Posted by: emjb | December 26, 2005

Sleepytime

There are maybe 18 gazillion books on “how to get your child to sleep” at your local bookstore. At least 18 gazillion. And I don’t know how many of them are crap and how many are good. And Nathan doesn’t actually have a sleep problem at this point anyway…all I really wanted to know is, how much is he *supposed* to be sleeping and do I need to worry about scheduling his sleep at some point?

So I just picked up the first book I saw that didn’t look too dictatorial or too wishy-washy on the subject. Because while I don’t believe every child works on the same schedule, I have also figured out that parent’s natural intuition mostly doesn’t exist. It’s all trial and error, and I don’t really know what all Nathan’s various grunts, moods, squirmings and squallings mean.

I ended up with Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth, and while I have only read the section on newborns, so far it’s making sense. I didn’t know, because no one told me, that newborns generally only need to be awake for 2 hours at a time. When I started paying attention, I realized that yep, Nathan gets tired after about two hours awake. Though he may only go down for a 30 minute nap before getting up. Or a four-hour one. He’s still working on the whole consistency thing.

But just knowing that much was a tremendous help at getting through the long nights with him. When it’s 3:30 and I can barely keep my eyes open while he’s kicking and gurgling with glee, I know he’ll at least get a little sleepy in the next 120 minutes. It’s still hard, but there is some relief in sight.

I also like the Weissbluth idea that “sleep begats sleep” versus the conventional wisdom that keeping babies up late makes them sleep longer. We’d tried that and it hadn’t worked–Nathan is a determined sleeper and short of torturing him with noise or something, we can’t keep him awake if he doesn’t want to be. But if actually letting him sleep as much as he wants is a good thing, that is much easier on us.

There’s a lot of incredibly detailed info in this book, charts and graphs and warnings about the effects of sleep deprivation (as if I needed reminding about that) but overall, it seems to have a fairly calm and respectful take on the whole issue. He doesn’t get hyper about the idea that you can let your child cry a little (not until they throw up or some nonsense like that). Nathan actually starts making a lot of talking, grumbling noises before he gets to a cry and yes, lots of mornings I don’t respond until I’m sure he’s awake…because sometimes he does grumble himself back to sleep.

He’s not a co-sleeping baby at all, I think, because of his grumbling, and also, he doesn’t seek out lots of cuddling while he sleeps; when we’ve tried sleeping him in our bed, it seems to keep him more awake. I’m thinking we’ll be moving his crib out of our room in our next abode and getting a baby monitor; it might actually help him sleep better. It won’t hurt us any, either. Maybe he’s like the two of us and just prefers a little solitude, now and then.

He’s going to outgrow his co-sleeper crib before he’s a year old though, in length if not in depth, and I’m wondering what we’ll do then. Maybe we can borrow a crib until he’s big enough for his own bed. Though at the rate he’s growing, maybe we can just move him straight in. He’s such a little Hulk-boy, he looks like he’s ready to start kindergarten tomorrow sometimes.

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