Sunday, August 11, 2013

Payback time

I love having newborns. They're cute and cuddly, and best of all they sleep a lot. People always talk about how exhausting it is to be a new parent. But for me, nursing a newborn every 2-3 hours at night is a piece of cake. I feel well-rested and enjoy many good nights of sleep after my late-pregnancy insomnia.

With all of my kids, this "honeymoon" period comes to a screeching halt around right around 3 or 4 months and doesn't get much better for a long, long time.

Yep, it's happened again.

Ivy sleeping in a boat
Ivy is really restless at night and will sometimes wake up every.single.sleep.cycle. That's every 45-60 minutes, all night long. Last night I had one 2-hour stretch of sleep. The rest were 1 hour long or less. 6 weeks ago, she was waking up once or twice to nurse over a 12-hour stretch.

The more kids I have, the less I know about helping them sleep. When people ask me, "When will this get better?" or "What do I do when my baby does X?" I laugh and say: "I have NO idea. I muddle through and survive until it gets better."

I've tried keeping Ivy up extra long before bedtime. She used to have about 2 hours, so I tried 3 hours. Then I tried 4, even 4 1/2 hours. No matter how exhausted she is, she still wakes up shrieking after 20-30-40 minutes after I put her down in the evening.

I've tried swaddling, swaddling with one arm out, and no swaddling. I've tried propping her up on her side. I've tried fans and no fans. I've tried various kinds of white noise. I've tried keeping her in bed and putting her in a crib. I've tried nursing her and letting her fuss back to sleep.

Nothing really makes a difference, except nursing her--obviously--helps her calm down quickly. She wakes up all the time even when we're not in the room, so it's not just a matter of us disturbing her.


Dear Ivy,

Please sleep at least a few hours at a time. I am very tired. 


Your clueless mother


  1. When my youngest slept that terribly, reflux was the problem. Could you raise the head of the crib mattress and see if that helps? Easy to test; might bring everybody some peace.

  2. Keep your head up mama. I have NO advice!! Only sympathy. We have three kids and a fourth that I'm in labor with at the moment. I agree with you, the more kids we have, the more clueless I am. Just know that you are not alone :) And it will get better eventually.

  3. Maybe try putting her to bed earlier. She might be getting too tired. Sounds crazy but worth a shot :) Hang in there

  4. The No Cry Nap Solution by Elizabeth Pantley is a book I bought when my 5 month old grandson was a terrible napper and was driving his parents to distraction (thankfully he was sleeping well at night). Within a week, it made a tremendous difference. The author also wrote one about helping with nighttime sleeping issues. What I particularly liked was that it wasn't one size fits all. It has a number of possible strategies and recommends finding what works for your baby. It is available on Amazon and may also be available at your local library.

  5. So far all my kids have been this way. I've heard from countless other moms that this is their norm, too! I heard an "expert" once explain that sleeping is a learned talent. They all become proficient at different ages. I think if you are breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc. it's all totally normal and to be expected. It seems like the only time I see great baby sleepers, they usually never co-slept, did some sort of sleep training and certainly didn't nurse on demand at night. Currently still up 3x with my 14 month old.........zzzzzzz

  6. I think a lot of the problem is the increased alertness with mobility. My son started doing the same thing, but its gotten worse now that hes 6mo and can easily roll over both directions. We're trying to incorporate some strategies from this book:
    Our biggest problem is that the little guy wants to nurse every 45min, but won't fall asleep nursing. He also kicks in bed a ton! I think our cosleeping is over aside from a cuddle and nurse in bed in the am. Two days in to trying to stretch out his nursing intervals at night I find that it is totally worth standing there patting his back or rocking him to sleep and not giving in to nurse, because he's been sleeping for 2-3 hours after each waking. I feel so much better than I did over the weekend and its only been a few days!

  7. I'm anxious to try out the French idea of "la Pause" with my next baby. Pamela Druckerman writes about it in "Bringing Up Bebe" and it's summarized here...

    How does “la Pause” work?

    French parents don’t immediately rush in when the babies cry at night. They watch and wait to see if the baby can connect the sleep cycles on her own.

    Babies have roughly two-hour sleep cycles, and if they can connect them, they can sleep for four hours, then six hours, and so on. What French parents do isn’t what American parents know as “sleep training.” They don’t let babies cry for hours, but they also see letting them cry for a few minutes as an opportunity for them to learn. Behind this is the idea that even little babies are rational and can learn things

  8. Consider food allergies. My first three kids slept like you describe until they were at least 2. We eliminated dairy products after a series of ear infections. My next baby slept 6 hour stretches by 6 weeks. My current baby started regularly sleeps 3-6 hour stretches starting around 3 months. We co sleep, and a lot of the time I am sleeping WHILE she is nursing. Seems like the 9p to 12a and then the 5a to 8a time stretches I am waking hourly to switch sides, but then we go back to sleep. There's a lot to be said for lying down for a nap after lunch with the kids, too.

  9. Oh Rixa, I so feel for you. Eric went through something similar starting around 6 months, and we just now started getting back to 5+ hour stretches of sleep (and he's almost 19 months old). (We had gotten used to those 12 hour stretches with only one or two night moments of night nursing too. Oh how I yearn for those days!) I hope that Ivy is goes back to sleeping for much longer stretches very, very soon--for you and for her.

  10. Some great suggestions here for sleep deprived mamas! I would add from a lactation perspective that at this time is when some mamas are trying for a less 'postpartum' look and eating less fats, possibly beginning an exercise program of some kind. Your milk will reflect that by containing less fats so babe is not satisfied for as long. Also making sure he/she nurses a lot during the day so s/he is not 'making up' feeds at nite. I remember a lot of patting back to sleep nites or Dad rocking a little one for hours.... Good luck!

  11. With my last (7th) my husband made a hammock, styled after the obe called "The Happy Hang-up", made in Australia. He sleeps better than any of my others. If you want more info on how he made it, feel free to email me. ( evamommy@yahoo dot com )

  12. Ugh. Alannah is turning 6 months tomorrow and the only place she slept was the swing til recently. Now she wont even sleep there. She wants me all. the. time. I do wonder if teething has something to do with it.

  13. have you ever tried this type of crib ? my kids love to sleep in it, you can make it yourselve ;-)

    1. Do you have a tutorial for this kind of hammock? I've seen them before and they look really cool.


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