Hopeful Thoughts


Fighting the Battle For Sleep

If you’ve seen any of my Facebook status updates in the last three months, you are well aware that sleep has been a big issue in our home recently.  Things got so bad that I was literally being woken up by the baby more that once per hour during the night, which made it impossible to get enough sleep.  I was cranky, my husband was cranky, and really, the baby was too.  Neither of us is a fan of letting our baby cry alone in his crib, but I was so exhausted that I didn’t think there was another way out.  I felt helpless.

As my husband and I have worked to remedy the situation, we learned that we’ve been doing a lot of things wrong from the beginning.  Our lives would have been a lot different if we’d made some different choices about sleep from the start.  I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in the last six months in hopes of saving new moms and moms to be form the same frustration.

First of all, EVERYONE has their opinions about babies and sleep.  You’re going to get advice from every extreme and in between possible.  The best thing to do is listen to what people have to say, do some research on your own, and then make choices that are right for your family.

Tip #1:  Read up on sleep ahead of time

There are some great books out there, and knowledge is the best tool.  If we had read more before G was born, then we would have been able to prevent a lot of the problems we’ve had.

Tip #2:  Swaddle your baby

We started out doing this with great success and then I stopped for no good reason.  G sleeps so much better when he’s cozy and swaddled.  Now, I swaddle him every time he sleeps, even at 6 months old.

Tip #3: Decide where your baby is going to sleep and stick to it.

We decided that Grayson was going to sleep in his play yard and then transition to his crib.  In a perfect world, he would sleep in the bed with us, but my husband is a very hard sleeper that moves a lot.  That said, we felt it would be safest for the baby if he didn’t sleep with us.  Take a look at these photos and see if you can identify a problem.

We allowed G to sleep in a zillion other places during the day as opposed to encouraging the behavior we wanted.  I think what hurt his sleep patterns the most was allowing him to sleep with me for three weeks while at my parents’.  Please let me make it clear that I am not opposed to co-sleeping.  However, you can’t expect your baby to sleep in his own bed if he gets used to sleeping with you.

Tip #4: Don’t trust your baby to sleep when he needs to.

I was convinced that my baby was a cat-napper who wouldn’t nap more than 30 minutes at a time.  Then I read in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child that this simply isn’t true.  Babies will give you clues to when they are tired, but parents have to take the initiative to put them down for naps.

Once I started paying attention to G’s cues, I realized a pattern in his sleepy times.  He takes at least three naps a day, and every one is at least an hour.  I am sure to swaddle him and put him in his crib if at all possible.  He never sleeps as long if he’s out if his crib.

Tip #5:  You are not helpless!

“Crying it out” was as highly recommended to me as it was opposed.  Fact is, it works.  Problem is, it’s traumatic for both the baby and the parents and we just weren’t OK with that.  (No offense to those who’ve used it.  As I said before, every family has to do what’s right for them.) What we wound up doing was gradually working up to getting G to fall asleep in his bed on his own, and limiting the times I would feed him if he woke up.

We don’t have a perfectly sleeping baby yet, but we are well on our way.  I can now lay my swaddled son down in his crib, stroke his hair, and, quite often, he’ll fall asleep on his own.

Posted February 3rd, 2011 in Baby Inselmann.

One comment:

  1. Allison:

    Hey, Hope! I do appreciate you organizing your thoughts like this. Hopefully we can apply some of these lessons from the beginning!

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