Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on Sleep

Violet slept for twelve hours straight on Monday night. That's 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. baby! Last night she slept for eleven hours straight. Sleeping for twelve hours at night is not very common for a two month old. I suppose I need to give it a few more days before I get too excited. We have really lucked out with Violet! I do think the personality of your child has a lot to do with how they sleep. Every baby is an individual. But the way you approach sleep as the parent, does affect them. I thought I'd share how we approach sleeping here at the Long house. On the off chance that it is rock star parenting that has given us a good night's sleep, maybe our philosophies could help you out. Or at least give you some ideas. Or give you a good laugh if you think we're crazy.

At our house, Violet has been sleeping in her own room, in her own crib since she was one week old. And I don't use a monitor. This way, I don't hear every little noise she makes and wonder if she needs to eat. When she needs me, I hear her. Her room is right across the hall.

They tell you a newborn baby shouldn't go more than four hours without eating, including night time. I obeyed that rule in the hospital. When we came home, I threw that out the window. After her feeding between nine and eleven, she went to bed and slept as long as she wanted. Luckily for me, she spent the first couple nights with my mom who sleeps VERY soundly. So mom only woke me when it was FOR SURE that Violet needed to eat. Before you call Child Services, let me tell you that since I felt that way about night time, I frequently nursed Violet every two hours during the day to make sure she was getting enough milk in a 24 hour period. And in the daytime I did wake her from naps to nurse her. (Still do, actually. Right now I am letting her have one nap a day that is three hours long, if she wants, even if that means four hours with out nursing. Other wise, she eats every three hours.)

Also, (this is where you might think I'm crazy, and my elimination communication friends will be ashamed of me), I never changed Violet's diaper at night. Unless her diaper had leaked, or I actually heard her poop. I just nursed her and then put her right back to bed.

After a couple of weeks of the nine or eleven-ish bedtime, we started putting Violet to bed at 8, when Nola goes to bed. Nola's bedtime routine was already established so Violet just joined in and got one herself. And, yes, we made Violet cry herself to sleep. For a couple days, maybe a week, Violet would wake to eat again around midnight, and every three to four hours after that. Then for quite a while she didn't wake for the first time until two or three. Then it creept up to five, and now we're crossing our fingers it continues with the twelve hour stretch.

Some nights in the early days I wanted to feed her before I went to bed, to see if she would give me a six hour stretch of sleep. I know this works really well for a lot of moms. But I always ended up changing my mind. I decided I didn't want to train her to need a midnight feeding. If she wanted it, I would give it to her. This meant that some nights I would go to bed at eleven and get up an hour later to feed her. Annoying. But eventually, she slept through that midnight feeding. I think it may have helped her naturally learn that night time is for sleeping.

My sister, Felicity, gave me great advice with Nola. She told me that a great pattern for babies is for them to eat, be awake, and then sleep. Wake up. Eat. Play. Nap. Repeat. So I don't nurse Violet to sleep. Even when she seems to really be zonked out after nursing, I burp her and change her diaper so she will wake up. Even if she is only awake a few minutes, she then has to fall asleep on her own. This helps when she wakes in the middle of the night, she knows how to go back to sleep with out eating.

The last thing I can think of is swaddling. Violet LOVES it. We use these. Every time we lay her down she is all swaddled up. Super tight. We have never given her a pacifier, but this seems to be the equivalent for her. She falls asleep quicker and sleeps longer when she is wrapped up. (Yes, I've tried letting her sleep free style a couple of times and decided it wasn't worth it. I think she'll let us know when she's done with the swaddle.)

So there's my thoughts on sleeping, in random order.


  1. Well, you know I think you and Ryan are brilliant parents. I am certain babies pick up a vibe from their parents. Your calm, common-sense attitude is surely helping your girls be good sleepers. Well-done.

    (and if your third child throws this theory out the window some day, so be it.)

  2. Love it. All my babies have been good sleepers - and I take some of the credit for that! : ) It just made so much sense to me when Dad told me that babies have to learn to soothe themselves back to sleep instead of being dependent on someone else. I used pacifiers with my first and my last. The middle two who were robbed of their pacifier early are by far the better sleepers now.

  3. The whole bedtime thing is just what I did with Jake, and I was certain it was the trick. Instead of staying up until midnight since I knew he'd want to eat then, he went to bed at 8:30 or something, I went to bed when I wanted, and it was officially nighttime. It seemed like magic at the time. And since it worked with Violet too, I think I'm right. :) Also, I was the one in this family who always wanted swaddled. Your kids and I are so connected!

  4. I won't call Child Services on you -- I think if your baby is sleeping at night they will just drink larger quantities of milk during the day. And really, if Violet is sleeping through the night, shouldn't we assume you are doing something right, not wrong? :)

    I also do the eating, wake time, nap time cycle. I got it from a book called Babywise, which I really like. I'm all about the babies having a schedule (for the most part -- sometimes things have to change so everyone's life goes smoother that particular day). I think the schedule helps me know how to plan my day -- especially with older children -- and know what times will be best for doctor's appointments and such.

  5. Well, I may have jinxed myself with this post. She was up at four last night. I gave in and nursed her after letting her fuss long time that I won't say for fear of looking like a bad mom. :)

    I like routine, too, Eleanor. And sometimes I have to remind myself that flexibility once in a while will make them better people. :)

  6. I agree that babies should learn how to go to sleep on their own. I felt this to such an extent with my first son, that I actually regret not rocking him more as a baby. With my second son, I just taught him how to sleep both ways :) He went to bed at night awake (usually) and for his morning nap. But I nursed him to sleep before his afternoon nap. Of course he would have gone to sleep on his own for that nap too, but I did it as much for me as I did for him. I wanted those extra few minutes of rocking a sleeping baby.