April 22, 2004

Week 8: Don't Hate My Sleeping Child

If there's anything X-Men 2 taught us, it's that it can be hard for parents to accept their mutant children. Even if her mutant power is sleeping through the night. Maybe it's just a phase, we thought. Or is it something we did that made her this way? Gingerly, we asked around, trying hard not to let slip our daughter's "secret," in case it made them hate us.

But now, I have to say, I'm proud of my sleeping daughter. If she wants to sleep 7, 8, 10 hours a night, I'll support and love her for who she is. [Although we do draw the line at sleeping past 9AM so my wife can feed her before leaving for work; we're old-fashioned, I guess.]

Call it it the Sleepist Agenda, but I think many children have the potential to sleep through the night. I bet someone could even devise a numbered scale, say from 1 to 6, to rate a kid's propensity to sleep. Ultimately, children, families, society would be much better off if more kids explored their sleeping side early on.

Here are some things we've done to nurture our kid's sleeping nature.

Nighttime routine
We started something of a routine/ritual very early, like 3 weeks, even though it had little/no discernible effect on the kid's sleeping. Lights down, quiet voices, putting on pajamas, and, last thing, a latenight feeding to top her off (10:30, 11 or so). This helped us as much/more than the kid, if only by giving us [unfounded?] hope that we'd get through the first month.

The last few weeks, we added in the bath, and we don't play or overstimulate the kid at night. Lately, she's been overtired, and we're thinking we have to move this ritual up an hour or so, just so she's more comfortable (and will wake up earlier). [Check out the some good discussion of overtiredness on Trixie Update.]

No mid-night feeding
Well, almost no nighttime feeding. Our friends with 6-month and 8-month old kids talk about still feeding their kids at night. We started getting a 5-6 hour stretches at 4 weeks, though, which freaked us out. The couple of kid freakouts we've had, one, we fed her; and the other, we waited a bit, then comforted her, but left her in the crib. She did the rest herself, and dropped back to sleep. People say it's too early for the whole Ferber, Cry It Out thing, but it feels like that's what we're doing. That, and some Brazeltonian self-soothing. [References like that must sound like Finnish to a non-parent.]

Not many long naps in the day
From what I read and hear, it's not like a baby has a finite amount of sleeptime they allocate to the day or night. Nighttime sleep is more like use-it-or-lose-it vacation days. Still, our kid doesn't go in for long naps in the daytime. She takes 20, 30 minutes, maybe 45, and eats every 2.5-3 hours.

Baby Benadryl
We just keep giving her a dropperful of this miracle drug after every meal. It's AWESOME.

[just kidding.]

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