April 23, 2004

Sleepless in South Florida

On this blog we've been asked at least twice if Kate is sleeping in her crib yet. That question doesn't even compare to the number of times we've been asked (offline) if Kate is sleeping through the night. Well, the answer to both is yes and no. Kate has slept in her crib, but she does not sleep in her crib through the night. Kate does sleep through the night but not always.

Sleep has been the number one problem for all of us. Ken and I admit that we are the first people to blame. Not knowing this would ever be an issue, we never came up with "a plan" before Kate was born. My mother always touted that I was the best sleeper. I always slept through the night. And I loved my naps. So of course I thought Kate would naturally fall into my very same footsteps. Now I know. My mother was lying! ;-)

We've been tackling our sleep issues one baby step at a time. In the beginning it was just getting Kate to sleep...so we relied on the swing. Then it was moving her into her bassinet. Now, it's getting into some type of schedule and moving her into her crib. We're still working on this little project.

I read an article, Sleep Success! How one mom got her baby to snooze through the night -- and what you can learn from her bedtime makeover in the March 2004 issue of Parenting magazine. The article outlined a story of a 10-month old with sleep problems similar to Kate's. The "plan" for sleeping success was hopeful, but also very challenging. It was created by Kim West (a/k/a The Sleep Lady). I visited her website and immediately purchased the 27-page booklet, "The Sleep Lady Guideline Booklet" to hopefully get some more light shed on this little sleeping problem.

One of the more important things I read was that there is a small window of time when it is a child's natural time to sleep. If you miss that window, then the baby will begin to secrete hormones. Cortisol is one of those hormones and it acts like adrenaline. So the baby may be all wide-eyed and awake but, instead, they are really wired and overtired. And the high level of Cortisol now keeps the baby from having a good nights sleep. So keeping your baby awake during the day to wear them out for a good night's sleep is a complete myth. You hear that mother? In fact, the Sleep Lady says, "the more babies sleep, the more they sleep. The less babies sleep, the less they sleep."

So a month or two ago I started on that premise. I worked on getting Kate to just sleep more. Yes, I know there are certain places (like the crib) for her to sleep but if she was overtired I didn't expect much success. So, by whatever means -- in her baby sling, in my arms, in the stroller, wherever -- I got her to sleep. It seemed to be working because she started showing signs of slumber around the same times every day. And unlike before, she would easily fall into her naps. At times I would put her in her crib for her naps and for her early evening sleep, and she would sleep wonderfully. We were moving along on the right track.

But then two thing happened...we introduced solids into her breastfeeding-only diet and she's started teething. Both of these milestones have been wreaking havoc on our efforts. The solids have made Kate gassy and caused her to have to pass very unfamiliar stools, which she doesn't really like at all. And the teething causes her to become more restless. Sometimes she'll just wake up and start crying in pain. Ugh! It's awful.

Also, I don't know about other babies but Kate prefers to sleep on her stomach. Because of SIDS I was very reluctant to put Kate on her stomach. Now that she's developing and much more mobile I feel more comfortable about doing it. I still will not do it at night while Ken and I are sleeping, but I will do it during the day and early evening hours when I can supervise her.

Ironically, Kate is sleeping soundly in her crib right now but it took my husband nearly an hour to get her settled in. We're just going to have to keep working on this little problem. I think consistency is what will make make us all sleep more soundly in the end.

Otherwise, Kate is so friendly and happy. She's generally smiling all day long. Sometimes I think these sleeping issues bother us much more than they bother her.
Posted by Jean-Marie at April 23, 2004 09:09 PM
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