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I’m so tired. 

Babby’s sleeping patterns are so unpredictable that I always feel blindsided. When (as on Sunday night) he sleeps soundly in three hour bursts, and nighttime disruptions are minimal (fuss, nurse, conked out again in moments), I’m like “WHAT DID I DO RIGHT??” and when, as in last night, he refuses to stay asleep for more than half an hour to an hour at a time, I’m like “WHY????”

I can’t find rhyme or reason to it.

It isn’t how much solid food he has in a day, because before last night’s disturbed night he gobbled fish sticks and green beans. It isn’t how much milk he gets, because he was on the boob all night last night. It could be the amount of nap time in the day, because he had slept surprisingly well yesterday afternoon, but then he has had just as disrupted nights that we have blamed on overtiredness due to LACK of napping during the day.

It feels like a crap shoot.

If you’re wondering how my no-cry-sleep-solution training is going, the answer is: haltingly. 

Because the kid keeps getting colds.

Every time I start the pop-him-off-the-boob-before-he-falls-asleep program, I notice a difference within 24 hours. Longer, more sound sleeps. It works. Problem is, I never really manage to advance the program because then the crafty kid comes down with a cold and can’t sleep because he can’t breathe and I abandon any sleep training out of desperation. When it’s the sixth wakeup before midnight, you just don’t care anymore.

JUST GO TO SLEEP. HERE, HAVE A BOOBA. HAVE ALL THE BOOBA.

A week later when he’s breathing well and no longer sneezing snot bubbles onto my nipples, I have to start from scratch again.

Then I read this Science Daily report about an online program offered by Johnson & Johnson that dispenses helpful advice to parents about sleep. Now, I have a soft spot for Johnson’s because I appeared in a commercial for their shampoo when I was three, and I remember it well.

So I did the report. You know what they told me?

So basically – your baby’s sleep is less than optimal (what a wonderful way to say “craptacular!”).

I knew that.

You need to wean him off of the breast as a sleep crutch.

I knew that too.

You should focus on a good bedtime routine

I do! I do!

I’ve always been very careful about Babby’s bedtime routine. As I have mentioned, my own experience with insomnia has impressed me with the importance (if not always SUCCESS) of good sleep hygiene.

Johnson’s site also pushes some research they did that showed that a warm bath, a massage, and a soothing bedtime routine such as a lullaby or story, can significantly improve a child’s sleep.

But you see, they haven’t met MY child. He doesn’t relax.

Our bedtime routine with Babby goes like this:

PH takes Babby while I pour a nice warm bath and relax in it for a while until it goes from hot to pleasantly warm (although Babby seems to be able to tolerate surprisingly hot temperatures. We’ve been putting him in a slightly warmer bath each time and he continues to accept bath water temperatures that even have me saying “ooh!” as I sink down into it). PH gets Babby undressed and brings him to me.

Then we attempt a warm, relaxing bath. It generally looks like this.

[vimeo 22628231]

Then PH turns out all the lights, comes to the tub, wraps Babby in a big warm towel, and carries him off for a his bedtime double-diaper and pyjama time in dim lighting. Now, we DON’T do a soothing Johnson’s style massage, because Babby is generally behaving like this:

[vimeo 22628873]

or, sometimes, like this:

[vimeo 22628445]

Sometime he’s just shrieking at the top of his lungs, doing an excellent imitation of a tea kettle. No matter what, “relaxed” is not an adjective that we would ever apply to him, and it seems like trying to massage him would be like trying to rub a tub full of eels. But maybe we should do it anyway?

Then it’s story time, which he also finds very exciting because OMG BOOKS HAVE PAGES THAT TURN.

I SO EXCITED

Then he gets his Zantac, he weeps (as I’ve mentioned before, I think this baby needs to cry a bit before he sleeps, so that is par for the course – I don’t mind the crying if he’s being attended to), I give him  booba, and it’s down to bed.

Ultimately, Johnson & Johnson is right. He needs to be weaned off of the boob as a crutch. Really, getting to sleep is not his problem. It is getting to sleep without booba, especially when he wakes up.

PH has a few days off for Easter. As much as I hate to rob him of his vacation sleep time, we both agree that he is going to have to take over as primary baby-soother overnight for a few days, to show Babby that there are ways to fall asleep other than on Mommy’s booba. It sucks for PH, because it’ll be harder to get Babby to sleep without a booba. But hopefully it will get easier faster, and I can always step in if/when Babby gets too upset. The important thing is for us to make rocking/soothing/singing the method we try first, and booba a method of last resort.

This might make life easier for our babysitters, too. I would love to return from a pleasant evening at the movies or out to dinner with my husband and not hear “he’s been screaming the whole time you were gone” from a frazzled friend. Why they continue to volunteer is beyond me. I think he suckers them in with that giggle of his.

As an aside, how concerned should I be about this?

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