sleeping article- What a blessing to know that in some way I am able to help some people through my experience with sleeping babies. The article, of course, has come with some criticism- you can't please everyone- but overall it has been a huge blessing and people have been so kind to encourage me and seek my advice. THAT BEING SAID...I am slammed! Between working from home, being a full time mom to the 3 chix, blogging, spending time with the Lord, trying to maintain a clean home...or at least clean laundry and a husband who works 50+hours a week- I cant keep up with all of the emails asking for help...AND I REALY WANT TO! SO...since a lot of people ask the same questions- I thought I would do a little FAQ on here and hopefully answer some questions- or give people a start while they are waiting for me to respond! I am truly happy to help, and I know everyone has circumstances that are unique- every child is truly different- so send me your questions- but know it might take a bit to respond! Once again, I am honored that you would seek my advice and will do my best to help you out! Of course, let me know if you try something that worked well!
(**I have to say it- I am NOT an expert, I am a mom of 3 girls with a communications degree and lots of event planning experience- I think that has helped- sleep training, potty training- all big events with logistical challenges! :)
Here we go:
1. My baby wakes up 30 minutes into nap time every day: (or they will not take naps)
This is the #1 question I get, I think for some reasons babies either wake up 30 minutes in..or that is their "active" sleep period. (I discussed naps HERE.) I have found, if I leave my girls to nap, they will go back to sleep or settle back into restful sleep MOST of the time. Of course there are times of teething or sickness when it just doesn't work out- but most of the time, they go back to sleep. When you go with the philosophy of: Naptime starts when mom says it starts and ends when mom says it ends- it gives you a good frame of mind to allow them to fall back asleep.
a) they are getting really full at feedings
b) they are not waking up because of a prop- if the binkie comes out or swaddle comes loose and that is waking them- time to kick the habit (better now than later..I think!)
c) They are stimulated right after eating, nice and awake and they chill right before naptime- nothing too stimulating right before sleep.
d) Make sure they are not going too early...or too late. Sometimes they are so over tired that they wont sleep. Also, sometimes they are acting very alert and not sleepy at all...and it is nap time so we hesitate putting them down- that is when the "nap time starts when mom says" comes into play- weeks 1-13 they should eat every 3 hours and nap every 1.5hrs after eating. Weeks 13 on they eat every 4hrs and nap 2 hours after each feeding. When it is nap time, lay them down to nap.
e) Establish a routine (here is mine): Walk in the room, turn on a sound machine, snuggle for a minute (maybe sing a little song- not rocking, just standing), lay her down (now my #3 likes her tummy- she is all over the place) and walk out of the room. I return when nap is over.
f) If they are crying..(or screaming) of course think of what could possibly cause them to scream and are you certain they are safe in the crib (no blanker over the head or anything) (a video monitor is handy for you to know without going back in- although, I personally am not a fan of the video monitor- we can discuss that later!) Anyway- if the only reason they are screaming is they are tired- Let them sleep! So...have in mind how long you are willing to let them cry.. start at 15 minutes. Turn off your monitor, do whatever you need to do and let them work it out. Push that time back every nap as long as you feel comfortable. BUT..when you set that time, do not go back in until that time is up.
g) I read a post by Elena at Vegalicious - she used her husband's shirt (with his smell on it) in the crib so her baby could have comfort from that familiar smell- it seemed to work for her baby- I say try it! As long as your baby is old enough to not get it stuck over their face or something horrible- try it out!
h) Use your instincts- if your baby is screaming and it is "not working" just get them up, feed them and start fresh! Every feeding is a chance to start fresh. If you have a bad nap- your baby is not a bad sleeper- they just had a bad nap!
i) Babies act hungry when they are tired...do not let feeding be your first response if you know it is nap time!
2) My baby is XX weeks/months old and still wakes up at night:
Once you know they CAN sleep through the night, nutritionally, it is a lot easier to let them.
- I said it in my article- DO NOT run in the room every time they cry at night. Lets call it "delayed response"...really delayed. Allow them to have some active sleep (my 5 year old still has active sleep some nights).
- Same thought as above: set in your mind (before you go to sleep- we do crazy things when we are tired!) how long you will let them cry or talk or fuss or whatever they do- start with 15 minutes or whatever you are comfortable with- and DO not go in until that time frame is up. Push it back each night- turn off the monitor or turn it really low if you need to- whatever it takes!
- Make sure they are REALLY full before bed- I like rice cereal before bed for older babies- whatever your method is- make sure they are getting enough food. I also like sound machines- loud!
- Really focus on the daytime schedule while you are trying to establish sleeping through the night. Do not let them go more than 3 hours (1-13 weeks) or 4 hours (13-...) without waking them to eat. You can be flexible on this once the routine is established.
- Take 2 weeks and focus on that daytime routine being wake, eat, play, sleep- I have found that my babies sleep better at night when they have good daytime sleep- it is opposite from what you would think. The later you keep them up...does not mean the later they sleep- I promise on this one!
3) Am I being mean or not responding to my babies needs by letting them cry it out?
Ok...God gave us instincts as moms to know what our babies need- so listen to those! He also filled us with love and mercy for our babies- so how precious that you are concerned about this! It is horrible to listen to a baby crying and not be able to do anything- so hard! Here are my thoughts: (you will find a TON of people to disagree with me!)
- When your baby is on a schedule and you KNOW it is nap time, you are absolutely responding to their needs by letting them sleep. You are simply teaching them to soothe themselves into sleep instead of you soothing them to sleep.
- If you do a little sleep training or "sleeping boot camp" I have found that your baby will cry a lot less than if you do not. It is a fact that babies get cranky and cry when they are tired...if you do not allow them to nap...guess what they will be doing all day?
- I believe that 2 weeks of being strict with a schedule and letting them cry it out a bit will save you a lot of tears down the road. I think it takes 2 weeks of strict schedule to establish a new routine.
- Take one nap or one night at a time- try your best and if you need to feed and start over...do it!
- I PROMISE it is easier to sleep train a baby than to sleep train a toddler- I promise!
4) What if my baby wakes my other children when "crying it out"?
This is tough- really tough! I honestly do not have any experience with this- I am blessed to have my girls in different rooms and my older two are really sound sleepers. Here are some ideas:
- Hopefully you have a situation where your baby can be in a different room from you or your other children. I would say, if not...purchase a divider or something so the baby cannot see you or their siblings- it is really hard to let them soothe to sleep if they are starring at your face :)
- Sound machines for EVERYONE! Make sure you have them in the siblings rooms and the baby's room. Don't be afraid to crank it up. (Any sound machine is fine, I use this one LINK)
- If you absolutely NEED to put the baby in a Pack N' Play or something in a different room for the 2 week boot camp (as mentioned above)- you might need to do that- or put the other kids in another room? But, I would try to leave them in their room or wherever you want them to sleep. I would bet your other kids will sleep right through it- Pray a lot! :)
I will keep adding to this- these are just the 4 questions I get A LOT. You can feel free to comment below...as usual, I will not respond to hate mail and will gladly delete anyone who is negative- if this isn't for you...move on!
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