Monday, June 25, 2007

Mommy monday: our sleep issues

I think I've mentioned our sleep issues before, but the amount of mental space they occupy is increasing as my return to full-time work approaches. I've spent hours up in the rocking chair coming up with this analysis. We have three problems.

1. Naps.
Minnow won't nap in her crib. She is such a light sleeper during naps that she wakes up every time I try to set her down. I've basically given up even trying and now she naps contentedly in my arms (or rarely in a front-pack). During her 1-2.5 hour naps, I read, do Sudokus, or browse the internet (but I hate 1-hand typing, so I don't blog or work). Fish can sometimes get her to nap in her swing, but we have to return the swing to its owner before we move. At daycare, she naps in a swing or a crib, but I'm pretty sure there is crying involved, something we simply won't allow at home (and would much prefer to avoid at the next daycare).

2. Evenings
We've had a bit more success getting Minnow to spend the early part of the night in her crib. I can usually get her to do a 30 minute stretch before she wakes up crying. Then I struggle to get her back down (often 30+ minutes of singing and rocking), where she will sleep for up to 1.5 hours (but sometimes only 15 minutes). At some point between 8:30 and 9:45, she will simply refuse to stay asleep if put in her crib. If I try to do so, she will resist falling asleep at all for up to an hour. Usually what happens at this point is that I give up and go to bed with her when I finally do get her back to sleep. In the end, I get maybe an hour of baby-free time before I go to bed.

3. The Early A.M. hours
Oh, goodness do we have GAS issues. I could give you the gory details about her erratic and humoungous poops, but suffice it to say that about 1 out of every 3 nights, I end up sitting up in the rocking chair for 1-3 hours (or worse, calming a crying baby for nearly that long), because there is no way she can sleep horizontally due to gas pain. It's not food related (I've been that route), it's just the quirkiness of her immature digestive system. Gas drops don't do a thing for us.

As I contemplate the workload I'll have starting in about a month, I know that something's gotta give. We absolutely won't cry-it-out, so don't even suggest it (and comments to that regard will be deleted). Naps are actually the least of my worries, since she'll be in full-time child-care and they'll be someone else's problem. The GAS issue I can't see resolving until her digestive system matures - maybe solids will help, but the common starter foods actually cause more constipation, so I'm not hopeful. Thus, we are pinning our hopes on freeing up some space in my evenings. We have started upon a No-Cry Sleep Solution plan as of last night, but with the chaos of the move, it may be some time before we see results.

Oops, time to go get Minnow from daycare.

19 comments:

Twice said...

We had some similar sleep issues with our twins. I'll mention a few things we tried, in case something helps.

For months, our colicy daughter fell asleep in a vibrating bouncy seat. It seemed to sooth the colic somewhat. Some people are disturbed by this, but at the same time, our son was under Dr.'s orders to sleep propped up due to immature reflux (he slept in a carseat all night and for all naps for about two months) so we couldn't see it as a problem. We turned off the vibrations as soon as she was a little asleep and transferred her to crib when fully asleep.

Sometimes we let a baby fall asleep in our bed. We then transferred them when they reached the "arm is totally floppy" stage. Many times this transfer worked. We did not want to co-sleep, so we were very concerned that this was a slippery slope, but it stopped really early. Upon talking to many many parents, we learned that a whole lot of them did the bring the baby into bed at 3am thing, especially in the 0-6 month range.

We used the No Cry Sleep Solution - but purchased it probably later than we should have. I liked the "this idea may help..." format. Some of the strategies helped us.

The best thing we ever did was introduce a bedtime routine. We did it at about 7 months. It was overdue, but I don't know it would have helped us before, say, 5.5 or 6 months.

Rebecca said...

My son is 8 months old. At first when he was a newborn we had him in a bassinet in our room, but he didn't like being separate from us. So we started co-sleeping probably within the first two weeks of his life. It made those nighttime feedings a lot easier. Also, I discovered that if he slept nestled in my armpit, he would sleep four hours instead of three, which was a Big Deal. He started sleeping all through the night at six months. He goes to bed with me, and then when he is floppy, as Twice says, my husband puts him in his crib where he awakens peacefully in the morning. I don't think he would fall asleep if we just stuck him in his crib before he was completely out.

Another good book is called "Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler" by Ann Douglas. My sister gave me a copy of it and I really liked it.

Hopefully you will find something that works for Minnow. Good luck!

Chuck said...

Are objects to suck on also off the agenda?

We let LLLL suck on our fingers, in an attempt to break her of the habit of sucking her own. Comfort sucking seems to help the colic. Also, if she spews as well, make sure you have non-velcro bibs, so the tearing sound from taking them off doesn't wake her.

I'll ask Mrs. L for more tips, if you like.

In what environments does she fall asleep spontaneously?

Writer Chica said...

Another book that you might find useful is "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" by Tracy Hogg. I liked it and found it useful.

About the gas, try the Infant Massage book by Vimala McClure. Chicita was a gassy one too. Massage helped a lot to relieve the gas.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

Oh dear, the costs of reproduction... I once complained to some older relatives that my daughter preferred sleeping in my bed. During the night she usually ended up in a 90 degrees angle to me kicking me in the guts, depriving me of sleep and making me an overly grumpy Mom. The only consolation I got was that there will come a time when she will no longer want to sleep in my bed, when she's ten or so, but then I'll miss it, so enjoy it while it lasts. I guess they're right from a retrospective point of view but it doesn't solve the problems of academic parents depending on some baby free evening time for thinking, reading and writing. It's frustrating at the moment, but it will not last forever. There are plenty of sleep advice out there and since parents know their kids best, you'll find out what works in your situation and what Minnow needs. I hope you find a solution that works for all of you.

Kate said...

No advice to offer (I don't have a baby yet, so it wouldn't be any good anyway), just appreciation for the good, hard work you're doing!

Anonymous said...

My son is 15 months old now but had sleep patterns, very, very similar to those you describe. We are with you on crying isn't an option so here's a little of what we did/do, in no particular order.

The first big help for us was figuring out how much sleep he really needed. We kept loose track of overnight 'sleep' (that is how many hours he wanted to be asleep even if we were rocking or nursing in the night) and then how long he would nap if we were at home in ideal nap conditions. We used this to help us figure out his needs so we could meet his and ours.

Until ~13mo (-6 weeks for being early so 11.5mo) Ds *always* woke up after 30min of sleep, both naps and nighttime. Always. None of the things we tried changed this (nursing vs. Dad rocking back to sleep, earlier v. later to bed, sleep in own bed v. our bed) He simply grew out of this and started going 90min-2hours, wake, sleep 1+ hours. Same with naps, around 12-13mo he would suddenly sleep for 2 hours, another hour+ in arms. Some days he still wakes after 1 hour but he always wants a 2-3 hour nap so I can count on that time.

We tried a routine to 'signal' bed time but that didn't work too well, nor did having a super regular bed time. I think both are reccomended in Pantley's book. When he's tired, he lets us know, we get him ready for bed in 5 min and then the falling asleep routine takes about 15-30min and he's deeply asleep enough to be laid down. Naps take less than 15min to be asleep now so its really evolved nicely for us.

Playing music for him didn't help, but keeping a white noise (air purifier) running does help mask our noises. We use room darkening shades for naps.

I nurse before bedtime (~7:30) and then Dad rocks to sleep at bedtime. This was my son's preference from a fairly early age. Then around 11mo when he didn't always want to nurse early in the night, the first two 'wake-ups' or really any wake ups before midnight are for Dad to rock back to sleep so I have fairly uninterrupted work time from 7:30-midnight. I would go and nurse if he didn't fall back asleep quickly but around 11mo we got into this pattern and it helped free me up.

I'm glad you're able to work while holding Minnow for naps. Husband and I did a lot of this and still do. We have managed to get a lot of reading/thinking and some napping done in there.

I hope you find Elizabeth Pantley helpful. Be careful with Hogg, she gives incorrect information on breastfeeding (and I think you're nursing).

The last thing to remember is that sleep is not a linear progression from little to a lot for many kids. There are major advances and then little lapses. Its not always been easy but it has been so worth it.

Anonymous said...

If gas is a problem consider whether she has food sensitivities. These can wreck havoc on baby sleep (as can the discomfort).

We found that as a nursing Mom I couldn't eat eggs and had to limit ice cream when the babe was young. Babe appears to be lactose intolerant and sensitive to too much coming through in the breastmilk.

ScienceWoman said...

Thanks everyone for your tips and advice (feel free to keep it coming). I'll check out some/all of the book recommendations if need be. Here are few responses to specific comments.

Minnow does use a pacifier, which helps put her back to sleep without nursing, but doesn't seem to keep her from crying upon awaking.

As for spontaneous falling asleep - the preferred method is in my arms bouncing and shushing. Other occasional sucesses are nursing to sleep and in the carseat.

One key idea from the no cry sleep solution (pantley book) is lessening the sucking-to-sleep association, so I think I'm going to have to enlist fish's help in the evenings once we are settled into our new house.

I've done dairy, eggs, caffeine, and chocolate eliminations and found no correlation with gassiness. So I am back to eating everything in moderation.

bsci said...

Not sure this is related to your sleep issues, but the biggest issue for us was warmth. We rarely saw this mentioned in any baby books, but eventually figured out the issue ourselves. Our daughter would fall asleep in our arms and either wake up the second she touched the crib or 30 minutes later. The main solution was to use sleepsacks or other wearable blankets. That kept her warm and prevented her from kicking off the blankets. For some desperate days, I even pulled her mattress out of her crib and layed down on it for 5 minutes to warm it up before we put her on it. It felt silly, but it worked.

I'm definitely not suggesting cry-it-out, but we found that allowing 5 minutes of crying with holding or touching her in the crib really helped her settle.

Our sleep issues were resolved fairly easily, but a pediatrician-friend we greatly respect suggested "Sleeping through the night" by Jodi Mindell. I haven't read enough of it to give it a full recommendation, but I've skimmed it and it seems fairly non-dogmatic and scientist friendly.

Flicka Mawa said...

Hi Science Woman. I really wanted to tell you that I like the Mommy Mondays. :-)

Sleep can be a really tough (and sometimes sensitive) issue for parents. Hang in there.

I do not have my own kids yet, but I am thinking of trying co-sleeping when we do. So I am curious; I know you had written about planning to use a co-sleeper, but in this post you only refer to a crib. Why did you stop using, (or not use?) the co-sleeper?

Dr. Lemming said...

Mrs. Lemming had nothing to add, but went out and bought the book today.

At the risk of betraying my own sex, I just wanted to remind you that half the time, you do have the option of just giving Minnow to Fish and saying, "You get her down. I'm going to sleep now."

Anonymous said...

"I've done dairy, eggs, caffeine, and chocolate eliminations and found no correlation with gassiness. So I am back to eating everything in moderation. "

how long did you eliminate these things for? did you do a complete elimination? I found that it took over a month of complete elimination before my son's problems were better, and many other moms I have talked with have had the same experience.

also, we started swaddling for all naps and bedtime ~4 months. at first it didn't seem to make a difference, but then it allowed me to set him down without him waking up and now I can count on several naps and a few hours in the evening before I come to bed. he is almost 8 months and still loves to be swaddled.

ScienceWoman said...

More great comments!

bsci - For a while this winter, we put a heating pad on her mattress for a few minutes before setting her down, and it seemed to help. But now that it's hot summer weather, it hasn't seemed necessary...but maybe?

flicka - We used the co-sleeper until a few weeks ago, when Minnow got to be a good roller and we got concerned about the shallower railing on the cosleeper versus the crib. She still cosleeps in bed with me for most of the night, we just need the crib to work for naps and the early evening.

dr. lemming - Yes, in theory. But everytime I've given her over to Fish when she's been fussy, I've had to rescue them from each other about 30 minutes later because the fussiness just escalates. Hopefully as she gets older we figure out a way for fish to be more of an evening helper.

anonymous - I eliminated each thing for about a week (although caffeine and chocolate were each gone for >2 months). I wasn't seeing any positive changes after a week and it was to hard to keep up without progress. As we introduce solids, I'll definitely look for any reactions. If she reacts to something directly, I will also try eliminating it from my diet.

We swaddled minnow until almost 4 months but then she could break out immediately and had also gotten to long for her miracle blanket (great for newborns though!). We didn't notice any difference in her sleep patterns once we stopped swaddling her. I know for some babies it makes a huge difference though.

Flicka Mawa said...

I'm glad to hear that you are liking the co-sleeper. I suppose if she is used to co-sleeping, it could be extra hard to get her down without you in the evening when you want to get some work done.

One of the babies I sat for had a seat in the crib that he was buckled into, not as straight up as a car seat but more inclined than the crib. I wonder if this might help with the gas keeping her from sleeping?

Flicka Mawa said...

One more thing - has Fish tried "wearing" Minnow and dancing with her? It seems to be the most calming thing with the babies I take care of. I might try the Dr. Sears sling to make this less of an arm work-out.

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/5/t051121.asp

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed with Jodi Mindell's book. She has a very strict or rigid agenda for getting kids to sleep without needing you at all. I had high hopes before i started. I liked Pantley and found that to be a really useful read.

Cosleeping and breastfeeding while sidelying has helped the most in our family. Baby alternates between needing our help to sleep and being sensitive to our movements. Its tough when your little one isn't a sound sleeper!

Rocking is the favorite for falling asleep here which is nice because it can be done sitting down and I developed a nice arrangement so I could read or type on my laptop (both hands) while baby slept on my lap.

Bed UK said...

If, like me, your sleep problems stem from a bad back, and you can't stand the pain of chiropractic treatment but you are looking for an effective, long term remedy - then may i suggest a new mattress (or to be more specific – an orthopaedic, temperpedic, or memory foam mattress)
A whole range of specialist mattresses have been designed in order to try and correct posture and alleviate back and neck pains. The benefits are long-term and you don't need to regularly visit [and pay!] some heavy handed therapist to relieve the pain! I recently purchased an orthopaedic memory foam mattress online, and I can report, that after a fortnight sleeping on it, i wake up feeling much better than I did when I slept on my old mattress and i foresee a lack of future visits to my heavy handed chiropractor!!

Although one may jump to the conclusion that such specialist mattress prices are high, if you look hard enough you can find cheap mattresses out there, especially online. If you are dispirited by the expense, just think of the long term benefits for your health... a decent mattress can last up to 10 years!

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