Sleep issues are SO HARD. There are many reasons WHY they're so hard:
  • What works for one family doesn't necessarily work for another family.

  • What works for one kid in a family doesn't necessarily work for another kid in that family.

  • What works one week may not work the next week.

  • What is a tolerable situation one week may not be tolerable the next week.

  • A child may grow out of a sleep issue--only to grow into another sleep issue.

  • Sleep problems typically happen during the evening, when you've been dealing with crap ALL DAY LONG and all you want is FIVE MINUTES of free time; or they happen in the middle of the night, when you're not really awake, and your body and brain are weeping for sleep and asking you if you are crazy being up at this hour. These are not Peak Form times for consistent, reasonable parenting policies to be implemented.

  • Your STUPID HUSBAND is just LYING THERE like he doesn't even HEAR the SCREAMING. I mean, OMG, what if there was a BREAK-IN, with GUN FIRE, would he even KNOW? NO, he WOULDN'T, I'd be ALL ALONE dealing with the NINJAS and things, and he'd just keep SNORING. As soon as I get this baby back to sleep, I'm DIVORCING HIM AND MARRYING A NINJA.

Perhaps first you ask your pediatrician, and your pediatrician says something like, "Don't let her fool you: babies don't need to wake up in the night after they hit 12 pounds"---or whatever. And you go home thinking, "Okay, now I'm not fooled, Baby. You don't fool ME, Baby! No more FOOLING AROUND, Baby!" And yet the baby does not care that you are not fooled, and your new, non-fooled attitude has no effect on whether she wakes up in the night. And now you wish you were married to your pediatrician so you could divorce him/her, and you also feel like you can't bring it up again, since your pediatrician will think there's no helping someone who would be fooled by a baby.

So then you turn to your friends, and you might get some very comforting responses. It'll be things like, "OMG, we had the SAME problem and then we just did X! And he's been sleeping through the night ever since!" And so you will face bedtime with fresh confidence that night, because now you know to do X. And you will try X, and it won't work AT ALL. And you'll tell your friend it didn't work, and she'll think it must be because you're doing it wrong. And you'll be mad, but you'll also wonder, "OMG, am I doing it wrong??"

You'll ask another friend, and she'll describe a plan that sounds really unappealing to you. Or maybe it sounds good, but then when you try it you hate it. But from then on you won't be able to complain to her: she'll shrug and act like you are CHOOSING to deal with the lack of sleep since you're CHOOSING not to handle it the Right Way. And you'll be mad, but you'll also wonder, "OMG, should I be doing it that way?"

PLUS, sleep is such a hot topic! It's just about the hottest one there is! Bring it up and you've got a brawl! Some people will be accusing other people of ABUSE and NEGLECT, or of SPOILING and PERVERSION, or of BEING FOOLED BY A BABY. Srsly! People will be coming up with alarming and imaginative descriptions of how the baby is feeling or what the baby is thinking, and you will end up SOBBING with empathy. You haven't had enough sleep to deal with this.

So, okay. Let me go read your letter again, because I seem to have gotten off on my own here, and although I am using the pronoun "you" liberally, I don't seem to be talking about you at all. Oh yes! You wanted wisdom. Well. Er. Dear, dear. Okay. Here is everything I've got. This is ten years' experience right here:

  1. When we are not getting enough sleep, the Right Way is whatever gets us the most sleep.

  2. As soon as we start getting more sleep, we start feeling differently about what The Right Way is. Then we have to make changes. Sometimes these changes suck as much as the original sleep problems; sometimes they're easy. It isn't predictable. It especially isn't predictable based on someone else's experience.

  3. It can be comforting to think things such as, "She will not want to sleep in our bed when she's in high school." It's not really comforting if someone who's getting plenty of sleep says it to you, though.

Would anyone else like to commiserate with Sara?


Erica said...

I must say that sleep issues are The Worst Part of Parenting.

In my very limited experience, I can say that I worried WAY too much about creating new and different sleep issues when trying to deal with my daughter's sleep issues. She spent a good month only sleeping in her swing. Naps AND nighttime. All sleeping was done in the swing. I fretted and worried that it was going to cause a Sleep Issue down the road and she'd NEVER sleep ANYWHERE but her swing.

Needless to say, she got over it. I'm a big fan of doing whatever you can to get through a Sleep Issue Stage. Frequently go back to the way you'd like things to be and see if your kid's on board with it. If not, keep going with whatever works and try again later. Kids are nothing if not inconsistent. Right?

MrsHaley said...

I got nothing, myself, but the guru I turn to when my 2 are having sleep issues is Moxie: http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/
Browse her archives and be enlightened! She and her commenters are the best at this kind of thing.

Shannon said...

I agree with Erica! Sleep issues are the very worst thing we deal with (at least when we have a normal, healthy baby). It is so hard to be tired and not see any way to get more rest. I have no great advice and if I did, Sara has probably heard it. I had two colicky babies who were both pretty awful sleepers. Just wanted Sara to know that she's not alone and wish her strength to make it through this stage. You are not alone Sara!!!

Katie said...

My daughter had colic and reflux (though no milk allergy). I barely remember the first six months other than it was filled with a lot of crying and total exhaustion. At four months our pediatrician felt comfortable prescribing Prevacid for the reflux which helped some. We also tried probiotic drops in her bottle which seemed to help some. And finally we used OTC gripe water. I can't say anything was a magical fix but everything sort of helped a little. At six months things started improving and by seven months life was very tolerable. She is now 16 months and is generally a great sleeper. I don't know if any of this helps but I can sympathize. Hang in there.

mpotter said...

can i just say- swistle: i loved this post! your thoughts were hilarious (and true).

good luck to sara out there.
hope you're sleeping well very soon.

Lippy said...

Sleep issues are the worst. Swistle is right there is no good answer, my two kids were completely different. My daughter had to be swaddled so tight I didn't think she could breathe, also, she spent most of the first 4 months in the swing. However, my son loved the bouncy seat, and no swaddling. I can't wait to see what the third one wants. Animal sacrifices maybe?? Whatever gets you through, and you can live with is the right thing.

nonsoccermom said...

Ugh, the sleep issues. HATE. (And by the way, I laughed at your last bullet point until I CRIED. It's funny because it's TRUE.) Anyhow, I just this very evening have shed many bitter, bitter tears over the fact that my soon-to-be 13 month old does NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. Woe, and misery, and I am no help at all because I need some advice myself.

Carry on. :)

melissa said...

Oh Swistle, I too would like to marry a ninja...I'm hoping he would be more alert than Sir Snores-A-Lot.

You are so right on the different things work for different kids. My son (now 2 1/2) had to be tucked in tightly or swaddled for us to get any sleep...my daughter (now 8 1/2 months) has to have her head touching the crib bumper and her silky blanket practically covering her face (yeah, I know bumpers and blankets are hazardous...blah, blah but tell THAT to her!). The truth is you kind of just have to figure out what works for you and for the individual child.

Hotch Potchery said...

My college kid came home for the weekend and SLEPT in my bed the first night home, with me, I guess I should add.

This is the same kid that I put to sleep in my arms every night until I was too pregnant with the next one to be able to, so maybe I am not a good advice giver. So I will provide empathy...sorry for the lack of sleep, it will take awhile, but there will come a time where you are having to drag. that. girl. out of bed at noon.

Bethtastic said...

Sleep issues suck. I'm so sorry for you, Sara.

When I got to the point that I could just NOT DO THIS ONE MORE MINUTE, I woke my snoring husband up, and told him I was going to Wal-Mart. Yes, it was 2:12am. I didn't care. I couldn't listen to a minute more of the crying, and I wanted to escape. So, I did. I just left the house for a while. In the middle of the night.

And honestly, when I came back, I felt better. There was still a not-sleepig-baby, but at least I had escaped for a hour and wandered around Wal-Mart drinking a slushie in my jammies.

Do whatever works. I agree with everyone who has said it. Do whatever works and you're comfortable with, and don't feel badly about whatever it is. My oldest had to have her sheets warmed by a heating pad before I laid her down or she would wake after only 10 minutes and cry for two hours. My youngest needs to have his 7 blankies in his crib, and his 8 stuffed friends, and a pillow.

And good grief, I did/do it all, because that's what gets them to sleep.

I'm on your side Sara - you're not alone! Do whatever works!!

CSC said...

This post is so "for me"! My almost two year will not sleep unless in my bed, curled up to me. All of my non-parent friends have all this "perfect" advice for how they would handle their children and blah blah blah. Is it bad that I can't wait to secretly laugh at them when their ideas for parenting go out the window when they are in need of sleep? (I promise I am a good friend and will keep my laughing to myself) :)

ANYWAY, I agree, the right way is the way that is getting you sleep, till you decide to make an adjustment.

I wish I had more "help" for you, Sara, but I can't even figure out how to get mine to sleep. Just know you are NOT alone and hang in there!

d e v a n said...

I have 3 kids and haven't slept through the night in 4 years so I'm in no position to give sleep advice. However, Swistle, your post made me laugh so hard. (and not just because I've had 3 or something glasses of wine.)
I concur, the right way = whatever way gets you the most sleep.

Lauren said...

Oh, I might be able to think of better advice if I hadn't been up three times last night, but here's what I've got:

Borrow stuff from friends before you buy--find someone who will lend you a different swing, bouncer, etc. for a few days.

Don't know how you are feeding, but don't feel bad if you need to switch to lactose-free formula. We use Similac Sensitive for our 7 month old. We tried it when he was 1 month and overnight he became a happier baby. For us it's totally worth the extra cost, inconvenience and mild guilt about no longer breastfeeding.

Seek out support, which you are obviously already doing. Whether you get usable advice or just commiseration it's better than suffering alone. Good luck!

Farrell said...

I don't have any advice for poor Sara, though I feel for her. The reason I don't have any advice is because my four year old has always been the WORST sleeper EVER since like DAY ONE (no joke) and basically she DOESN'T LIKE TO DO IT and I LOVE TO SLEEP and therefore: CONFLICT.

But Swistle, that is the single BEST post on child sleeping issues I have ever read EVER in my whole life and you REALLY need to publish a book and I would totally read it (and edit it if you need an editor:)). Like THIS POST HERE is what should be replaced by every article and theory and "method" by so-called experts on sleep. Anywhere. ever.

Bird said...

I completely agree with Swistle thought that whatever gets you sleep is the right way.

Charlie has always fallen asleep best in a vibrating chair. Sometimes he slept throught the entire night in that damn chair and I felt a little bad about it, but mainly I was glad that he was sleeping.

My husband and I have taken shifts, and my MIL steps in often all so that we can strive to get some normal sleep.

Sometime after the one year mark we "got serious" and started trying to get him on some kind of schedule. Before that, it was all about survival.

Michelle said...

Best book I ever read: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

And I had the projectile vomiting reflux issue with Little Miss. She'll be 3 1/2 in two weeks, and we just *DUH* discovered a dairy allergy last month. My vote might not count for too much ;)

On the plus side, I have sleepers now. It took a long time to get there, but I did.

And Swistle, I love this post. Funny and yet so so so true.

Whimsy said...

Oh Swistle, what a great post. I totally feel for you, Sara, and I'll add my support and commiseration. My little one (now 10 months) was a terrible sleeper - and is still pretty sensitive. I read Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block and LOVED it. The swaddling and white noise and such really helped us - but as everyone has said, what works for one baby might not work for another. Be that as it may, I think that the Dr. Karp book is a good place to start because he offers some pretty darn good ways to get a baby to calm down and settle, even in the most stressful situations.

Also - I agree with everyone here: do whatever is going to work to give you some more sleep. Clearly, that's the right thing to do, no matter what other people might say (sleep = HOT BUTTON ISSUE, **indeed**).

Kristi said...

Ha ha ha ha - I LOVE your rant in this post. So true, so true. Your sleep advice sounds a lot like mine - do whatever you have to do to get sleep. For me, sometimes that meant sleeping with a baby and a toddler who kicked me ALL NIGHT LONG! Still, better than the alternative!

Really, what helped me the most in the throes of Young Children and Sleep was when I stopped counting it. You know, counting the hours/minutes you slept vs. the hours/minutes you didn't sleep and being all "Woe Is Me" etc. When I stopped obsessing about time, it felt more relaxed. And more relaxed almost always leads to feeling happier. But, you'll still feel tired.

bluedaisy said...

I love this post! I empathize with Sara and am also in the "whatever works" camp. Thinking of the baby's age, one question that came into my mind- Is teething imminent? I know this threw off sleep patterns for both my little ones. And I echo the thought about taking a look at the formula (if that is what you are using) & discussing a change. With my first, we went thru just about EVERY formula before settling on Nestle GoodStart (costly note: only the ready-to-feed ensured a gas-free baby in our case). If nothing else, trying different things makes you feel like you are at least actively working on the problem.

Carmen said...

Ahh, sleep. Pesky insanity-inducing sleep issues. My older child did not sleep through the night until he was over 2 years old. It was demoralizing.

My friend and neighbour has a daughter 6 weeks older than my son and she slept 12 hours a night from the time she was 4 months old. So on the odd occasion that she woke up once a night and my friend complained I wanted to slap her! :)

But seriously, when I was up several times at night, knowing that her daughter was sleeping made me feel like a failure. In the light of day I realized of course that all kids are different, my son just doesn't like to sleep and I just had to learn to live with it. But holy crap I spent a lot of time needing a nap.

For us, the thing that got us the most sleep while he was a baby was having him sleep with us. Nestled next to me he'd sometimes sleep 4 hours. On his own, only 30 minutes. Or less. So I'm totally on board with Swistle - whatever gets you the most sleep is the Right Thing at that moment.

Ashley said...

Sleep issues and potty training can BITE IT! I have/had 2 awful horrible sleepers. Neither one of them slept through the night until around the age of 2. And I mean they had me up 4,6,7 times a night. That is 4 years of my life. Both boys co-slept until 4-5 months, then into their own rooms they went where both slept miraculously well...for ONE WEEK. Then it all went to hell. Looking back on it now I wonder if it was genetic? They just sort of started sleeping all on their own around 2. It could have been because I wasn't breastfeeding any longer, it could have been the atmospheric pressure...we'll never know. I do know that it is like childbirth and that those sleepless nights are fuzzy and mostly forgotten now. I have no advice because nothing seemed to work for us, and even if it would have I was too sleep derived to try it.

Laura said...

Kids with reflux and allergies are in a whole different sleep category. She may only want to sleep in someones arms because it keeps her more upright, so she's not refluxing as much and not in pain. I went through something very similar with my son (multiple food allergies, and reflux) and the sleep issues get better when the reflux is under control!

I agree.. sleep however you can! Your sanity is most important.

Beth said...

Swistle - you are brilliant. I agree with the commenter who said that this post should replace everything that has been written thus far by all the 'sleep gurus.'

We have 1 son (almost 2) who is not a bad sleeper but is up SO early every morning. I don't think there is a way to 'fix' this problem.

The one simplest, truest nugget of parenting wisdom that I am beginning to learn: EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT.

Hang in there Sara! You'll sleep again - one day. In the mean time, 1) get help from friends/relatives/husband/whoever so you can take a nap in the day or on the weekend 2)do whatever works and don't feel guilty about it.

Swistle - more posts with your parenting insights would ALWAYS be most welcome.

Kristi said...

Poor POOR Sara! Oh, how I know. Our first daughter took YEARS to transition to bed nicely. Second daughter doesn't count because she slept through the night at three weeks (please don't hate me). Yes, she's my favorite. Third daughter I never (not once) put to bed asleep (sleepy, but not Asleep) because I was so terrified of first daughter repeat. She (at 2) is still by far the easiest to get to bed.

At four months, I'm sure they're retrainable to put to bed sleepy? Snuggle her, put her down. Then go drink an enormous glass of wine while she cries, allthewhile sobbing yourself. Hey, if you're nursing, drink an enormous glass of wine, THEN nurse her and put her down sleepy. ;) Or tell me to suck it. That's ok too.

This is the most extreme form of torture (nasty scene from Braveheart excepted, of course).

bunnybear said...

Swistle hit the nail on the head. The correct thing to do is whatever gets you and your family the most sleep. However, sleeping through the night, is a very western concept. All around the world, babies wake up several times a night until a very advanced age and their parents don't even blink an eye because it is expected behavior. Read Our Babies, Ourselves by Meridith Small. It's a big eye opener and will reassure you that whatever choices you make regarding sleep are good.

Nil Zed said...

I honestly do not remember this phase of life with my girls. I know I was alone with both of them at night after the first week because their dad worked 3rd shift. I know that in the end, one is an insomniac and the other can drop off for a quick nap during a commercial break. These 2 facts were established by age 10 or so and great source of arguments as they shared a bedroom until 15 & 17. They are in their 20's now.

I also have a 19 month old who is not napping even as I type. We thought we were very clever solving his sleep problems. But, Sara's situation is so different (no pre-schooler here, & my husband was off work for the summer so we each got some sleep) so there's no point sharing!

Good luck Sara! You will get through this. Is there anyone at all that can come help out sometimes? Just getting a nap even one day a week would help so much! (You nap, I mean!)

jen said...

sleep issues and potty training issues SUCK! Is this why old people never sleep, because they have evolved or something?? I keep telling myself someday I'll WISH for these problems instead of opposite-sex problems, and "oh my god they want to DRIVE? MY CAR? WITHOUT ME?" problems.

Rolling Off The Edge... Together said...

I have nothing to contribute other then having a 3 year old (almost 4) who we struggle with sleep issues with STILL. We even had him give up naps in hopes that he would go to sleep at night without so much of a fight and it worked like everything for a few days but now we are back to where we were with the night time hellishness of getting him to sleep, staying asleep horror....

Then we have the almost 6 MONTH old who for first four months of life she slept like a champ then the teething started and she got sick and now she thinks it is pretty fun to hand with momma at all hours of the night but HELLO MOMMA WORKS FULL TIME, and takes care of the house/cooking/all that shit and while I adore hanging with her, not at 2,3, 4, 5 am ALL NIGHT LONG.

I have no idea what to do with her other then offer her nursing but then she up again 30 minutes later because the pacifier fell out, or the earth was not perfectly aligned. I do not want to get into this with her like we did with her brother because YO we are still dealing with the affects of this.

NO we have not started solids and we do not plan to start solids right away b/c it did not make a difference with him in his sleep. SO yes sleep issues are the worst thing ever to deal with and I will not miss the sleep issues if IF they ever go away!

Stepping off my sleep deprived soap box!

Jen said...

Adding an ugh to the sleep issues! I would guess Sara has tried pretty much everything out there, but just in case, one thing that worked for both of my kids when they were babies and would only sleep in someone's arms was to put a heating pad on the crib mattress for a few minutes. Don't set it too high, and REMOVE IT before you put the baby down (!!!). For our kids, it seemed to be the temperature transition that woke them up, and this method worked like a charm, at least a good portion of the time. Doesn't guarantee they'll stay asleep for a long time, but it might help eliminate the immediate waking on being put down.
Good luck!

brzeski said...

Quick alternative to the heating pad: Have the baby sleep on a fleecy blanket. My little guy would holler every time his little bald head hit the cotton sheets, but he likes the warmth of the fuzzy blanket under him. Hang in there, Sara! You can do it! And thanks for the giggle, Swistle.

Misty said...

Oy. My 2.5 year old slept all night like a CHAMP for well over a year and then we decided that 2.5 was really a bit too old to still have a pacifier at night. We should get rid of it, right? So, we told him "big boys don't use chewies for ni-night" and took it. And he didn't sleep for a week. Seven days later, after getting up 4-6 times a night, *I* gave him the damn thing back. And you know what? He still doesn't sleep through the night. He still gets up once or twice a night. AND still has the pacifier. It has been going like this for over two months.

So, that is my commiseration. The end.

Maggie2 said...

Yes, we have all been there and done this and anyone who claims to have an answer is only just between stages. I think most normal kids wake up or have sleep issues until they are at least preschoolers. It's a part of parenting.
I'm wholly in the do whatever works camp, be it co-sleeping, soothers, swings, you name it. As long as they're sleeping!!
Good luck, take extra care of yourself (chocolate, fancy coffee, special shampoo in the shower, etc) while you're going through the worst of it, and remember it will get better.

Pann said...


I have two daughters with a similar 3 year spacing between them. The older one was a co-sleeper until the younger one came along.

Here is my long-term perspective and disclaimer for the "advice" I will soon give you. My kids are older, currently 8 and 5 years old. Some mornings I wake up and both of them have migrated, in the early morn, to my bed for snuggles. But most of the time, these two kids sleep, the whole night, in their own beds.

So, how did we get here? You certainly do not want to wait until your baby is five years old before you get to sleep the whole night through yourself.

What we did to get the older girl in her own bed was to set up a full-size mattress on the floor in her room, rather than a kid-size toddler bed. This way, I could lay down with her, to help her get to sleep, and I had room to hold, nurse, etc., the baby.

I also put a rocker in the big girl's room, so that I could sit in the rocker, and nurse the baby, while big girl drifted off to sleep.

Over time, I was able to decrease the amount of time lying in the bed with the big girl, in exchange for sitting in the rocker, and then decrease the time sitting in the rocker, while the kid fell asleep. Eventually, the big girl was falling asleep within 10 minutes or so of my tucking her in to bed, and then I could get up from the rocking chair and try to deal with getting the baby to sleep, or whatever.

Divide and conquer, you know!

So that was our way to get a co-sleeping three year old with a new baby sister to sleep on her own. Then getting the baby to sleep, well, we just dealt with that day by day, until she was too big in the bed with us.

You can tackle the get-the-baby-to-sleep issue separately once you get the big kid to sleep more independently. At least you will only have one kid in the bed!

Good luck. This too shall pass. Some day, these girls will be big and you'll miss the tiny toes and ears and oh my, I should stop writing.....

rebcram said...

Great post. Yeah, the sleep stuff SUCKS. In my opinion, it's all about survival: whatever method gets everyone the most amount of sleep. This is a radically different viewpoint than I had BEFORE my two kids, however. But now? Whatever works!

Consistent Parenting said...

Wow, what a fabulous post - this will be so helpful to so many tired parents - I love it when people tell it like it really is!!! I'm the editor of http://www.consistent-parenting-advice.com and I have written and taught lots about sleeping and children - every child is different and every parenting experience is too!! Sometimes I feel that because something doesn't work the first time we don't go back and have another try. With sleep and older toddlers sometimes we just have to try being firm and consistent and it does and can work.

Emily R said...

First, I have never read anything more true than the crossed-out bullet point.
Second, I am about in tears. Oh, Sara, I have a 3.5 month old & a toddler, and I'm back at work, and I take naps at red lights. I'd say I'm pulling out my hair trying to figure out a sleep solution, but it just falls out on its own. You know. Hang in there.

Julie said...

Whatever you do, don't go against what your heart tells you to do because of someone else's advice. My Nick didn't sleep through the night til 16 months, and even now wakes up a couple times a week. But I always comforted him, or took him to bed with me, or whatever it took, and he is a very well adjusted little boy and goes to bed each night without struggle, despite the well-intetioned but wrong advice from people telling me, "he'll never get out of your bed" or "let him cry it out and he'll sleep fine in a couple weeks.." It's a very personal thing, like breast or bottle feeding, or how you choose to discipline, but I always try to think about how I'll want to look back on things, and I try to err on the side of compassion. I read The No Cry Sleep Solution, and while I didn't fully follow the guidelines put forth, it reconfirmed my commitment to being responsive to my baby and realizing that this, like every thing else, is just a short stage that will eventually pass. Good luck to you! Your mother's heart will tell you what to do!

Kathy said...

We ended up getting a cot so that our older daughter could be right next to us when the next one arrived. The first one transitioned to her room and now the 2nd one is in the cot. Whatever works is exactly what you should do!

Akimbo said...

Oh my. What a GREAT post. Awesome.

I hate being fooled by my baby. Happens ALL THE TIME.

Shelly said...

Swistle, I love you. This is exactly the thought process of new parents who are getting NO sleep.

drowninginlaundry said...

Like everything else with children: this too shall pass.

My own son didn't sleep through the night until he was over 18 months old (when I FINALLY took away the boob and bottle). I agree that it is all about survival - do what you need to do to get the most sleep possible for you and your baby.

The irony of my situation? I am a Sleep Specialist (for real).

Christy said...

With my third, swaddling and white noise seem to help a bit. But, we are in no way sleeping through the night here. I follow the whatever works approach, and that which works differs with each child. I sooo agree with the part about the husband. I would also add some advice/assvice from the MIL, which is basically, "I gave all 5 boys cereal at six weeks, and they all slept through the night, and they never cried ever." Errgh. Hang in there.

Jen said...

oh swistle, you get serious gold stars for capturing what a mess sleep can make. it's so hard and just like everyone else has said, whatever works is what works.

our parenting involves being okay with a constant state of adjustment rather than trying to make mandates about sleep, eating, potty training, all that crap. staying flexible is the only reason we are still (mostly) sane.

so, sara - i feel for you. keep your chin up and keep trying to find the magic combination. :)

can i also say how effing refreshing it is to read through the comments and not see one sanctimonious a-hole? it's awesome to see such unfettered support on this hot button issue. gold stars all around!

the new girl said...


I agree.

My kid didn't sleep through the night until 14 months old. I remember very clearly thinking that if the doctor was so sure that she should be 'making it through the night easily' at 9 months, that HE should come over and listen to her scream her head off at 3am.

It is AMAZING how big and judgy the issue of SLEEP is...

Megan said...

The last bullet post with the NINJAS had me laughing so hard my husband came in to check on me (he was just watching TV though, not sleeping)
Very funny post, and not just because I am sleep deprived myself!

Swati said...

Swistle, you are just wonderful!

Sara, my heart goes out to you. I won't advice, but around the same age, mine didn't need to sleep at all, or so it seemed. The infant's interest in, and awareness of surroundings suddenly increases at 3 months, and a tiny little sound would be enough to lead to full wakefulness. And it was equally difficult to fall asleep, even with curtains drawn in a closed room against any passing wisps of breeze, tiny chinks of light and little squeaks of sound. Many times I had to sleep sitting up, holding my baby in my lap, surrounding myself with pillows for support, because the moment I got up, poof went naps. At night, we slept in the same bed, and I have always been aware of the slightest movement, so I would check for wetness or hunger before crying (and full wakefulness) began. I could afford to 'pamper' as everybody saw it, because I was staying with my parents then and had nothing whatsoever to do except rest! But it sort of settled down after 3-4 months. It used to help sometimes to sit cross legged on the bed, and gradually and gently ease the baby partly on the bed, head in my lap, and then replace lap with one or two baby pillows, plus some bolster/pillows around, especially touching feet to give the feeling of still being in the lap. Sadly my baby was too intelligent for this to work all the time... In retrospect, if I had been able to leave a child crying for a little period of time, while I went out and breathed, it would have been better perhaps for both of us, but I still can't.

Mommy Writes said...

I'd agree with eveyone else's "go with whatever works" advice, except . . . it sounds like NOTHING IS WORKING.

My middle child had colic and reflux and feeding issues and hated her swing and did not go off to sleep well either. When she was 2, we discovered she had chronic fluid in her eardrums (without getting chronic ear infections, which is why she was 2 before anyone figured it out). She got tubes, and . . . was a different child. Loved swings, walked, drank, and goes to sleep. She's still an unbelievably light sleeper, however.

So, umm, advice? Hang in there. That's all I got.

(Oh, and my word verification is "scebbet" which totally sounds like the sort of made-up curse word I would be muttering at my child by now.)


Kristine said...

Crossed out bullet point is so spot on!

I agree, whatever works is what you should do.

Laura said...

GENIUS! I liked the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It offers many different ways to help your child learn to fall asleep, which is nice because as Swistle stated, what works for one probably won't work for another.

Anonymous said...

I would offer advice, but (a) I have only one baby, (b) she's younger than yours, and (c) I'm not getting any sleep either. (In fact, she's sleeping on my chest right now, because she only sleeps in someone's arms or in her swing. Which broke. Last night. And it's too cold here to go buy another one.)

Just wanted to say you're not alone in the Land of Sleeplessness.

Anonymous said...

OMG, YES. You said it all, except possibly that the only reason you are close to divorce and not a murder conviction is that he only mentioned once that he doesn't understand how you can be too tired to be intimate because he sleeps in the same bed and even got up with the baby at 7AM(!) on Saturday and he isn't too tired. I bet my ninja husband wouldn't say something like that.

And I'm staying anonymous here because I'm also admitting that my baby will ONLY SLEEP ON HER BELLY unless she is in a moving car. Since I can't drive around all day to get her to sleep, she sleeps on her belly. My sister is convinced she will die of SIDS because I am so lazy and selfish. I get mad then think, "OMG, am I being lazy and selfish?"

Must Be Motherhood said...

"You deserve better" said my pediatrician last month at our 4 month checkup when I told her he's not sleeping for more than 2 hrs. in a row. "Make sure he's still awake when you put him down for naps and at bed."
HAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Little does she realize I have to either be holding the kid or co-sleeping (aka breathing on his skin at all times) to keep him asleep at ALL since day 1. And who "puts" an infant down for a nap with a nutcase 2.5 yr old running about? We're lucky if we don't get hit over the head or jumped on while we nurse. Forget a few moments of peace for any kind of lullaby-land sleep training.
Sooooooo. Yeah, no one is alone here in this world of dizzy sleep deprivation. And, that's pretty much all I've learned in the last 2.5 years. That when I'm ready to jump out a window with the Ninjas, I know there are thousands of other women thinking the very same thing.