So I have been MIA for a bit (as I’m sure you have noticed). We have been struggling with sleep or rather Zaara has. She has not been sleeping thus keeping me up for hours at night, so I have been going to bed very early which makes for no computer time for me.
I remember when Layth was about 8 months I drew a line in the sand and decided that he should be able to sleep at least 5-6 hours at night and I was not going to nurse him to sleep in the middle of the night anymore. This point has come much sooner with Zaara (it may have something to do with the fact that I have to be up and functioning for Layth at 8ish every day). After we came home from Mexico I put us on a regular nap routine and stopped nursing her to sleep whenever she woke up at night.
At first she rebelled by staying up for 3-4 hours in the night (usually from about 2am until 5am) crying on and off and ensuring no one else in our room slept. This made for a very sleep deprived mommy and daddy… lets just say it was not pretty for a few weeks in our house!! Hubby (bless his heart) finally had enough and elected to sleep downstairs for a week. It has slowly been getting better, Zaara will sleep through most of the night now. When she does wake usually it just takes me to put my hand on her chest and shush her for a few mins and then she will go back to sleep.
I read a lot of books when I was struggling with Layth and this is my opinion based on a collaboration of what I read in the following books:
1. The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg
2. The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
First, babies need a lot of sleep! At 6 months Zaara should be getting 3-4 hours of sleep during the day between two naps and then sleeping for 12 hours at night! Seems nuts right?? But I believe the saying “Sleep begets sleep” is too true! It goes against our intuition that sleeping for 4 hours during the day would actually make our little one sleep better at night. For those who are interested, at almost 2yrs old Layth naps for 2-3 hours once a day and still sleeps 12 hours at night.
Second, babies need the right balance of Sleep, Food and Activity spaced during the day to sleep well at night. Think of how your day goes? You wake up; Eat breakfast; Activity; Eat Lunch; Activity; Eat Dinner; Activity; Sleep. We should be setting babies up for a similar routine with more sleep mixed in. Like so: Eat; Activity; Sleep Nap; Eat; Activity; Sleep Nap; Eat; Activity; Sleep Bedtime. This is key to teach your baby to fall asleep without being nursed. (This is the whole premise of the “EASY” philosophy in “Baby Whisperer”)
Third, make a bedtime routine! This seems to be an essential component to cuing babies that it is time for sleep. Here is a sample of our night time routine for Zaara at 6 months: Breast Feed, Bath, Massage, Into PJ’s and sleep sack, Story, into crib and lights out. We have been doing a variation of this routine since day one and it works like a charm! I do a shortened version of this before naps too, Into PJ’s and sleep sack, Story, into crib and lights out. I also have a little giraffe that Zaara sleeps with. To get her used to it I wore it inside my shirt for a few days so it smelled like me and I put it between us while she was BF to make it something that she associates with warm cozy feelings. Whatever you choose as your routine make sure you start it early enough so that you are putting your little one to bed between 7 and 8. We usually start our routine at 7 and Zaara is in bed by about 7:30ish. For Layth his bedtime routine looks like this: Bath, Massage, into PJ’s, Bottle and Story, Lights out by 8pm.
Lastly, don’t expect results overnight. (ha ha ha no pun intended) It takes a while for babies to adjust sometimes. The older the baby the longer it will take you to see results. With Layth we didn’t start any naps and daytime routine until he was about 8 months and it took a long time to get him sleeping through the night (12 hours) on his own. But I am very pleased to report that he has been sleeping through the night on his own since he was about 13 months so I can say that in my experience the hard work does eventually pay off so it is worth it to stick to it. With Zaara we have been at it consistently for about 3 weeks and I’m only getting up once a night for about 5-10mins now instead of multiple waking over 3-4 hours just a couple of weeks ago.
The biggest bit of advice that I can offer is don’t beat yourself up if you cave and nurse your baby to sleep! We all have our limits; just do what is right for you and your baby!
Off to bed with me… after I post one recipe 🙂 I have a few videos that are awaiting my editing, hopefully I can get them up soon!