Read No More

05Aug07

Yesterday I decided to stop reading all the books. You parents out there know the ones I mean. Those books. The parenting and baby books. The ones that tell you what to expect, how your baby is developing, how to help him be happy, etc.

The straw that broke my back was this:

Evan is going through this new phase where he doesn’t like to sleep during the day. Well, that’s not quite true. He loves to sleep during the day if he’s being held by one of us, preferably chest to chest with his baby head nuzzled into the crook of one of our necks. He even loves to sleep for 20 minutes in his crib. Then all hell breaks loose.

Each time, I give him a couple of minutes, waiting for him to work through it, then when he turns purple and real tears start streaming down his cheeks, I pick him up. He falls asleep. I put him down. He cries. I pick him up. He falls asleep.

The kid is exhausted, this is clear. But WHY IN GOD’S NAME WON’T HE SLEEP?

I wonder this all day until sometime between 9 and 10 at night when he goes down for the night without any trouble. He sleeps three or four hours, wakes to be changed and fed, sleeps for three or four more hours, wakes, then sleeps for three more hours.

Unfortunately, the ten to eleven hours of sleep he gets at night isn’t enough for him. All the books (yes, those books) say he should be sleeping at least fourteen hours and preferably more like fifteen and a half. Books aside, I can see in his eyes that he’s tired during the day. He wants to sleep. He just won’t do it in his crib.

And so I consulted the books. All of them.

 

One said that since Evan is an active baby, the problem is probably that he shouldn’t be swaddled anymore. He gets himself undone every time, which is (a) a smothering hazard and (b) a big distraction as he struggles and struggles to get them darn thing off of him instead of sleeping.

One said that he should be swaddled tightly (so tight his eyes pop out, the book jokes) and should have something to suck on and some soothing white noise in the background.

One said that he can be swaddled if it helps (what’s the definition of helping, please?) and that there should be no distractions – no mobiles, no music, no light, and no white noise.

One didn’t have anything to say on the matter at all.

 

Great. So yesterday we tried all the possible permutations: unswaddled, swaddled, noise, no noise, pajamas, sleep sack, socks, no socks, air conditioning, no air conditioning, pacifier, no pacifier.

The result: no naps for Evan and no satisfaction for me. Instead of finding answers in those stupid books, all I found was more frustration. I found myself scanning all the pages looking for What To Do instead of following my instincts and working with Evan to see what works best for him. One thing we know for sure is that Evan still needs to be swaddled, even if he does undo the blanket by the end of his few hours in the crib. We also know that he needs to have clothes on, and socks, inside the swaddling. We know that he likes white noise as a soothing element, but doesn’t actually need it to sleep. Standing with him in the bathroom with the overhead fan on works, and if I stand there until he’s calm he’ll go down in the crib (at night, anyway) without needing the fan in his bedroom.

In the end, Evan slept in twenty-minute stretches yesterday, in our arms or in the Baby Bjorn. By 5:00, he was actually pretty quiet and dozy, but still didn’t sleep. By 9:00 he was getting really tired, and by 10:00 he was down for the night.

Today, we’re luckier. He took an hour-long morning nap and is going on two-hours now for his afternoon nap. One book I actually do trust (Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child – which I’ve seen work literal wonders on my nieces and now on my friend’s son) suggests that one possible reason babies won’t take naps is that they’re actually overtired. So starting from a great nightsleep last night helps Evan sleep better today. But even knowing this, I also know that some days, Evan will sleep and other days he won’t. I can’t force it, and changing every possible thing about Evan’s environment isn’t really going to help.

And I’m still not going to read those books. Well, maybe once in a while. Just now and then. Maybe once a month. Oh, who knows.

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One Response to “Read No More”

  1. 1 Christina

    He’s only around 6 weeks, right? Many babies are still sorting out their naps at that point. Mira is 1o weeks and still isn’t in a regular nap pattern, but we’re getting closer.

    Those books are useful if you look at them as giving you ideas to try, and not the Way it Should Be. No two babies are the same, and certainly what works for one doesn’t always work for the next.

    You’re doing a good job following your instincts and watching his cues. You’ve figured it out far earlier than many new moms do. (took me a lot longer with my first!)


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