Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Help Wanted

Last week a crazy thing happened. A good friend of mine, let's call her Friend A, told another friend of mine, let's call her Friend B, to call me and ask for parenting advice. I admit, that in itself that is not all that weird. Except that Friend A has five children, one of whom is an infant almost the exact same age as Friend B's infant who she was looking for help with. So why on Earth did Friend A refer Friend B to me??? Clearly, Friend A has plenty of experience. More than me, really. But apparently I got up on a soap-box in front of Friend A not too long ago and she claims it basically changed her life. Apparently I gave her my "baby's need schedules" lecture. It goes something like this:

Even a little tiny, brand new infant is begging for a schedule. The world is a confusing place. They don't know what is going to happen next. They don't know when or what they are going to get fed, dragged from place to place, handed from person to person, sleep, etc. So any way that you can help them understand what is going to happen next helps them relax. They crave a schedule. A very specific schedule. Your infant should have a sleep schedule from day 1. Even if at the beginning that schedule has less to do with time and more to do with things and places. For example, a two month old isn't going to always go to bed at the same time every night - it's a little too early for that. But they can be comforted by always going to bed in the same place, with the same blanket, carried to bed in the same way, and hear the same words/songs/noises as they drift off. They crave that regularity. And they'll sleep better now and later in their life because of it. If you do this right you can put your kids to bed when they are awake and they'll learn to go to sleep by themselves - which is best for both of you. I claim that this is why my children are such good nappers. Because they know that immediately after lunch we go to bed. And they know that a story, song and prayer followed by PJ's is all leading up to getting in to bed and not seeing me again until morning. There are never exceptions. Seriously. Never.

Anywho, if you want more of that lecture give me a call or an email. The point is... Friend A took my advice and is so happy that her baby is sleeping better than any of her other children ever did and she credits me with that. So she told Friend B to call me.

The thing is...Isaiah is no longer sleeping through the night. I am now a total hypocrite. Prior to this, he'd been sleeping through the night since he was 3 months old. But now my own advice isn't working for me! Ever since he had Rotavirus he's been up and wanting to eat in the middle of the night. Sometimes twice! When he had Rotavirus he wasn't sleeping well and I started feeding him in the middle of the night because I was paranoid about him getting dehydrated like Asher had been. And now I can not seem to break him of that habit. I tried just plain not feeding him. All I succeeded in doing was waking up everyone in the house - and I gave in and fed Isaiah at about 3am after being up with him multiple times before that. If a friend called me with this problem I would advise her to just rip the band-aid off - no more feeding the baby in the night. The first few days will be horrid, but after that he'll be back to sleeping through the night. It's not like a nearly-1-year-old needs food during the night. He's not going to waste away to nothing. But I just don't seem to be capable of taking my own advice. So...HELP! Tell me what I need to do. Tell me your magic trick. Tell me anything that might help me get this kid to sleep. We both need the sleep!


angela michelle said...

I'm on hold so I haven't had a chance to read this carefully--but first, congrats on being recognized as the expert! How fun!

Second, I think sometimes older babies do go through growth spurts, so the first thing I'd do is start giving him a bedtime snack or bottle. I mean, if I wake up in the night I feel hungry. That way, he won't be a bit hungry when he does wake up and it might be easier to rip off that band-aid.

Also, do you do the thing where you go in 5 minutes after he cries to comfort him, then wait 10 minutes for the next time, then 20 etc?

If things get really desperate maybe he could sleep in his portacribe downstairs for a few nights?

Jessica said...

don't you hate it when a bad habit like that develops? I don't know if I have very good advice, because I am a band-aid type ripper. I would just make sure no one could hear him when he does wake up. Don't you have a basement??

chelsea said...

i'm a firm believer in schedules as well. avery starting randomly waking in the middle of the night when she was about 8 months. it was so frustrating. i tried my best to not feed her, but i would give in and pretty soon she starting sleeping again. so really i have nothing useful to say, just keep constant with all the other things i guess...

Farmer Joe said...

It sounds bad, but they are like barnyard animals. If you let them win, they think they are in charge. You said,
"I gave in and fed Isaiah at about 3am after being up with him multiple times before that"
And in saying that, what I hear is "I let the 2-year old win." Of course, I have childreen who are exceedingly stubborn, so perhaps my stubborn unwillingness to yield is rubbing off on them? (But never mind that, you're on the couch here, not me :)

Anyway, it is cool to see that you were able to change someone. J & I are constantly amazed by people who allow their kids to stay up till the we hours of the morn when they finally fall asleep on their own (after 10-11p.) First of all, how can they stand the kids for that long and second of all, do they not see that this is self-inflicted?

erica said...

I see that I'm different than many. Alice slept through the night, did the wake up thing, and now goes back and forth, like most kids. After she had the rotavirus though, she slept really bad too. So I killed the schedule the week after she got better. I kept her awake during nap time until she was too tired and fell asleep in my arms, gave her only one nap during the day, and kept her up later. I also fed her 5 times a day. by bed time, she was so tired that when she woke up in the night, she was quickly pacified by a "rocking back to sleep" and a pacifier. now, after a week, she is coming back to herself and is sleeping pretty good - not perfect, but the mom has slept and that's helpful.
at any rate, everyone claims crying it out is the only way, but their are others and they help to get children back to a schedule (which I also feel has saved me as a mom).

Kelly Jo said...

Having said that, you can disregard my comment if you'd like. BUT. . I remember talking to my friend Christine (does have children) after sitting in a meeting with other mothers who were complaining about how other mothers mothered. I just listened. We're not talking child abuse here, we're talking one mother brought new baby back to church right after being born, another mother waited 3 wks, etc. My friend Christine taught me an important thing. She reminded me (we all know this, we just forget) of the individuality of each child AND parent. That what one mother is comfortable with another mother isn't and they each know their child better than others.
I guess I was struck by graffiti's coment that there is more than one way to do things. While there are general parameters to stay within that are probably best for the child; there are many options within that parameter.
SO, this comment is too long, I have NO suggestions on what to try except that it's ok that you didn't follow your own advice! That you're good at this whole mothering thing and you'll figure out how to get things back to "normal". . .

Jolie said...

After reading all the comments I would echo many stated here. I'm a big believer in schedules, but I'm also a big believer in mom's sanity. So take a big breath, go for a time out, drink a cup of cocoa, light a candle, and don't give up. Remember the gift you've been given of mother's intuition. It is very real.