Sunday, April 20, 2014

6 Tips for dealing with babies who hate sleep

Happy Easter!! He is RISEN! It has been an utterly beautiful day, and now we are spending some much needed time relaxing after a great Easter weekend.

It has been months since I've posted anything here because well, I have been exhausted. Agnes is growing by leaps and bounds, smiling, laughing, happy, and she is a complete joy. But at four months old, she is still sleeping terribly. Tommy was not the greatest sleeper either when he was little, but around two months he did give me a random stint of sleeping through the night, so I did have a little time to recover before he reverted back to multiple night wakings. I can count the number of decent nights that Agnes has had on one hand, and its safe to say that I have been in quite a daze ever since she was born. Don't get me wrong, its not all bad. Recently she started napping in her crib for all her naps (even though they aren't very long), and she sleeps in her crib every night. She is, however, completely paci obsessed, and still has to be swaddled verrry tightly in order to get any shut eye. And then there's the waking every two hours at night. Sometimes all night...sometimes its only an hour and a half between wake ups. Sometimes its only an hour. Her first stretch of sleep is usually the longest, but she hasn't gone longer than four hours in at least two months. So far I haven't been able to force myself to go to bed at 7 30, so usually I don't get to enjoy many of those initial hours. This isn't a post to complain about her sleeping or how tired I am, but to give some advice (mostly to myself, for future reference) about the ways I've been trying to cope with the sleep deprivation. So here goes: My top tips for dealing with a baby who doesn't sleep!

1. Don't over-analyze
So you read an internet article that says your baby should be sleeping X amount hours during the day for naps, but she will only take 20-30 minute naps This is Agnes. Short little naps here and there, and not really on any predictable schedule. BUT-she wakes up happy and smiling and chatting, so I've learned to just accept that this is her pattern, at least for now. I've been learning to change my attitude from "GAH! She only slept 30 minutes!" to "Great! She slept 30 minutes and I got to hang with Tommy, or put some laundry away. Better than nothing!" And once that crappy nap is over, just forget about it. Move on...there will be another naptime in a few hours. Don't sweat it. Same with spending hours trying to get her to nap if she is just not having it. It's okay to take a break and try again later instead of working yourself into a tizzy and thinking "WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH WON'T SHE JUST GO TO SLEEP." Take a breather, and try as best you can to move on.

2. Dont coun't the number of wake ups
In the morning, when you still haven't had any coffee and you are still bleery eyed and trying to recall the night before, resist the urge to count the number of times the baby woke up. In my experience, this only makes me mad, and encourages me to spend the morning complaining about how often she was up in the middle of the night. Once the morning rolls around, let last night be over and just forget about it. Dwelling on some crazy number isn't going to help you get through today.

3. Don't count the number of hours YOU got to sleep
In the same vein as number two, resist the urge to count the number of hours you slept in between the wake ups, for the same reason. Yes, it probably wasn't enough sleep, but its morning now and calculating the number of hours you got vs. the number you needed isn't going to help anyone. Maybe tonight will be better.

4. Stay away from google
Going online and googling "4 month old not sleeping!!!!" is only going to open up a world of terrible advice or make you feel like you are completely failing your child for not "giving them the gift of sleep." If you're a mom, you have enough to worry about already without feeling like the fact that your baby isn't sleeping is somehow you're fault. Plus its totally confusing, and the discrepancies in all of the baby sleep advice you will read online will only serve to frustrate you more if you are feeling lost. I'm getting tired of reading people's advice and opinions on what babies SHOULD be doing, and how to help a baby sleep more. There's too much advice out there and it is completely overwhelming, especially when you try to implement it and it just doesn't work for you. OR you will just drive yourself crazy when you see people asking for advice on how to get their babies to stop waking twice a night. I'll admit I have had many a self-righteous conversation in my head that goes something like "How DARE that mom complain about TWO night wakings! THE OUTRAGE!" It's not that mom's fault. We are all tired, and we are all looking to get more sleep. We need to give each other, and ourselves a little grace and know that this too shall pass. And stay the frick away from google.

5. It's NOT your FAULT
Sure, you are the mom and its you're job to make sure your kids get naps and decent sleep at night, but some babies just have to grow into it, and need some time. Some people (who happen to have great sleepers) will tell you that the reason their kids sleep so great is because they have been taught to sleep great. That may be true, but I do also believe that baby sleep has a lot to do with temperment, and every baby is different. Don't get caught in the trap of feeling like the reason your kid isn't sleeping is because you aren't taking the time to be attentive to their sleep needs. Chances are you are doing everything right, and you just need to wait it out, until they start sleeping on their own, or until they are old enough to handle that extra little nudge in the right direction: sleep training. This too shall pass, and you are doing the best you can.

6. Caffeine
Need I say more?

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