Baby and Toddler Sleep · Kids

Baby and Toddler Sleep [part 1]

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Before Brandon was born we have signed up for a birth class and a breastfeeding class. Both were great classes that gave us lots of information that would be useful for birthing and nursing a baby. However, during my labor with Brandon there came a point where I had to stop pushing, and I absolutely could not remember how to do that. I know we’ve talked about it during class, but to this day I have no idea what I was supposed to do to make that happen. Nursing also did not work out for us so well. I have switched to formula with Brandon after about 2 months of trying and seeing a lactation consultant.

So, sometimes I would really wonder – did I really need those classes? And deep down inside, I know that those classes were useful and served their purpose. Hey, I have been nursing Liya for six months now! Yay us! But there is another class I wish was offered to parents-to-be… A baby sleep class!

About 4 months after Brandon was born I started wondering – why on Earth does no one offer a baby sleep class before you have a baby?! Brandon did not nap well, and barely slept though the night. I was exhausted and kept thinking “This is madness! What did we get ourselves into? Why did no one warn us about all this sleep deprivation? Does this ever end?”, and on and on my thoughts went.

That’s is when I have started doing research on baby sleep. And let me tell you – there is a lot of science to baby sleep. And someone, somewhere, should be talking about it to all the poor future parents who don’t even know what’s coming. Infants’ sleep cycles don’t work like ours till they are about 4-6 months of age. They have limits on how long they can stay awake between naps before they turn into a screaming mess. Going to bed [super] early is best for the little people… All these things I wouldn’t ever be able to figure out on my own. But, there is a God who sees my struggles and hears my prayers! He pointed me to all the right sources, and gave me all the patience and wisdom I needed to get us all back to sleeping well.

Fast forward to today – Brandon is 2,5 years old and Liya is 6 months old. And here is how they sleep:

– Brandon has been sleeping through the night, waking up as needed to eat and going right back to sleep (till about 11 months), since he was 7 months old. We have sleep trained him at 6 months of age. There were many challenges along the way, as there are a lot of things that interfere with sleep (teething, over tiredness, growth spurts, wonder weeks,long Alaskan days, etc.), but we were able to overcome those and keep him sleeping well.

Today he still takes a nap each day and goes to bed early every night. Some nights he doesn’t fall asleep for a while, but he is content staying in his crib and eventually falls asleep. He did go though a stage of fighting naps for about a week, but we kept putting him down for a nap and eventually he went back to napping. We have an occasional nap battle here and there, but I think that staying persistent is key. Even if he doesn’t fall asleep, he still has quiet time.

Brandon’s schedule looks like this:

7:15 am – up for the day

1:15 pm – go down for a nap

3 pm – awake from nap

7:30 pm – in bed, lights out

– Liya started off a decent sleeper. We swaddled her up until about 4 months of age. Swaddling and rocking her to sleep worked for us like a charm. Until it stopped working. We found ourselves having to go back to rock her every 20-30 min for 3-4 hours straight every night. We did not plan on co-sleeping, but Liya ended up in our bed in the wee hours of the morning more often that I wanted her to. Don’t get me wrong – I loved having her close, and was enjoying all the snuggles, but I was always nervous that I would fall into a deep sleep and won’t remember that she is right there beside me.

So, at that point we have decided it was time to sleep train. Liya was about 4,5 months old. Once Liya was sleep trained she started taking longer naps and finally I could see a pattern during the day and during the night. She still takes three naps. Some days are harder than others, but overall she sleeps very well. And so am I.

Liya’s schedule looks like this:

7 am – up for the day

8:45 am – first nap

12 pm – second nap

4 pm – third nap

7:15 pm – down for the night

(she wakes up to nurse around 11 pm and 3 am)

I used to freak out every time a nap would end earlier than expected, or bedtime has to be moved closer. I have learned that I need to relax and not worry about those little things. One off day has never really turned into an off week for no reason. If they are teething or going though some developmental things, then yes, you might have a crazy week. A couple of short naps resulting in early bedtime did not ever ruin anything. If I look at a big picture – kids still got sleep and are happy and healthy.

If you would like to know about all the resources that have helped us to understand how baby sleep and how to help them sleep better, please come back next week for Part 2.

How about you? How are your babies sleeping? What advice and tips you have for other moms and dads out there?

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