Thursday, March 21, 2013

the sleep conundrum

Let's talk sleep. Or lack thereof.

Henry doesn't sleep through the night. Never has even come close. Yes, I know technically they say sleeping through the night is six hours, right? The longest we get is four. And that's few and far between.

And this isn't even my chief concern.

Would I like for him to sleep longer stretches? Of course. But more importantly, I'd be happy if he would sleep somewhere other than in our arms. Ok, who am I kidding. I want them both.

Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy cuddling with my boy. I love it so much that when he falls asleep in my arms, I just let him stay there. Trying to move a sleeping baby is terrifying. Plus, he's like a little space heater, and we stay warm and cozy when we snuggle.

Last night, because I missed him all day long so much, I didn't mind him sleeping in my arms. But then I get this nagging feeling like I'm doing something wrong by doing this. I don't know why, and I don't know where it comes from.

Perhaps because everyone else's babies sleep through the night, in their own cribs, and have been from the minute they came home from the hospital.

Doesn't it seem like that, when you have a baby who doesn't do these things?

Henry has slept in his swing, his Rock 'n Play (RNP) and in our arms since he's come home from the hospital. In the first 9 weeks of his life, it was easy to transfer him from arms to swing or RNP without him waking. But as of late, that is impossible. And I don't know how to fix it.

If I didn't have to do laundry, wash pump parts and bottles, pick out my work clothes for the next day, and sleep, I wouldn't mind holding him constantly. But sometimes a girl has to get things done.

We've also tried to get him to sleep in the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper Bassinet, but that didn't work. He wasn't having it, so I gave up. I should probably try that again, but I feel so uncertain about any of this.

I don't know what to do, and I don't know how to do it. The woes of a first-time mom.

And now that I'm back at work, I find myself not wanting to do anything other than just letting him sleep where he will, since I desperately need sleep as well.

I purchased a sound machine that has a white noise setting. I purchased a mobile with great reviews. We have set up the baby monitor. And I'm such a chickenshit that I have yet to figure out what to do with all these tools. Or use them effectively.

About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to get Henry to sleep in the co-sleeper. So I got the sound machine, set up the co-sleeper to be efficient (before we had it by the bed, but below the nightstand. This proved problematic when wanting to get in and out of bed.), had Buster move the glider into our bedroom, plugged in a nightlight, and set up a make-shift changing area.

We tried for two days. And I gave up.

It's so much easier to do our shifts. That way, I am guaranteed about four hours of good, quality sleep (this four hours is not concurrent). When Buster comes to bed, I get up and head out to the living room with Henry, the swing, RNP, recliner, and TV.

But now that I'm back to work, and Buster is taking Henry to daycare, he can't stay up quite as late as before. Last night he came to bed at 12:30 a.m. This is a far cry from the nights where he'd stay out there with Henry until 4:00 a.m.

So I went out with Henry at 12:30 a.m. He was sleeping in his swing at that point (YAY!), and slept there until 1:30 a.m. He woke up, I nursed him, and he fell asleep in my arms in the recliner. We both slept there until Henry woke up hungry at 4:15 a.m. We both fell asleep again until about 6:45 a.m.

I get sleep this way. So does Henry. But for me, it's not very good sleep. It's sitting up in a recliner, with my head tilted and leaning on my shoulder, contortionist-style. But it's guaranteed sleep, where any other arrangement is not.

Maybe Henry will grow out of the sleeping-in-my-arms thing? Or maybe he won't, and I'm making everything more difficult on myself by just letting him. I know he's too young for sleep training, and I'm not sure that appeals to me in general. I just wish there was a magic button I could press, or a magic age where he would just sleep peacefully, all night long, wherever I put him.

Keep dreaming, right? But I don't even sleep long enough to dream.


  1. Ah, that's tough. V still hasn't sleep in his own room, to be honest. He still wakes in the night sometimes, especially when teething. He wakes up and wants to come to bed with me, to be cuddled... and I let him. I could let him cry it out since he's a toddler now (and I do sometimes) but this is what works for us. We're moving him this month or next.

    I just wanted to say that not everyone has their baby in the other room, sound asleep, through the whole night. And breast fed kids don't always sleep through the night as quickly, since they have to feed more frequently. You could work on getting him to sleep alone for naps and go from there. V started sleeping through the night (6hrs) at a month, but then regressed, and then started sleeping through again, then regressed... it comes and goes.

  2. Our DD slept in the swing for the first 3 months. I had the same problem as you and didn't know how to get this tiny baby to sleep in her crib. She hated swaddling in the beginning, but I thought I would give it another whirl. It was magic! She slept in her crib and I could get things done. Do you swaddle?

    1. I think about swaddling. I want to swaddle. But it rarely happens. Most of the time he falls asleep in my arms before I get a chance to swaddle, and then I don't want to swaddle for fear of waking him. Silly cycle, really. I think I need to start swaddling prior to nursing, but not sure how he'd take that.

    2. I just started swaddling again (she wouldn't have it earlier). I swaddle her as past of her night time routine, she gets fussy around 8 pm, I change her in her room play with her a bit, swaddle her in her crib, carry her to our room, nurse her in our be until sleepy but not asleep, put her in the pack and play and turn on the sleep sheep to rain sounds. I used to then go to sleep or stay with her until she was in a deep sleep, but now I can pretty much put her down and leave the room until I want to go to bed. I want to put her in her crib but selfishly still eat to sleep near her. Naps are our problem now. She used to nap in her swing 3 times per day for at Lear an hour, now 10 minutes maybe 20 and she'll wake up to the slightest noises and its all ruined. Ugh! I think I need to get her in her crib for naps hitch means I should probably move her in her room so she knows that it is for sleeping.

      Start putting him in his rock and play only by your bed, so you all sleep in the same room and you can pick him up and nurse him and keep putting him back down, the. Transition to pack and play and don't go back to rock and play. We transitioned to pack and play and didn't look back. It was a tough week and still is sometimes, but it's what she expects.

      I'm going a little crazy myself. Starting work in 1 week and not ready!

    3. Hey Kara, if you want to try swaddling before nursing, you can probably leave his arms free. It's the only way that Logan would let us swaddle him!

  3. I think most people whose babies sleep through the night are just lucky.

    I think you need to do whatever is easiest for you. You just started work this week and everything must be super stressful. I'd wait until you get used to it just a but, then try to make a change to the rock n play or something else.

  4. I feel for you! I do this with my boys sometimes for naps because I just need them to sleep! If you want to transition him, I'd work on small periods at a time. It takes 3-5 nights to start a new sleep habit so it'll be miserable for that time but should improve after that. If he's over 12lbs you can let him cry for a few minutes at a time while checking on him. Keep up with the sound machine, eventually he'll associate the sound with sleep and it should help him fall asleep and stay asleep. These are things that helped us with our twins, I hope you make some progress because you both need your sleep! Good luck :)

  5. Don't feel like you are the only one with this problem. My son co-slept with us till about 6 months. And then he wouldn't go to sleep unless i was rocking him-which is not an easy job when he is more than 15 lbs. Even now at 18 months old when he wakes up at night it is easier for me to put him to my bed next to me. My advice-start sleep training. I wish i have done it when he was really young. And that is my plan for next baby as i know people who "trained" their babies to sleep through the night when they were 2 months old. This way you will get enough rest and the baby will too.

  6. My last baby was like this. White noise + the swing worked during the day but not so much at night for some reason.

    I've heard that Happiest Baby on the Block has great tips for sleeping. I plan on reading it before the new baby comes.

    Hope you get better rest soon. Although after being a mom for almost 13 years I have to say I don't think I've slept well in all that time and I don't expect to until all the kids are grown. There's always one ear open.

  7. Every baby is different - so one person may suggest what worked great for them and it may not work for your baby. You just need to do what you think is best.

    Prime age for CIO I think is 6 months? I think I read that. We did a modified fuss it out at 10 months and haven't looked back - before that she slept in bed between us and napped in our arms for almost every nap. I was about to lose my mind. I never in a million years thougt I would let her cry at all but it worked. Check out my blog if you want the nitty gritty.

    One thing my ped told me that got me moving is however they are sleeping at 15 month is how they will sleep until they're 5. I knew I couldn't keep up with what I was doing (boob out almost all night for an all you can eat buffet).

  8. Aww, I'm sorry the sleep issue is a problem.
    You just have to try things out though and see if they're gonna work.
    Wish there was an easy button so parents didn't have to do that lol.
    The only thing I can suggest is that if you want him sleeping in a certain place, you have to be consistant and stick with it until it is obvious that it's not going to work and you have to move on to something else.
    You'll figure something out :)

  9. I'm sorry hun. It's hard when they just won't sleep and your like a zombie! We did sleep training once ds1 hit 10lbs. It was a matter of his formula distribution/bottles being increased during the day to make up for none at night. He was formula fed, but there is a way to do it with breast fed, I'm just not sure how.

    One thing to remember is it takes at least 3-5 days to form a new habit, 7 days to break one, with a baby. I know it can be super hard but if you stick to one game plan even when it gets hard, it will pay off. There were some nights my hubby was ready to crack, and although I wanted to give in I stuck it out. It took several days, but it worked. The babies don't know how it's "supposed" to go until we tell them :)

    Good luck!

  10. The best advice I've heard so far is, "do whatever works, until it doesn't." I appreciated this because, like you, I was feeling like I was doing something wrong. Arlo wouldn't sleep anywhere but in our arms for the first two months so I started co-sleeping. It's something I never thought I'd do. I thought it was selfish and dangerous. And then I spoke to my lactation consultant about it and she reminded me that people all over the world do it. There were days when I would feed him and then one of us would put Arlo in the moby and sleep with him on the couch just to get some sleep. One of your readers suggested swaddling Henry before you nurse him to sleep, that was the magic button for me. I'd change him, swaddle him, nurse him to sleep and then slowly transition him to either his crib. And like your other reader, I started this with naps. Now he still needs to be rocked to sleep at night for 5 or 10 minutes but goes down easily for naps. He will sleep 5-6 hours for the first stretch but then is up again every 3 hours through the night. I usually nurse him and either keep him in bed with me or put him back in his crib. Here is an article that I thought made a lot of sense. Hope it helps.

  11. Sleep is HARD. It really is. And although it seems like everyone else's newborn is sleeping 12-13 hours a night, they're not. I'm convinced of that. ;)

    I skimmed through the comments and you have a lot of great advice, and I'll add my $0.0002 - routine. I don't mean a strict time-schedule routine, but a routine for the task of 'preparing for bedtime.' And stick with it. Sticking with anything is HARD, but it will be best for him and for you. He'll learn that the routine means it's time to wind down for the day.

    And sometimes, you gotta bite the bullet. If you don't want him to sleep in your arms, you have to stop holding him while he sleeps. That means some rough nights while you both adjust, but he can't learn it if he doesn't have the opportunity.

    Huge (((hugs))) You're doing fantastic, Mama. This shiz is hard - especially at first, when you feel like everything you're doing is wrong because everyone you meet is like "my newborn was sleeping 20 hours a day in her crib, and making her own meals at 3 months, and never cried a single time ever in her whole life." (sigh)

  12. How does he nap at daycare? Like, where, and how did they get him to do that? Because I assume he's not napping in someone's arms at day care?

    I used to swaddle the babies after they'd fallen asleep while nursing. I would lay out the swaddles before I nursed them, and then carefully transport them into the swaddles (we used velcro ones, it meant a lot less having to move the babies to make the swaddles tight). Then I would kind of pick them up again and rock them back to sleep if they had woken up. There was a sweet spot - if I would put them in the swaddle 30min after they had fallen asleep while nursing, then they would go back to sleep easily and sleep for hours. If I waited too little time or too much time, they wouldn't do it.

    Good luck...! You are doing what you can! I agree - do what works until it doesn't!

  13. Sleep comes and goes in my experience. One of my boys sleeps 12+ hours in a row at night, every single night, and has for months (they're 15 months). The other rarely does. He's usually up once for some cuddles, sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours. It sucks. Recently they've both been sleeping 12 or more hours, but that's only been a week and I hesitate to call it a new habit.

    Thankfully we had the NICU to train them so they have always slept in their cribs, put in awake and just go to sleep on their own. I don't know how moms with twins or singletons do it any other way!

  14. I have no advice as I am almost 8 months in and you're getting longer stretches of sleep than I am. We went the sleep training method after he wouldn't sleep for longer than an hour and a half at 6 months regardless of where he was and even with the sleep training we're lucky if he'll sleep in 3 hour stretches. The only plus side to the sleep training was that he will now go to sleep by himself in his crib at 7:00, the rest of the night is a crap shoot but at least I have a few hours in the evening to cook a meal, do some laundry and just generally get things done. Why don't you just co-sleep? You hardly even have to wake up to nurse, just whip your boob out and latch him on and go back to sleep. I'm a huge fan of co-sleeping and would have continued with it except for the aforementioned 1.5 hour stretches of sleep that he had regressed to.
    Good luck! This lack of sleep thing is a killer, I can only imagine what it would be like if I was working!

  15. I remember hearing stories of babies that slept through the night from day one. Those same babies became toddlers that would fall asleep anywhere, anytime. For many of us, the reality is that sleep is fleeting and challenging. Some of my friends who thought they had mastered the sleep demons, saw them re-emerge after the slightest setback (like illness or travel). It's hard to remind yourself that in the grand scheme of things, it's such a short period of time to be sleep deprived..... because you're exhausted right now!

    I feel for you! I wish I had an answer, but we're still waging the sleep war with Logan. Good luck, and stay frosty!

  16. Oh dear. I'm sorry you are struggling...I think we all do.

    My 3 month old is now sleeping about 9 hours. I know, it's good stuff. I have no idea if that is just him, the sleep training/feeding schedule we have him on, or the way we put him down, but it's been working.

    It's similar to Lanie's method.

    I feed him at 8pm when he gets tired and have the swaddle sack ready in his crib. After he eats and burps, I go into his room and change his diaper. He hangs out on the changing table (which is okay for right now) while I turn on his sleep sheep (the rain or waves), turn on the humidifyer, close the curtains and get the room almost dark. After that, I swaddle him and put him to my chest for a couple of minutes while I walk around his room and stroke his back. Then I will either put him in the Rock N Play (when he has been spitting up more) or his crib (with a sleep positioner) and stroke his forehead until he is almost asleep. If he is seeming resistant I will give him his pacifier for a few minutes till he is nodding off. We have just started playing classical music for him while we try to help him fall asleep but I am not sure if that is helping.

    Anyway, that is our routine. It only takes 30 minutes or so from feeding to leaving the room. He isn't always asleep completely but I think that is best. He needs to learn how to sooth himself to sleep a bit too.

    I know how freaked out you must be to try to move him, but after a few days to maybe a week of your new routine you may find that he can do it. Maybe try to keep him awake through his last feeding before 'bedtime' so he eats efficiently and maybe he will get more before bed to last him longer. I know that some BF babies don't end up eating much when they fall asleep while eating and get hungry sooner.

    I wish you all the luck. I used babywise as a trainer, but some people find good advice through other books as well.

  17. OK, we are on the same boat my dear.... Cheeks has really gotten into the habit of sleeping in my arms. As I type this, she is passed out on my chest. Part of the problem is that I don't even have a crib yet (damn you Alaska and your insane shipping times), but I swear that during the day - she will not sleep at all unless I am holding her. I don't know how to break the habit, and I guess at least partially - because I don't want to. I love those cuddles, but... I know she has to learn to start sleeping out of my arms here soon too.

  18. My 8 month old still only gets 4 hours stretches... But the best way to sleep with him is in my actual bed. He is a CLASSIC definition of a "high needs" baby by Dr Sears. Look it up for real... Soon the sleepless nights will be behind you and you'll miss the snuggle days. Remember: "this too shall pass."

  19. I'm sure you've heard it a hundred times but babywise is the shit. I think they spend a little too long getting to the point though so I'll summarize it...

    Develop a pattern, eat, play, sleep, so that baby doesn't require the boob/bottle to go back to sleep. Of course skip the play part in the middle of the night!

    We started getting Marek used to not being held while he was awake, he spent a lot of time on his activity mat and bouncy seat. Also since Blue deployed when he was 2.5 months I had to put him down to get anything done...

    As for the co-sleeper, Marek hated it too, its really hard so we put a contoured temperpedic pillow in there and it made a huge difference. But we transitioned to his own crib around 5 weeks so we could sleep (he was too loud!)

    Most important thing that changed EVERYTHING for us... Swaddleme, the velcro cotton swaddlers saved my life. I would feed him, play for just a bit, change him in to a night time diaper and swaddle him, then bounce him for a few minutes singing baby baluga and BAM, sleep. then into the crib. (PS I figured this out a week after Blue left for deployment when I realized I'd lose my mind otherwise!)

    Now that he's older I put him in bed awake to cry it out for a short bit (never more than 10 minutes) so he doesn't get surprised/upset if he wakes up alone, but we didn't do this until he was 5-6 months.

  20. Kara, I feel your pain. I was in the December DDC on TWW. First know that it is not just you, or just because it is your first baby. It is my third and I am in the same boat. I have the benefit, though, of knowing that my other kids went through this and that it is only a phase. I have tried everything from babywise cry it out to attachment parenting and didn't have much luck. Right now my go-to resource is It speaks to the developmentally appropriate sleep strategies by age, has a ton of tips, and all from a mom who went nuts with sleep deprivation. It isn't one-size-fits-all and takes into account that every baby-and mom- has different needs and different comfort levels. All this to say, you are doing a great job, your baby is doing exactly what he should be, and this too shall pass. Take care!

  21. You either get a good sleeper or a good eater...I got a good eater lol.
    Having an infant made me realize why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tool!

    Totally normal. Some babies sleep and some dont...and those who say they have a sleeping baby, i always secretly think are lying :)

    My son is 4.5yrs old now, and still wakes up once per night and crawls into my bed. He didnt sleep through one night until he was 18 months old (and we stopped a bottle at 13 months). The only way he would sleep was in my arms, but like with his face forward in the burping position! He slept really well in the bouncy seat with the vibration, and i just went for it!


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