Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

A co-worker recommended a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth because it had been very helpful to her daughter in getting her two girls to become good sleepers.  Aaron picked the book up for me a few weeks ago and I read enough to figure out that during the first 6 weeks there isn't much that he recommends you do about your baby's sleep habits and moved on to studying up on vaccines. 
Yesterday Sarah Graves was very fussy and I felt like she was tired, but kept fighting sleep.  I was starting to get tired out myself, so I gave her to Aaron and I picked this book up again and started trying to figure out what he recommends at 6 weeks of age, which is right around the corner.  He believes that babies need to go to bed early and be offered a nap when they first show signs of being tired and not once they are overtired (a.k.a. hysterical crying).  This makes a lot of sense to me.  His book has different steps to follow depending on the age of your baby and 6-8 weeks old is the earlist that he recommends you begin sleep training. 
At 6 weeks old the recommendation seems to be that you begin to establish a routine for putting baby to bed around 9 or 10 at night and start trying to learn when your baby is really waking up to eat and when she just needs to be soothed back to sleep.  Sarah Graves has been doing pretty well with the night sleep.  I usually feed her around 10 and by 11 she has usually fallen asleep, most often in the bassinet.  She wakes up between 3 and 4 to eat and goes right back to sleep and gets up in about 2 1/2 hours to eat again.  We have had some nights where she is up wanting to eat every 2 1/2 hours, but she usually has one 4 or 5 hour stretch during the night.  This is much appreciated by me! 
The daytime sleeping is where we need some help.  Dr. Weissbluth says that at 6 weeks they are not mature enough to have a napping schedule, but they should not be awake for more than 2 hours at a time.  This is where he recommends you watch for the signs of sleepiness and begin to lay the baby down when you see the signs and let her fuss for a few minutes in hopes that she will fall asleep on her own.  He does mention that you can do some "recreational" nursing to soothe her to a drowsy state before laying her down. 
Sarah Graves is mostly a cat napper during the day and it is usually in my arms or in the carseat.  Today I have been looking for her signs that she is tired and trying to lay her down in her crib and give her the chance to nap.  So far today she has taken 2 naps for about 45 minutes to an hour each and is currently sleeping in her crib.  I don't so much care how much she sleeps during the day, but would like her to sleep enough that she is happy during the wake time. 
Next time you see a crying baby and think "oh poor thing", have more pity for the mother whose heart is aching hearing her baby cry!


Libby said...

My doctor recommended this book too, so I'm glad to hear you've found some helpful advice in it! I haven't started it yet.

Natalie said...

Libby, that's good to know! Maybe it really does work to help them become good sleepers! I recommend reading as much as you can before Emily arrives because it's hard to find the time to after.

Theresa Miller said...

Natalie -

John Emerson didn't take a daily nap until he was 1 year old! I'm so glad S.G. took a good nap today, and I hope for you that it sticks! She is darling, and I'm so happy for you guys!