Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy nine months, little nap refusenik!

Hard to believe, but Mari is nine months today. She celebrated by skipping a nap again and only finally napped in the moving stroller. I ended up with lots of blisters and a sunburn. Sigh.

I do NOT think she's getting to the point where she can do with only one nap a day, though. She's been so clearly messed up all day when she's done that. But I've been trying everything I know to try to get her to nap. I'm hoping this really is just a wonder week/fussy phase because that would mean there is an end eventually.

Another factor that might be interfering with her sleep and napping is the number of developmental milestones she's been through lately. Just two and a half weeks ago, she was only creeping backwards. Now she's not only creeping forwards quite efficiently, she's crawling, can get from belly to sitting and back again, and most recently, she has started pulling up. She's also doing great at "walking" hanging onto our hands. Maybe she's so busy working on all these new skills that she doesn't want to sleep -- at least, that's how it seems to me.

I know she needs to sleep more. She's a much happier baby when she manages 14 hours of sleep in a day, though that's rare. But I feel like I'm giving her every opportunity to sleep. She just won't sleep as much as is good for her, damn it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A few days of sleep hell

It's been a rough few days, too rough to give me much time to post. Today seems to be shaping up better, thank God. But I don't know what the hell happened to give Mari such awful naps for the last few days.

On Sunday, Mari entirely skipped her morning nap for the first time ever. She screamed and screamed as soon as I put her down at more or less the usual time and wouldn't stop no matter what. A few times, I tried letting her get up, then putting her down again once she seemed calm, but as soon as she realized I was trying to get her to nap, she started screaming at the top of her lungs again. Eventually I tried taking her for a walk in her stroller, but while this has always eventually worked in the past, even though it tends to produce only short naps, this time Mari didn't nap at all. At one point she seemed to be nodding off, but then she jerked her eyes open and wouldn't close them again.

Eventually, she had a nap earlier than her usual afternoon nap, but she wouldn't go down again later in the afternoon. So she was exhausted and overtired by her usual bedtime, and though I tried to put her down earlier than usual, she again had a screaming fit and didn't fall asleep until 8:35 -- more than an hour after her usual time.

On Monday, Mari was set to refuse her morning nap again, doing the same screaming trick. I took her for a walk again, and this time it worked -- she fell asleep in her stroller, albeit an hour later than her usual naptime. I was expecting it to be a short nap, but accepted that as being better than none. But Mari had another trick up her sleeve. She ended up napping for more than an hour and 45 minutes, during which time I had to keep walking the entire time, since I know from experience that even a brief stop -- i.e. to wait for a red light -- wakes her up. So it ended up being a more than two-hour walk in total, despite my inadequate footwear, lack of food or water, and pressing bladder needs. I walked to Waterloo and back twice, and all around the neighbourhood multiple times. A death march commanded by a little despot. And that afternoon her nap lasted only half an hour.

Yesterday, Mari fell asleep for her naps without too much fuss, but both were very short (about half an hour and 45 minutes respectively) and so she was overtired in the evening. I tried to get her down at 7:00, half an hour earlier than usual, but she screamed until 8:05, despite many efforts at soothing.

Today hasn't been so bad. She had decent naps, though not fantastic ones, and went down at night with only a minimum of fuss. Trouble is, I don't know what I did differently today from the other days. Sigh.

One thing, though, is that I'm starting to think Mari is having tantrums about being put down even though she's obviously tired and even though she no longer WANTS to be rocked or slept with. So when she screams like that, I feel at a complete loss. There's really nothing I can do to calm her down anymore except let her get up and play more, which only postpones the inevitable and makes the overtired fits worse in the end. It would be one thing to do that if I wasn't sure she was tired enough to go to sleep, but the last few days I've been sure she really is tired.

I am starting to rethink how much it's OK to let her cry/fuss. I still don't like the idea of letting her cry alone. But when she was younger, she seemed genuinely upset or afraid of being left alone. Now I'm starting to think it's more tantrum-type screaming, which I don't want to indulge. I think it's time to think more seriously about actual discipline -- not punishment, but deciding what we want to teach her and using consistent methods to teach those things. At nine months (tomorrow), Mari is no longer a little baby simply communicating her needs -- I think she's learning to manipulate.

Incidentally, I'm no longer going to count the days since I started the NCSS, which I've deviated from anyway.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 114: Why won't she go to sleep?

Despite all the sleep problems Mari has had, going to sleep at night has seldom been one of them. Going to sleep for naps, yes. Waking up at night, yes. But she has seldom had trouble falling asleep at night, since she's tired then. Now, all of a sudden it's a huge problem. She still seems as tired as ever. She's still napping at more or less her usual times, though she woke up after only 40 minutes this morning and wouldn't go back down. We haven't changed the bedtime routine or her bedtime. So why is she spending so much time getting upset before she finally falls asleep? I'm mystified.

I do definitely think we're in a sleep regression. We're close to the 37-week "Wonder Week" so that may be part of it. I don't know if she's teething -- I can never tell. I'm afraid I haven't figured out a consistent strategy yet -- I'm alternating periods of letting her cry for 5-10 minutes with going in and soothing her, but she doesn't seem very soothed by anything I do. I'm at wit's end.

I know Mari's overtired and what she needs is more sleep. But I don't know how to get her more sleep. She won't go down for naps if she's not tired enough, and she keeps waking up before she should, both in the morning and from naps. How do I stop the cycle?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 110: Feeling like I've stepped back in time

Wasn't it just a few days ago I was saying it seems like Mari has finally learned to nap? Uh, perhaps not. She slept for only 45 minutes in the morning but seemed fine when she woke up, so I didn't try too hard to get her back down. But in the afternoon, she woke up after only 25 minutes of napping and this time she was whiny and still clearly tired. So I tried to rock her back to sleep, as I used to do when she was a little baby. I haven't often had success with that technique lately, but today she did manage to drift off again after about 10 minutes. After she seemed good and asleep, I tried to put her down, but she started to cry again as soon as I so much as twitched. Fine. So I rocked her back to sleep and this time I held her even longer before even trying to put her back to sleep. I waited until my arm was asleep and so tired I was afraid I'd drop her. I tried moving just a tiny little bit -- nowhere close to putting her down. She screamed. I ended up holding her for a total of 45 minutes (including the first time I rocked her to sleep), until she slumped over in my arms and woke herself up. I haven't had to hold her for a nap for months. At least it bought her a little extra sleep, so she was in a reasonable mood when she got up.

What's going on here? Is this the eight-month sleep regression?

Day 109: Sleep disaster

And I thought being woken up at 4:40 a.m. was bad enough. Mari was up yesterday at 9:48 p.m., as if the previous sleep interval from 7:16 p.m. had been only a nap. She screamed and screamed and refused to feed, only calming down when we let her get up and play for awhile. She didn't fall asleep until 12:35 a.m.

She slept only a total of just over 10 hours out of a 24-hour period yesterday, when really she needs about 12.5 hours to function, 13 to be moderately happy. The nights recently when she slept all the way through the night, she got more than 14 hours of sleep -- a whopping and unprecedented 15.5 hours last Wednesday. I don't know why she suddenly stopped sleeping as well. I feel like I've been doing everything the same way, giving her every opportunity to sleep. It doesn't seem like she's teething or in pain, because she was perfectly happy when we let her get up last night. She just wanted to be up, though plainly it was the last thing she needed. Maybe she got a little too much excitement yesterday, with both her grandma (on my side) and grandpa (on Jon's side) being here and providing her with plenty of attention. That's the only thing I can think of. Sigh...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dy 108: 4:40 a.m. wake-up call

I don't know what's up with Mari. She had three great days of sleep in a row. Good long naps and sleeping all through the night without a single waking, not even to feed. Then on Friday, her morning nap was only 40 minutes long, and she woke up once at night. Fair enough. Then yesterday, she refused to go down for a morning nap until 11 a.m., when she's normally getting up, and then only managed a 40-minute nap in the afternoon. I tried to put her down early, but she wasn't having that. She screamed her head off before each nap and before bed. She woke up once at around 1 a.m. to feed, then was up again around 4:40 a.m.  I fed her and expected her to go back to sleep, but she started screeching again as soon as I was out of the room. I then went in again to rock her to sleep, and she did eventually fall asleep. I kept rocking her for about 10 minutes, then gently put her down, and she started screaming again. This time there was no getting her back down. Sigh. So it was an early morning for the whole household.

I don't know what happened to get her off track again. I don't feel like I did anything differently with her. And there she goes, crying again. Sigh...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 104: Finally learning to nap?

I'm not sure if I'm doing anything differently, but Mari seems to finally be learning to nap. Lately we have had fewer and fewer 30-45 minute naps, which used to be our curse. I used to always have to try to rush in and put her back to sleep, but that was hit and miss. More than half the time I wouldn't be able to get her back down and she'd be cranky from not having slept enough.

Today, very unusually, she had two naps of more than two hours each. This is well-nigh unheard-of. I don't expect this to become a pattern, but certainly she has been napping for more than an hour at a stretch more consistently. And except for today, when she went down at 7:50, her usual bedtime of about 7:30 and wake time of about 6:30 (well, between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m.) hasn't been affected by her napping better. She's just in a better mood more often. Yay!

What's more, Mari slept ALL the way through the night last night -- 11.5 hours. Double yay!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 99: Night wakings all over the place

Mari has gotten down to a number of night wakings I consider more or less acceptable -- one or two. Though of course none would be ideal, it may be asking too much at this stage, especially given that Mari tends to sleep a fairly long stretch in total at night -- from about 7:30 AM to 6:30 AM. However, looking back at the so-useful graphs on, I see no pattern at all as to when the night wakings occur.

Mari does normally nurse when she wakes up. She definitely seems to need to nurse at least once at night, though whether she needs a second night feed is more questionable. However, given that she goes to bed at a fairly consistent time, her totally unpredictable night waking times make me wonder what's going on. Can it really be that sometimes she's hungry at 10:30 PM and other times, not until 5:00 AM? Or is something else going on? If so, what?

Especially if she wakes up early in the night, we try to get her back to sleep without feeding, but yesterday, I went out for awhile and left Jon in charge, only to find that Mari woke up at 10:15, a pretty much unheard-of hour for night wakings, and Jon was unable to get her back down, leading him to conclude she was hungry. I (stupidly) left the cell phone in my pocket and didn't hear it until he had called 11 times and Mari had been up more than an hour. Oops.

When I got home, I tried to feed her right away. When Mari's really hungry, she can go at me like a vampire. This time, she popped on and off the breast in a nonchalant manner, finally nursed from one breast, then rejected the second after only about 30 seconds. However, she then went back to sleep easily. So while she was hungry enough to eat, she didn't seem very hungry.

Mari seldom nurses to sleep now and I know she knows how to put herself back to sleep without nursing because sometimes I hear her cry out in the night, only to quickly stop without any intervention on our parts. Therefore, I've started to wonder if she's developed a sleep association not so much with nursing, but with me.

I'm always the one who puts Mari to bed. This makes sense because I nurse her because bed. I'm almost always the one who goes to her in the night. Again, this makes sense because she usually nurses if she's up at night (though occasionally I will soothe her without nursing, which may or may not work depending on how long it has been since she last nursed.) However, I don't want to be the only one who can respond to her and have her go back to sleep. (When I nurse her at night, she doesn't actually fall asleep on the breast, but she gets very close.)

Jon, of course, has work to do during the day. I'm on maternity leave. Mari is my job. Should we nonetheless make a point of having Jon respond to her more often when she wakes up at night, so I don't have to be there for her to be able to fall back asleep?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 93: Teething? Growth spurt? Wonder week? Or just plain fussy?

Mari has become fussier than usual again for the last several days, and I can't quite tell why. When she cries, she's screaming louder. She's having more difficulty going down without a fuss. Though we really have been trying to keep her to her usual schedule, she seems more sensitive to the slightest variation.

Also, though it used to be that she almost never woke up before about 1 AM, for the last couple of nights in a row, she has been waking up after only a few hours of sleep and screaming at the top of her lungs. The only way I've been able to get her to calm down has been through nursing. She has drank greedily from the boob at those times, making me think maybe it's a growth spurt. She has been eating more during the day too.

But tonight, though I nursed her and put her down, and she was quiet for awhile, she soon started crying again. Jon is upstairs with her as I write this. So maybe something other than hunger is bugging her -- maybe her teeth. Mari has been sucking on things and drooling like crazy. However, she has been doing that since she was about three months old, and she just got her first two bottom teeth recently. A few days ago I thought I felt swelling in her upper gums, but now it seems to be gone. So how do I tell if it's teething or not?

Another thought is that Mari is coming up to Wonder Week 37 (though she's currently 35.5 weeks). (For more on Wonder Weeks, see the book by that name or the brief overview here.) She certainly is crankier, clingier and having more trouble sleeping, so that would fit.

But what this comes down to is that I feel like I have no clue as to what's going on with my kid. Sigh.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 91: Book reviews continued

Continued from this post...

3. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

There was a good deal I liked and found useful about this book. However, in my opinion the most fundamental thing about this book -- the recommended "extinction" crying method is overly harsh and unnecessary for most babies.

But let's start with what I did like, most of all the maxim that sleep begets sleep. Here, I have found that Weissbluth is right and Ferber is wrong. Almost always, an earlier bedtime, not a later one, is better for Mari's sleep. She sleeps more and better than when I've tried to keep her up longer or later. Of course, there is a limit, though Weissbluth sometimes seems to imply otherwise. Mari cannot and will not sleep for more than 14 hours in a day at the most, and she averages about 13 hours, though if I recall correctly, Weissbluth recommends 14-15.

Another thing I liked is the emphasis Weissbluth places on baby temperament and his acknowledgment, missing in many other books, that some babies just aren't going to be as good of sleepers as others, and that what works for most babies may not work for a certain percentage -- especially those who were very fussy as younger babies, which Mari certainly was. It was reassuring to me to know that just because some techniques work with other babies and don't seem to work with Mari, it's not necessarily because I'm doing something wrong -- it's because Mari is a different baby.

For the above reasons, I am prepared to believe that there are some babies for whom the extinction crying method Weissbluth advocates may be the only thing that works. However, I also believe that it's highly stressful for babies. It's plain that babies don't like to cry. Their faces turn red, their temperature goes up, they give every indication of being in extreme distress. Babies cry to communicate. Whether it's because they're in pain or because they just want their mothers, for the baby, something is wrong. I believe those needs should be responded to promptly (though not necessarily immediately), unless there's a damn good reason to delay response. In my opinion, a parent should consistently and patiently try every other method possible before resorting to the extinction method.

It's true that babies need to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. It may be true that for some babies, a certain amount of crying is necessary before they learn. However, just plain ignoring the baby's cries, no matter how long it takes, ignores the possibility the baby may be in pain or discomfort, which if fixed could get him or her to sleep.

I did find Weissbluth makes good points about why it's so important for children to be well-rested. However, I thought he overstated the case. I found myself worrying as I read it that I had already caused Mari irreparable damage by letting her stay up too long in the past. I even wondered if that was the cause of her not doing things such as crawling as fast as some babies (though she is still very much within the normal range). With a little more distance, I found the book was making me worrying too much. More guilt is something parents don't need.

Another issue I have with the book is that it is overly long, repetitive and written in a convoluted manner. However, that may be the editor in me talking.

4. The Baby Sleep Book, by William, Robert, James and Martha Sears

I like Dr. Sears a lot. I find what he says about attachment parenting (I have the book by that name and love it) makes a lot of sense. Though I no longer follow it to the letter (I allow some limited crying alone, I no longer "wear" Mari much at home, we no longer co-sleep), I believe in the philosophy of maintaining a strong bond between parent and baby. I believe the amount of time I spent in earlier months wearing or carrying Mari, co-sleeping, responding immediately to her cries, bonding with her immediately upon birth, and breastfeeding (still going strong there) laid the foundation for us knowing her well and her trusting us. I also found The Birth Book, also by Dr. Sears, to be the best, most balanced resource I read about birth. So certainly I have nothing against Dr. Sears.

However, I did not find The Baby Sleep Book to be terribly helpful. When I tried to follow his suggestion of waiting until Mari had been asleep for 20 minutes before putting her down, I found she was more lightly asleep than when she had been asleep only about 5 minutes. It also delayed my going to sleep myself -- but then, generally, I found the book didn't give enough weight to parents' needs.

Really, I found the whole concept of actively putting her to sleep each and every time problematic. I do believe Ferber's assertion that babies develop sleep associations. If Mari is rocked or nursed to sleep, then put down once deeply asleep, she does indeed tend to wake up when her sleep cycle becomes shallow, probably because she's alarmed that the conditions she associated with going to sleep (rocking, nursing) are no longer present. It was only when I started working to break those sleep associations that Mari started sleeping better.

Basically, the message I took away from The Baby Sleep Book was that if I didn't like Mari waking up constantly, I should just be very, very patient and she would eventually, by the time she was a toddler or preschooler, learn to sleep better and more independently. In the meaning, Jon or I should always carry her until she fell asleep and then sleep with her, even if it meant a more disrupted sleep for everybody. I found this unacceptable.

To be fair, there are bits about other ways of doing things, and a good chapter about night weaning, but I generally found the book to be simplistic, not that informed about sleep and not very respectful of the need to teach a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own. Though just as gentle, I found the No-Cry Sleep Solution to be better about all that.

Next up: The No-Cry Nap Solution, The Baby Whisperer

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 90: Eight months old and busier than ever

Mari turned eight months old yesterday. I can hardly believe it -- time goes so fast. Since I haven't posted photos in awhile, here are a few of the very latest ones.

Mari has been busy learning new skills too. She can now get up onto her hands and knees and her very latest trick is getting onto her hands and feet in the "downward dog" position. No crawling yet, but she seems very close. She's still doing her backwards creeping and is more efficient at it than ever.

She can now say "dada" and "daddy," though I'm still waiting for that elusive first "mama." She has two teeth now. She can now eat an awful lot of solid food. The photo above is from after she polished off half an avocado. While it may look like half an avocado is smeared all over her, I am convinced the vast majority of it went into her mouth. She's also getting good at eating even small, slippery bits of food. Oh, and she can drink from her sippy cup now, though there is still some spillage as she will only drink from it without the non-spill valve in.

As for sleep, she has been getting somewhat better about staying asleep longer for naps, which is HUGE for me, though she's still not consistent. At night, though, she's back to waking up twice most of the time, when for awhile we were down to one or none. I am thinking again about starting to limit her second night feed.

Today: An average day for sleep. A decent morning nap of nearly an hour and a half, but an afternoon nap of less than an hour, which is less than optimal. She woke up still cranky but wouldn't go back down. She was up super early this morning (6:10) and was so tired she had to be put to bed early (just after 7 PM), so I hope this doesn't lead to an even earlier waking and the beginning of a vicious circle.

Day 89: Bedtime disaster

I am writing this post a little late, but it's about April 19, which was the biggest bedtime disaster since I began this blog.

Honestly, I'm not sure what happened. Yes, I got Mari to bed a little later than usual, but by just 10 minutes. This has happened before with no real consequence. She napped fairly well during the day. I knew she was getting tired at night, but Jon had a lot on his mind and I spent a bit of extra time talking to him after dinner. I then performed the usual bedtime routine and everything seemed fine. I put her down at 7:40. She was starting to fuss a bit, but I expected she'd be able to fall asleep. Instead, a few minutes after I left the room, she started screaming at the top of her lungs.

She was so upset, none of the usual tricks (rocking, bouncing, singing, etc.) made one iota of difference. She wouldn't nurse anymore; she'd just eaten. She has seldom cried quite so hard or so loudly. In desperation I let her get up for a little while to try to "reset" her. She watched her mobile (still hung over the now-unused co-sleeper), which she likes, then I turned the light on in her room and read her one more story. Then I tried to put her down again. As soon as her butt hit the mattress, she started screaming again, if anything even louder than before.

I picked her up right away. I was prepared to abandon my usual rules about having her fall asleep on her own. I just wanted her to calm down. But no matter what I did, she wouldn't calm down again. She didn't even seem to notice I was there. She screamed until I thought she'd lose her voice, then she screamed some more. I alternated between trying to soothe her and leaving her for a few minutes at a time in the hope she'd cry herself to sleep, even though I don't really believe in that method. Neither worked. Finally, in large part for the sake of my own sanity, I just left her and closed the door to my own room. I thought I'd give her 15 minutes to cry, but at the 15-minute mark, her cries FINALLY started to peter out, though she kept them up weakly for a further 10 minutes or so. She didn't fall asleep until nearly 9 PM.

Now I feel bad for having left her to cry it out because it wasn't planned. As I've stated before, I don't believe Mari needs to "cry it out." I tried it intentionally once. It didn't work well then and the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became with the idea. I don't want her to cry it out again. But I didn't know what else to do with a baby who wasn't responding to any of my soothing efforts at all. What would you do in this situation?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 85: Teething hell, again?

Argh. Mari just had her first middle-of-the-night lengthy screaming fit in a long time. I actually went out for awhile and left Jon in charge, so I wasn't home when she apparently woke up around 10:30 PM. She was still screaming, despite his considerable efforts to calm her, at 11:10 when I got home. I tried nursing her, but she didn't seem very hungry and didn't eat much, and she still screamed for some time after. In total, she was up for an hour or so, and our usual rules (i.e. about not spending too much time comforting her, not letting her nurse just for comfort) went out the window. I don't want to make a habit of this, but sometimes exceptions have to be made.

Jon said he had to turn on the light because she was really upset, and wonders if that got her "really" awake. Maybe being up and in the light at a time when she's not usually up made her act up like when she's really overtired. But I think she's (also?) teething again. Her lower teeth are now definitely all the way up over the gumline (though they still have some growing to do) but now there's a bump on her upper gums. She seemed fussy all day today, despite getting some decent naptime in. So maybe she's already due to get her upper teeth, though she just got her lower teeth?

I don't like the idea of unnecessarily drugging up our baby, but I've gotten out the infant Motrin, which I may use if she wakes up screaming again tonight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 84: Book reviews and update

Sorry it's been so long since I posted. Mari's been having a more or less good run of sleeping lately, though she's still waking up about twice a night to feed. I've been thinking again about weaning her off the second night feed, since she doesn't really seem to need it -- she's fine when she sleeps well and gets up only for one feed. Also, if she has a second night feed she won't feed again when she wakes up in the morning, not until nearly time for her first nap. I would rather she feed when she gets up too. Also, she still quite often wakes up from a nap after only one sleep cycle, despite being obviously tired. I don't know what more I can do about that than what we're already doing. However, her naptimes have stabilized a little. I'm doing everything I can to ensure she sleeps at least 13 hours total a day, but she really does best when she gets 14 hours. More about that in the book reviews below.

I'm a big researcher, arguably an over-researcher, so I have read all kinds of books on baby sleep. All have had good points as well as not-so-good. Here's the lowdown on what I think of all the books I've read, in order from the ones I've liked most to least.

1.  The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley

The book that started me and Mari on this journey, and in my opinion, still the best. I like that it offers an organized way to create a sleep plan and to track progress. It also offers plenty of suggestions to create healthy sleep habits. You don't have to follow them all; just the ones that work for you. In fact, it offers a lot of flexibility, including no guilt about co-sleeping or crib sleeping. Most important, unlike most other baby sleep books, it doesn't involve making the baby cry it out, which despite my having dipped a toe or two into those waters, is in my opinion still an admirable and loving goal.

However,  as I have mentioned before, I have come to believe it's not always possible or necessarily desirable to achieve no crying at all. At least for Mari, I have not been able to prevent her from crying entirely, and until I stopped taking the book quite so seriously, I felt a lot of guilt about that. I believe there are different types of crying that should be treated different ways. There are indeed times when she seems to need to fuss a bit before falling asleep, and if I keep trying to comfort her, it actually takes longer or even prevents her falling asleep. Having said that, if I get the timing just right, she fusses little or not at all. She cries when she's overtired, so it's best to prevent her from getting overtired.

2. Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, by Richard Ferber. M.D.

I've never systematically Ferberized, but I found this book very informative. It has the best explanations about child sleep that I've ever read and the chapter about sleep associations, I found to be better than in the NCSS. I read the whole thing out of interest, even though Mari doesn't have problems with things like narcolepsy or sleep apnea, and now I feel I know what to look out for if she should ever develop more serious sleep problems.

I had formed a bad opinion of Ferberizing before I read this book. However, once I read the book, rather than just what other people had to say about it, I found the description of the method to be more logical and less harsh than the extinction method of crying it out. I think the method could work for parents who don't have the patience to implement the gentler but more time-consuming methods of the NCSS first, but after a couple of months on the NCSS, I found that Mari's sleep habits were already mostly good enough that it was unnecessary to let her cry for increasing intervals. Most of the time now she goes down pretty easily and if she doesn't, it's either because she's not tired enough yet to go to sleep or because she's overtired, in which case it seems too harsh to me to leave her to cry for very long. 

I have, however, taken some things from Ferber. When necessary, I use the idea of increasing intervals between responses and keeping my time in the room short. If Mari cries after being put down, I will first respond and comfort her after about two minutes of full-on crying (I let her fuss longer if she doesn't sound very upset). At all times I limit my time in the room to two minutes unless of course I'm nursing her. If she still keeps crying, I next respond after five minutes. After that, 10 minutes and so on until half an hour has passed since I first put her down. If she's still upset at that point, I let her get up and play for a little while before I try again, because I figure she either wasn't tired or is overtired but has gotten a second wind. I have only had to let her get up for naps; never for bedtime sleep. I have not, however, increased time between responses from day to day.

There is one major area in which I tend to disagree with Ferber. Ferber constantly contends that sleep problems can be solved by at least temporarily making bedtimes later so the child is more tired when he or she is put to bed. Maybe, just maybe, this is something that could work for older children, but it certainly doesn't work for Mari and probably not most babies. The more overtired Mari gets the LESS she sleeps and the HARDER it is to get her down to sleep. 

Also, Ferber says a six-month-old should be getting about 12.5 hours total sleep a day. I find this just barely in the adequate range. Mari averages about 13, and she's happier when she gets 14 hours of sleep or more in a day if I can manage to get her to sleep that long. In the three weeks since I have been using to keep track of her sleep, Mari has slept a maximum of 14.5 hours and wow, she was in a great mood that day. Nor do I believe it's just that Mari needs more sleep than most. On the online message board for moms that I visit, it would seem the majority of 7-8 month-olds need 13 hours or more of sleep a day.

Wow, that took longer than I expected. I will post this now and continue the book reviews another day. Next up: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child; The Baby Whisperer; The Baby Sleep Book.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 78: The teething nightmare has started

Last night was Mari's roughest night in a long time. Actually, her whole day yesterday was rough, though she napped a pretty decent three hours in total (though she woke up earlier than usual). She just seemed fussy and clingy all day. She was acting like she was overtired as soon as she got up in the morning but when I tried to put her down for an extra-early nap she wasn't having it, so she ended up napping at her usual times.

At night, she woke up briefly to squawk I don't know how many times. I didn't go to her all those times because sometimes the squawking only lasted a minute or two, but she was up for nearly half an hour shortly after midnight, not a time when she usually wakes up, and every two hours or so after that, though she only night-nursed twice. She was up for the day at 5:45 this morning. I was NOT pleased.

Today she seemed extra interested in sucking on everything, so I looked in her mouth again, and lo and behold, big bumpy lower gums. Sigh. I guess it was too much to hope that she'd be a late teether.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 76: Where's that Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder when you need some?

OK, the above is a reference to Harry Potter's fictional magics. But I do wish there were a better way to get Mari's room darker during the day for naps. I definitely notice she tends to sleep better when it's a darker day. The blackout fabric I've sewed to the backs of the blinds isn't great. The other day, when it was bright, I tried throwing a heavy blanket over the blind and that seemed to help. But getting it on and off was hard, since I'm short. So I've just bought some more blackout curtains though I still don't have rods. Why are curtains so expensive?!?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 72: Scheduling feedings

I've never really scheduled feedings. When Mari was younger, I fed on demand. More recently, I've been noticing she hasn't been as demanding -- she can go for longer between feeds, even if she is in fact hungry enough to eat well before she starts to fuss to be fed. So more recently I've been trying to offer her the breast every three hours or so during the day. However, I haven't been very consistent about it. Of course, when she fusses to be fed, I feed her right away. But sometimes I've been feeding her more often or less often as convenient.

I've decided this needs to stop. Mari needs a better-wound internal clock, not just for naps, but also for sleep. Also, if I feed her more often during the day, hopefully she won't need to feed as much at night. For the moment, I still won't push the night weaning issue. However, I will as of tomorrow try to feed her at more consistent times, every 2.5 hours during the day, so ideally she gets six feedings in during the day. Also, I should be more consistent about nursing her before she gets solids, so she's getting the important calories in first.

One variation in the every 2.5 hours rule is that I will try to nurse her before her afternoon nap. At all times, I will not force her to nurse if she doesn't want to. If she's about to go down for a nap and doesn't want to nurse, I'll let her go to sleep without worrying. She's unlikely to wake up because she's hungry, as she has proven she can go four hours or more between feeds during the day. If she refuses to nurse when she's up, I'll try her again in half an hour and try to make up for the stretched-out feedings by offering her the breast every two hours, rather than 2.5, after her afternoon nap.

So her ideal schedule should now look like this:

7 AM - Up and nurse
7:30 - Breakfast (solids)
9:30 - Nurse, followed by naptime routine
10:00 - Nap
11:30 - Active play
12:00 PM - Nurse, followed by lunch (solids)
2:00 PM - Nurse, followed by naptime routine
2:30 - Nap
4:00 - Active play
4:30 - Nurse
6:00 - Dinner (solids)
6:30 - Bath and bedtime routine, including nursing close to end of bedtime routine
7:30(ish) - Sleep

I will continue to allow half an hour of flexibility on either side for naps, depending how how tired she seems to be.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 71: Top 5 things I have learned about Mari's sleep

Some time ago I posted the top 10 things I have learned in general about baby sleep.( I continue to learn, but here are the top five things I have learned so far about Mari's sleep in particular. I'll post more if I think of more.

1. Mari didn't need to cry it out. I tried letting Mari cry it out, using the extinction method, once. (See At the time, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child had convinced me it was the best way to teach her how to fall asleep on her own. Mari cried for an hour straight, and though she did fall asleep soon after, I just couldn't bring myself to put her through that again. While Mari's sleep is still far from perfect, Dr. Richard Ferber's suggestions on breaking sleep associations (also covered in the No-Cry Sleep Solution but better explained, I thought, chez Ferber) were more helpful in getting Mari to fall asleep on her own. I think following the No-Cry Sleep Solution laid the groundwork for Mari's improved sleep, but I still needed a push to take the final step of getting Mari to fall asleep on her own, without being first rocked to near-sleep. Once I started to put Mari down genuinely awake, not almost asleep, she learned to fall asleep on her own and started sleeping better at night. It may well be that some babies truly do need to cry it out. But I believe for the vast majority of babies there are better, less harsh ways.

2. Having said the above, it was unrealistic to expect no crying at all, ever. Mari cries sometimes, in and out of our arms. Sometimes she cries a lot. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be much we can do, at least for a certain period of time. I think letting her cry for up to five minutes at a time between us going in and briefly comforting her is OK. However, I feel bad about letting her go much longer than that, unless her crying is winding down and it sounds like she's on the verge of falling asleep -- which does sometimes happen. However, Mari definitely cries more when she's overtired, and we need to work really hard to prevent her from getting that way, though sometimes it's hard to avoid, especially if her naps are short. For more:

3. Sometimes Mari cries for non-intuitive reasons. Namely, sometimes these days she cries to be put down, not picked up, or because she's not tired, rather than because she is tired. The first was particularly hard to believe at first, because when she was younger, she seemed to constantly fuss to be picked up and she never wanted to be put down. But now that she's gotten used to falling asleep on her own, she often starts to fuss when I'm trying to rock her or sing her lullabies toward the end of her naptime or bedtime routines. She calms down when I put her down. Also, I used to think she fussed before naps or bed because she was tired or overtired. Often this is still the case. But sometimes she fusses because she's just not tired enough to go down. It's harder to tell the difference with this one, but if she doesn't seem to be growing tired and wants to stand up in my lap, she's likely not tired. The only sure test is to stop trying to get her down -- removing her sleep sack, taking her to another room -- and letting her play. If she calms down quickly, she was protesting being put down or wound down when she wasn't ready.

4. Mari's sleepy signs are unreliable, inconsistent and not the usual tired-baby signs. Apparently some babies don't show regular tired signs, or not much. Mari must be one of them. She seldom yawns. She doesn't always show a lull in activity or disinterest in her toys. Instead, the first sign often seems to be apparently increased energy. It's like she's trying to mask her fatigue. She will rub her eyes sometimes, but only after she feeds, and it's a late tired sign. Fatigued fussiness can start without apparent warning. She does often look away from other people, including her dad, but she doesn't tend to look away from me unless her dad has been the one taking care of her and I'm the one who's new on the scene.

5. She needs adequate time to wind down . This may be her temperament, because she has difficulty with transitions. If I want her to sleep at, say, 2 PM, I need to start her naptime routine at least half an hour beforehand. But sometimes, if she's really tired, she will fall asleep quickly, though, so I have to watch to make sure I don't do so much during her naptime/bedtime routines that she gets a second wind.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 70: An ill (second) wind which blows no baby to good

It started off such a good day. Mari napped for nearly an hour and a half in the morning. But then I made a fatal mistake.

I've been trying to figure out just when her naps should be now that she has dropped her third nap. I think around 10 AM (starting naptime routine at 9:30) has been working out fairly well for her morning nap, but 3 PM is too late for her second nap -- I had wanted to make it later to avoid her being up too long at a stretch in the evening, but typically she's tired earlier than that.

So I had figured 2:30 would be an OK time for her second nap, and 2 PM would be fine for her to be home and ready to nap. But not only did my errands take a little longer than planned, so we didn't get home until 2:15 or so, Mari was yawning at 2 PM. By the time we got home and I tried to go through the naptime routine, it was too late -- she had gotten her second wind, and though Jon and I tried, probably too long and too hard, she wouldn't go down and fussed and fussed instead.

I guess I need to try to schedule her afternoon nap for 2 PM, starting her naptime routine around 1:30. And I really shouldn't cut outings so close. When she starts to yawn, she needs to go down right away. Mari didn't fall asleep until nearly 5:30, in her stroller, and was a mess all afternoon. Sigh.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 66: Great free online tool!

Thanks to Lauriella from the WTE board, I have found a great new way to track Mari's sleep patterns. lets parents enter all their children's daily data -- sleeping, eating, peeing, etc. -- into a single, easy-to-use interface. It creates handy little graphs charting sleep patterns, and provides automatic sleep and wake time totals and averages. I have only used the sleep part so far and I don't know if use the others since I'm not as anal about her eating and pooping, but wow, the sleep part is great. Bye-bye to the little notebook in which I've been scribbling all her sleeping and waking times for ages. Hello, easy-to-read graphs!

Today: I tried to implement the schedule I wrote out yesterday, but Mari had other ideas. She only slept 45 minutes in the morning and was tired by 2 PM, so I started her naptime routine then and she was out before 2:30. I had hoped for a longer afternoon nap to make up for the short morning one (she really does best when she naps for close to an hour and a half both morning and afternoon) but no dice. Given that, she probably should have gone to bed earlier but though she seemed jumpy she didn't fall asleep until 7:45. Since then she has screamed out a couple of times, and once Jon had to go in to calm her down because an opening and closing door downstairs (OK, me) woke her up. I'm afraid it's going to be a rough night. And despite my best intentions to improve my own sleep habits, I haven't gone to sleep yet either, though it's after midnight. Time to change that -- goodnight!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 65: Trying to find the sweet spot between not tired and too tired

Sometimes my insights seem blinding in their obviousness... after I have them. But it has come to me that perhaps Mari has been having trouble falling and staying asleep because she's not really tired when I try to get her down for a nap.

I once again experimented with letting Mari set her own schedule today, to see what's changed. And clearly, some things have. Mari can happily stay awake longer than ever, and I've finally decided she's given up on her third nap for good -- it's been a couple of weeks since she's taken one and she hasn't even seemed close lately.

I didn't set out to let Mari set her own schedule when I woke up this morning, but when I was trying to get her down for her first nap at about 9:15 it became clear she was nowhere near the point of sleep. So I decided I'd let her stay up for another hour or until she started showing signs of fatigue, whichever came first. Well, the hour mark came first and she wasn't sleeping until 10:30. However, she napped without waking for nearly an hour and a half.

The afternoon worked less well. I decided to do it purely on sleepy signs. But Mari has never been very consistent or clear about showing signs of fatigue until she's already overtired, and that's what happened. The screechiness of overtiredness came on suddenly, without so much as a warning yawn. She didn't go down for her afternoon nap until close to 4 PM and she was up again 35 minutes later. I suspect short naps are likely to happen when she's either overtired or undertired, and I think we've been having plenty of both lately.

So the conclusion I'm coming to is that Mari's schedule needs to change to reflect her only having two naps a day and greater comfort with being up three to four hours at a stretch. But she clearly does need to have a schedule, because she's not old enough to know what's best for her.

Another thing I've been thinking about is moving Mari's bedtime slightly later, in hopes of getting her to sleep a little later in the morning -- she's been waking up before 7:00 most of the time, and 7:00 is just barely tolerate for me. Last night she went to bed early (7 PM) because she hadn't napped well, then she was up and wanted to play at 5:30 AM this morning, though I eventually managed to get her back down for awhile before she woke up for good at 6:50.

Perhaps a new (ideal) schedule might look like this (not including feedings), with half an hour of flexibility on either side for naps:

7:00 - Up and play
9:30 - Naptime routine
10:00-11:30 - Nap
2:30 - Naptime routine
3:00-4:30 - Nap
7:00 - Bedtime routine including bath
8:00 - Asleep

If she really follows this, she should be getting about 14 hours total sleep a day, about ideal for a baby her age, and she would never be up more than three and a half hours at a stretch. Anyway, I'll give this a try for the next few days and re-evaluate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 63: A near-perfect day and rethinking night weaning

Mari had a great day today. A morning and an afternoon nap of an hour and a half each, and hardly a moment of fussing all day, none at all at naptime or bedtime. Of course, I can't count on every day being like this, but I want to celebrate the good days. I did have to put her back down when she woke up from her morning nap, but at least she let me put her back down. And she slept all the way through her afternoon nap. Though she cried out a bit in the middle, when I went to check on her she was still asleep.

I am, however, reconsidering if I should try to limit her to one night feeding. I had been thinking I ought to because that's what our doctor said. I like our doctor; I think she's a very reasonable woman. However, Mari isn't a big eater during the day. I have been trying to feed her at least once every three hours lately but until recently she was often going four hours between breastfeeds -- I was more or less feeding on demand, but she didn't demand feedings often. Even with the effort now to feed her more often, I really don't think she's eating any more even when she does take the breast. She often stops before my breasts feel really drained, or really feeds properly off only one breast. And her weight gain has been slow lately.

Doctors seem to say a lot of different things about when a baby should night wean. Some say they're ready at three months; other say it's OK to night nurse well into toddlerhood. That tells me there's no definitive answer.

Mari hasn't demanded feeding more than twice at night in a long time. Sometimes she wants to nurse only once; rarely, not at all. But twice a night, considering she's sleeping an average of 11 to 11.5 hours in total, isn't too much to ask. I don't want her to get into a habit of nursing at night unnecessarily. But for now I will continue letting her nurse twice a night, though I will still limit it to 5 hours after she goes to bed, then 3 hours after the first night feeding. I will offer both breasts at both feedings.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 62: The new, hopefully permanent sleep plan (draft)

(Published on Tuesday, Mar. 23, despite the incorrect date stamp above.)

Over the past two months, I've tried all sorts of things to get Mari to sleep better. Some have worked better than others. I thought they were worthy experiments, but consistency has been a problem. Also, it has taken me some time to work out exactly what I'm comfortable with in terms of crying. This plan is not a strictly no-cry plan, since it allows for up to five minutes of crying or 20 minutes of mild fussing between us going in. (For a discussion of the difference between fussing and crying, see It isn't a cry-it-out plan either, since we will respond to crying fairly promptly, without trying to stretch out time between responses. However, it does have as a central feature the idea that we will no longer put her to sleep -- she is responsible for falling asleep on her own. So this plan is something of a hybrid between the No-Cry Sleep Solution and Ferberizing, though some elements have been taken from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and others I've simply made up based on what has worked with Mari so far.

This plan is subject to change after Jon has a close look at it. Feedback from other people is also more than welcome. Once I have that feedback and made changes if necessary, I hope to keep this plan in place more or less permanently, though of course we will change the schedule as Mari grows and her sleep needs change -- and if something really isn't working out, we'll change it. Anyway, here's the draft plan.

1.  Schedule: I will impose a schedule of nap times, bedtime and wake times, but with flexibility of up to half an hour on either side for naps, depending on how tired (or not) she seems and how long she slept the last time. I will try my best to maintain a more consistent bedtime, starting the bedtime routine as close to 6:30 as possible every night. If I absolutely have to break the schedule, I will try to get Mari back on track as soon as possible, but I will never wake her up from a nap, except in the unlikely event she naps later than 6:00 PM. The schedule will look like this:

7:00 AM: Up (See point #2)
9:00: Start naptime routine, set down by about 9:20 (see point #3)
9:30(ish): Asleep/quiet time (see point #6)
10:30: Active play time
1:00 PM: Start naptime routine, set down by about 1:20
1:30(ish): Asleep/quiet time
3:00: Active play time
(See point #7 for a discussion of the third nap)
6:30: Start bedtime routine, set down by about 7:20 (see point #4)
7:30(ish): Asleep

2. Morning wake-up time
  • If Mari wakes up before 5:30 AM, I will treat it as a night waking. (See point #10)
  • If Mari wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30, she's vulnerable to not being able to get back to sleep. So at this special time, I will do whatever it takes to get her back down, including nursing (if she hasn't yet had a second night feeding; see point #11) and rocking all the way to sleep.
  • If Mari wakes up between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, I will ignore her even if she fusses mildly, keeping her in her crib with the blinds down and lights off, until 7:00. If she starts to full-on cry, I will use the procedures outlined in point #5.
  • If Mari wakes up between 7:00 and 8:00, that's fine.
  • If by some freak chance Mari hasn't woken up by 8:00, I will wake her up to protect her schedule.
3. The naptime routine will consist of:
  • Trip to potty/change
  • Two stories, one in Japanese and one in English (with the option to cut it off at one if she seems really tired)
  • Blinds closed, white noise machine on
  • Two lullabies while rocking if she lets me rock her, one in Japanese and one in English (with the option to cut it off at one or even part of one if she starts looking like she's going to fall asleep.)
  • Put down in crib still awake but drowsy (with the option of putting her down while I'm still singing lullabies)
  • Good"night" kiss and leave the room
4. The bedtime routine will consist of:
  • Bath
  • Massage
  • Put on pajamas and disposable diaper
  • One to three stories, the last of which is always Goodnight Moon
  • Breastfeed (no trip to potty unless she obviously needs to poo or actually does so)
  • Up to two lullabies while rocking (see note above)
  • Put down in crib still awake but drowsy (with the option of putting her down while I'm still singing lullabies)
  • Goodnight kiss and leave the room
5. Procedures if Mari fusses or cries once she has been put down for a nap or night sleep:
  • If Mari mildly fusses, I will wait five minutes, then go in for her first check and soothe. This first soothing happens quickly because I want to let her know I haven't abandoned her just because I left the room. However, if it sounds like she's right on the point of falling asleep, I will wait up to five more minutes to see if she can fall asleep on her own.
  • When soothing her, I will pick her up, shush her, rock her, stroke her hair, pat her bum -- whatever feels right. However, I will not do any of these things until she falls asleep. If she starts to close her eyes in my arms, I'll put her down immediately. I will avoid talking to her or turning on the light, as I don't want to stimulate her. I will strictly limit time in her room to no more than two minutes and will put her down still fully awake but hopefully calmer. If she doesn't calm down within two minutes, I'll still put her down and leave the room.
  • If Mari continues to fuss, not full-on cry, I will check on her at 20-minute intervals, unless it sounds like she is very close to falling asleep at the 20-minute mark, in which case I will wait five more minutes. If the fussing turns into crying, see below.
  • For naptime, if an hour has passed since I put her down and she has not fallen asleep, I will let her get up. If she seems really tired and hasn't slept at all, I will take her for a walk, weather permitting, and see if she falls asleep in the stroller or carrier. If the weather is bad, I may or may not take her for a car ride.If she falls asleep in the stroller/carrier/carseat, I will try to maintain the same environment until she wakes up on her own, but I won't try to put her back to sleep again until it's time for her next nap. If I decide not to take her for a car ride but I think she still might fall asleep soon, I will let her play quietly in her crib. If she doesn't want to be in her crib, I'll get her up fully. If she doesn't fall asleep, I'll let her stay up until the early end of the range for her next nap or bedtime.
  • At bedtime, I will continue checking on her every 20 minutes indefinitely, as long as she's still fussing, not full-on crying. It's unlikely to ever come to this, though.
  • If Mari starts to really cry or scream, sounding very upset, I will still not go in right away, since I don't want her to learn that we'll come running if she screams louder or longer. I will wait two minutes, then go in and soothe her as outlined above. I will still limit time in her room to two minutes. 
  • If she continues to really cry, I will perform the check and soothe routine at five-minutes intervals. I don't think I'm rewarding her for being louder by going in more often, because my response is still not immediate and because my response will remain the same -- i.e. no rocking all the way to sleep. Also, if she continues to full-on cry despite my best efforts at soothing, I will still put her down after two minutes in her room and let her cry for up to five more minutes. See point #11 for a discussion of if I will nurse her at night.
  • If at any point there is a real problem causing her to cry (i.e. she has vomited), I will fix it, even if it takes longer than two minutes and even if I have to turn on a dim light at night. However, once the problem has been fixed and she has calmed down, I will leave the room. I will still avoid rocking her all the way to sleep, though I may have to make temporary exceptions if she's sick or in pain.
  •  Because there is a continuum between mild fussing and crying, if I'm unsure about which category it falls into, I'll treat it as crying. The point is not to ignore an upset baby -- I want her to know we're here and we will always respond to her quite promptly if she's upset. On the other hand, Mari often seems to need to "talk" or mildly fuss a bit to put herself to sleep, and I don't want to rob her of the opportunity to do so.
6. Quiet time: Procedures if Mari wakes up from a morning or early afternoon nap of less than an hour
  • I will go in right away and do anything I can to get her back down, though that will include nursing only if it's an appropriate time to nurse (see point #8) or if she's showing signs of hunger. If she starts to fall asleep in my arms, I will gently put her down. If putting her down upsets her and she doesn't seem to be trying to fall back asleep, I will pick her up again rock her all the way to sleep before trying to put her down. If she wakes up a second time, I will rock her to sleep again. If she wakes up a third time, I'll let her stay up for quiet time.
  • If after 10 minutes of soothing, it seems like there's no way she'll go back down, or if I have tried and failed twice to put her down, I'll give her some toys and let her play quietly alone in the crib. I will keep the blinds down and white noise machine on until the end of quiet time as per the schedule in point #1. 
  • If I started the naptime routine earlier or later than usual, quiet time is to last an hour from the time I put her down. 
    • It appears Mari has pretty much given up her late afternoon nap. However, if she seems really tired around when she used to have her third nap (between 4:00 and 5:30), I will take her upstairs and perform the naptime routine as fast as possible.
    • If she falls asleep, great. If she fusses, I will do a check and soothe at the five-minute mark, then again if necessary after another 10 minutes, not 20 (five minutes, as always, if she full-on cries). If at that point she doesn't seem likely to fall asleep, I will give her quiet time in her crib, with toys, for another 15 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes of quiet time. If she doesn't fall asleep but doesn't fuss either, I'll let her be for a total of 30 minutes of quiet time.
    • If she never seems tired enough to go down for a third nap, I won't worry about it and won't try to institute a late-afternoon quiet time.
    • If she does fall asleep, I will limit the third nap to a maximum of one hour, or until 6:00 PM, whichever comes first.
    • If she starts to seem really tired between 5:30 and 6:30 PM, I'll start her bedtime routine a little early instead of trying to give her a third nap.
    8. Daytime breastfeeding: Since Mari is now usually having only two naps, feedings will no longer be tied to naptimes or bedtimes.
    • I will feed her soon after she wakes up in the morning, then every three hours or so thereafter during the day, sooner if she shows signs of hunger. 
    • If she refuses to nurse on the three-hour mark, I will wait half an hour and offer the boob again. If she shows signs of hunger before that, I will offer the boob sooner. 
    • If it has been more than two hours since she last ate and she's about to go for an outing or down for a nap, I will offer her the boob before the outing or nap. 
    • If she refuses to nurse before a nap, I won't worry about it and will put her down for the nap regardless. 
    • I will try to avoid lengthy outings if she hasn't eaten beforehand (a short outing is OK) because she's too easily distracted these days to nurse in public.
    9. Solid food: Mari will be offered fruit or cereal when we're having breakfast and some of whatever we're having at lunch and dinner. She may sometimes skip solids at lunch, but she should always be offered solids at breakfast and dinner. Breakfast will usually start between 7:30 and 8 AM, lunch between 12:00 and 12:30 PM and dinner between 5:30 and 6:00.

    10. Night wakings and night feedings:
    • If Mari starts to mildly fuss (not cry) at night, I will let her fuss alone for up to 10 (not five) minutes or until fussing turns into crying. If necessary, I will encourage Jon to put in his earplugs and shut the door while I go to the guest room with the door open so I can accurately gauge the quality of her cries. 
    • After 10 minutes of fussing, I will do a check and soothe as outlined in point #5 OR feed her as outlined in point #11.
    • If it isn't an appropriate time for a feeding, I will let her mildly fuss for 20 minutes before doing another check and soothe if necessary.
    • If she starts to really cry, I will wait two minutes the first time, then do a check and soothe OR feed her as outlined in point #11.
    • If she continues to full-on cry and it isn't an appropriate time for a feeding, I will check and soothe once every five minutes. 
    • If she has been full-on crying for a total of 15 minutes, despite two soothing sessions in the middle, and it's within an hour of a normally acceptable time for a feed (i.e. four hours since she was put down or two hours since her last night feeding), I will feed her.
    11. Night feedings:
    • I will feed her no more than twice at night. Her first feeding can be a full one and can occur anytime after she has been down for a minimum of five hours. Her second feeding can occur anytime after she has been down for a minimum of three hours after her first feeding. 
    • I will make exceptions to the above if she has been crying hard for 15 minutes as outlined above, or if she is going through a growth spurt or teething. In those cases, I will feed up to three times a night. However, after the growth spurt or teething is over, I will return to a maximum of two night feedings.
    • I AM RESCINDING ALL POINTS FROM HERE ON DOWN: I am spending this month (from seven to eight months old) trying to wean her from the second night feeding, on the following schedule:
    • Mar. 20-27: I will offer only one breast at the second night feeding. If she fusses for more than 10 minutes after I put her down or wakes up again within 30 minutes of getting the first breast, I will offer the second breast.
    • Mar. 27-Apr. 3: I will offer only one breast at the second night feeding. If she fusses for more than 10 minutes after I put her down or wakes up again within 30 minutes after getting the first breast, I will offer the second breast, but I will limit her time on it to seven minutes the first night, six the second night, five the third night, etc.
    • Apr. 3-10: I will offer only one breast at the second night feeding. If she fusses or wakes up again I will use only my check and soothe techniques to try to get her back to sleep.
    • Apr. 10-20: I will start to limit time on the first breast to 10 minutes the first night, nine minutes the second night, and so on.
    • I will try to wean her from the first (and hopefully by then only) night feeding in a similar way between the eight-month mark and the nine-month mark.

    Day 60: Taking stock

    Wow, it has been 60 days since I started the No-Cry Sleep Solution. While I don't consider Mari's sleep issues 100% "solved," her sleep habits have improved out of sight. Two months ago:
    • She was waking up about a dozen times a night
    • Her longest sleep stretch was typically about two hours
    • She had to be rocked (or occasionally nursed) to sleep each and every time
    • She rarely napped outside her sling; if she did, she had to co-nap snuggled up to me or Jon. At night she slept in our bed. (Please note I don't consider co-sleeping necessarily a problem for everyone at all times -- we loved it when Mari was younger. But it was becoming a problem for both us and her.)
    • She typically wakes up just once a night to feed. Sometimes we hear her "talking" or fussing a bit other than for that one feeding, but she usually manages to put herself back to sleep within a few minutes.
    • Her longest sleep stretch typically ranges from about five to nine hours; occasionally we have had up to 11.
    • She sleeps and naps alone in her crib and doesn't seem to have a problem with it
    • She no longer has to be rocked to sleep; after a relaxing bedtime/naptime routine (including brief rocking but not all the way to sleep) she goes into her crib awake and usually falls asleep fairly quickly (though that still varies, especially for naptime).
    We have accomplished most of the goals I set out when we started this journey. However, there are still areas for improvement:
    • I still think Mari generally needs to nap more. She's often tired and cranky in the late afternoon, but it seems like she's really and truly giving up the late-afternoon nap because she just will not take that nap anymore (though for now I will continue to try to get her down if she does seem tired, on the off chance she actually manages to fall asleep). On days when she has good morning and early-afternoon naps, she isn't cranky, or not until it's pretty much bedtime anyway. But if one of those naps is short, or worse, both are, watch out!
    • Lately the morning nap has been the biggest problem. She really does best when she naps at least an hour, preferably an hour and a half, in both the morning and early afternoon. But she often wakes up from her morning nap after not much more than 30 minutes, and she won't go back down.
    • Sometimes, particularly in the afternoon, I still rock her back to sleep after a premature nap waking. I am somewhat torn on this. I don't want to continue this practice, but I do it if I go in and she still seems obviously sleepy. If she doesn't fall back asleep quickly or seems to be waking up good and proper I abandon the attempt. Maybe I need to have more faith in her ability to put herself back to sleep, even from naps. But my fear is that if she wakes herself up completely she won't be able to go back to sleep even though she needs the sleep, and she'll be a mess.
    • She's still highly unpredictable in terms of when she will nap and for how long. However, her morning wake-up time and night going-to-bed time have become more consistent.
    • Occasionally, though, she wakes up really early and won't go back to sleep. I don't really know what to do about that.
    • Our doctor says Mari doesn't really need night feedings anymore. She wants Mari completely weaned from them by the time she's nine months, which is also the age Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child author Marc Weissbluth says is the limit for needing night feedings. I am now trying to restrict her to one night feeding, usually successfully, and will continue to do so. But I'm not going to start trying to night wean her completely until she's eight months. 
    Despite the above issues, in the past two months I feel I've learned a fair bit about baby sleep in general and quite a lot about Mari's sleep in particular. So I will spend the next week or so writing down various aspects of what I've learned and creating a new hybrid plan with elements that work for us taken from various books. I hope other parents will find my experience useful.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Day 59: A shift in attitude

    Mari is seven months old today. Already. I can't believe it. In honour of that milestone, here are a couple of pictures taken in the last week or so.

    Lately Mari has been working on some new skills. Today she waved bye-bye to Jon for the first time. Before today, a few times I have thought she was trying to wave because she would open her hand and  flop her wrist, but I wasn't sure if she was just doing that randomly and it happened to be at the appropriate time. However, today she very distinctly waved, with her whole arm going up and down, as we were saying bye-bye. It was so exciting.

    She also somehow managed to get off her changing pad, which was on the floor, in the brief minute or two I was out of the room. I'm not sure if she rolled over the ridge or crept backwards and then spun on her belly, but she was beside the changing pad and a foot or two over when I caught her. She still hasn't crept forwards, only backwards. She's a champion roller, but I've yet to see her roll over anything, so who knows?

    She seems really close to being able to pull up from sitting. She can stand up if I just pull her arms up without my getting her bum off the floor. She was trying to pull up on the coffee table today too but couldn't manage it. She is also trying to sit up from lying down, but though she can do "crunches" from a flat position and can sit up from a reclined position, she can't yet do a full sit-up. I can't blame her -- sit up are hard for me too! (I am admittedly in awful shape, probably the worst of my life.)

    She's getting good at standing. If I stand her up hanging onto something at chest to shoulder height, she can stand without me holding onto her for a little while, though I have to stay within arms' reach because she'll let go and topple without warning. Also, she can now stand up for a little while holding onto only one of my hands.

    We've just come off a few poor nap days. Today was a little better than the two previous days, but she has still been having short morning naps, sometimes waking up in the middle of her afternoon nap and refusing a late-afternoon nap despite obvious fatigue. However, she's still sleeping well enough at night, so I've made the momentous decision to... (drumroll please) not worry too much about it. Yes, it's a big step for me. But I've been much happier since I've made that decision. If she wakes up from a too-short nap and still seems really tired, I do try to put her back to sleep. But if she doesn't fall back asleep again quickly, I let her stay up until the next naptime or until she's really obviously tired. Seems to be working.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Day 57: Still as unpredictable as ever

    Yesterday Mari had a great day. She put herself to sleep for two lengthy naps with no more than five minutes of mild fussing, and to sleep at night after 10 minutes of mild fussing. But today everything seemed off. It took her half an hour to fall asleep for her morning nap, though she seemed tired enough, and slept for only half an hour. I let her stay up because she seemed wide awake.

    Though she fell asleep more quickly for her afternoon nap, she woke up again after only half an hour, despite having put herself to sleep without me in the room, obviously still tired. So I had to rock her back to sleep. I don't want to encourage her to think she has to be rocked back to sleep, but I didn't know what else to do. She was obviously exhausted but after having already slept for half an hour, I doubted she'd be able to put herself back to sleep on her own. Maybe I had too little faith in her, but I didn't want to risk her upsetting herself, not being able to get back to sleep and getting overtired.

    In the late afternoon, she again seemed tired, but she refused to fall asleep and because it was getting late, I let her get up after half an hour in her crib. I don't know what I did wrong today, if anything.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Day 56: Maybe I'm not going to need to Ferberize after all!

    I've been reading Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber. However, I've been slack and am not done the book yet, and I wasn't planning to really implement anything in the book until I was done it.

    However, the one thing I have changed in the last few days is that I have started putting Mari down drowsy but fully awake for naps, kissing her goodnight and leaving the room. Until recently, I was putting her down only once she started closing her eyes, though before she fell fully asleep. About half the time she opened her eyes again when I put her down, but if she managed to fall asleep again she did so with me still in the room. I had huge problems with her waking up after only a short nap, still cranky and needing to be put back down right away.

    Since I started following Ferber's advice to leave the room, let her fuss for awhile and if need be, re-enter the room, soothe her and go out of the room again quickly, before she falls asleep, Mari has started to nap much better. I think it's because she isn't falling asleep with me in the room and then waking up wondering where I am. Because she's in the same environment if she lightly wakes up as when she fell asleep, she can put herself back to sleep.

    I haven't formally Ferberized. I have not left Mari to cry for increasing increments of time. I've just let her fuss for what I thought was a reasonable period of time. I haven't let her full-out cry. And yet I already see a huge difference. Mari is usually staying asleep for naps of about an hour and a half (give or take) for the morning and afternoon naps, though the late-afternoon nap, if taken (less often these days) is only about half an hour. She's still sleeping pretty well through the night, though still waking up typically once to feed at about 3-4 a.m.

    I'm so much happier and better-rested and so is Mari. I will post about this again if this is still working in a few days, or when I decide if I'm going to formally implement a Ferber-type program. But I hope I don't have to.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Day 53: Daylight Savings Whine

    Daylight savings time started today, which meant Mari woke up an hour later than usual, which would be great for her to keep up. But she napped so late both in the morning and afternoon, by the time she was tired again, it was too late to let her have a third nap, so I ended up putting her to bed a little earlier than I would have normally, which means it would have been VERY early before the time change. So I may have screwed myself out of a chance to have a baby who sleeps until 8 AM. We'll see what happens.

    Mari has actually been napping only twice more and more, though she had three naps yesterday, when she was more or less back on what I used to think of as her normal schedule. I'd really like to have her on a predictable schedule, but I think I'll be loose with it for a few more days to see what happens with the time change.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Day 50: Why does every damn book say something different?

    I'm not very far into Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (Dr. Richard Ferber) yet, but already I've noticed how much different books differ in what they say even on basic facts about sleep.

    Let's take the amount of sleep a six-month-old should get.

    According to the No-Cry Sleep Solution: 2 naps a day, 3-4 naptime hours, 10-11 nighttime sleep hours, 14-15 hours total. (According to the No-Cry Nap Solution, by the same author just a few years later, six-month olds should get 2-3 naps, not necessarily just two.)

    According to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, from 4-11 months, a baby needs an average of 14.25 hours of total sleep, including about 3.5 hours of nap sleep and 11 hours of nighttime sleep. The vast majority of six-month-olds take only two naps.

    According to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, a six-month-old only needs an average of 12.5 hours of total sleep, including 9.25 hours of night sleep and 3.25 hours of nap sleep broken into two or three chunks.

    That's a pretty big difference in the recommendations, especially with the last one. Also, HSHHC says a baby about this age should be starting the morning nap around 9 AM and the early-afternoon nap around 1 PM. But SYCSP recommends the first nap start between 9:30 and and 10:30 AM, and the afternoon one between 2 and 3 PM.

    What am I supposed to do with all these conflicting recommendations?

    Today: Mari had tremendous difficulty going down for her naps, especially the morning one. I started extra early trying to get her down in the morning, since I thought maybe she's been overtired the last several mornings, which was why she fussed so much before going down for her nap. So I tried from 8 AM to 10 AM to get her down. She did nothing but fuss. Finally Jon was able to get her down at about 10:40 and she only slept for 35 minutes. In the afternoon, I tried to get her back on track by putting her down at 1 PM. She didn't go down until about 2:15, though this time she slept an hour and 50 minutes. She skipped her evening nap and was down for the night by about 7:15. So maybe there's something to Dr. Ferber's recommended naptimes, though I hesitate to draw conclusions from just one day.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Day 49: Abort mission (at least for now)

    I started off today with great intentions to continue with the crying it out. I started getting Mari ready for her first nap around 8 AM, when she had been up about an hour, but she was obviously already tired and cranky -- I really should have started earlier, since she yawned almost as soon as I went to get her in the morning. I assumed she was yawning because she had just woken up, but maybe she had actually woken up earlier and played quietly until she got sick of it.

    Anyway, I rocked her and sang her lullabies and at a few points I was sure it was going to work. Mari was closing her eyes and was almost asleep. Then I'd put her down and she'd start to cry. I'd pick her back up and soothe her again, put her down again and she'd cry. A couple of times she also started to fall asleep in my arms, and before I could even set her down, she'd jerk herself awake and start crying again.

    By 8:35, it was time to put her down, so I did. Soon she started crying. I left her for awhile. But then Jon asked me if he could "go in." I assumed he meant he was leaving to go to the university. I didn't realize he meant into Mari's room until he was already in there. So I abandoned the CIO effort, since I figured she'd be confused.

    Also, Mari was more resistant than usual to going down for the night last night. I don't know if that was just coincidence or because she remembered how long she'd had to cry in the morning and was afraid of the crib or something.

    I thought about trying again tomorrow, but Beth, who sometimes comments on here, convinced me I should look into Dr. Richard Ferber's methods too. So I got Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems from the library today. I'll read that too before deciding how to go about this. I may well end up going the full-on extinction cry-it-out route anyway, but I need some more time to think about it and do research. I don't feel 100% convinced or committed to any one method at this point, so I'll wait until I am.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Day 48: Crying it out AKA the hardest hour of my life (excluding labour)

    This may seem abrupt, since just yesterday I was saying I wouldn't do it, but I have decided to try crying it out, though I still feel somewhat conflicted about the decision.

    I made the decision after a bit of an epiphany yesterday: Mari keeps herself up even when she's tired so she can interact with me, as long as I'm in the room. I was trying to get her down for a third nap and she kept yawning and closing her eyes but as soon as her eyelids met, she'd yank them open again and start trying to grope my face, stare at me, make noise and do everything she could think of to try to keep me playing with her. I spent nearly an hour trying to put her to sleep and despite her obvious fatigue she ended up skipping that nap entirely. She barely napped yesterday and was a mess overall. She woke up quite a lot in the middle of the night too.

    Another realization is that when Mari wants to cry, she can cry for ages even in our arms. She cried for the best part of an hour yesterday morning in my arms, and for another half hour or so at night, in Jon's arms, until she actually threw up. So not only is she upset anyway, she's not learning to self-soothe, and her crying is particularly stressful to us, seeing as she's screaming in our ears. That's not helpful to anybody.

    So I decided to start with her morning nap today. She woke up at 6:30, and I started her naptime routine around 7:45 (I'd meant to start 15 minutes sooner but Jon took the morning shift because I was so tired from the multiple night wakings). I fed her, pottied her and read her one of her shortest books, since she was starting to rub her eyes. Then I sang her usual lullaby and rocked her. But this time I set a 20-minute time limit for rocking/soothing. This is considerably longer than the "several minutes" recommended in Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, but Mari is a baby who has always had difficulty with transitions. I really hoped she'd fall asleep within those 20 minutes so I wouldn't have to employ CIO after all. But she kept waking herself up to fuss and try to get me to interact with her. She seemed unhappy in my arms, unhappy when I set her down and unhappy when I picked her back up.

    The 20 minutes passed, it was 8:20, and time was up. I set her down and closed the door. I'd decided I'd leave her for up to an hour, as the book recommends. It was the hardest hour of my life excluding labour.

    At first, she just talked to herself for a bit, and I hoped she'd manage to put herself to sleep quickly, since she was so obviously tired. But the talking quickly turned into fussing, which turned into crying. It was incredibly hard not to go pick her up.

    Mari proved her persistence again. She was still crying at about 9:18 and I decided I'd just go to the bathroom before I went to pick her up. Then, while I was there, she was quiet for a few minutes. I hoped she'd finally fallen asleep, but then the sobbing started up again. So I went into her room. I found her on her belly, head down. She didn't even seem to notice me come in, she was so exhausted. She sobbed a little more, so I went over and gently stroked her hair and said "shh." I'm still not sure if she noticed my presence. Within two minutes, she was out cold. She slept for an hour and 45 minutes without my having to go in and put her back to sleep.

    She didn't seem mad at me when she woke up or anything. For her afternoon nap, she went down with very little fussing, maybe because she finally wasn't overtired anymore. So maybe there's merit to this after all. But I don't know if I can take an hour like this again. I think for at least the next week I will employ this strategy only in the morning, and only if she doesn't fall asleep within 20 minutes of soothing. Maybe after a week I'll also use the same strategy for the afternoon nap and cut rocking/soothing time to 15 minutes. And a week after that I'll also use it for the late afternoon nap (if a third nap is necessary) and cut rocking/soothing time to 10 minutes, where it will stay. Hopefully she'll learn to put herself to sleep more quickly and with less crying.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Day 47: Nap hell

    I don't know what's happened to my decent morning napper. Mornings used to be the one time I could reasonably count on a decent nap, especially if I napped with her. Now nothing is working. Mari is strongly resisting going to sleep and getting crankier and crankier. Hardly has she gone down when she's back up again. I am at a loss.

    Today has been pretty much worst-case scenario so far. Mari was up at 6:50, and I started at a very reasonable 8 AM, I thought, to get her down for a nap. But she was not having it. She went from energetic to overtired very quickly and screamed and screamed for 40 minutes straight before I had to ask Jon to take over. She didn't fall asleep until some time after 10 AM and only slept an hour or so.

    For the afternoon nap, again I thought I was giving her plenty of time to fall asleep, starting at about 12:30. But it was evident she was cranky as hell and yet wouldn't fall asleep until 1:25. Half an hour later she woke up screaming and it took me 15 minutes to get her back down. Then she woke up again within 10 minutes. I wish I knew what the problem was -- if you have any idea, let me know. And no, she's not teething yet. I keep checking, but nada.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Day 45: Thumbs down and thumbs up

    I can't say today has really been a success for sleep overall, since Mari woke up at 5:40 AM and absolutely refused to go back down. Then she only napped very briefly from about 8:45 to 9:20 and the only reason I was able to get her down at all was because I allowed her to nurse to sleep. I then spent the next 40 minutes trying to get her back down (I persisted more than I like to because she seemed so tired; just wouldn't fall asleep). When I finally succeeded, she slept from 10:00 to 11:45, which totally messed up her schedule.

    However, for her afternoon nap, for the first time ever, she managed to put herself to sleep for a nap. I rocked her until she was drowsy, put her down awake and left the room. I've been trying this only once every few days because the other times I've tried it she's screamed. Today she "talked" to herself briefly and then was silent. Hope she manages to do it again.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Day 44: Top 10 things I have learned in the last six weeks or so

    While Mari's sleep habits are nowhere near perfect, they are certainly a lot better. And while I continue to learn, these are the most important things I think have worked so far to help improve her sleep. Some are derived from the No-Cry Sleep Solution, some are from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and some are of my own invention. These points are roughly in order of importance, in my opinion. Of course, every baby is different, even babies at the same age, but from what I understand from my research, these are points that would help most, if not all babies.

    1.  Trust your baby. One of the hardest things for me to wrap my mind around is that Mari has often proven herself capable of more than I have expected. Maybe it's because babies grow and change so fast. I tend to think rules that applied a few weeks ago as still applicable, but often that's not been the case. The biggest thing for me was getting over the idea that Mari would never be able to put herself to sleep, because there was a time when that was true. The first time I left her alone in her room still awake, if very drowsy, I was afraid she'd freak out and it would then take me forever to get her to sleep. Instead, she "talked" for a little while and then there was blessed silence.

    2.  Trust yourself. Another hard thing for me has been to weed through all the contradictory things all the different books say and pick out what I think will work for us. Consistency is important, yes, but sometimes I've have to do a bit of experimenting to find out what does work. Once I've found it, I've been trying to be consistent yet flexible -- i.e. if something disrupts her routine. It's a hard line to walk, and sometimes I have to stop and tell myself I'm a good mom and I know my child best.

     3. You do have to alter your life to fit your baby's sleep needs. Being well-rested during the day is crucial to a good night's sleep, and an older baby isn't going to be well-rested if she's not home and in a sleep-inducing environment at consistent times. I miss the days of newborn portability, when Mari could nap anywhere, at any time. But those days are gone and I have to accept it. So I have to keep any outings short and be strict about it. Yes, it's a bit of a pain for me. But a decently rested baby is so worth it and it makes for better rested parents too. 

    4. Not every cry is the same and not every sound from a baby necessitates an immediate response. Leaving a baby to fuss for a bit is not the same as crying it out. For more:

    5. Your child's temperament will affect his/her sleep habits and your responses to them. Some babies might be able to set and stick to a schedule on their own. Others will not. Some babies will cry very persistently, others will not. Some need a lot of cuddling, others don't like it. For more:

    6. By about six months at the latest, natural sleepy times develop, even in an irregular child, according to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child author Dr. Marc Weissbluth. If one nap is short or skipped it may be better to keep the baby awake until the next naptime, to keep the baby on some sort of schedule, though that needs to be balanced with the need not to get the baby too overtired. The morning nap should start between 9-10 and the afternoon nap, between 12 and 2. For Mari, her morning nap has been starting around 8:30 to 9 and her afternoon nap around 1-ish. A third nap is variable, according to Weissbluth. Mari's has been around 5-ish and she's OK with it only being half an hour if the first two have been long enough. I have been having an easier time convincing her to nap around these natural sleepy times than I did strictly watching the clock to make sure she was up exactly, say, two hours and 15 minutes between naps.

    7. The first nap of the day is crucial, and needs to start no more than two hours after the wake-up time. Apparently the morning nap is something of a continuation of night sleep, with plenty of REM sleep. I have found the morning nap sets the tone for the whole day. If Mari is sleeping again within two hours of waking up, she goes down more easily and is more likely to sleep longer. If the morning nap turns out to be shorter than an hour, she'll have a crankier day and will tend to wake up more easily from her naps. However, for some reason it's harder to get her back to sleep if she wakes up prematurely from her morning nap than from afternoon naps. This is something I'm still struggling with -- today, her morning nap was only 40 minutes and I couldn't get her back down. Lo and behold, she was a bit cranky.

    8. A parent's presence can be a hindrance, not a help, in getting to sleep. Mari has always been a bit clingy, and my presence can reassure her if she's upset. However, my being around once she's calm at night seems to often delay her falling asleep, because she'd rather interact with me than sleep. However, at naptime, it's harder for me to leave the room, because she's more awake and gets upset if I leave. Having her put herself to sleep for naps is still something we need to work on.

    9. A comfortable, sleep-inducing environment is important. Mari has started napping a bit better since I put the blackout fabric on the other side of the bamboo blinds. However, it's still not a very dark room and sometimes I regret not having bought black blackout fabric. On the other hand, I don't want to train her into only being able to sleep in a bat cave. Other environmental things that help: a white noise machine that stays on all night long (we have one on a timer too but she often wakes up when it turns off), removing all toys from the crib (wasn't necessary a few weeks ago, but it is now -- she's more aggressive about getting at them and more active in her sleep -- I usually put her down on her back, head to the left, and very often she wakes up on her tummy, head to the right).

    10. It's normal for breastfed babies to wake up once or twice a night to feed until the age of 9 months, according to Dr. Weissbluth. Knowing this has helped me be OK with one or two night wakings and responding fairly promptly with feeding.

    Near-future posts: ideas I have not found useful, ideas that may or may not be working, things I have learned specifically about Mari.