babies, bath time, bedtime routine, johnson's, no-cry sleep solution, research, sleep, sleep profile, sleep training, studies
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.
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:
or, sometimes, like this:
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.
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?
Oh, I SO understand. The Bug does not understand the meaning of relaxation either. A bedtime “routine” has never done much for us at all.
But yes, the bedtime weaning thing is a big deal. Once the Bug could self-soothe, things got immensely better for us. To this day, he is an excellent self-soother and goes to bed with little pain for all parties involved. Your lives will be so much better.
Best of luck, hope Babby feels better soon.
I’m so disappointed that he’s not a thumb sucker. Self-Soothing would be an excellent quality for him to have.
Sleep training… like potty training… and kindness training… and sharing training… is not a straight-forward process. For every one step forward, it often feel like there are two (or three, or ten) giant steps backward. You’ll get there.
Best of luck. This too shall pass.
Thanks. I think you’re right.
maybe the bath should be done at a different time of day:) seems to be more fun that soothe… mine are just the same, but they splash until they’re out of steam. 🙂
as for the crutch wean…. once you start to wean in any way you start to wean in every way, so if you’re not ready to stop nursing, then don’t start weaning… i don’t mean to discourage, but that was my, and some friends experiences with choosing which feedings to cut out.
i guess what i’m saying is you could go to a million different websites or people or doctors and they would all tell you something different… just read Babby, and what works today might not work tomorrow. follow his cues and forget the rest 🙂
Vi will be 1 in a couple weeks and she still wakes 1 or 2 times a night, and yes i give her a bottle, it helps her go back to sleep… for now that’s what works for her and me, when it is no longer convenient or healthy we’ll change.
Hmm. Thanks for the warning. I definitely don’t want to wean off him of breastfeeding, just off of needing it to sleep. Will examine and possibly modify plan.
“it seems like trying to massage him would be like trying to rub a tub full of eels.” I love this image. And your babby. Fingers crossed that his sleep resolves soon.
Aw, he has so much fun in the bath! I’ve not met a baby yet that is “relaxed” by the tub. Too much water to splash! I still use it as a bath time thing, just because I find that warming them up after the tub helps to wind them down. With Fox especially, he hate being taken out of the bath, so he screams his little head off while I’m drying him off, and putting him into a diaper and jammies, but it seems to wear him out. By the time I pick him up, he’s ready for sleeps. I tried the whole “Baby massage” thing for a bit with Violet, too, but all she ever did was cry during it, so I stopped. I suspect Johnson’s is just trying to encourage you to buy their baby bathwash and lotion.
I mean, “I use the bath as a bed time thing.”
I knew what you meant :p
I really feel for you. The unpredictability, the liveliness, the nursing to sleep, the colds…I don’t think we had it quite as bad, but we’ve definitely been there. There is no right answer, and sometimes I think the only real remedy is the child getting older (which fortunately can be confidently expected); but I think keeping going with the bedtime routine and the detaching and so forth does eventually help, despite all the setbacks. This said, I kept on feeding Frank to sleep in the evening right up until I stopped breastfeeding altogether: that was the feed that stayed, when all the others had been sacrificed to me being back at work and him being on solids…
I think the booba-before-bed is a nice routine, and I want to keep that. Just not the after-every-awakening-every-hour-and-a-half. Here’s hoping!
I don’t want to come across as being a know-it-all because I think you’re doing the great by keeping him on the boob, but this is just an idea.
You mentioned that Babby was nursing all night the other night. Maybe he’s hungry in the night and that’s why he’s waking up. I found with my daughter that if I gave her a bottle of formula before bed she’d sleep better. Now even at 11 years old she still likes a snack before bed. It’s just a routine we got into and I found that the fuller she was the better she slept.
Just an idea:) Good luck.
Thanks, but I don’t think that’s it. As I’ve mentioned, he’s had restless nights even after a heavy solid meal, and usually when he’s up all night, it’s the nights when he’s not really interested in the booba. He keeps reaching for the breast but finds nursing uncomfortable on his full tummy, and really it’s sleep he wants, not food. He nurses, fails to fall asleep, and spits the booba out and starts to wail. It’s sad, really, watching him try to nurse himself to sleep when he’s already full!
That’s what I want to fix. I want to feed him when he’s hungry, but I want him to be able to sleep when he’s sleepy. Right now he tries to nurse for both.
Yes. I know all about this and I just want you to know that I’m sorry and I wish I could bring you a bottle of wine. It is hard to give you any advice when the poor little guy doesn’t feel well, but I’ll let you know what I did and maybe it will help you.
I’m with Jenn up there. I nursed both my Things for as long as I could, but supplemented both with formula (1-2 bottles a day) I found that giving the formula at bedtime, even after a little breast, really helped with the sleeping. Thing 2 kept waking up so we just kept upping his formula (now he is at 10 oz at bedtime) and that finally did the trick.
The other thing that I had to do (this time with Thing 1) was make the middle of the night wake up unsatisfying for him. I picked him up, changed him and offered him water only. I think I did it twice and he stopped crying out. Water is no fun.
Do what you have to so that you can get the sleep you need. Best of luck. By the way, that picture of Babby totally makes me grit my teeth. He is sooo cute!!
That second method is pretty much what we’re going to try. If he’s really hungry, he’ll get fed, but we’re going to offer mere rocking and such first. Feeding him as an automatic response to sleepiness needs to end.
Wombat Central said:
At six months, we started sleep training my son. It did mean making the final nursing one where he ideally didn’t fall asleep. It took me quite a while to figure out that my son slept better if I got him to bed earlier, too. He awoke less at night when he was not so exhausted, if that makes any sense. It was a more peaceful sleep. Every kiddo is different. You’ll figure out what works best for Babby and you. Hang in there.
Loved your commercial! 🙂
Yeah, the earlier-to-bed thing was one of the first parts of the No Cry Sleep Solution that we instituted! We’re not convinced it helps, but at least it gives us some couple time.
Glad you liked it :-p
No kidding about baths and books, eh? My kids just get wound up by those too. I wish I had one of these textbook kids that that worked on!
I’ve got no advice for you, ’cause I never sleep trained. Liam just falls asleep, either down here or in his bed with one of us, and that is that. No fighting, tears, or fears. I know Jonah will get there someday, too, once we wean (which I won’t do till he has all his teeth — way too hard). For now, I keep Jonah on my lap and let him have free boob access till I go to bed. It works for us. As for the overnight need for boob to STAY asleep, I’m going to try Dr. Jay Gordon’s night waning plan once Chris is back. You may want to check it out. He doesn’t recommend trying that till after 12 months, though.
Good luck! Sleep deprivation sucks, but it DOES end eventually. 🙂
I’ll look into that! Maybe I can modify it a bit to make it more appropriate for a younger baby.
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