My close friends know all about our sleep struggles with Bodhi because I was always begging friends for help and ideas. We know we are so lucky that Bodhi eats almost anything and is a super happy and active kid, but the sleep thing has been a struggle for a long long time. And because I felt pretty alone (as in no one else understands besides my hubby) during some of those sleepless nights (and even worse the following day when I couldn’t think, couldn’t remember anything unless I wrote it down etc…), I wanted to share our experience for other parents dealing with the sleep challenges that come with beautiful little ones. This post is also available on Blogher today if you want to read it twice. Ha!
I remember googling sleep topics starting at around five weeks and continuing until just a few months ago. I was always trying to find the magic button to help get us (my hubby and I) just a few hours of zzz’s even if it just meant a nap that was longer than 20 minutes.
I know a lot of you have kids who slept through the night as early as five weeks or kids who sleep in until 8 a.m. and that rocks, but for those of us who don’t, I want to offer a bit of hope. This is a long post detailing our sleep situation and the steps we attempted to take to help Bodhi to sleep longer (not even through the night). This isn’t a typical Live the fancy life post, so for those of you who have no interest, stop by tomorrow for a fun post about our gallery wall! :)
Obviously, I’m not a doctor or a sleep expert, I’m just a mama who had a baby who didn’t like to sleep. After more than 10 months of waking up six to eight times a night with our son, I only know what worked and didn’t work for us and I’m here to offer you a bit of hope (although it may not be exactly what you want to hear).
I think when some people heard us say that he woke up that often, they either thought we were full of it or were clearly doing something wrong. At the time, I questioned what we were doing too, but now, I know that we definitely didn’t do anything wrong. Bodhi just didn’t like to sleep. He preferred to hang out with his mommy and daddy.
If you’re still with me and need a little reassurance, read on!
While our beautiful boy thrived in almost every area, sleep was not his thing. With the exception of one random night around the two month mark when Bodhi slept seven straight hours, he never slept more than two hours in a row before he was eight months old. I dreaded the nights. I knew that as soon as we laid him down and took a shower or laid down ourselves, that we would hear him cry. He woke up every hour to hour and half. He also didn’t sleep past 5 a.m. YIKES! We kept hearing from others that eventually he’ll just surprise us and sleep through the night.
That surprise just never came and never came. I walked around in a fog at work, at home and everywhere in between. I even started a new job in that fog. We tried everything we were told and nothing worked. Here are the things we attempted because hey, maybe they’ll work for you:
- develop and maintain a strong bedtime routine (started this at five weeks)
- formula with his breast milk
- cutting naps short during the day
- keeping naps long so he wasn’t overtired
- putting him to bed early
- putting him to bed late
- minimizing stimulation
- getting him plenty of stimulation (seeing a pattern here? We were told both ways in several options)
- helping him to get lots of exercise and activity
- sleeping with him (cosleeping)
- laying him down slightly awake
- pacifier (our son just didn’t like it)
- white noise machine
- night light
- very dark room (again, we were told both)
- twilight turtle to put stars on the ceiling
- nurse him to sleep
- nurse him, but make him stay awake and lay him down awake
- never nurse to sleep
- 5 S’s-swaddle, swing, suck (pacifier), shhhh sound, and sideways in our arms
- keep the room warm
- keep the room cool
- talk to the doctor—our doc suggested Ferber early on. It just wasn’t right for us. Then our new pediatrician suggested crying too which is when we decided on the next one.
- and finally, the letting him cry technique in the book The Sleepeasy Solution—and by the way, it wasn’t easy. AT. ALL!