Archive for the ‘Co-sleeping’ Category

Sleep Help for the Weary

Monday, November 7th, 2016

importance-of-early-bedtimeNews report that you probably already knew: Your kids need sleep. On the off chance that this idea of an early, consistent bedtime is news to you, let me quickly fill you in. Consistent bedtimes that allow enough sleep for children can contribute to fewer behavioral issues and even physical attributes like obesity later in life. While many often emphasize “early” bedtime, it’s possible one’s particular situation (e.g., wake up at 5 am versus 8 am) could alter what exactly “early” means for each individual family.

This study hits home especially for parents whose work schedule or family particulars don’t fit the classic kids-in-bed-by-8 routine. Early bedtime routines can also be a challenge for some families with multiple children, especially when one child is in the midst of newborn age, experiencing regression, or any number of other challenges come dusk. For some families, irregular or later bedtime routines are a necessity so evidence that early bedtime routines have a positive effect later in life can make them feel a whole bunch of negative.

Still, the most recent research says early bedtime (8 PM or earlier for preschoolers) lessens the likelihood of obesity in teenage years, even when other factors were controlled and accounted for. Researchers point out children who go to bed earlier are less likely to snack late into the night and are more likely to get a full night’s rest, allowing for more restorative sleep. Ultimately getting enough sleep, not the exact time one goes to sleep, is shown in research to be overall most critical for the mind and body.

In case your family struggles, it turns out we’ve got you covered! If you wonder still about how a routine might look, you can read from perspectives of a mom of one or another; mom of two; mom of four or another.

In trying to get that routine, you may consider want to know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of sleep training. Perhaps you are troubleshooting challenges like crib climbing; whether or not to give up naps for the sake of bedtime routine; or sleep regression.

If you’re at your wits’ end with a sleepless or otherwise challenging night experience, perhaps my ah-ha moment on the great expectations of sleep will give you the feeling of comradery. There was also the time I spoke fondly—yes, fondly—of sleepless nights. Others also offer solidarity on the subject of children and sleep. And last, but possibly most important, two more offer the reality and encouragement to get through the sleepless periods of all mommy lives.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Graduating from the Swaddle

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

img_1699My oldest loved to be swaddled. He didn’t sleep a wink if just one limb was free. My middle son liked being swaddled for a while, but was able to sleep without it not particularly long after he was born. My youngest was adopted at three months old, so I don’t know what he preferred as a newborn, but as a three-month old he was perfectly fine sleeping muscle man/starfish style.

How do you know when you don’t need to swaddle your baby anymore? Well, it depends on the kid. You can get some clues though from your child by observing how she responds to coming out of a swaddle during a sleep period. If she startles and wakes up when an arm or leg gets free more often than not, chances are she’s not ready for life outside of the swaddle blanket.

Likewise, if he busts out and doesn’t bat an eyelash, it may be time to try putting your baby down without a swaddle. You can try and ease him in by just swaddling his arms first and leaving his legs free, or you can go cold turkey, whichever suits your situation.

So what do you do when your child seems like she is never going to grow out of the need for swaddling? With my oldest son, we were in this boat for a while. He was at the top of his growth curve and quickly grew out of every swaddling blanket we had, and then regular blankets too. With him, we finally had to cut the cord and force the issue, cold turkey. His personality is quite stubborn on most things, and swaddling was no exception. We had a rough couple naps, but he quickly got used to sleeping sans swaddle. I think between being extra tired from not sleeping well for those naps and getting a crash course in self-soothing, he became a free-sleeping champ in no time.

How old was your child when he was done with swaddling?

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three boys (and desperately hoping that they don’t burn the house down someday). She and her family are enjoying living an ex-pat life overseas.

 

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How We Do Bedtime

Friday, October 30th, 2015

20151011_163232Our bedtime routine has gone through many various transformations throughout the years. New home, new sleep space, new baby, nursing baby/toddler, and weaned baby/toddler are some of the main factors impacting our bedtime routine.  We also try to take into account the individual sleep needs of each family member.

We are currently in a pretty good rhythm as far as bedtime, but to be honest there were periods when I completely loathed bedtime.

Before jumping into our nighttime routine it might be helpful to share some background:

  • We are a family of 6; Dad, Mom, and 4 boys ages 8, 6, 4, and 14 months.
  • We are a cosleeping family.
  • My 14 month old nurses to sleep.
  • The older two boys share a bedroom. They have twin beds that are pushed together.
  • The 4 year old has his own bedroom with a queen bed in it; he will eventually share this room with his younger brother.
  • We have an “open bed” policy. Kids are welcome to sleep in our bed when/if/as needed. We have a king bed in our room.

Here’s what currently works for us. It’s a bit of the divide and conquer approach.

Bedtime routine starts at 7:30ish with the goal of lights out at 8:00pm.

First, the kids eat a snack at the kitchen table. Then they brush teeth, pee on the potty, and put on their jammies. Most nights my husband reads from a chapter book on his e-reader (so the lights can be off) to the older two boys in their room. He has a chair he sits in next to their bed and reads to them for about 20 minutes a night. Sometimes they listen to an audio book or read to themselves for that 20-minute period. Nighttime reading is very important to us; mainly because they attend a Dutch school and therefore get no exposure to English reading/writing outside the home. We need to continue to foster their English literacy skills so when we eventually go back to the States they are roughly at grade level. Once the 20 minutes of reading is done, daddy leaves the room and the two boys talk themselves to sleep each night. We don’t mind them talking as long as it is quietly and they are not being silly/wild. I actually really enjoy eavesdropping on their bedtime conversations. Most of the they speak to each other in Dutch and it’s always fun for me to listen in.

While daddy is with the older two boys, I lay with the younger two boys. My 4-year-old picks two picture books for me to read to him. While I’m reading to him, I nurse my 14 month old, who will generally fall asleep at this time. My 4 year old falls asleep really fast; like literally the second I finish reading he rolls over and passes out.  The two of them spend the first part of the night together in the bed. When my 14 month old wakes to nurse, I either nurse him in the bed there or bring him in the bed with me. It mostly depends on what time of night it is and/or how tired I am.

The above is all best-case scenario of course, and there are so many things that can hijack bedtime. There are nights it seems we play more musical beds than I would care for but as the boys get older this is happening less and less.  And I feel like solid sleep is happening more and more. I have a Fitbit that allows me to track my sleep and I always feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I meet my sleep goal, lol!

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Establishing a Bedtime RoutineIt’s never too early to start a bedtime routine with baby, but around 3 months is a common time to really put one into play. By that time many babies have started to fall into a more predictable schedule where mom and dad will know, at least roughly, when he’ll need to nap and when he’ll go down to bed. Putting a routine in place before sleep (nap or night, really) can help make bedtimes easier.

In the beginning, the bedtime routine will likely be more for mom and dad rather than baby, but over time the repetition each night will become a signal that helps baby calm down and prepare for sleep each night.

Your routine is whatever it needs to be. Just be consistent. Some people like to start the evening off with a warm bath, which is soothing for many children. Then move on to steps like a gentle massage, diaper and pajamas, some reading time (reading to babies is beneficial from day 1!), and the final meal of the night. Consider including nursery rhymes and lullabies, since their rhythms have a calming quality to them. (At that age, we often read from a collection of Shel Silverstein poems, since they’re soothing for baby and a little more entertaining than your average baby fare for mom and dad!) Keep the lights low, perhaps dimming as you go to signal baby that night is coming. Finally, lay baby in the crib with the lights off and rub his back or sing a song, something simple to help his drift off.

Whatever steps are right for your particular routine, the key is to do them in the same order at the same time each night so that baby can learn to rely on these social cues. Over time, many children begin to go to bed easier thanks to the presence of the routine and their ability to know what is coming. You are providing your baby with security and reliability. You are letting them know that you are still there, every night, and the whole process will resume in the morning as it has every morning previous.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and daughter. She’s a strong advocate for cloth diapers, baby wearing, and generally a return to a gentler parenting style.

Help for a Tired Mama

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Help for a Tired MamaNewborns are rough. Man, are they rough. Each and every time I was pregnant, I remember wishing that baby was out during those last 2 to 4 weeks of pregnancy. I thought, “Once this baby is out, I’ll sleep better, I’ll be more comfortable, I won’t have to get up so many times to pee. I can’t wait to have this baby!”

Every time, I thought this.  Every. Time. Clearly our hormones wipe our memory of the newborn months in the interest of the propagation of our species. But, I digress.

Newborns grow so fast, it can be hard to keep up. Every time you solve a problem, be it leaking diapers, sleeping positions, or controlling spit up, like a leak in a dam on Looney Toons, five more issues pop right up to replace it. When you’re talking sleep, it’s no different.

Here are a few ways you can attempt to get more sleep for you and baby.

  1. Talk to your mom and your partner’s mom. I know, I know. You get so much advice. So much. Why would you go seeking it? Well, here it’s not advice you need, it’s information on the genes that are in your baby. Was your husband a great sleeper? Did your wife keep her poor mom up all night? If you can find out what you and your partner were like as babies, you can get an idea if your baby is just one of those who don’t need sleep or if there is a strategy you can employ to make things easier. Just knowing what you can expect can make a big difference.
  2. Start a routine. A routine is different from a schedule in that it’s a regular way of doing things, not a timed way of doing things. Timing is arbitrary to infants, but they can come to understand that things happen in a certain order each day, and what those things are, and they understand this earlier than you think. Your routine could be nursing, rocking, and bedtime. Or, it could be playtime, nursing, books and bedtime. We did the three B’s: bath, books, and bed.
  3. Adjust bedtime. After growth and development spurts, you may find the old schedules or routines may not work as well. Moving bedtime up or back can make a huge difference in how your baby sleeps. A baby that fights sleep at 7pm may go down like a dream a little earlier or later, or even sleep longer. Sometimes my babies would fall asleep at weird times, and I would think that there was no way they would still go to bed at their usual time, but they did. It’s amazing how much sleep newborns need.
  4. Take evening walks. Evening walks can help baby sync to natural circadian rhythms, plus it’s just a great way to soothe them and get a little fresh air for yourself as well. Wearing your baby on a walk can help jiggle them around just like they did in your belly, which can be soothing.
  5. Change up your space. If baby isn’t sleeping well, bring her into your room, either by cosleeping or using a bassinet. If you are trying to transition baby to her own room, start with naptimes and work up from there. You can also put the crib sheet in your bed for a few nights on it’s own before trying a transition so it has your comforting smell on it. Try moving the crib to different places in baby’s room. You may not be aware of lights or vibrations in certain places that could be waking her up, like a pipe in the wall, a dryer in an adjoining room, light from the street, a clock or another device.

Remember, newborns are just not going to sleep through the night for the most part, and night waking has many benefits, including the fact that it’s great for milk production. But the next best thing to prolonged sleep is predictable sleep, and that is very attainable. Just keep your expectations in check and remember that as soon as you get a good pattern going, a growth spurt is probably going to wreck it again. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and call in reinforcements when you can!

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.