Guest post – Sleep schedule

From a recently made friend, Jacquie, I thought I’d share this with all of you! Jacquie has the most ADORABLE daughter Lilly who is currently a year old. She shared this advice that I too have implemented with Loo and it works wonders! Hope this helps for those of you who are struggling with nap/sleep issues!! ENJOY 🙂

Hey ladies,

I was going to post this on Jackie’s blog but it seemed like something worth sharing for both of you- just a little of my own experience that I wish I had known earlier!

I’ve been so thankful that I got Lilly into a reliable routine as far as sleep and naps go. I never knew how to go about doing it or how important it actually is for a little baby.

There were days/weeks/(months maybe?) where I was literally distraught because I couldn’t do ANYTHING during the day for more than 15 minutes without having to hold Lilly. (Thankfully she still slept reasonably well through the night so it was still bearable). She was a chronic cat napper and I couldn’t put her down for even a moment to let her sleep without being held. I was going crazy. Showers? Forget about it. Schoolwork? The death of me. Groceries? Forget it. Couple her No Nap Strike and breastfeeding and it was like I didn’t exist beyond meeting Lilly’s needs. I couldn’t get house stuff done, I couldn’t do anything fun/useful. I couldn’t brush my teeth. I just remember being on the phone with my Mom every day (the one thing I could do while hold Lilly) just asking her what to do over and over again. The more babies that I heard about who took two regular naps, the more frustrated I got about Lilly and the more I worried that we were doing something wrong.

Finally, I got a stupid book, talked to Brandon’s cousin, and got on track. See, when I was pregnant, Brandon and I scoffed at those parents who were schedule keepers, who were totally anal about nap time/bed time and routines for their kids. I was so into the “She’s going to do what she’s going to do and I’m going to let her do it. No nap? Guess she doesn’t need one! Won’t sleep through the night? Probably just a phase. Staying up til midnight? Why not?” I didn’t want to be a sleep/schedule Nazi.

Here’s what I actually discovered: Babies thrive on natural body rhythms. Unfortunately they are still learning how to regulate those rhythms into appropriate sleep/wake cycles that conform to day/night outside of the womb (it apparently didn’t matter in there whether it was day or night, early late, bright or dark- they were adjusted just fine). That got thrown off the minute they were born. The most important thing I learned was that “sleep begets sleep”. A.k.a the better a baby sleeps during the day, the better they will sleep at night. The more frustrated/tired/agitated/wound up a baby gets the harder is for them to settle down and get their bodies into “deep sleep” mode. Contrary to what I had thought/tried, hoping a baby will be wakeful and active all day does not help moderate appropriate nighttime sleep patterns. In fact- it does the opposite.

The hard part is teaching baby the sleep routine. It seriously killed me trying to get Lilly to nap. I would listen to her cry and I would cry and just barrage Brandon with texts about why I couldn’t go through with the nap plan. The crying broke my heart. I was panicked that when I started student teaching in the fall no babysitter would be able to handle her for 9 hours a day. Let’s face it- a mother can put up with just about anything for her child, and love every minute of it, but a babysitter, unless they are blood family, probably cannot. But I was advised to give it at least 5 days and see what happened. The first day Lilly cried (hard) for 20 minutes, followed by (less hearty) cries for another 10 minutes or so before she cried herself to sleep each time I put her in her crib (her own crib in her room). Each time I would give her her silkie blanket, favorite stuffed animal, mobile with music, sleepy sheep with white noise and crib music machine thing- ALL ON. The second day she did exactly the same thing but cried harder if that’s possible. The third day however the crying went down to maybe 5 minutes. The 4th day, there was no crying but lots of “noise”. She was rolling around, kicking the crib, babbling, watching her mobile etc. The 5th day- no crying and went to sleep sooner. I thought it was a miracle. And now our schedule is reliable to a T. I can 100% guarantee that her schedule is the same every day (except in the event of an ear infection etc.). It’s awesome. I have 4 guaranteed hours of “free time” every day. I can plan lunch/play dates/shopping/activities for specific times that I can count on and Lilly sleeps like an angel through the night.

Here’s the plan I devised when Lilly was 5 moths old.

Wake up- time designated by the baby unless family structure (a.k.a. jobs) require specific time.

First 2 hour nap- 3 hours after morning wake up unless baby is inconsolable or eye rubbing big time.

Second 2 hour nap- 3 hours after waking up from 2nd nap.

Bedtime- 4 hours after waking up from 2nd nap.

For us that =

7:00 a.m. wake up ( I think Lilly wakes up around 6/6:30 and plays in her crib until about 7 when she starts getting louder to let me know she’s awake. She’s almost never crying when I pick her up the morning).

9:00 a.m. 1st nap.- generally 2 hours. I sometimes don’t pick Lilly up out of her crib until almost 11:45 but I hear her playing starting around 11.

2:00 p.m. 2nd nap.-generally 2 hours but usually 2 1/2 hours.

8:00 p.m. bed time.

Lilly follows this schedule to the minute. If is 2 minutes past 9 in the morning, she’s most likely melting down, rubbing her eyes, crying. As soon as we start to walk up the steps she smiles, relaxes and pops into her crib like it’s the best place in the world.The other great thing is that it is much easier for another person to put your child to bed if it doesn’t have to be Mom/Dad rocking/giving a bottle/nursing/holding the baby to get them to fall asleep. Straight into the crib so they are awake* (very important) when they go in and learn to settle themselves into sleep while being alone. That way if/when they wake up alone at night they are more likely to get themselves back to sleep.

Just thought I would share in the hopes that some of my experiences eases some of yours!

P.S. The book I got wasn’t worth the money. Every page basically said the same things in many different ways if that makes sense…

P.P.S. Your little buggers might be angels and not even NEED any of this nonsense advice and if that is the case just disregard!!

xo

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