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Aug 2 2012

Figuring Out This Sleep Thing by Trial & Error

By at 4:12 pm

baby sleeping holding on fingerTo sleep. Ever since I became a mother last May, that’s all I’ve wanted.

Lila started life as a good sleeper. But our beginners’ sleep luck ran out during her third month, in the run-up to our Boston-D.C. move.

We clung to the notion that Lila was osmosing our pre-move stress and hoped that everything would resolve itself post-relocation. Instead, things deteriorated.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 13 2012

The Problem with the Ferber Method

By at 10:27 am

baby crying in cribAnd now, a word from a professional baby sleep coach:

Who hasn’t heard of Ferberizing a baby? As an acclaimed doctor and leader of a child sleep disorder clinic in Boston, Richard Ferber has become so well-known that his name even has a verb.

Many parents contact me who feel hesitant to leave their babies crying alone, and as a mother of a brood myself, I can’t argue with them. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2012

What’s Easiest for Mama is Best for Kids

By at 9:35 am
new york city bus stop

My kids can handle the bus.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific heuristic that, simply put, states the easiest solution to a problem is, more often than not, the right one.

I am Occam’s Mother. I believe that the easiest thing for me to do, vis-à-vis my kids, is, more often than not, the right thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 9 2011

I Miss Him When He Sleeps

By at 10:26 am

Good morning everybody! Here’s something sweet to start your Wednesday.

He opens his eyes and starts to stir

Calls out for me, because I’m preferred

He nurses sweetly in the chair

I run my fingers through his hair

He’s off to play and make a mess

I haven’t even showered yet

I try my best to get things done

But get sidetracked with Lego fun Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 4 2011

Daylight Savings Time for Toddlers

By at 11:30 am

alarm clock at 2amDaylight savings time (DST) ends on Saturday night (or Sunday morning, if you want to get all technical). In the fall, we set our clocks back by one hour, ostensibly giving us extra time on Sunday to rake the leaves or play with the kids or get an early start on our Hanukkah shopping (OY!).

In my case, I’m likely going to spend that extra hour trying not to drool into my coffee while feigning interest in the latest adventures of Baby Doll Who Wears a Tank Top and Drives a Minivan. (I much prefer playing Narcoleptic Baby, but the girls didn’t seem so interested.)

Daylight savings isn’t such a big deal for those of you who either don’t have kids, or have kids that are old enough to pour their own cereal and turn on the Sunday morning cartoons by themselves. If you’re like me, however, with two under 4, Sunday morning is going to, well, suck. That barely-tolerable 6 AM wake-up from your little ankle biter will become an absolutely intolerable 5 AM wake-up call, and having woken up too early, your child will be a complete mess by about 5 PM. But if you take pity on her little exhausted soul and put her to bed too early, you’ll pay for it. The next morning you’ll find yourself reading that damn Tu Bishvat board book over and over as you watch the sunrise.

Well, I’ve decided this year is going to be different. There has got to be some way to prepare the girls, some simple steps I can take that will get their sleep schedules back on track quickly. I’ve done a little research, and here’s what I’ve found:

Option #1: Start to adapt their schedule a few days before DST ends, in hopes that by the time the clock change rolls around, they’ll already be on board. Most websites suggest putting the babies to bed about 15 minutes later each night, with the hopes that they will then wake up 15 minutes later in the morning. I have two concerns about this option: first, it assumes a level of organization and planning that I’m not currently capable of, and second, it rests entirely on the assumption that later bedtime = later wake-up. In my experience, later bedtime = early wake-up, fussy baby, grumpy parents and an inevitably screwed up nap. Not exactly the outcome I was hoping for.

Option #2: Do nothing until after the time change. Put them to bed at the usual time (according to the clock) and just deal with the fact that the last hour or two of the day (when the clock says it’s 7 pm, but their little bodies think it’s 8 pm) will be a complete shitshow. There will be tantrums and tears, and the girls probably won’t be doing so well, either. Try to distract them as much as possible, even if it means digging out the damn Barbie. Rip that daylight savings band-aid right off, and hope that the wound has healed by morning. Of course, the main problem with this plan is that it involves keeping the girls up late, which, as I mentioned earlier, is bound to end poorly.

Option #3: Ignore the whole mess until the last possible moment. Purchase extra beer (or chocolate, or whatever your preferred coping food may be) on Saturday night. Pay no attention to the clocks, except the one on the coffee maker, which will be checked and re-checked. Bribe husband (with money, sex, folded laundry, home-cooked meal, WHATEVER IT TAKES) to pull wake-up duty on Sunday morning. If your bribery fails, consume shocking amounts of coffee, knowing that you will be able to sleep tonight no matter what, thanks to the beer and chocolate you bought (and the girls who had you up at 5 am). Thank God (again) for daycare on Monday morning.

In all honesty, it’s hard to know which option makes the most sense. But the first two don’t make any mention of coffee or beer, so I suspect we’ll be going with #3. Oh, and if any of you have better ideas, I would really love to hear them!

Oct 12 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Ack! My 4-month-old Won’t Sleep

By at 12:47 pm

If this isn't what's happening in your house, it's time to talk to Batya.

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com

Dear Batya,

My child is screaming upstairs as I write this.

My 4.5 month old has been very good about going to sleep. He nurses during naps, at night, and every two or three hours during the night. He sleeps with us, so we just lie down together and then once he is asleep I sneak away. Just this week, he started nursing for a few minutes and then pops off and starts babbling. He does this during naps and night time. He didn’t really take a good nap today or yesterday. I adore him and would much rather play with him than clean up the kitchen, but the child needs to sleep. So I am trying to let him cry himself to sleep (thanks for the suggestion, Mom). It feels terrible and I’m having a glass of Manischewitz. No joke.

Our ideal situation would be that my husband or myself could get Abraham ready for bed, help him wind down, and then put him in his crib (we’d like our bed back for at least part of the night…) and then he would sleep with minimal fussing for more than three hours. I know it won’t happen overnight, but maybe by the time he goes to college? Maybe sooner?

Hi Vicki,

First of all, you can definitely teach him to become a better sleeper…before he goes off to college! There is typically sleep regression at 4 months of age, so it’s not surprising that he suddenly has decided to fight sleep.

The most important thing to address first is a consistent routine to prevent his overtiredness. Here is an example of a schedule that may work for you both:

6:30 – Wake and Breast milk or Formula
7:45 – Nap
8:15-8:45 – Breast milk or Formula
9:45 – 10:00 – Nap
10:45 – 11:15 – Breast milk or Formula
11:45 – 12:00 – Nap
1:15 – 1:45 – Breast milk or Formula
2:00 – Nap
3:45 – 4:15 – Breast milk or Formula
4:45 – Nap
5:45 – Begin bedtime routine
6:00 – Breast milk or Formula
6:15 – Bedtime (aim to have him asleep by this time)

Additionally, he will still probably need 1-3 night feedings as well.

Once you’ve guided him into a routine, you can then begin to gradually teach him how to fall asleep on his own so he won’t need you to nurse him all the time, only to have him pop back up and want to hang out! There are many methods that work, but are really dependent on his temperament and how he responds to stimuli. Therefore, if you’re uncomfortable with Crying It Out (which it seems you are…and I doubt the Manischewitz is easily solving this problem!), try a gentler approach. You can begin by placing him in his crib after bedtime, when he’s in a calm, relaxed, mellow state. Once he is used to being in his crib, you can help him fall asleep without picking him up, but using other means (holding his hand, rubbing his belly, singing to him, etc.). As the nights progress he will gradually fall asleep more quickly and easily and you can then begin helping him less and less until he’s more or less learned how to self-soothe.

Contact Batya and mention you saw her on Kveller for a free phone consultation! www.BatyatheBabyCoach.com

Oct 11 2011

In Hansel and Gretel’s Oven

By at 3:41 pm

This is what my body feels like. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

Hot flashes are Mother Nature’s catty epilogue to pregnancy. And all I want to know is, Why? Hasn’t she messed enough with me and my body?

When I began telling people I was pregnant last year, women kept warning me that I would feel warmer than usual while pregnant. All that extra poundage and swirling blood would add heat. Initially, I thought these women were nutty, since I spent the early part of my pregnancy feeling incredibly cold. No matter how warm it was outside, I felt like I was in a meat freezer. I wore a coat to go outside on days when other Bostonians wore t-shirts. Granted, this seemed to be tied to my intense morning sickness and my inability to do much moving, let alone exercise.

When my morning sickness resolved itself, I felt more like my usual self again. That lasted for a short time, before I became Boston’s newest human radiator. Even though it was a cold winter, I would sometimes find myself sweating just sitting still. Walking outside in the chill was actually a relief at times.

My sudden disconnect from the real temperature in a room wasn’t fun, but it was manageable. I figured all I had to do was wait until I gave birth in May, and everything would return to normal – no more morning sickness, edema, or poor balance. And, of course, other mothers had repeatedly told me I was lucky; my early May due date, they said, would spare me the worst discomfort – being pregnant in summer heat. So, I looked forward to my daughter’s birth and the end of my pregnancy pains and inconveniences.

Little did I know that Mother Nature wasn’t done toying with me yet. Since Lila’s birth, there are several reasons I can no longer sleep through the night. The first, and most justifiable in my book, is that Lila needs to eat. The second is that my breasts become painfully engorged, and I need to pump. Lastly and most annoyingly, I wake up because I’m burning up.

It doesn’t matter how high I crank the air conditioner before getting into bed. I still wake up feeling like a roasting rotisserie chicken, desperate to escape my oven-like covers. If I leave our bedroom, the only air conditioned room in our apartment, to pump in the middle of the night, I typically sweat raindrops. I dream of returning to the air conditioning and pray to feel cooler. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I need to stay on top of the covers for some time to cool down.

If Lila wakes us up to eat in the early morning, I often express shock at how unbelievably hot it is, only to have my husband clarify that it’s me; the room is actually quite cool. That’s disconcerting. It’s like my body has been locked in an oven, the Hansel and Gretel nightmare come true. It’s one thing to enjoy a summer spritzer, but who enjoys a summer shvitzer?

This went on for a few weeks before I called my OB’s office, frustrated by my unchanging situation. The nurse listened to my symptoms before calmly remarking that I was having hot flashes, which are apparently normal among postpartum women. This made me feel a little better, knowing that this wasn’t some alarming out-of-left-field ailment. Although, it made less happy when she explained that these hot flashes could last through Lila’s first birthday. My jaw dropped. The nurse observed that I should now have more sympathy for menopausal women, and it’s true, I do. I just didn’t think I’d be sharing in their misery for another two decades.

I wish I understood why Mother Nature felt it necessary to offer me this parting-from-pregnancy gift, but I won’t be writing her a thank-you note. And I think Hansel and Gretel would agree that an oven is no place for anyone but a witch to be.

Sep 28 2011

New Baby’s Owner’s Manual

By at 12:56 pm

The closest thing you're going to get to an owner's manual.

Don’t you just wish they came with one? It would be so much easier to be a parent if there were instructions. Like, this kind of a cry at 3 am means your child is tired. Or, this weird thing they’re doing with their mouth means that your child is hungry. If only. I remember in those early days of parenting thinking that it was so crazy that I A) had a kid and B) they sent us home from the hospital as if we knew what to do with her. I mean, eventually we figured it out, but it took a lot of help.

Speaking of help–we know just the place to go (besides Kveller, of course!) If you’re looking for expert advice, the community of other new (and confused) parents, and maybe a bagel and some coffee, look no further than the Museum of Jewish Heritage on the first Sunday of every month this fall. On October 2, they’ll solve your sleep issues. November 6, they’ll focus on greening your home, making everything from food to toys eco-friendly. And on December 4, the December dilemma–how to balance the holiday season in an interfaith home.

And did we mention there’s a safe play area for your kids so you can actually listen to the experts talk? Oh, and bagels. For more details, check out The Museum of Jewish Heritage.

We think this is as close as you’ll come to getting that owner’s manual… so don’t miss it!

Sep 13 2011

Sleep Coach: The Restless 3-Month-Old

By at 3:26 pm

So much tired, so little sleep.

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

My 3-month-old is a restless sleeper. We have a consistent bedtime routine: we bathe him, I feed him, then we swaddle him and my husband sings to him until the baby is very drowsy. Then he goes in his co-sleeper and my husband stays with him until he falls asleep.  He usually does a great job sleeping from 7:30 until 2 or 3 when he wakes up for a feeding. I know this is a wonderful amount of sleep for a baby this age. My question is about his restless sleep. He used to only be squirmy and somewhat gassy from the middle of the night feeding until the morning. Now he is restless and a little gassy almost all night. He is waking himself (and us) up. I give him back his pacifier and shush him until he falls back to sleep (I don’t pick him up unless he is hungry).  Is there anything we can do to help him (and us) have a better night’s sleep?

Help!

-Kim

Dear Kim,

It’s great that you have such a set routine in place for your baby. It sounds like he knows how to follow the proper cues to wind down for sleep and remain asleep. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 12 2011

Maybe It’s Time To Stop Stressing Out Your Kids

By at 10:15 am

Calm, cool, and relaxed are not the words usually used to describe parents.

Batya Sherizen, our resident baby sleep coach, just published an article on Kveller about stressing out your baby. As a sleep consultant, she tries to help all sorts of parents help their children to fall asleep. But if the parent is too tense, it doesn’t always work. Batya writes,

This mom, for example, was fully committed to the program we outlined, but she was just too anxious to allow her baby to respond naturally. Her intense frustration rubbed off on her baby, hampering the learning process.

It made me wonder–what else do we do that stresses out our kids? When my daughter purposefully threw her toys on the floor today, over and over again, until I gave her a time-out (and another and another), did she sense the stress in my voice? (Probably.) But what can I do to lessen that stress? How can I calm myself so I can calm her?

Batya suggests yoga, deep breathing, or even meditations on your mp3 player. My mom would recommend acupuncture. Personally, I’m a fan of massage (though I get them way too infrequently).

What do you do to lessen your stress level so you can stay calm around your kids?

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