Thursday, July 28, 2011

sleep update

I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your kind comments and emails full of advice with regards to this post a few weeks ago.  After reading each tidbit of advice and personal account I decided it was nothing short of insanity to expect a lovely little routine with such young ones.  Instead, we decided to focus on routine check points throughout our day especially with our night time routine.

So our mornings and days are still a crazy stew of good and bad things, but our nights have a little more structure.  And though we haven't mastered the punctual bedtime, we have been sticking to the following routine fairly well.  {Note: there is a difference between schedule and routine.  We do the same thing with the same end just not at the same time every day.}

  • Bath
  • Jammies
  • Brush Teeth
  • Mike reads to Poppy in her bed while I nurse Silas to sleep
  • We then move him into the crib in our room
  • We then switch and I lay with Poppy until she falls asleep 
  • Silas sleeps about 3 to 4 hours in the crib and then we move him into our bed so I can nurse him back to sleep
  • Poppy usually will sleep through the night, but either wakes up at 5am and calls for me (not at all upset) and I tuck her back in and rub her back until she goes back to sleep.
  • Silas has been waking about 2 to 3 times per night since we implemented this and is sleeping in a little later in the mornings which is nice.
So yes, it wasn't perfect, but it was a start and we felt a little more in control.  That being said, something changed.  Poppy has napped for the past three afternoons and it has thrown our little routine for a loop.   It is difficult enough to get Poppy to sleep before 9pm without a nap.  As much as I revel in the quiet of the simultaneous nap time, I know I will pay dearly for it later.  Silas hasn't been falling asleep as I nurse him, and they have been bouncing off the walls until we all fall asleep in an exhausted heap in our bed at 11 pm or later.  I then wake Mike up and we move them to their beds.

With all of this, Silas has been waking his usual 5 times per night again.   Let me first tell you that I don't have an issue with "parenting" my kids to sleep.  What makes me crazy is the constant night waking that seems to be getting worse rather than better at 11 months of age.  No matter what we do, Silas howls and cries unless I nurse him back to sleep.  We pat, sway, sling, sing, rock, dance, and hold him in a attempt to get him back to sleep, but he just pushes our hands away and continues to wail and flop around.  He won't take a soother.  Last night, after finally getting him to sleep at 11pm, he woke up not even an hour later.  We brought him into our bed and let him cry.  We have never done the cry it out method and don't want to resort to it, but if we ever want to sleep through the night again, something has to change.  So we let him flail and scream between us while we rubbed his back and after 10 minutes he went from a full blown cry to a deep sleep.  He woke two more times in the night and I nursed him back to sleep both times.

The only thing we can think of or that we have read is that he is in the habit of nursing and knows that if he wakes up, I will be there with his comfort.  Our plan is to do as we did last night and let him cry in our arms until he goes back to sleep.  A sort of controlled cry it out.  Our hope is that he will realize he doesn't get to nurse every time he wakes up and will, in turn, begin to sleep for longer periods of time.

Parenting is tough.  It's even tougher when you lack deep, restorative, patience-giving sleep.

go gently + be wonderful



  1. I had to do something like this with my daughter, who nursed every hour. I began by slowly cutting out each nursing - so if she started by waking up at 11pm, that was the first one to go. She usually cried and flopped around for a while (we stayed with her), then she would fall asleep and wake up again later. I would go on to nurse her throughout the night. Once she got used to not having the 11pm nursing, I moved on to the next one. Eventually she did start sleeping longer and longer, although we still occasionally do 1 nursing in the night (sometimes at 3am, sometimes at 5am)'s so tough, and I hope it gets better for you soon

  2. We did something like that with our son, he kept waking up 2-3 times a night - all he wanted was to nurse. We ended up putting him in his crib, to fall asleep again, because he didn't want to be held and would keep trying to get out of our bed. We took turns rubbing his back in his crib after about 20 min. he fell a sleep and has been sleeping through the night ever since. I don't believe in crying it out,(we never did it with our first) but I think he was ready and just needed that little help. Hope things work out for you soon. Just remember to always trust yourself and all will work out in the end.
    Take care.

  3. Oh, hang in there! I wish I could help! I don't know how you do it. I hope you find some tricks that work, and then I can learn from your wisdom when my time comes someday. And by then this will be distant past and you will laugh and laugh (hopefully!?) remembering these tough days. But until then, *HUG!*, and smile at the thought of future laughter. :)

  4. Oh dear Erin, this post brings back awful memories of a couple of my girls. They were awful sleepers! It's a hard call, letting them just cry it out, but it does work.

  5. I know figuring out bedtimes (as in, getting kids to actually go or fall to sleep not just all that leads up to it) and how to manage actual sleep at night with little ones is difficult. But I just wanted to say that everything you're describing here is a normal bedtime/night of gently parenting. I know sometimes when one feels angry and tired enough to rip someone's darling head off (Oops, did I say that? Yes, I did.) and heck, you can actually picture yourself doing it while firmly patting that flailing back next to you, it feels like somehow we're less of a parent. We're not being gentle enough, calm enough, perfect. But honestly, real life is showing your kids that you get tired too, and irritable, and grouchy and mean. Or at least I do. And trying to keep your calm, but letting them experience that crazy mix of restlessness and exhaustion (lord knows I know it well) themselves, a little on their own in a crib or co-sleeper while you take a breather, or next to you in bed is great parenting. I'll try to remind myself next time I feel like crap to remember I wrote this. But it's always easier to remember when telling someone else. Anyhow, I just wanted to say, trust yourself. You know your babes the best. And your instincts will guide you right. And eventually, everyone will sleep well, or relatively in comparison to what it is now. (PS, my 3 and 5 year old are living proof that life gets 1.5 year old reminds me that this phase can be sleep depriving and irritating and growth worthy often). Cheers to you!

  6. Haha...I can't imagine every looking back and laughing at the sheer insanity of parenting on no's so hard. I always went by the..."I don't give my kid junk food, so why would I give them junk sleep?" philosophy...just like eating healthily, they need guidance in getting enough sleep. We eventually did DeeDee did (Hi, DeeDee!)...letting them cry through one "expected feed" only took about 3 nights for them to sleep through that feed. Just having one less interruption in my rest made such a difference. Or my husband would go in and soothe them (this was at about one year old)...they quickly clued in that daddy can't nurse so they stopped bothering! At age 2, Poppy "should" be can try bumping her nighttime bed time by 15 minutes every few days till she's settling down at 7 or CAN be done! The learning curve is steep, and it can be hard to remember that these little people are NOT tyrants sent to earth to make your life crazy and miserable. Once I started seeing myself as the PARENT (which took awhile to recognnise, and to feel confident enough to really believe!)...good luck. You'll find a rhythm that works for WILL!!

  7. it seems like just as we find something that is sort-of working, our children throw us something new. i often marvel at just how unpredictable this journey is. sometimes, throwing up my hands and admitting that i have no control is the only thing to do.

  8. Oh My! You make me recall those days (2 years ago now) when I had an 11 month old who woke up more and more often each passing night. I don't envy you! It was so difficult and even MORE difficult because I beat myself up through it. Thought I was trying too hard, not reading enough, not listening to advice enough. Somewhere in the last 2 years we've gotten him to sleep through the night. But I have photos of my husband and him sleeping on a double bed mattress thrown on the living room floor (one storey and 3 rooms away from me!) as we taught him to go without middle of the night numnums. I must have blacked it out because I vaguely remember this - yet there is this photo to prove that it happened. Go gently - with yourself at least. This too will pass.

  9. oh dear - lost my comment somehow.

    I remember being right where you are 2 years ago. My hubby ended up sleeping with the little gaffer on a mattress on the living room floor (one storey down and 3 rooms away from me!) It helped him forget about midnight numnums. He slept more when he couldn't see, hear or smell me I think! This too will pass, I promise!

  10. I never responded to your first post on the topic, but wanted to weigh in here.

    First, good for you. For putting it out there. For asking for support. I had the hardest time doing that with my first little guy.

    Speaking of him, he was a troubled sleeper. Still is. At nearly 2 1/2 years old he is just starting to sleep through the night, making it at least a few times a week. Now we have the additional challenge of him not wanting to pee in his diaper and having to get up to use the potty. It's always something, right?!

    I think the best advice I can give is to follow your heart. I think it is rare that it will lead people astray. Follow your heart. Listen to your little ones. Slow things down if you're feeling extra tired. Be gentle with them. More importantly, be gentle with yourself.

    While things are going more smoothly than I imagined they could for us right now, I know that this won't always be the case. I'll be right there with you, soon I'm sure, wishing for more rest and trying to figure out the best way to make it so.

    Good luck to you all.

  11. Hi Erin,

    Glad to see you found your dream home! I fled mine for an alternate dream in Cabbagetown, Toronto - missed the city buzz and community of friends and family - and then Roddy and I found our way back to each other. We're renting out the farm to friends now but we'll be back on weekends next summer to grow a garden and get our country fix.

    Kids are on the horizon soon and while I won't homeschool - love my day job and personal space too much! - I'm hoping to introduce my future wee ones to a good balance of country and city life here in Ontario and in Scotland too. I think our approaches to some aspects of parenting may be different but I love how you're so open about parenting. Reading these bedtime posts I have to admit that the thought of relentless sleepless nights terrifies me!

    As a non-parent who still has the luxury of regular sleep it doesn't seem cruel to me to let my future baby cry it out (at least some of the time) - I'm pretty useless without enough sleep! I haven't done any research on co-sleeping but one of my worst nightmares is not having division between mine and Roddy's bed - and our time/space - and our children's beds. Would that make me a bad mother? I guess I've looked to what my parents and my friend's parents did - let us cry it out - and we turned out OK... well-loved and well-adjusted ;-) I read this article recently and thought of your struggle for sleep: But like I said, I haven't read anything else on co-sleeping.

    Very curious to hear your thoughts! And sending lots of love and of best wishes for longer sleeps in your cozy house soon! xo

  12. Until becoming a parent, I had no real understanding of how important sleep was for the development of patience. My youngest has just started sleeping through the night (until about 5 or 6), and my whole world seems brighter! Hope things keep improving!


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