Friday, January 28, 2011

thinking about sleep.

For the past two nights, Liza has slept better than she has in her entire little life!  Very nice for mama and very nice for everybody else because I am definitely a better person when not sleep deprived.  Be it because I am actually sleeping or because I know this is likely a fleeting phase, sleep is on my mind.

In order to understand my thoughts on infant sleep, you need to understand my thoughts on babies:
Babies are people.  Like you and me, babies have needs that must be met in order to be happy and whole.  Liza's needs are simple -- food, clean diapers, loving interactions, and sleep.  The food is easy.  Liza loves her mama's milk.  Clean diapers are easy especially now that she no longers pees buckets and only has a dirty diaper if I eat dairy.  Loving interactions is the easiest of all.  I mean, really.  She is so flipping cute that I can't stand but to snuggle and play with her all day long.  Sleep.......not so easy.

Actually, sleep is where it gets tough.  As an adult, I need long stretches of sleep.  My body craves at least 8 hours of interrupted sleep.  But, Liza is not an adult.  She is a baby.  Babies do not need long stretches of uninterrupted sleep.  In fact, babies are designed to wake frequently at night.  This article is a wonderful, research based piece on the facts and history of infant sleep.  Even without evidence-based research, common sense tells me that babies are designed to wake frequently at night:  their stomachs are small and breastmilk is easily processed thus designed for frequent feedings, their first 40 weeks of development were spent in a pitch black loud safe place and last but not least, they are babies and everybody knows that babies don't sleep all night long.

So yeah, I totally accept that babies are not designed to sleep like adults.  But this doesn't mean that I do not foster good sleeping habits in hopes that my babies will sleep longer stretches at night.  Trust me.  I foster good sleep with every bone in my body.  We use white noise machines, a swaddle, light layers, a small heater in Liza's room, sleepy cues like that first little yawn and even though it scares me every time she goes to sleep, Liza has a blanket to snuggle.  But, if she wakes up, she wakes up.  If she needs to be nursed and rocked in the middle of the night, I will nurse and rock in the middle of the night.  If she is ready for the day at 4:30am, Taylor will start his day at 4:30am.  For us, there is a fine line of respecting Liza's baby needs and still fostering good sleep habits.

So there.  These are my thoughts about sleep.  And, I consider myself lucky that Liza cooperated in her morning nap this morning to let me write these thoughts about sleep.  Thanks, Little Baby Sister Girl!

13 comments:

The Shermans said...

I think our baby sleep philosophies are the same. Sleep training books stressed me out. We just did what we felt was common sense. Worked for us.

Rebecca said...

love that you wrote Taylor starts his day at 4:30, lucky you:)

Lindsay said...

If Henry decided to wake at 5, he comes back into bed with mama OR Philip starts his day at 5!! lol :) Well thought out. I like it!

TheDearmanFamily said...

Ali, I skimmed a few sleep training books when I was pregnant with Henry but I couldn't and still don't understand the one-size fits all approach to sleep.

Rebecca, I am lucky!

Lindsay, occasionally I bring her in the bed with us at the crack o' dawn but usually if she is awake, she is awake for the day.....

Taylor Dearman said...

Sleeplessness is the bedfellow of strange acquaintances meeting surreptitiously with reality

Tara said...

Sadie still wakes up a lot at night. It is frustrating how many people ask in a doubtful, critical way, "oh, she doesn't sleep through the night yet?" Or they flat out tell me she should be doing that now. I kind of look at her sleep the same way you do, she is a baby, she still wakes up a lot to nurse. We don't really do any of the sleep training stuff--just try to go off of her natural cues. I hear ya about being a bit sleep deprived though--it can be tough, but it is for a relatively short fraction of a humans' life!

Darcy said...

I am with you. Totally agree. And am so happy you got that good sleep....!!! delicious right?

shay said...

I thought you might find it interesting that the pediatric GI specialist I saw encouraged me to stop motn feedings for Veda. Nevermind that she was only 5 months, or that it had nothing to do with our presenting concern, or that as a reflux baby she likely gets 20-25% of her daily caloric intake at night, or that there may not be another way to get a hungry baby back to sleep unless you feed the hungry baby. I said to him, "so yes, anyway.. about our concerns.." Oh, and I didn't mention that I make it a habit never to take BFing advice from a man.

TheDearmanFamily said...

Shay, good point. Never take breastfeeding or baby sleep advice from a man. I like that.

FYI, we are back to more frequent wakings but that's okay too :)

Anonymous said...

Mine woke up at least once during the night until 9 or 10 months. Some nights he was hungry, so I nursed him, and other nights he needed rocking or soothing. Honestly, I think half the people who say there babies sleep 12 hrs by 6-8 weeks aren't telling the truth - I think they believe that's what they're supposed to say :). And those people that let a bitty baby cry it out are inhumane in my opinion. I don't understand how they think a tiny baby is already supposed to sleeping that long a stretch without being hungry (and I know formula babies can go longer, but they still shouldn't go that long). And I still rock my now 19 month old at bedtime, and it doesn't bother me one bit that I can't just put him in bed and walk away. I am sure I won't still be rocking him when he's 19 :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe the GI MD was trying to minimize the reflux from midnight till the next awakening or maybe he thought the reflux was causing the crying and awakening. Ask questions. Don't just ignore all advice from a man(I suggest finding a woman MD)--just the ones you've tried a few times and don't work. Also, I really hope he said to raise the head of the bed, but mainly the baby rolls to the bottom in a heap and no resolution.

Ya'll may be getting too radical in your reactions. Did anyone say let the baby cry it out? I bet not. That was, hopefully, a projection on your part. I agree. Unless they are 3 years old or more and still won't go to sleep in their own bed, then do it once and follow the advice of the "books".

Ya'll are not the first mothers with these problems. There are not always easy solutions, but we all loved our babies as much as you do and did our very best to learn, teach and guide. Laura thinks she had a happy childhood. I remember it totally differently.

Taylor, your quote makes no sense, but I still love that you think you are poetic.

Love all mothers,

Laura's Mama

Anonymous said...

Well one of our friends wives told me that she had her second baby sleeping through the night at 6 or 7 weeks because she let her cry it out starting at 4-5 weeks. I'm sorry I just can't agree with that at all. Yes, my bfed baby went 8 hours on his own at exactly 2 months, but he was hungry after that 8 hr stretch. After the feeding he would go back to sleep for another 3-4 hrs. He's always liked his nighttime sleep - and even when he woke to eat or needed soothing, he almost always went back to sleep with no problem. And in hindsight, when he started these 8 hr stretches, I should have done a dream feed and then gotten myself 8 hrs of sleep.

shay said...

With all due respect Laura's Mama, I always ask questions. Probably too many! The GI Specialist was unable to give me a sufficient answer as to how his advice applied to our specific situation. Breastfed babies have fewer nighttime reflux symptoms (opposite is true of formula fed babies), and so nighttime waking due to reflux has never really been a problem for us. That is what made the suggestion so odd.. I didn't ask him for anything related to sleep at all.

I was mostly being facetious about ignoring a man's advice about breastfeeding, but I'll admit, I am certainly more skeptical. As I am also skeptical about breastfeeding advice from a mother who did not breastfeed. It may not be fair, but it's the truth.