Monday, April 1, 2013

Baby Sleep

If you want to annoy and unsettle new parents - or if you just want to underscore the fact that you have never had a baby - then you should go ahead and ask them that most inane of questions.... "Does your baby sleep through the night?"

Or if you want to annoy not-so-new parents of a 15 month-old, then go ahead and ask me and my husband, "Does he sleep through the night yet?"

Ha. Ha. Ha.

"No, thanks for asking! No, he absolutely does not."

At the moment, baby G goes into his crib around 7:30, and takes about a half hour to fall asleep. (Parental units must be present cribside, preferably touching his back and playing relaxing music, for this to happen.) Depending on whether or not he is teething (he seems these days to be constantly teething), he wakes up anywhere from an hour to three hours after falling asleep. Thereupon he wakes up every hour until he is taken into bed with parental units. Which is usually after the first waking, because, come on, who are we kidding? I like and NEED my sleep, and I get the most when baby G is in my bed.

The thing to understand about baby sleep is this. That sleep like a baby thing? Hm yah, most bedeviled saying ever invented, perhaps invented by the devil himself as a way to trick unsuspecting couples into thinking that babies are easy and no they shouldn't worry about condoms. Babies are not easy, and babies do not "sleep like a baby."

This is how baby sleep goes:

You get home from the hospital with an impossibly tiny, delicate, most-beautiful creature - your newborn baby. Baby sleeps!You think, oh this isn't so bad.

After baby has rested from the trauma of birth, he needs to eat! He eats constantly, throughout the night. It is UNSAFE for baby to go longer than 3 hours without eating because his tummy is the size of walnut. Therefore, even if he does manage to sleep a stretch, you are waking every hour to vouchsafe his continued existence. You are more sleep-deprived then the time you pulled two all-nighters in college.

After three months baby may have started to "sleep through the night." I mean that in the clinical sense of the phrase, which is sleeping for five hours straight. This seems like bliss.

Then baby hits the 3-month growth phrase, where - literally - they can grow an inch OVER NIGHT. (Not joking.) They wake up EVERY HOUR demanding to be feed. Your sanity is hanging perilously over the edge of a cliff.

At 6 months your baby is old enough to try more drastic (to me cruel) measures of "sleep training." Cry-it-out (in it's most extreme and mean form) is where you say good-night to your baby in its crib and don't go in the room again until morning, no matter what! I label this as cruel and unusual punishment. There are more moderate versions of this that may be better, but let's just leave it at that for now. I'll do a full critique on sleep training later. For us, at 6 months,  I started reading baby sleep books and continued napping when baby G did in the afternoon.

At 7 months baby G was sleeping with us but only waking once to feed.

At 9 months, baby G realized that he and his mommy were separate beings, and that I <shocking!> could LEAVE him. Otherwise known as separation anxiety, it is obviously an important and necessary mental milestone, but OMG, sleep regression is not even the word for it. He was waking EVERY hour to make sure I was still there. I felt like I was sleeping with a newborn again - and looked like it too. (By the way, at the time,  I didn't realize why he was waking. I thought it might be teething or a virus. It was only a few months later when I was reading about separation anxiety that I had that AHA! moment.)

At a year, baby G was waking about twice or thrice a night. Mommy's all-night open milk bar being the arousal cue. (Hey, if I had a warm container of hot chocolate sleeping next to me all night, I think I would wake a few times to take a sip too.)

At 13 months I tried to night-wean, and it was just too soon. And too much crying. And bah, I just couldn't be bothered.

Now, at 15 months, last night we had a break-through! I told him when putting him to bed that mommy's milk was going to be sleeping tonight and he would have to wait until the morning. I didn't nurse him once all night long. Was he super-pissed??? Oh hell yes. He screamed and screamed and was a right little tyrant. But he didn't get his way and he eventually went to sleep. (Although he did do lots of headbashing, as he would dive-bomb his little head towards my chest and end up hitting my head instead. Would have been amusing if it weren't at 1am, 2am, and 4am.) I think it will take a few nights and then he'll be accustomed.

I'm hoping to have him out of our bed by his second birthday -  mostly to make room for a possible sibling more than anything else. I love sleeping next to my little snuggle puppy. I think the most important things to remember when you think you're going crazy with lack of sleep is to:

1) follow your gut, not what some "sleep expert" says, it is your baby and only you can really know what is best for your family
2) remember that your baby will be sleeping through the night by age four at least - that may seem like an eternity of sleep-deprivation but instead of seeing the negative, treasure their little-baby-ness - it is so fleeting! When they are a teenager and sleeping till noon, you will remember baby sleep fondly.

That last point brings me to co-sleeping. Which I also will do a whole seperate post on, but just now to say, if you end up co-sleeping - embrace it! Even my husband who was SO against it at first, and even now is only a tolerant practicer - says that waking up to baby G's smile is the "best feeling in the world."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy 15-month birthday baby Gage

Dear Gage,

At 15 months you are still the happiest of babies. You laugh and smile all the time! You still also babble up a storm, now complete with elaborate hand and shoulder gestures. We know when you are saying: mama, daddy, dog, cat, duck, tea, shoes, bye, owl..... But everything else is still in baby code. You also do the signs for "light", "milk", and "home." (and you made up your own sign for "butterfly.")

You know how to wave bye-bye (although you prefer to wave bye-bye to cars trains and buses), how to high-five, how to cheers, how to dance (you are an amazing dancer!), and how to run (almost). You love to push things around. Especially your toy stroller and toy shopping cart - plus other kids' scooters at the playground!

Your favorite sound to dance to is the song "Mykonos" by Fleet Foxes and the noise of the washing machine. I carry you around on my shoulders in the house when you are bored but not ready to go outside yet - you are easy to entertain and that is a good thing! Your favorite book is Little Blue Truck in the city; I read it to you at least three times a day and then go to bed reciting the words in my head.

You love dogs and whenever you see a dog, or a picture of a dog, or even something that even remotely resembles a dog, you point and say "dog! dog!" you are gentle with other babies and your favorite playmates are Charlotte and Sebastian. You still are not the best sleeper and you still sleep in our bed but we don't mind. You are our little snuggle puppy.

You are really not a baby anymore - you are a toddler with an opinion, an engaging personality and infectious smile. But you will always be my sweet baby Gage. I can't believe how fast the past 15 months have gone and I can't wait to see what you have in store for your daddy and me over the next few months (and years!)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baby books

Since a few friends and acquaintances are currently preggo, and since I am just now starting to find the idea of being pregnant again slightly palatable, I thought I'd do a quick list of the books that have been most helpful to me over the past year. I know I've done a book list before, but that was a shot in the dark. The ones listed below are tried & tested winners.

The MUST-Reads

The Happiest Baby on the Block - I've sung this books praises before, buy it and read it well before you deliver!

The No-Cry Sleep Solution - I have yet to do the post on baby sleep that I keep telling myself I must do, but let me just say that this book has been so helpful to me so many times. Every other sleep book out there will espouse some version of crying it out. (Hello, It works! But at what psychological cost?) And, if you missed my facebook posts about it, or were fortunate enough to not have been privy to some opinion-blasting group emails, then you'll know that I am NOT a fan of letting your baby cry alone in a dark room. Particularly before 6 months of age, but really, not ever. Pantley is not a fan either and she has some practical, sound alternative advice.

Welcome to Your Child's Brain - This is a good one to read during the early month's hour-long breastfeeding sessions. It is so interesting and so refreshing to read because - unlike other books which blast you with unsubstantiated opinion - it offers scientific fact from which you can reach your own opinions.

What to Expect the First Year - A good basic reference book which I would check each month to see how baby boy compared to the "norm." I also received (and still receive) the daily emails from - which I highly recommend - but the book goes into more depth and is worth having.

And last, but certainly not least,

Baby Led Weaning and the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook - I can't remember who told me about baby led weaning for the first time but I cannot thank them enough. I had been all set to make my own purees, buy a fancy baby blender, and spoon feed my baby. And then I learned about BLW (weaning means introduction of solid food in British English) and I was intrigued. When baby boy starting showing an interest in food, and reaching for it himself (at about 5 and a half months old), I just let him have a go of it himself. And it has been one of the best decisions I have made. While he isn't always a champion eater (he is most of the time), and he goes through phases (like all babies), he DOES have the most amazing array of food preferences, and he can CHEW like nobody's business. Letting them only have solid food from the get-go means they actually learn to chew, and baby boy has been gumming down tough meats from 7 months! We went to sushi when he was 9 months old and the entire waitstaff was in awe of him as he sat gobbling down his california roll. Sure, it's messy, especially at the beginning, but so - apparently - are purees. For a good overview of weaning go here, and even if you're not convinced about the BLW thing, buy the cookbook. It has great recipes for babies and toddlers, and some really good ideas about how to make easy, varied breakfasts and lunches.

That's about all for now. This past year has gone by so fast. I'm off to go order What to Expect The Second Year.... and will let you know how it is ;)