Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 33: Six-month-old nap resister

I tried to do everything right today. I watched Mari carefully for signs of fatigue and tried to put her down for her naps as soon as I saw them. For the morning nap, this didn't work out too badly. She slept for an hour and 45 minutes, waking up at 10:30. I thought this was an acceptable nap.

We took some pictures to celebrate her 6-month half-birthday. But after less than an hour of being up, she started yawning, rubbing her eyes and looking away, where normally she's up two to two and a half hours before she needs to nap again. I thought it seemed too soon, but I tried to put her down. I fed her, I read to her, I rocked her, I sang to her, I put her down... but though she didn't seem very energetic, she would not close her eyes.

After 45 or 50 minutes of trying various techniques to get her to fall asleep, I thought maybe I'd misinterpreted. Maybe she was yawning because she'd just woken up. Maybe she was looking away from her toys because she was bored. Maybe she was rubbing her eyes because... I dunno... it was bright? (Though it wasn't, not really.) So I let her play alone in her crib for 15 minutes before trying again to put her down.

Big mistake. It was by now past the time she normally falls asleep, and she was now overtired and fussy. I tried to rock her and put her down in her crib as usual. She screamed. I tried to lie down beside her in our bed for a co-nap. She screamed. I walked, I rocked, I sang, I shushed, I nursed, I gave her the pacifier, I jiggled, I turned on the mobile... everything I could think of. She screamed and screamed. Finally I made Jon put her down because I figured we were heartily sick of each other by then, and Mari often reacts better to the fresher parent. It was about 1:45 by the time she fell asleep, nearly two and a half hours after she first started showing signs of fatigue.

For her late-afternoon nap, Mari again showed signs of fatigue and I tried to put her down. It took me 45 minutes after the end of the naptime routine for her to fall asleep.

I know I may have been trying too many techniques to get her to sleep and actually ended up overstimulating her. But she was crying so hard I wanted to figure out how to make her stop. Whatever new thing I was doing would often make her stop temporarily. Then she would start again. Argh!

Any advice on how to get a little nap resister to nap would be much appreciated.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 32: Wonder Week 26 and still overtired

Mari had her roughest night of sleep in awhile last night, though the last few days haven't been very good. Thinking about it, I realized she is now in her 26th week, which is one of the "wonder weeks" when babies make developmental leaps and tend to be fussier, including not sleeping as well. During this fussy period, which will probably last about a month, Mari will learn about the relationships of things with each other, including distance -- including realizing that I can quickly put distance between myself and her, an idea she won't like. For more on wonder weeks, see or read the book by that name, by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans X. Plooij.

I read The Wonder Weeks some time ago, but I've just started reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth ( While the No-Cry Sleep Solution has provided me with plenty of ideas to change Mari's poor sleep habits, Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child has really helped me understand how baby sleep works. It has also helped me understand that the tired signs I've been looking for -- rubbing eyes, fussing -- are actually overtired signs. I've really got to catch Mari when she's losing interest in her toys, looking away, slowing down, calming down, and put her down right away, before she starts rubbing her eyes and fussing.

Another thing I've learned from Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child is that according to Weissbluth's definition, Mari had colic after all. Mari was certainly very fussy as a younger baby. But I didn't think of it as true colic because she didn't actually cry for hours every night. However, she did fuss for hours on end, and if she wasn't crying it was because I was trying very hard to soothe her. Weissbluth's definion of colic is:

- Parent has to spend more than three hours a day soothing the baby
- This happens at least three days a week
- Goes on for at least three weeks

To all the above, I can unequivocally say Mari applied. We spent probably four to seven hours a day, seven days a week, for most of the first three months, trying to calm her or keep her calm. According to Weissbluth, a baby who had colic will have to learn to sleep differently than did a baby who never had colic. I haven't gotten far enough in the book yet to find out what the differences are, though.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 31: The new 10-day plan including nap plan

Damn. Mari didn't sleep through the night last night, for the first time in over a week. She was close, since I'm still defining "through the night" as one five-hour stretch -- she had a 4.5-hour stretch. But it has underlined to me that I still need to be emphasizing the nighttime sleep plan as much as ever. I'll probably need to do that until well into childhood, though of course there will be significant changes to the plan before then.

Anyway, here's the new plan, including the plan for naps. Unless otherwise stated, previous plans still apply.

1. For this 10-day plan only I will not try to schedule naps. I will instead look for sleepy cues and try to respond IMMEDIATELY by reading her a quick story, rocking to the point of drowsiness while singing a lullaby, then putting her down. I will try to feed and potty her at least 45 minutes before she's likely to fall asleep. (Feeding her immediately upon waking up has been totally unsuccessful and I will discontinue that attempt. She's too raring to go to settle down for a feed when she's just woken up.)

2.  If I miss feeding her and pottying her before she shows me sleepy signs, I will feed and potty her immediately, limiting time on the potty to a minute or two regardless of if she goes. I will then rock her and put her down without a story or song.

3.  I will keep track of naptimes for the next 10 days so I have a sense of when her natural tired times are. I will use the data to create a nap schedule for the next 10-day plan. For this 10-day plan I will only try to schedule bedtime, starting her bedtime routine at 6:30 every day so she's asleep sometime between 7:30 and 8.

4.  I will make Mari's room darker for naps by sewing blackout fabric onto the backs of the bamboo blinds. (I already did this for one blind, but I don't think the fabric is dark or thick enough, so I'll add another layer.)

5.  I will continue to co-nap with Mari for her morning nap for now, since the morning nap seems to be key. In any case, I usually need a nap too! If she starts to stir too early, I will put a hand on her before she wakes and shush her to try to keep her asleep. If she still wakes up after less than an hour, I will do whatever I have to do to get her back to sleep, including rocking and nursing. 

6.  For afternoon naps, I will put Mari down in her crib and leave the room so she gets more used to napping alone. I will, however, stay upstairs. I will enter the room immediately when I hear a sound and try to get her back to sleep if it has been less than an hour or if she seems cranky.  Exception: if she napped long previously, seems happy and alert and has napped at least 30 minutes, I'll leave her be. She can have one nap a day of less than an hour, assuming three naps a day.

7.  I will work on putting her down after less rocking, drowsy but not yet falling asleep, so she learns to fall asleep on her own in the crib. I will stay by her side for a little while, saying "shh," but I will now not keep a hand on her stomach unless she fusses. If she fusses, I will use the hand but I won't pick her up unless she starts to truly cry, or if she fusses for more than 5 minutes at naptime and doesn't seem to be trying to put herself to sleep. At night, I will leave the room 5 minutes after I put her down, even if she's still awake. At naptime, I'll stay in the room until she's very nearly asleep -- but not quite.

8.  Since her weight gain has slowed, I'm OK with feeding her once or twice a night. Ideally I will do this once before I go to bed, in hopes her longest sleep stretch comes after I go to bed. However, if she doesn't wake up, or puts herself to sleep after less than five minutes of fussing, I will not wake her up to feed her, nor will I do a dream feed.

9.  For night wakings, I will continue to let her fuss alone -- NOT cry -- for the following amounts of time:
- 5 minutes if it's just after I put her down and leave the room, but she's still clearly awake and not happy about being left alone.
- 15 minutes if she has already fallen asleep once for the night but less than three hours have passed since I put her down. If I end up having to go in and comfort her, I will not feed her.
- 5 minutes if more than 3 hours has passed since I put her down for the night. If she continues to fuss for more than five minutes, I will feed her immediately upon going in.
- 15 minutes if I have already fed her once during the night and less than five hours have passed since then. If I go in, I won't feed her.
- 5 minutes if more than five hours have passed since her first night feeding. If I have to go in, I will feed her.
- 5 minutes at any time of the night if it has been less than 30 minutes since her last night waking and she was not fed at the last night waking. If this happens, I will feed her immediately upon going in.
- At any time if she starts full-on crying, I will go in immediately. However, I will only feed her according to the above guidelines.

10.  I will no longer hold Mari during her naps after she has fallen asleep, even if I picked her up after a premature awakening. If she wakes up prematurely, I will soothe her and put her down, up to twice. If she wakes up a third time after being put down, she can stay up.

11.  I will make sure she gets at least some active tummy time between every nap, even if it's only for five minutes before an outing.

12.  I will try very hard to avoid being out when Mari has to nap. However, if it's unavoidable and she falls asleep in her car seat, I will stay in the (intermittently warmed up, if necessary) parked car with her until she wakes up or has napped for a minimum of 45 minutes. Only then will I go in the house, since going in almost always wakes her up. If she falls asleep in the carrier or stroller, I will try to keep walking around outside for the same amount of time. However, if it's too cold, I will take her inside and keep walking around quietly indoors in hopes she won't wake up.

13.  In the last stages of getting Mari down to sleep (naps and at night), I will do the "Pantley Dance" -- alternating periods of rocking and shushing with holding her still and quiet in my arms. I will do both a few times each until she is sleepy but not yet asleep. Then I will put her down.

14.  If she seems in danger of falling asleep nursing, I will employ the "Pantley Pull-Off" (see

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 29: Natural schedule changing?

Mari had a good but unusual day for naps today. Instead of three shorter naps, she had two two-hour naps. She seemed well-rested and was in a good mood most of the day.

I wish I could say it was because of something I did differently, but it wasn't. She's just unpredictable. However, today made me think maybe Mari's changing her natural schedule, such as it is. She suddenly also seems to want to stay up longer. Only a short time ago she was always tired after two hours of being up, sometimes sooner. Lately trying to get her down after two hours has been a struggle, and today she was up for a couple of three-hour stretches. So maybe part of the problem with her naps has been that I've been trying to make her sleep when she wasn't tired yet.

Not everything today went exactly as I would like. She woke up briefly in the middle of the first and had to be nursed back to sleep. Also, she slept in our bed for both naps, though for the second, amazingly, I was able to leave her quickly and she still kept sleeping.

Regardless, maybe I'll lay off a bit on trying to schedule her for the next week or so. Instead, I'll feed her, potty her and read her a story in advance of when she usually gets tired and use that as a signal to begin quieter play. Then I'll pay close attention to her tired cues and when I see them, I'll get her down right away in the best possible environment for sleep. Maybe if I do all that, she'll show me some sort of pattern.

As I understand things, babies can be in transition between three naps and two for quite awhile, so it's likely she'll still need three naps most of the time, which will make the days' schedules different. But a little more observation will hopefully give me a better idea of if I do need to shift her schedule.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 28: Nap log day

I spent the day keeping track of Mari's naps and her daily schedule. It may not have been the best day to do it, since she didn't have a typical day for naps. But then, she doesn't really have a typical nap day, which is a big part of the problem.

She had three naps today: 9:10-10:30, 12:00-12:30 and 3:00-3:55. This totals only 2 hours, 45 minutes, when usually I like to see her nap about 3 1/2 hours. I consider between 3 and 4 hours acceptable, as does the No-Cry Nap Solution.

Because she napped so little and seemed overtired in the early evening, I put her to bed at 6:35, when usually she isn't sleeping until about 8:00. I didn't know what else to do, since she was clearly exhausted and it seemed too late for a fourth nap.

The naps themselves were full of Mari's usual bad habits -- or at least, habits I'd like to change. The first nap, she co-napped with me in our bed. I'm OK with this once in awhile but I don't like having to do it every day. Though that first nap was more than an hour, she seems to like to have two-hour naps in the morning and she was still obviously tired and cranky afterward, crying as soon as I left her alone to play for a minute.

She started showing tired signs less than an hour after waking up from her first nap, so I tried to get her down again right away. But despite her obvious fatigue, I had trouble. I tried to get her to finish the falling-asleep process on her own in the crib, after having rocked her to a very sleepy state. But she seemed wide awake the second she was in the crib and started to fuss. So I gave in and rocked her all the way to sleep. I stayed with her for the entire nap and tried to resettle her as soon as she showed signs of stirring, but she woke up anyway and I couldn't get her back down.

Despite the very short second nap, this time Mari seemed reasonably energetic and in an OK mood, so I waited until she started to seem tired to try to put her down. At first I thought it had gone well because she fell asleep quickly (actually too quickly, when she was still in my arms) and stayed asleep when I put her down. I stayed with her again to try to keep her asleep, but it backfired -- I was trying to read, a page rustled and my little light sleeper woke up. I rocked her to sleep again, held her for awhile, put her back down, and then the same thing occurred. So I ended up holding her for most of the rest of her nap. Maybe she would have napped longer if I hadn't had to go to the bathroom, but nature called, I put her down, and what do you know, she was up again.

Unfortunately all this is typical. My goals for the No-Cry Nap Solution journey:

- To not have to stay with her during her naps
- To get her to fall asleep on her own, in her crib
- To get her to nap longer
- To stop holding her during her naps
- To try to get her to nap at predictable times of day
- If she wakes up before I think she should, not to have to nurse her back to sleep as I often do
- To stop rocking her all the way to sleep

Today's nighttime sleep, since we're still very much on the No-Cry Sleep Solution: Last night Mari had a good 11-hour sleep. She cried out a couple of times but not long enough or loudly enough that I had to go to her; she apparently put herself back to sleep very quickly. However, I fear tonight isn't going to be as good. She has already woken up once (at about 9 PM) and sounded upset enough I went to her nearly right away and nursed her, though it hadn't yet been anywhere near five hours since I put her down. Her daytime sleep was more disrupted than usual so I guess I can expect the same at night. Sigh.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 27: In other news...

OK, so I'm not done my nap plan yet. But it occurred to me I've been blogging about Mari's sleep rather in isolation of her other developmental milestones, which I'm sure have affected her sleep habits.

Since we started the NCSS, Mari has learned to sit up unsupported -- actually the day after we started, on Jan. 20, the day she turned five months old. When she's not too tired, she sits solidly enough now for me to be able to leave her playing alone while seated, though I still leave pillows around her as insurance, because she does tend to topple after awhile.

She has also started eating solids. We're doing baby-led weaning (here's the website of Gill Rapley, the woman who really started the movement; I have her book: and had her first food on Jan. 26 -- she licked and sucked on a piece of red pepper she grabbed off my plate. She first used a spoon by herself on Feb. 10 and managed to drink an ounce of breastmilk out of a regular glass the next day. (She is still spurning the sippy cup, though, as well as the bottle.)

In the last few days she has learned to jump in her exersaucer and has figured out how to operate the musical toy on said exersaucer.

She also seems to be trying to learn to creep. She has managed to push herself backwards a few times and is now pretty good at spinning around on her belly, but forward movement has been elusive so far. However, she can raise her chest a long way off the ground, sometimes with her head back at an angle that would make a contortionist jealous. She can raise her bum off the ground too -- just not at the same time as her chest yet.

So there you have it -- she's been a busy little monkey.
 Today: Mari had a nice two-hour nap in the morning but her latter two naps were short. Still, she seemed not too badly off, unlike the other day, when she had a short morning nap and was terribly moody. I think the morning nap is key. Last night her sleep wasn't quite as good, though I can't really complain -- she had an 8 3/4-hour stretch of sleep. But she woke up at 4:45 AM and wouldn't go back to sleep for another hour. So I've been tired today. I'm not sure whether I should now just refuse to nurse her at night now that she's proven she can do it. Any input on that would be much appreciated.