Saturday, October 24, 2009

Owen photos 19 months

Some recent photos of Owen. The yellow leaves shots are from today 10/24/09, the backyard shots are from Sept. 30. All 19 months (He turned 19 months on Oct. 1).
I am 37 weeks, due very soon.


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sleep schedule 19 months and having a sitter put the baby down

So I created this category "sleep problems" and updated it from time to time with the issues I was having with Owen early on. I didn't realize HOW difficult newborn/infant/toddler sleep can be for MOST parents. Matt and I had a really hard time for the first 6-9 months and then it seemed to improve from there. I'm hoping I can help shape the sleep of my new baby (I'm 35 weeks now) faster but I'm open to the idea that ALL babies have a mind of their own and one can only do so much.

Last time I wrote about sleep was April and Owen was consolidating from two to one naps. I'll address that briefly. Owen moved smoothly from two naps to one. Once I decided to make the switch, I followed my instinct which was to allow him to sleep at 10AM, instead of 9AM for a week or so, then slowly move that nap further and further towards my goal time of 1PM. We were at 11AM for a month but he was still sleeping through the night, and Kim West, The Sleep Lady was weary about us getting 'stuck' in this mid-morning nap routine. It does throw off your lunch schedule. I keep creeping it forward until finally I was able to push him to around noon and that's where's he's been since 15 months or so. He almost never needed the occasional morning nap while making the transition and I was able to be really consistent with the time.

So from 15-18 months he slept from noon until 3PM almost everyday and went to bed around 7:30PM (in-bed asleep, routine starting at 6:45PM) and slept through the night until at least 6AM but usually more like 6:30AM (and when we get lucky 7AM). There were some day naps that only lasted 2 hours but for the majority of days it was closer to 3 hours than 2. As he approached 18 months I began to see more 2 hour naps and now at 19 months he has made the switch to sleeping AT LEAST 2 hours but only once a week pulls the 3 hour nap.

Also, I will add that Owen will go down to nap or to bed for literally ANYONE. I don't know if this is just his personality or because we have always had other people put him down for naps and bedtime since he was 7-8 months. Our routine is easy and consistent. We can leave him at 6:45PM with a sitter and he's asleep for the night by 7:30PM. As I talked to more and more parents, I'm finding out that this is NOT the norm, which surprises me.

It was a true goal of mine to be able to leave my baby at night and be able to go out and enjoy dinner with Matt or my own friends (AND NOT WORRY). I remember feeling really trapped the first 7 months while I nursed Owen to bed every single night and Matt had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. I knew I needed to end that or I would go crazy. I also knew I was stuck and HAD to put him down or else we'd be in a world of hurt. I thought I'd talk about how I made this work for us and how if you are struggling you might be able to implement this yourself (I'm thinking you have a baby that is 10+ months here)

1) I'm betting it's way easier to get out and about when your baby sleeps through the night so tackle that first. (which means tackling daytime naps before that too). Obviously if you are co-sleeping it makes this a lot harder.
2) make sure your nighttime routine doesn't include something that only you can do: ie NURSING. Or else, guess what? Only you can do it.
3) Even if your baby is nursing before going to bed, move the final nursing earlier and make an appointment you HAVE to keep (I had weddings to be at) to go out for the duration of 6-10PM and have your husband put that baby down one a week, then twice a week, then more often? If you are always taking care of bedtime, how will it ever change?
4) Trust your husband and your baby. They will make it without you, I promise.
5) If your husband is incapable of dealing with it, (and I know they are out there) get a good friend, sister, babysitter and try that.
4) If nighttime is too hard, try the daytime naps first with a sitter on the weekends or weekday but I really think it's critical to start getting someone else introduced to baby at nap/bed time.
5) keep your routine simple. For naps we go to his room, pull the shades, change diaper, put the white noise on low and get in the same chair and read 3-4 stories with his blanket in lap, then he gets set it his crib and we say "night night." We do the same thing at night except add in a bath before changing the diaper.
6) keep your routine consistent. If you want to achieve success you are going to have to TRY really hard to have the same bedtime and nap time(s) EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every day. Every day. Did I say everyday? You can vary the nap time by 15-30 minutes but I'm betting you'll have more success if you nail the times more exactly. I know this one sucks, but folks, you are ALMOST there. I truly believe that babies need to set their biorhythm clocks to a schedule and once they do, it's so predictable. If this seems outrageous to you because you tote your toddler around with you to various appointments and maybe you have another baby or child to pick up at school, then DO THE BEST you can but TRY really hard to be consistent and of course, try to shape the schedule so that it fits for YOUR life and baby's life. I would encourage you to keep a log and try it for 2 weeks and see what happens. ** I cannot stress how much I hated coming home every morning when Owen slept two naps, one at 9AM and one at 1PM, IT SUCKED. I never got any errands done, I was always at home, I could never join the library story time at 9:30AM, etc. HOWEVER, it was predictable as hell and guess what? I could get a babysitter to put Owen down and then I could go out and do errands if I really needed to. I hired a nanny to come in 2-3 days a week and watch him while I worked AND I was FREE on weekends ALL day if I wanted to leave him.
7) only make changes to your routine or life if you are ready and have support, otherwise if won't work and you'll be a wreck. All in good time but eventually you will have to LET GO. Maybe it's not right for you until your baby is 3 or 4 or 5? That decision is up to you.

I've heard it all from friends and parents and I know it's not easy when your husband travels or works late, etc. etc. I know it's not easy to "make an appointment" for yourself if you are a stay-at-home mom BUT DO IT. GET OUT without that baby. I know it seems easier just to put that baby down yourself BUT really, in the long run, it's a great bonding time for your baby and your husband and it's a great thing to feel that your child is safe with someone else.

Maybe I've just got a super independent little fellow, maybe I helped him get there? Maybe it's just his personality? -- I don't know, but what I do know is that at a certain point, all children need some time away from their parents -- it's healthy and good for them to be exposed to some different people besides Mommy. Frankly, I think this Mommy gets a little boring sometimes and Owen actually goes down BETTER for someone else.

Just this week while family was in town for my sister's wedding: my Dad put him down with 10+ adults and kids eating dinner and being loud downstairs, a new babysitter put him down the next night, my husband put him down, we left him to go to my sister's daytime wedding and another new babysitter put him down for his nap. I'll admit, I was prepared that none of this would work with the chaos of family and cousins running around in our home all week, but Owen's routine was more powerful than I anticipated.

Good luck!

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