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Monday, January 14, 2008

Flexible Sleep Routines for Babies

Getting your breastfed baby to sleep at a particular time is a big concern to many parents. There are a lot of authorities on "sleep routines."

Put away the popular Expecting series and the Whisperer and Something-Wise books. They won't help your breastfed baby. They won't help your confidence.

Dr. Sear's has much better nighttime books. The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin is also great and supports the kind of parenting you are doing.

Your newborn baby does not tell time. She is used to having all its needs met 24/7 while in the womb. No one knows your baby like you do. A breastfed baby will often have a five hour sleep stretch at night, a 2 hour stretch in the first half of the day and 2 hours in the second half.

Wearing your baby as much as possible during the day is a great way to teach your baby day and night.

It is totally normal for a breastfed baby to fall asleep at your breast in YOUR arms. You do not need to wake them to burp them. You should not train them to fall asleep alone.

You should never prop a bottle and leave a baby. Your baby should have eye-to-eye contact with you during the time she is feeding.

Looking back, I am glad my kids didn't have a set bedtime. If we were out, they could fall asleep in my arms at the breast and didn't need "their bed." My days and my needs vary and I would never know what time to set as the perfect "bedtime."

If a "bedtime" and getting your baby in the crib or bed at a certain time really important and your baby sleeps whenever you want her to consider yourself lucky.

Your baby is going to sleep exactly the amount she needs per day no matter what time they fall asleep, so why force a baby to be in bed at a certain time if its not the time that works for your baby. I'm not talking about staying up all night. But does it make a difference what time nap time is or if bed time is 7, 8, 9, 10, 0r 11?

I always wondered how a daycare gets everyone to sleep after lunch. I knew this routine would not work for my kids. The sleep policy was one of the things that acted a deterrent to me to not pursue daycare. You can not make a baby who is not tired fall asleep and you can't force a tired baby to stay awake. We never did have exact nap times. My days are too busy and varied. I didn't rush home to put the baby to nap at "2:00." If I was out and the baby was sleepy, why couldn't he sleep wherever we were.

Dinner, bath, book, and breastfeeding are all part of a great evening routine to do when you are home. But if your baby doesn't fall asleep at X:00, you are not a bad mother.


Amy said...

Thank you for your advice on sleep routines. I really think there is a lot of pressure for moms to get their babies to bed at a certain time and for babies to be following a sleep routine. I am going to read the books you suggested.

pearly1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Permission to Mother said...

Pearly said in the previous comment-- "I actually think it is very unfair of parents to "sleep parent" in a way that differs from that of a daycare...I think it's cruel to allow your child to fall asleep at the breast or sleep with you etc and then drop them at daycare where they will get nothing of sort and have to figure it out on their own."

I once thought this too. I was not very confident at mothering my first son (nor had I attended LLL or knew much about IBCLC). You have given me a good opportunity to share something I have thought about but never seem to have a lead into it.

William, my first son, got bottles of expressed milk with his sitter (at her house with her similar age son.) After he was 12 months, I wanted to get rid of the bottles at the sitter. William was taking the nipples off and dumping the milk--a very clear sign he did not need the bottle anymore. He was starting to walk around with the bottle, (yuck) and did not need Missy to hold and cuddle him as he fed. Her family called bottles "ba-ba." another yuck. Bottles don't need any cute nick-names, if you think it’s a cute name in the first place.

Anyway, we mutually decided what day that she was not going to give either boy a bottle anymore. I thought it would be a good idea to let William fall asleep without the breast at home b/c as you say I thought it wouldn’t be fair if I fed him to sleep, but took that technique away from her. I tried to put him to sleep without a breast. He cried and cried and cried. I will not tell you how long he cried. I was stubborn. I am embarrassed to think of it. I finally nursed him and I felt defeated and like a looser.

Guess what happened at the sitters? She laid both boys down on the couch and read and they fell asleep. Period. She never had a problem with William minus a bottle.

I continued to nurse William at home on demand and to sleep. She never had a problem recognizing his need to nap and he fell asleep easily for her. Of course this wasn’t public daycare and he had a responsive and consistent caretaker. It was definitely cruel of me to try to deprive him of breastfeeding and co-sleeping naps to train him for a sitter.

If daycare/sitters are needed, pick them carefully. Mothers should breastfeed and co-sleep and not bend because day care insists otherwise or because the mother feels like the child needs training.

pearly1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Permission to Mother said...

When moms are going back to work at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, whenever... and ask me how to train a baby to take a bottle in preperation to go to back to work ... I actually tell moms to nurse and feed their baby and don't loose precious time training a baby. If the baby has to take a bottle for the first time, it might as well be delayed as long as possible and max out the time the baby gets exclusive breast.

pearly1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Permission to Mother said...

By no means do I endorse dropping your kids off at one of those day cares and leaving.

By you sharing your insider experience working at a daycare perhaps it would open some moms eyes up to consider more options, hang out at the daycare, get to know the worker, etc.... Thank you for sharing.

We made our babysitter transitions by having sitters who spend time with me at my house and/me at their house and they know my mothering style. I know their family.

I wasted too much energy fussing over training my first son to take a bottle. Looking back at that part of my transition to work it wasn't worth so much focus. I should have savored the time together more.

In many of my childcare situations of the past 11 1/2 years, I have been friends or become friends with the sitter and theentire family and consider them among my closest women friends and family's friend. Some of them even have posted on my blog!! I have been lucky to find sitters and keep them in my life long term and beyond my sitting needs. Some have been "employees" first and some friends first. I have made it a priority to choose my children’s care providers very carefully. It never occurred to me that I have been lied to.

I was so naive in the beginning, 11 ½ years ago. I looked at daycare. My work day was too long to follow through on that option (daycare close early), so I looked at private options. Boy... did I luck out... it wasn't for a few years that I realized that daycare wasn't an American right of passage for a 3 month old and how lucky I was to avoid them because I wouldn't have known what to look for.

There were people to tell me that my baby would be better off in daycare than me staying home with him. I’ll bet other mothers hear that same line too.

pearly1979 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anippleinthedark said...

We just returned from a family vacation on Long Island, and it was such a blessing to have my 8- month-old Anabelle just be able to nurse and fall asleep on my lap wherever/whenever she needed to! My extended family was surprised I didn't have a more set schedule for my daughter, but she sets her own schedule, and was happy and playful and enjoyable to all throughout our trip! Added bonus: we didn't need to put anyone out or try and get a crib because we co-sleep!!:)

Permission to Mother said...

Hi anippleinthedark,
BINGO! You got my point and said it better than me!


Anonymous said...

I was not blessed to be able to breastfeed my first child, but did so, but only briefly, with my second child. I let my second child fall asleep at the breast if that is what she wanted. Easy schmeezy for me.

My son slept wiht us rarely if ever. I did however nap with him all the time, even after number 2 came along.

But my!, she loved sleeping with us. And I loved it. As she got older, she weaned herself and only would visit us when she had nightmares. She she got so big she could not fit in the bed with us, she would drag her heavy covers and lay beside me on the floor next to my bed.

I miss the co-sleeping. We think they will be the ones who suffer (referring to the children) but I think it is us as parent/moms who are usually not ready to let go.

They are children for so short a time, I say be with them as much as possible. I knew my daughter would not want to sleep with me when she was 15...she barely lasted to 8 years old.

(Guess who Denise?)

Trish the dish said...

I have been reading through your baby wearing posts and have been learning a lot. I did have a lot of people leave comments on my blog that were anti-baby wearing. Most of them were that your baby couldn't learn independence or that your baby would be spoiled or that your back would hurt. These comments all come from people who have never tried doing baby wearing, so I can only take them with a grain of salt. (Very lightly, in other words.) It seems that loads of people love to wear their babies and don't have back problems. Obviously you have to find the right position and the right sling/carrier/wrap to work with. I was just so surprised that so many people were so adamantly against it. And I don't believe you can "spoil a child". I believe that babies come into this world completely pure and sinless and you will learn more from them than they will learn from you. Anyway, I don't have any experience of my own but you have experience. So if I'm on the right track then just let me know.

Permission to Mother said...

Trish, I am shocked to see all the negative, "baby wise" comments on your post. You are on the right track. Do you know the anti people who commented on your blog?

Baby wise is a philosopy that probably won't mix well with the lifestyle you have.

I may still leave another comment on your blog. A few things that caught my attention... Toddlers will request getting out of a sling to move around and then you will wish they would be content in your carrier instead of heading for danger.

Some toddlers will want to sleep with you way beyond infancy. Others will be ready for their own bed. Just be flexible.

A sling should not hurt your back if worn correctly. A snuggli (department store type carrier) is not good for over 20 pounds and mislead many mothers thinking that all slings/carriers will hurt your back. A properly worn sling feels good! It feels secure having your child so close.

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