This is another guest post written by Vidya where she talks about the sleep challenges she faces with her newborn son who was born 8 weeks prematurely. If you missed the first post of Everett’s Sleep Journey, read it here.
Everett is now 4 months old and generally, a very happy baby. He is only ever fussy if we keep him awake for too long (more than 1.5-2 hours) or when he’s doing tummy time (he really hates being on his tummy!)As you may recall from my last post, Everett was born prematurely, so developmentally he is 10 weeks (10 weeks from his due date). For me, this means 7-8 extra weeks of waking up multiple times a night to feed him, extra growth spurts, and less interactivity. But I’m just now getting to the part of motherhood that everyone raves about: laughing and squeals, learning as he discovers the world around him, and more interaction with my very happy baby boy.
Since my last post, I have focused my energies on solving the biggest challenges I’ve had with Everett’s daytime sleep: getting him down for his naps, and the length of his naps.
Putting Everett Down for his Naps
During playtime, I had begun to fear when Everett would get tired because I knew that the moment I was halfway through our nap routine which consisted of a book, swaddling, one or two songs, and a cuddle, he would start screaming in my ear. Sometimes the screaming would last only a few minutes, and sometimes up to 15 minutes or more. I tried troubleshooting the issue on my own. I researched on the internet and read as much as I possibly could, but all of the reasons I found for why this may be happening didn’t seem to apply to me.
Was I too late in getting him to bed? No – At the first sign of drowsiness, I would sweep him up and take him to his bedroom to start the nap routine.
Was I putting him to bed too early? No – He had yawned, or started staring off into the distance – sure signs that he was getting tired.
Was it my singing voice? No – I always score well when I’m the singer in Rock Band…
I discussed the issue with Jenn at BabyZzz and she advised me to do two things:
1. Shorten the nap routine – 10 minutes tops.
2. After I’ve put Everett down, walk away with confidence.
Sounds easy enough. I tried it the very next day. The nap routine became one book, a swaddle, lights out and a quick song as I put him down. Once down, I walked away with confidence.
And it worked. For every. single. nap. that. day. I was shocked.
Before, I would put Everett down for a nap after he had been shrieking for a number of minutes, and hover around to make sure he was okay. Now, with Jenn’s advice, I walk away with confidence and Everett, after fussing quietly for a few minutes, drifts off into slumber on his own. I’m not only teaching him the self-soothing skills he needs to fall asleep, but I’m saving my sanity. No one likes to hear their baby cry, and with this new routine, I rarely have to.
Sure, sometimes he cries and I have to go in and comfort him, but it now takes far less time and energy to get Everett down for a nap. And I no longer fear nap time. I even shared the advice with a friend of mine who was struggling with her 6 month old’s naps and it worked for her too!
Extending Nap Length
Everett struggled with transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. He would habitually wake after 40 minutes and fuss loudly until I went and got him. I tried many things to extend Everett’s naps. I tried soothing him back to sleep, The Baby Whisperer’s Wake-To-Sleep method, leaving him to fuss for a few minutes hoping he would drift off on his own…. Everything I could find on the internet, I would try.
Then I asked Jenn. She suggested leaving him to fuss (not cry) until the length of an ideal nap. For me, an ideal nap would be anything from 1-2 hours. So instead of leaving Everett for 5 minutes after he awoke, I would be leaving him for 20 minutes in order to make an hour. I thought this was a long time to leave him in his crib awake and fussing (again, not crying), but figured it was worth a shot.
It turned out Everett took exactly 18 minutes to fall back asleep after his first sleep cycle. This was the case for every nap for about a week. Eventually, this time began to shorten and now Everett only fusses for a few minutes before falling back asleep on his own. Everett went from having six 40 minute naps a day to two 2 hour naps and one 50 minute nap a day!
Too Much Information
The heart of the issue was this: I over-researched, over-read and over-analyzed everything about Everett’s sleep. I read books, websites dedicated to baby sleep, online posts from other confused moms who didn’t know what they were doing, etc. The amount of information available on child sleep is immense, conflicting and often confusing. Jenn’s simple and customized advice was what Everett and I needed to improve the quality of Everett’s sleep and both of our days.
So what’s next for Everett and I? Well, at 12-16 weeks of age, many babies start going to bed earlier, and some even start sleeping through the night. However, some babies experience sleep regression and wake multiple times a night. With these big changes on the horizon, I’m excited to see how Everett will fare as he continues to mature.
I can also officially start sleep training my baby around 16 weeks adjusted. I’m looking forward to developing a sleep plan with Jenn. I’ll continue to write about our sleep journey once we start implementing the plan over the next few weeks. Until then, happy sleeping!
If you would like a customized sleep plan to help you get your baby sleeping well, visit http://www.babyzzz.ca/Services.html and check out BabyZzz consultation packages.