First Six Months: Highlights – Part 2

I posted about Max’s physical development in Part 1. Today I am going to write about the #1 aspect of baby life people ask me about: Sleep.

One thing I’ve learned is that all babies are different. We didn’t hit the lotto in the sleep department, but we’re getting there. It could be much, much worse.

I was talking to my sister about this earlier in the week. I wish I could have known for certain that things would get better as they have. I think it would have made it a little easier to endure. But I still don’t have that crystal ball I’ve been wishing for.

  • Max’s sleep patterns have been somewhat erratic. He would start sleeping in regular intervals, and then regress back to shorter ones. These regressions are normal, and seemed to coincide with fun stuff like the Knight going out-of-town or me going back to work.
  • That whole Cry it Out thing? Yeah, put that on the list of things which seem like reasonable ideas until you have a precious little newborn whose cries tear your heart out.
  • For the first five months, bed time was usually pretty awful. Max fights sleep like you wouldn’t believe. Who could blame him?  He doesn’t want to miss anything, and certainly doesn’t want to be removed from his parents loving arms.
  • Bedtime would take roughly 30-60 minutes and was absolutely exhausting. Finally around 5 months, knowing he was fed, clean, and well-cared for, and recognizing his cries as not ones of pain but mere desire for company, we decided to let him cry himself to sleep. It was HARD but it worked. He cried 40 (awful, heart-wrenching) minutes the first night, around 10 minutes the next night, 5 the third night and then barely a peep the next night. We couldn’t believe it. I am not saying that it is the right solution for everyone. Nor do I think we should have done it sooner. [Note: After reading lots of books and tons of websites, the best website for me was this one: http://www.troublesometots.com/]

Where are we now?

We are actually in a pretty good place right now…working in the right direction. I hesitate to say this because I might jinx it, but for the past few weeks Max has been sleeping through the night. For real, sleeping  around 11 hours per night. It is a glorious, glorious thing. Please, please don’t stop doing this, baby boy.

  • We generally put him down between 6 and 7 at night – and it usually goes pretty smoothly. When I first drafted this post last week I wrote that he has been waking up between 2 and 4:30 and we have been letting him soothe himself back to sleep. This just goes to show you how quickly things can change. For the past few days he has pretty much slept right through to 5:00 or 6:00. Yay!
  • The morning routine varies somewhat.  We are working on getting him to a consistent, 6:00 or 6:30 wakeup. This means that when he first starts waking up I listen and wait. Often he puts himself back to sleep with little fussing, but sometimes he makes it clear that he wants to eat and is truly hungry. You learn your baby’s cries.  
  • I usually feed him between 5 and 6 and then follow his cues on when to put him back down for more sleep. 
  • Usually after his first feeding he is alert and energized, so we have a little snuggle time, a diaper change and then head into the kitchen. I put him in the high chair next to me at the kitchen counter while I sit on a bar stool and pump (while eating breakfast). Sometimes we read, sometimes he plays and I check email. Then when the Knight gets back from his workout he will take him for a while or I will put him back in his crib for his first morning nap.

Naps

  • Naps are a whole other story. According to my reading, babies’ brains distinguish between daytime and nighttime sleep.
  • His napping has also gotten better in the past two months. (Thanks again to the “Troublesome Tots” website I mentioned above.) 
  • Last month we started using the swing for naps (gradually decreasing the motion) and it has worked pretty well. He still doesn’t nap as long as we’d like, but we can usually get three or four 30-50 minute naps per day. Sometimes he will even go for an hour or more.
  • He always naps longer if we have somewhere to go. In other words, if I want to leave the house at noon, and put him down at 10, he will sleep until at least 11:45. And since it takes forever to feed, change and get out the door…you get the idea.

I really could do a whole blog just about sleep, but I will spare you. There have been lots of funny sleep things, from how he makes his way around the crib, to getting limbs stuck in the crib, to the funny positions he winds up in. Max is almost as active in his sleep as he is during the day.

Talk to me next week and things may be different.  I don’t really have any advice to offer on sleep other than trust your instincts.

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