Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: (Backwards Day) Getting Baby to Sleep

So it's Works-for-me Wednesday (Backwards Day!) again. That means that I get to ask a question about something and all the good folks out in bloggyland get to solve all of my problems. I've been planning this post since the last "Backwards Day" WFMW, but now it is especially necessary.

AJ is _NOT_ a good sleeper. He hasn't been since day one. I get so jealous of my friends who can be holding their kid (or someone else's) and the kid will just slowly drift off to sleep. I think I can count on one hand the number of times that AJ has done that since he was born. But that's not really the issue. We've got ways to get him to _go_ to sleep at night (nursing or if he doesn't fall asleep during the nursing, we leave him in his crib for a little while, then go back and help him go to sleep by lying him back down and patting his back)...we just can't seem to find a way to get him to _STAY_ asleep at night. Drugs don't even work. A full dose of infant's motrin got me (ahem...I mean HIM) two hours the last time I tried it. Last night, 0.8 mL (or whatever the higher mark is on the dropper) of infant's Tylenol got him to sleep _most_ of five hours, with only one major stirring, requiring resettling with Mama's help.

He was doing pretty good when the teething was just extra drool. But a few weeks before he was six months old, those 6-7 hour stretches disappeared. In the four months since then, I've considered myself blessed with copious sleep when it came in two-hour increments. Three or four hours at a time was like getting a glimpse of heaven.

In part, it's the teething. He's got three teeth now and is obviously working on several more. In part, it's his natural development. I mean, pulling up is WAY COOL. Except for when you do it in your sleep, then wake up standing and freak out! Fortunately, those wake ups tend to happen shortly after bed time, before Mama and Dada have gone to bed themselves and are easy enough to remedy - just lay him back down and he's usually back asleep immediately.

This past week, we've added a cold (his first) on top of all of that and it's been misery.

I'm actually REALLY good about going without sleep (even though I've been sans caffeine (yes, even chocolate) since 2000)...but I'm going out of my mind some days here. And I'm not a napper, so it's doubly hard to "sleep when baby sleeps" (especially when it's only 45 minutes).

AJ's 10 months old now. A friend who's got a 1-mo-old (her second baby) was complaining the other day about how hard it was since he was "only" sleeping four hours at a stretch! Four hours at a stretch, multiple times at night? I'd feel like I'd died and gone to heaven.

So my request is this: what tricks do you have for getting a baby to sleep more than two hours at a stretch (or at least two hours at a stretch)?

Very secondary to that: what are your tips for staying sane with no sleep?
And if you want to give advice to other people (or see what advice was given to other people), make sure you check out Shannon's post at Rocks in my Dryer.


lifeasamama said...


my daughter is coming up on a year, and is FINALLY moving out of that phase. so i totally empathize.

there will be an end, i promise! last night, she slept THREE hours, i nursed her, and then she slept FOUR hours in a row. all at once. then she woke up every hour for the rest of the night, and was awake for the day at five, but hey. that was amazing. i felt so refreshed when i woke up after those four hours!

but we were at the "waking every forty minutes, or heck, five minutes after you put her down" phase for a really long time.

things that worked for her? having three pacifiers - one in her mouth, and then one in each hand. if i sat in the rocker next to her crib while she was in the crib, sometimes she'd snuggle down and fall asleep on her own. that's where i am right now, so that she can fall asleep for her nap.

if i fed her a lot in the few hours before bedtime, she seemed to sleep better... hunger wasn't waking her up as much.

lately, she was waking up because she was too cold - so we dressed her more warmly, and that seemed to help.

hyland's teething tablets help some babies, and while my baby loved eating them, they didn't have enough of an effect on her to knock her out.

i got a "luxe" sheet for her crib, which is the supersoft material that some baby blankets are made out of. that's softer and warmer on her face than just a regular sheet, so if i'm transferring her back into the crib, the shock of a cold sheet isn't there anymore.

wow. this is long. and i didn't think i had any advice!

advice for you, poor mama? i am not always a napper, either, but i've found that a long hot bath with a cup of decaf and a book while she's taking her morning nap really rejuvenates me.

good luck!

Chandra said...

Oh boy, do I know where you're coming from! I am struggling to get my youngest (of 7) to go to sleep on his own, though he's only 5 months old now. I've struggled some with others, and what has really helped was the book The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I can't remember the author, but it has WONDERFUL tips in it for non-sleepers! I have used it with 4 of my seven kids and I love it! Let me know if you have trouble finding it and I can look up the author, right now I need to go and try to get my little guy down for a nap--not on me!!! Good luck and hang in there, it does get better, I promise!

Not the Queen said...

My oldest had that problem when she was a baby, and it turns out it was gas keeping her up at night. We used Mylicon for her, and it worked like a charm! It breaks down the gas bubbles trapped in the stomach/intestines without babies having to "pass the gas" themselves.

Amy said...

You have my sympathy- my two kids were preemies, on a 3-hour feed schedule until they were at least six months old. So I remember all too well those sleepless nights!

My 16 month-old has recently started waking up at night again, after having slept through for several months now. I finally figured out that he was hungry-- some oatmeal before bedtime makes a big difference!

Like you, I can't nap during the day no matter how tired I am. I do have "quiet time" for the kids and myself many days-- a video for them, a book for me, and no loud toys or music. I also live on caffeine, and I admire you for giving it up!

happygeek said...

My babes wouldn't stay asleep either, great at falling asleep, I tried EVERYTHING, and then did what I thought I would never do. I let them cry it out. There are various methods for this, but what worked for us is I would go in and check to make sure nothing was amiss, rub his back, tell him to go to sleep and leave. I never licked him up, if he was popy I would change him in the crib. The first night I would go back in every 10 minutes, the second every 15 and the third and fourth, well he cried for 45 minutes and then the next night he slept through. Since then we've only heard from our youngest once in the night for a year. This is the same baby who got up every two hours for the first six months of his life. It's very hard to do, but it worked for both of my bad sleepers. It may seem mean, but I found I was a much better mommy with a proper amount of sleep so a few nights of meanness were worth it for us.

Sasha @ Cherished Moments said...

You definitely have my sympathy. Our Miss 9 Months has been doing the same thing - until last week, when, in desperation we let her cry it out, and then did controlled crying for 2 nights. By the second night, she went to sleep within 2 minutes.

For some reason this also helped her to sleep longer, and she now only wakes once a night, if that. I never wanted to try it - have always held, rocked, sang, cuddled, nursed off to sleep etc. But being a happier, more patient mummy is worth the 2 hard nights of crying that we went through.

Good luck, and hugs for you!