A good night sleep

I love sleeping through the night. I don’t think it’s something I appreciated enough before having children. I have never been the type of person to pull an all-nighter (be it for studying, partying or whatever). I’m almost certain that my only sleepless nights have been caused by extreme discomfort (the 24 h flu, a red-eye flight, months 6 -9 of pregnancy...) and never by choice. And if you know me and my daughters, you know that I didn’t suffer through too many sleepless nights with newborn babies – thank goodness.

Layla was my little sleeper. From day one that girl loved to sleep. This sounds like a good thing but it also meant that I had my work cut out for me. Despite the questioning gazes from others, I would wake her every 3 hours (during the day) and use all the tricks I knew to keep her awake while she nursed to make sure that she got a full feeding. After a couple weeks of this, she fell into a nice schedule of eating every 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours during the day and at night she would often go 4 or 5 hour stretches before waking up to be fed. Not too bad. By 8 weeks old, she was sleeping through the night consistently though I still had to work hard to keep her awake while she nursed). By 4 months old she was sleeping 12 hours a night (a-m-A-zing!)

Meaghan was/is much more “awake”. Where I only ever woke up once in the night to feed Layla, Meaghan was “2 x a night” baby for the first little while. I also rarely had to wake up Meaghan to feed her and she was almost always awake during her feedings – no cold face cloths for her! Despite being very different from Layla in both her eating and sleeping... Meaghan was also sleeping through the night by 8 weeks old and at 3 ½ months old, she did her first 12 hour night (Fan-tas-TIC!). Life is good on the “sleep” front.

Am I “just lucky”? No way! When I was pregnant with Layla, someone mentioned an approach/guide to baby sleeping and feeding patterns – Babywise. “On Becoming Babywise” (the book) tends to get a bad rap (especially from attachment parenting advocates) because it encourages parents to set the pace of life for newborns. People who criticize Babywise either haven’t read the whole book (and focus on the “schedule” side of things) or haven’t tried it. EVERYONE I know who used this approach were “lucky” enough to have their baby sleep through the night by 3 months. In my opinion, the Babywise approach is all about finding balance.

Without telling you to read the book I can tell you what I think are the 3 keys to this approach.
1) Making sure the baby is getting a full feeding (more of a challenge for nursing moms)
2) The order of the activities of sleep, feeding, playing (sleep first, feeding second and playing third) --- avoiding nursing baby to sleep (except at night of course!) and
3) Taking the time to figure out why baby is crying instead of assuming it’s always because he/she is hungry.

Speaking from experience, it takes work to get into the groove (a flexible schedule) – but Babywise gave me a goal to work towards... and it totally worked. Of course - there are exceptions to the rule. Some babies have terrible reflux or nasty eczema that has them awake and screaming for hours - but the new edition of "On Becoming Babywise" addresses such issues. It also takes into account growth spurts and other situations when the schedule really is VERY flexible.

With that said... I'll just add that it worked for me. Twice. However I completely understand that when it comes to parenting, different approaches work for different people AND nobody can tell you how to do it. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut :-P



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