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!