Archive for April 8th, 2009

In the book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, the author write about the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine. This is not the time to be stimulating our child with a tickling war. Rather, this should be a calm, whine down time for you and your baby. The key is calm. Do activities that are not highly over stimulating and do the same routine every night. Doing the same routine every night will help signal to your child that it is now time to sleep (not play). Children thrive from routine and it is never to early to begin! Make sure you start your routine in enough time to get your child in bed at your chosen bedtime. For example, if you child goes to sleep at 8pm, make sure you start your bedtime routine at least 15-30 minutes before bedtime at 7:30pm.

My Son’s Bedtime Routine

Every night when my son Cooper was a newborn, we would bathe, nurse him (or bottle), turn on white noise (fan or white noise machine), swaddle, rock him a little (to the point of drowsiness), and put him in his crib.  As Cooper got older, our routine change a little: bathe, nurse/bottle, white noise turned on, swaddle/sleep sac, prayer, and put in crib. Cooper no longer needed the rocking to help calm and soothe him for bed. My son has had different bedtimes at different ages. Currently my son goes to bed at 7:00pm. We start our bedtime routine at 6:30pm so we can have him in bed by 7:00pm.

Suggested Activities for Bedtime

Read Books, Infant Message, Bath, Sing, Listen to soft music, rock/hold/ cuddle, nurse/bottle, walk with baby, gaze at mobile in crib together, rock in rocking chair

It should be noted that newborns often need extra help to whine down at night. It is important to give them extra time to calm and relax for sleep. Try not to put your baby in their crib asleep. It is okay to get your baby to the point of drowsiness, but try not to put her down for the night asleep. This will not help your child learn how to get herself to sleep on her own.

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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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