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Monday, September 11, 2006

Please, Baby, Sleep

As many of you know, I've been hired to write a book about helping your baby or toddler sleep. It's going to be sort of a collection of parent-to-parent advice, tips, strategies, and general thoughts on the subject, so I wanted to solicit my (several) readers for contributions. (I've posted on a couple of "parenting" message boards but have gotten very little response so far. If any of you know about any online parent groups whose members are thoughtful and active and at least marginally articulate, I'd love to hear about them.) Here are some questions to get the ball rolling; please feel free to answer any or all of them, or suggest other topics, or go off on your own tangents. You can email me at or just write comments here. And of course, please pass along my request to anyone you know who might be interested—I need all the input I can get. Thank you!

What would you tell new parents that might help the whole family get more and/or better sleep?

What is your philosophy of parenting (if you have one) when it comes to helping your child sleep? How does breastfeeding or formula feeding impact that?

Have you changed your mind about any sleep-related issue since your baby was born, have your expectations regarding sleep changed over the months or years, or have you changed your approach for some reason?

Are there any non-cosleeping breastfeeders out there who get full nights' sleep regularly (I'm one, and I don't yet!)?

I understand that "sleeping through the night" is not the same thing as getting enough sleep and that it's not necessarily a productive way to think about sleep (especially when you're breastfeeding), but has anything in particular contributed to improving the quality or quantity of your sleep and/or your child's daytime and nighttime sleep?

What happens when your baby sleeps well but you don't—do you have any advice for moms and dads who lay awake listening for their children at night?

What about bedtime rituals or routines? Do they help more at certain ages than at others?

What do you think about schedules and set nap- or bedtimes?

Take me through a typical day with you and your baby or toddler (does anyone have "typical" days with a baby?). How often does he need to nap? How long does he sleep at night? How do you know when it's time for your kid to sleep?

When did your kid start to sleep through the night regularly, if she has yet?


Heidi said...

These are all really excellent questions, Liana. I haven't stopped thinking about the subject since we emailed about it before.

When I asked my local parenting group, a few people replied with book titles they liked, and I wasn't sure that was what you were going for. Someone mentioned "The No Cry Sleep Solution", which apparently has a related Yahoo group, that might be of some help.

As you most certainly understand, I would very much like to write you a thoughtful answer to all those questions...but my kid won't let me. It was all I could do to poke out this comment. She's got a cold, but with luck in a few days things will level out and I can try again.

suzala said...

I am an "older mom" I had my first child at 42 and my second at 44. They are now 4 and almost 6 respectively. Thank god they sleep thru the nite but it was not always this way.
Allow me to elaborate...
I breast fed until each was 14 months, by then, they were eating real food and nursing was a habbitual way that they fell asleep or would wake up in the middle of the night and want more.
Putting them to bed without it became a ritual. I always read to them (still do) and then i would sing 4 or so songs(Old peter paul and mary, guthrie or sinatra)while keeping a hand on them (stroking or rubbing their backs or tummies. Eventually they didn't get up 3 times and would just go to sleep.
I can remember being so exhausted and sitting on the landing to their room and listening to them cry and counting before i would go back in, reassure them by leaning over into the crib and hugging them but not picking them up. It worked, it really did and it didn't take that long.
Of course this transistioned into not needing the rubbing and hugging but still the show tunes continued; sometimes, 5-6 of them. (slowly walking down the stairs away, singing ever more quietly.
Nowadays a song is a treat but a book is an every nite ritual.

With my son, this whole process was exhausting but bareable. Breast feeding every 2 hours was his on demand.
His sister on the other hand was extremely extermely colicky. Every 2 hours was also her thing but the crying all the time and the lack of sleep and also having to take careof a toddler 20 months older was the thing in my life that most tested my patience and endurance.

I still don't get enough sleep; I am a night person and it is the only time I get anytime to myself.-

Thank goodness, they don't have to be out the door until 9am!!

No one i know had a easy time of their child sleeping thru the nite, (except maybe my mom... )
In answer to your other questions..
WE co-slept off and on- I loved doing it. it seemed like it made things easier. But after a while i felt like i was sleeping even less because there was a child in the bed and in addition i foresaw it as just another habbit i would have to break. I think rituals of sleep are just important now as they were then.
hope this makes sense and helps .. sz

Deborah said...

My oldest is 17 and my youngest 12, all boys and they still don't sleep! I truly think there are so many variables to this age old problem. People from the East insist that children never go to sleep alone. Our culture here in the West insist that children sleep alone but parents don't sleep alone.

I nursed all of my children in my bed and established early a bedtime routine. I usually fell asleep before they did (after 1 story and a medley of EVERY song I knew), I would pass out, they would nurse and put themselves to sleep.

As they approached the age of 3 I put them in their own bed, same routine. I fell asleep before they did. The problem? They have never slept through the night with the exception of my middle son, neither my oldest or my youngest sleep through the night - bath room, noises, etc.

Now, I suffer serious sleep deprevation - I don't have a normal sleep pattern. I don't keep any personal patterns come to think of it, I've constructed an entire life of flexibity.

At first I thought that by monitoring their diets was important but they rarely ate prepared foods of any kind and no softdrinks - so it wasn't sugar, caffeine, or junk in their gut the cause.

My conclusions? Routines are important - from morning to night and be as firm as humanely possible. I was too accommodating. I'm confidant now that routines are safe havens for children, I wish I had developed more than just the nighttime one.