A full night's sleep

Since our family expanded by one, I’ve yet to have a full night’s sleep. In the first few weeks, it was both of us up at various points to feed and/or change diapers. As the weeks became months (we’re at roughly 3.5 now), it was usually Alex being up during the week, but I never really slept that well (even subconsciously, I can still hear the baby).

But last night, no-one woke up.

I feel like the moon suddenly disappeared, and I’m not sure what to do.

We went to a sleep seminar the other night, run by a local expert in parenting. She’s done years of research and compiled what she believes to be best practises with putting babies to sleep, and setting good sleep schedules. At the surface, they all seem like great ideas, and things that we could do to help our child sleep.

Mind you, for the record, it’s not like we have a problem. In fact, we’d adapted quite well to the routines, and everyone (despite the regular exhaustion for Alex and I) seemed to be coping quite well. But at the same time, we both know that if babies don’t get enough sleep, there’s developmental challenges. Perhaps it was time for a change…

The regimented nap thing is a problem. Flat out. In fact, it caused far more stress than our usual situation: just let the baby sleep when it falls asleep. Pretty simple. It’s hardly perfect, but it seemed to work for everyone. Setting to schedule certainly benefits the baby, but now Alex becomes a veritable prisoner in the house.

I want to put all the experts (so-called or actual) in one room. Get all the theories out there once and for all. Then I want them to debate them to the point where there’s one theory. One theory for each of the major areas: feeding, sleeping, dressing, travel, illness, punishment, education, and so forth. I’m rather tired of the conflicting information.

And I’m also tired of the generalisations. Like the sleep schedules. These were set after years of research — taking the results of hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people and setting them into one tactic for everyone. Is it just me, or is that just plain crazy? How can one method work for everyone?

It can’t, obviously. You have to tailor it for your family’s lifestyle. In our case, we’re still figuring it out. But the one success (so far) is the night time sleep. Previously, we’d been feeding, then putting right to bed. The expert suggested that a full stomach is actually worse than an empty stomach. So instead of going directly to bed, we now keep the wee one up until 20:00 (final feeding about 45 minutes earlier), and then put her down. I was sceptical, but this morning I got the official word: no waking all night. No wonder I feel awake this morning!

Lucidity is rather disturbing, though. I was used to being half-asleep all the time.

One time makes not a pattern, and at this point I’m tempting Murphy. We’ll see how this goes over the next few nights, and with any luck we’ll see the pattern form. Nap time will be another issue.

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