To help make this blog a little more personal, a friend of mine suggested I ask friends and the families I work with to tell their story about their child’s sleep struggles.  This guest post is written by Vidya and she talks about the sleep challenges she faces with her newborn son who was born 8 weeks prematurely.  I hope you enjoy the first installment of Everett’s Sleep Journey.

 

Baby Everett

Baby Everett

Everett’s Sleep Journey, by Vidya

Before getting pregnant with our son Everett, there was only one thing my husband and I loved more than each other: sleep. When we got pregnant, I realized quickly due to frequent bathroom trips in the middle of the night that our sleeping habits were about to change drastically. In a proactive effort to try to regain our sleep as quickly as possible, I picked up a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, on recommendation from Jenn at BabyZzz. I quickly immersed myself in the world of child sleep basics, and flagged the most important pages of the book for my husband to read (secretly knowing he never would).

Everett was born 8 weeks early, so for preemies like him, developmental milestones such as walking, talking and even sleep habits are measured from his due date instead of his birthdate. From the book, I was able to figure out that at six weeks from Everett’s due date, I needed to start ensuring Everett was napping properly. By properly, I mean ensuring he was back in his bed within 1-2 hours of wakefulness.

However, at 4 weeks past Everett’s due date, he suddenly became the most fussy baby I’ve ever been around. From 12 p.m. to his bedtime, Everett was pretty much inconsolable. I kept thinking ‘He’s just really gassy. It must be something I’ve eaten.” Then, after five days of this behaviour, I realized it: Everett stopped sleeping during the day. He used to fall asleep on his own, anywhere, and slept “like a baby”. He was sleeping so often I was actually a little bored. And all of a sudden, he just stopped. It happened around the time he started social smiling, two weeks earlier than expected.

At this stage Jenn recommended I start doing these simple things to help my little boy sleep:

1. Introduction of a nap time routine: a book, 1-2 songs, a cuddle, and gentle rocking
2. Setting the stage: I ensured he was sleeping in his crib in a dark room with the Sleep Sheep to drown out the sounds of the dog roaming around the house.
3. Timing: While playing together, I would watch closely for signs of Everett’s drowsiness. Sometimes he yawned, sometimes he stared off into the distance, and sometimes he just stopped moving his arms and legs actively. When I saw these signs, I whisked him off to start the nap time routine.

Today, at 7 weeks from Everett’s due date, I try to ensure Everett gets his naps regularly. Some days I have visitors or activities planned which interfere with Everett’s sleep. On these days, I try to ensure the naps he gets are longer, or try to put him to bed a little earlier. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes I fail miserably.

The most common struggles I have are as follows:

– Short naps: Everett habitually wakes up after 40 minutes. I think this is the result of him having trouble going from one sleep cycle to the next. To resolve this, I recently started doing the Baby Whisperer‘s Wake-to-Sleep method which has helped us extend nap lengths. This only works sometimes – I have yet to perfect the technique.
– Fighting sleep: The moment I start singing, Everett starts fighting sleep. He screams, cries, tries to get out of his swaddle, and generally acts as though I’m the worst person in the world. To remedy this, I’ve tried putting him to sleep a little earlier and adjusting his nap time routine, but he still puts up a fight. I’ve chalked this up to “he loves me so much, he doesn’t want to go to sleep because then he can’t spend time with me.”
– Other people: My parents are my biggest struggle. When they visit, they keep Everett up way too long so that they can play with him. And when they leave, I spend the rest of the day trying to get my sweet little baby back. I’ve tried to explain child sleep basics to them, specifically how long Everett is able to stay up without getting too tired, but they continue to ignore me. I’m still working on how to fix this problem. Maybe there are some problems without solutions.

Since making these changes to our routine and respecting Everett’s need to sleep, I can honestly say he’s a happier, healthier and more alert baby. On days we get sleep right, both Everett and I are our happiest with each other: we enjoy each other’s company more, we smile more, and our love for each other is able to grow without frustration or impatience.

Sometimes it feels like his sleep schedule is in charge of our day, but then I think – I’m on maternity leave to ensure Everett gets his best start at life and part of that is ensuring he is well rested so that he can learn and grow to the best of his abilities. It’s my responsibility as his mommy to help him get the sleep he needs.

If you would like a customized sleep plan to help you get your newborn into healthy sleep habits early, visit http://www.babyzzz.ca/Services.html and check out BabyZzz Prenatal and 0-3 Month Consultation plan.

Comments

comments