Monday, January 08, 2007

Curtain Number One? Or Curtain Number Two?

Remember how I was complaining about Miss Baby's new before-the-newspaper delivery wakeup time? How things change. For a week, she was sleeping about 10.5 hours a night, and waking up at least once, then getting up at 6am. This past week, she's gotten up between 8:30 and 9:15 am, after sleeping 12.5 to 14 hours, with one or zero ten-minute wakeups in the night.

I'm well-rested!

(Please don't throw shoes at me. I'm setting up a mental exercise, not bragging. I swear I don't drug the baby ...)

Sleep, with Miss Baby, is a zero-sum game. So if she sleeps more at night, then ... she. doesn't. sleep. during. the. day. Barely at all. Saturday, she had three naps, of 15, 24, and 22 minutes duration. (Yes, I track these things. I'm a control freak.)

And. We've discovered by trial and error, and then more trial (some very trying trials indeed) that she sleeps best and soundest at night if left to her own devices after her nighttime wind-down routine. That's right. The dreaded CIO. And C she does. The IO can take from 5 to 45 minutes. Minutes of agony and indecision for her parents.

Anyhow, the point of this post is to pose some dilemmas ... the kind of thing I think about during the pre-sleep hollering, the middle of the night feedings, the long and short naps. I wonder what you think.

Dilemma 1:
* if you could lengthen your baby's night-time sleep, but only at the expense of daytime naps, would you? So, in this scenario, you trade a 10 hour night and three 30-40 minute naps for a 12-13 hour night and two or three 15-20 minutes naps. In both scenarios, baby is a little grumpy from tiredness by suppertime. Notice that option 'b' sees baby closing in on a daily 14 hours of sleep, a milestone rarely achieved in option 'a'.

Dilemma 2:
* if you could get your baby to sleep through the night, but only by letting her cry it out for 0-45 minutes every single night, would? In this scenario, you trade a peaceful (if physically taxing and drawn-out) bedtime with 2 night-time wakeups for an earsplitting and heartrending bedtime with zero night-time wakeups. In both scenarios, baby wakes up in the morning giggling.

Dilemma 3:
* do you dare tell anyone you let your baby cry it out? Especially if you believe, for the most part, in attachment parenting? Even if she seems to cry cry cry at bedtime regardless of whether she's being actively soothed or left to her own devices? Even if getting away from the screaming keeps you from getting overwhelmed, bitter, angry, and desperate? Even if baby always greets you with a smile and a wiggle in the morning?

Seems like everyone is thinking and writing about sleep lately. I've read so many books on sleep, I can spout chapter and verse of everyone from CIO-Weisbluth to PU/PD-'Baby Whisperer'. Some things work, or work for a time, or don't work, or feel too awful or too hard or too silly. For the record, Miss Baby is lullabied and patted to no-cry sleep for all her naps. And midnight feedings see her breastfed for 10 minutes and deposited without fuss or protest back into her crib. But nothing seems to really do the trick at bedtime--and yes, she's tired but not overtired when we bathe, and massage, and cuddle, and breastfeed her before the inevitable screaming (mixed with whining, sighing, cooing, and halloo-ing) commences.

Dilemmas. What do you think?


Mad Hatter said...

I've found that when it comes to sleep there are no right answers and whenever I think I've come up with a solution that works for ME, Miss M changes the rules all over again. In short, I've found that on the sleep front my daughter lets me know what she needs and ever since I gave in to that realization, my nights and days have been much more preaceful.

I've also realized that sleep is a journey not a destination--dagnabbit.

Other families make it work in different ways and every baby has her own personality that works either with or against her parents. I'm hoping that Miss Baby settles into a pattern that works for the entire family.

bubandpie said...

Dilemma #1: I'd take the long night ANY DAY. Those short naps are worse than useless, I know I know (been there), but still - you can deal with it when you've actually had a good night's sleep. So better for you. And better for baby too, I think - the naps are important, and all, but I think nighttime sleep does more to make the baby well-rested. (You've read Weissbluth. You know all about well-rested.) Option b all the way.

Dilemma #2: I wonder where the cause-and-effect relationship comes from: does she sleep better because she's learning to self-soothe, because she's worn out, or because she's not motivated to try for some extra attention? In any case, I say stick with it: there's no way it's going to stay at 45 minutes forever, and the extra sleep can only have a cumulatively good effect.

Dilemma #3: My advice is no good on this one - trying not to tell people things has the effect of making me tell them, so I told everyone about CIO, including people I didn't know well, and liked and wanted to make a good impression on, and who (I had been told) were staunchly opposed to CIO. I just suck that way.

(My babies were the reverse of yours, btw.: I had no problem putting them down awake for naps or at bedtime, but it was the middle-of-the-night wakings that just kept coming - by seven months or so Bub was waking every 1-2 hours, just for a soother, and Pie was nearly as bad. They both turned things around after three or four nights of CIO, scattered over a 2-week period, and have been basically good sleepers ever since, with notable exceptions.)

Alpha Dogma said...

WARNING: the advice that follows can and should be ignored if it pisses you off.

My first (Dr. Know) was not a napper. At a few weeks old he would may be go for 20 minutes, but only if being held. By the time Dr. Know was 3 months old he slept 10 hours (for which a LLL leader scolded me and told me I had to wake him up every 3 hours to feed - WTF?).

We did CIO because (like your mini-Mimi) Dr. Know cried whether being held or being alone. It was like he didn't know that being tired and drowsy was okay, but got scared and panicky and had to cry.

I worried that our parental bond with Dr. Know would be undermined by doing CIO. But my mom said she did it with me and I lover her.

Now at (almost) 5 he only naps if sick, and doesn't hate us.

Since about 1 year old, he's done Quiet Time in his room apres lunch. 2 hours. He can read, he can play, he can dismantle his nightlight (but only once then I put it up higher on the shelf). During those hours I get my own restorative break.

As for Danger Boy, he slept through the night (8 hours) at 6 weeks, and had 2 naps every day for 2 hours. We did CIO, but he never took to the "C" part.

I took Danger Bou to the Health Unit for a check up because to me a "non-crying, loves to fall asleep, naps alot" baby was a freak of nature and needed medical intervention. He is fine, btw.

Where was I going? Yes, Dilemma 1: give up the naps, but eventually do a quiet time period in her room.

Dilemma 2: CIO. Mini-mimi won't hate you. Side-effect: bond with spouse while bolstering spirits during CIO cringe time.

Dilemma 3: tell everyone about CIO. In about 12 years you're going to tell mini-Mimi to stand up to those mean girls at school who are in the popular clique and dictate to everyone else what is 'cool' or 'acceptable.' And you should have the same resolve now with the comptemommies (I think this was the term used by Bub&Pie).

Hope this helps.

Beck said...

As awful as this time is - and the constant exhaustion is AWFUL - it does not last forever. We have literally whole months where our 7 and 4 year olds never wake us up at all at night - and it's been like that since they've been roughly 2.
I would always take the whole nights sleep. Always. And all three of my kids have had periods of being allowed to cry it out - not very long periods, and followed by a lot of comforting. All of my kids were able to go to sleep on their own by 11 months old - and the big trick, in our household, was to get Daddy to tuck the toddlers in, since they didn't associate him as much with being comforted and so it wasn't as upsetting when it wasn't immidiately forthcoming.

ewe are here said...

Sleep is a tough issue.

Dilemma 1: We'll take the 10-11 hours at night and the longer nap(s) (we're down to one nap per day - sob!). Because that worked best for all parties concerned. Short naps just didn't do it for MF.

Dilemma 2: This worked for us; maybe not for everybody. My advice: Let her cry; if it extends for 'too long', go in, reassure her you're their (don't pick her up unless somethings clearly wrong), then go again.. We decided early on that MF HAD to be able to put himself to sleep. HAD to! It's so important they can do this; otherwise, they'll learn not to sleep unless you're there holding them, rocking them, talking to them, etc. Very rarely do we face an extended crying session as a result. Instead, MF now tries for extra 'reading time' from his crib for a few minutes, sees it's not going to happen, and then 'reads' to himself or plays with his electronic phone until he falls asleep. Bliss.

Dilemma 3: Grow a thick skin if anyone dares to criticize your decision, especially if they're working for you and letting you maintain sanity. I'll never understand parents who criticize other parents in these areas, because every child is different. (I think that these are the same parents who will turn around in a few years and complain that their kids aren't getting enough 'individualized instruction' which they should be because they're different!)

Mad Hatter said...

Yo I just tagged you for a meme. You're it.

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh, sleep...

I would take the longer night. The naps go away eventually anyways so you may as well enjoy a long night.

Even though we so far haven't done the CIO, I am totally not against it. Some of my friends have done it, and I figure they have EARNED those nights with zero wakings. But I'm pretty sure the crying is supposed to shorten within a few days.

I think you should tell people, otherwise it seems you're ashamed of it, and there's nothing to be ashamed of.

Any other mothers who feel the need to dictate one way of mothering is just crap. I'm all for survival.

(I am so jealous of your long stretches of sleep...)

Naomi said...

Interesting dilemma.

First, the CIO issue. I don't do it. Will not do it, won't hear of it. Except, of course, when I have to do it. Because, as I have learned, sometimes necessity trumps philosophy.

I would choose longer nighttime sleep, personally, because I have help in the day (while I am on maternity leave) or would be at work, so I need to sleep.

Alternately, have you tried shifting your daughter's naps? Instead of 3, try 2? Or perhaps even just 1 in the middle of the day?

Sleep is such a crucial thing, and you would think that children would WANT to sleep!!