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Posts Tagged ‘good night sleep tight’

In the book Good Night, Sleep Tight Kim West writes about sleep windows. A sleep window is the time your child would naturally go to sleep. If you time it right, your child’s body starts to produce melatonin, which is a hormone that helps induce sleep. If you keep your child up past this precious sleep window, they stop producing melatonin and start producing cortisol, a stress-related hormone that will eventually overstimulate your child, thus creating a second wind. “He will be more agitated, more difficult to console, more likely to need a lot more of your time and energy to help him wind down again and get to sleep.”

If he naturally falls asleep around 7pm and you keep him up until 8pm, he will most like not sleep well. He’ll have a hard time falling asleep and even staying asleep. He may wake several times in the night and maybe even wake earlier than normal in the morning before he is well rested. “This cycle can lead to poor naps the next day, which will lead to an overtired baby at bedtime, which leads to poor nighttime sleep.”

It is important that you learn your child’s sleep cues. Every child is different, but here are a few common sleep cues: “rubbing eyes, yawning, becoming less active, maybe a little listless.” Don’t wait until your child is fussing and crying, almost always at this point you have waited to long and your child is overstimulated/ overtired.

“If you have trouble detecting your child’s signals, keep one eye on him and another on the clock. Try going into a quiet, dimly lit room and engaging in a very gentle activity when you think nap time or bedtime is approaching. The signs may then appear.” For me, I will take my son into his bedroom and turn off all the light and only turn on the reading lamp and we read a story. If he will sit calmly in my lap, then I know it is time for sleep. Try taking your child to his room and reading a story, doing infant massage, sing soft songs together, or lay on the floor and talk to you child. Just keep the activity simple and quiet.

Personal Experiences: My son is currently having trouble sleeping. I suspect that he is overtired and I am missing his sleep windows. We had a lot of disruptions to his schedule last week. He had a cold, we had a home inspection (because we are selling our home) that cut a nap short, we were out late at a friends house, cut a nap short for church on Sunday. I think that all these disruptions added up. I did not see the signs at first, but a good friend of mind helped me to see that he was probable overtired. Then I pulled Kim West’s book out and it hit home. I started to really watch for his sleep cues. For my son, his eye lids get really pink and you can see the veins in them. If he yawns, I may have already been to late. So I watched for the sleep cues today, but his naps were still pretty poor, which is most like a results of poor nighttime sleep the night before. I imagine if I do it again another day, his naps will improve. He has also been waking up around 5am when his wake time is 7am. I know this is due to missing his sleep window and becoming overstimulated/ overtired. His bedtime is 7pm, but we were not always diligent about getting him to be at 7pm. I should have known better because it has backfired! So tonight, I made sure he was in bed before 7pm so he would have plenty of time to fall asleep. Another thing to note, because he was so overtired today, I went back to rocking him before naps and bedtime. I did not let him fall asleep in my arms. I only did this to help him relax since he was so overstimulate from a weeks worth of poor sleep. I am hoping that tomorrow I will start to see the benefits of getting my son down for his naps and bedtime during his “Sleep window” and staying as consistent as possible! UPDATE 4/27/08: My son is back to taking his solid 2-2 hour naps a day and getting 11-12 hours of sleep a night. It took about 2 days of being consistent with timing his sleep windows and watching his tired cues, but he is back to sleeping well! He is not longer overtired and has been in a great mood!

Quotations are from Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West p. 33-35

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There are two books that I highly recommend you read if you have a small infant: Babywise and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. These two books have been a huge resource to me, especially when Cooper was under 4 months old. I have turned through the pages of these two books plenty of times. Both books talk about a daily schedule that follows a very simple pattern it looks something like this:

  1. Eat
  2. Awake/ Play
  3. Sleep
  4. Repeat (eat, play, sleep)

This pattern is important to follow because your baby does not learn to depend on eating (nursing/bottle) to fall asleep.

Be careful not to hyper schedule- be flexible

Depending on how old your baby is will determine how long each cycle (eat, play, sleep) will be. Your baby is not a robot and each cycle may vary by a few minutes each day. It is important not to hyper schedule and only feed the baby by the clock. Also keep in mind that at different parts of the day, your baby will be able to go longer between feeds than other times of the day. My son was only able to go 2.5 hours in the morning between feeds when he was under 3 months old. The rest of the schedule he was able to go 3 hours between each feed. Be flexible. Find out what works for your child and build your schedule around that.

Schedules Change

Schedules are constantly changing based on the developing needs of your child. Keep that in mind too! What worked last week might not work this week. Consider changing the amount of time your child stays awake if you child is having trouble napping by either decreasing or increasing his awake time.

What happens to the schedule when your baby has a growth spurt?

When a baby is in the middle of a growth spurt, if you are nursing, you must increase the number of times you feed your baby. This will only last a few days and you can go back to your normal schedule. If you are bottle feeding during a growth spurt, you can just increase the amount of formula in each bottle.

What determines the length of each cycle?

  1. Eating: this depends on how long your baby takes to eat (nurse/bottle). Newborns can take 20-45 minutes to nurse. As babies get older they get more efficient at eating. My son is now 6.5 months old and he nurses for 5 minutes on each side for a total of 10 minutes. When he was a newborn he was a fast eater, only nursing for a total of 15-20 minutes. Each baby is different and some take longer than others.
  2. Awake/ Play: this will depend on two factors- how old your baby is and how long it takes them to nurse. If your baby takes a long time to nurse then he will not have a lot of time left over to play. Below are some recommended awake times for each baby. Not all babies are the same. Some babies need shorter awake time while other may need longer. Remember to include how long your baby east when calculating awake time. As your baby gets older, wake times could vary. They tend to stay awake for a shorter time in the morning, longer in the afternoon, and even longer in the evening. See my post entitled 2-3-4 Nap Schedule for more on this: http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/2-3-4-nap-schedule-for-older-babies/
    Newborn 50-60 mins
    1 month 60 mins-hour and 15
    2 months 1 hour and 15 – 20 mins
    3 months 1 hour and 20 – 30 mins
    4 months 1 hour and 45 – 2 hours
    5 months 2 hours – 2.25 hours
    Late 5 months/early 6 months 2.25-2.5 hours
    6.5 – 7 months 2.75-3 hours. Some are getting more.
    8 – 10 months 3 – 4 hours. Some are getting more.
    11 – 12 months 3.5 -4.5 hours. Some are getting more if moved early to 1 nap
  3. Sleep (naps): this depends on how long your baby can stay awake and how long they can go in between feedings. Below is a the number of naps that each baby should take each day (this could vary). See my post Infant Sleep Requirements which gives more information about how long each nap should be.
    Newborn- 1 month 3-4 naps
    2- 3 months 3-4 naps
    3 months 3 naps
    4-5 months 2-3 naps
    6- 8 months 2-3  naps
    9- 18 months 2 naps
    18+ months 1 naps

I typed the schedules that I kept with my son every month. They have changed quite a bit as he has grown. http://blogginaboutbabies.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/infant-schedules-by-month/

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In the book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, the author discusses the idea that it is best to put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. This is important if you want your child to learn how to fall asleep on his own with out your help. If you child awakes in the middle of the night, he will not be depend on you to help him fall back to sleep. A very young baby (under the age of 4 months) will usually need assistance to help calm and sooth before bedtime. It is okay to rock, swing, and walk with your baby to help calm them down, but only do it to the point when your baby is drowsy.

The author also discusses the most common mistake a parents makes is to nurse their child to sleep. The key is to nurse your child only enough to the point where they are drowsy and not totally asleep. She writes:“When he stops sucking energetically and swallowing, and instead is sucking gently, a sort of fluttering motion on your breast (or bottle), he is past the ‘drowsy’ target. In fact, if you look, you’ll see his eyes are probably closed…If he wakes up as you are unlatching him and still seems hungry…give him one more chance. If he starts eating fine let him finish. But if he just goes back to that flutter sucking, you’ve been duped! He isn’t hungry, he just wants to suckle himself to sleep. (p.20)”

Your child may cry a little before falling asleep. It is okay. That is their way of blowing off steam. Some babies need to cry to help themselves fall asleep. My son will cry now, at 6 months, for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. When we first started putting my son to sleep drowsy there would be nights when he would fall asleep with no tears and other nights he would cry for up to 20 minutes. Eventually, the amount of time he would cry decreased and he became more efficient at falling asleep on his own. This was a huge help for when he would awake in the middle of the night on his own. He would fuss and cry for a few minutes, but eventually fall back to sleep on his own without our assistance.

Please feel free to share your stories and success with putting your babies to sleep drowsy!

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In Kim West’s book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, she write about choosing the right time to begin sleep training. It does not matter if your baby is a new born or two years old. You must make sure that when you begin sleep training that you will not have a lot of disruptions or events planned. She recommends you block off 3 weeks and not have any plans, trips, or visitors that will disrupt your sleep training and routine that you are about to establish with your child. For instance, you would not want to start sleep training if it was the Christmas season and you knew there would be visitors or parties planned that would throw off your routine and planned sleep training. Also, do not start sleep training if your child is in the mist of teething, illness, or a growth spurt. They will only hinder your progress.

I have a neighbor with a baby. She started sleep training with her son right before Christmas and New Years. They started to see some improvement in his nighttime sleep but then traveled home (out of state) for the holidays. Of course that right there was a huge disruption to their sleep training. He went to bed late and all his relatives wanted to hold him and possibly keep him up late. When they returned from their trip, their son’s sleep was as poor as it was before they left. They has to start all over with the sleep training.

If you are starting out with a newborn, I recommend that you block out even more time to establish a good routine and sleeping patterns. Give yourself until your child is at least 8 weeks old. Your baby experiences rapid growth during the first 8 weeks and it will take longer for your child to ease into a solid routine. Don’t be come a hermit or stop allowing all guest over, just try to keep the disruptions to your baby’s schedule to a minim. Try to keep you baby at home for all her naps and nighttime sleep.

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“Inconsistently reinforced behavior is the hardest type to modify or extinguish. It takes the longest to change, and it often provokes even more of the tears we are trying to avoid.”
p.15 Good Night, Sleep Tight

I could not agree more with this statement! If you want your child to learn how sleep through the night or during naps, you must be consistent. Develop a plan of action and stick to it! With Cooper we decided to use the Cry-It-Out (CIO) method that is laid out in the book Baby Wise. While in the beginning of the CIO, I felt weak at times. Cooper would sometimes cry for a full hour before falling asleep at night, but we were committed to our plan. Finally after a week, his crying had diminished to 5-10 minutes of crying. Sticking to our plan had worked!

But I have had weak moments, particularly in the middle of the night. When we were trying to eliminate the middle of the night feeding (which I knew he no longer needed, but was waking out of habit), we started to implement CIO. The first three nights were hard, he cried for 45 minute to an hour. By the fourth night, his crying had decreased to only 30 minutes. However the 5th night, I caved in and feed him after he cried for 20 minutes because I was tired and I hated to hear him cry. It took me twice as long to get rid of the middle of the night feeding because he now expected me to come in a feed him. I learned early on that be consistent with our plan was important! Otherwise, I was going to spend more time trying to obtain our goal and with more tears!

What ever sleep training method you chose to implement with your child, make sure you stick to it. Don’t do most of the time, do it all of the time. Children thrive off of consistency! They need to know how to behave, but if you keep changing it up, they will never learn what type of response or action you are looking for.

Here are steps for staying consistent when implementing sleep training:

  1. Write your method/ strategy down
  2. Work on one goal at a time. Whether that is eliminating the middle of the night feeding or waking early from a nap. Just choose one thing to tackle at a time.
  3. Have support. Make sure you have someone who will support you weather that is your spouse or a friend you can call. Just make sure you have someone who can encourage you to stick with your decision and plan!

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I have found that Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight to be a great resource for infant sleep questions. I really like how she has laid out the amount of sleep an infant needs from birth to age 5. I have made a quick reference list below for each age.

You may also want to check out these post:

0-4 Weeks
• total 16-18 hours, half at night and half during the day
• by the end of the first month they sleep an average of 15-17.5 hours total, about 8.5-10 at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps.
• They still wake up 2-3 time during the night

4-8 weeks (second month)
• sleep an average of 15-17 hours total
• 8.5-10 hours at night, 6-7 during the day spread over 3-4 naps
• some will wake only once to fed, although others will still need 2 night feeding for a few more weeks

8-12 weeks (third month)
• average 15 hours sleep
• 10 hours at night, 5 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps
• sleep 6-8 hours stretches before a nighttime feeding, by end of month most babies should sleep 8 hour uninterrupted

4-5 Months
• 4 months can sleep 8 hours at night without a feeding
• 5 months can go 10-11 hours a nigh without a feeding
• 4 hours during the day spread out over 3 naps

6-8 Months
• need an average of 11 hours of sleep at night (uninterrupted)
• 3.5 hours of day time sleep over 2-3 naps

9-12 Months
• 11 hours at night (uninterrupted)
• 3 hours of day time sleep (over two naps, with the occasional cat nap, but that is usually given up)
• Morning nap is usually 1.5 hours, afternoon nap is usually 1.5-2 hours (by 12 months the afternoon nap is usually 1.5 hours)

13-18 Months
• 11.25 uninterrupted nighttime sleep, 2.25-2.5 hours sleep during the day
• They start with 2 naps, by 18 months usually down to one midday or afternoon nap

1.5 years- 2.5 Years
• 1.5-2 years: 11.25 hours at night, 2.25 hours for one midday nap
• 2 years: 11 hours at night, 2 hours during the day
• 2-3 years: sleep will drop to 10.5 hours of sleep at night, 1.5 hours of sleep during the day

2-3 Years
• 10.5 hours at night, plus a 1.5 hour afternoon nap

4 years
• 11.5 hours at night, most don’t need a nap and if they do it is only 45 minutes (this could be 45 minutes of quite time too)

5 Years
• 11 a night, quite afternoon time is beneficial

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