Cracking The Secrets Of Sleep
11.04.10 10 weeks old
Wow, all that extra awareness and interest in play that I wrote about last week? Multiply by 100 and you’ve got this week. He’s officially in love with the parrot art card, and he’s also obsessed with a polka dot pillow on the couch (distraction when he’s nursing on the right side) and the shadow of a lamp on the wall (distraction on the left). The downside to all the fun: Alongside the awareness comes a lack of interest in sleeping. Oops.
I know I’ve mentioned (probably about 12 times) that Tucker’s never been a very good napper. But until last week I could count on the stroller knocking him out for as long as I kept it moving. Not anymore—he is too interested in the sky, trees, clouds, my face, etc. to doze off easily. He still sleeps in the carrier, but I can only handle so many hours a day, especially when I’m working on a project and I end up with my laptop on the changing table so that it’s the right height to work at with him on my chest! Not ergonomically ideal.
Desperately hoping for a Magic Nap Solution, I started reading the oft-recommended (by everyone from my mom friends to my pediatrician) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Unfortunately it’s mostly aimed at babies old enough to sleep train--about four months old. Drat! But one thing that stood out to me was a series of stories where babies were being put to bed too late, and once the bedtime was moved much earlier they slept better. Tucker was already sleeping straight through from around 10 or 11 until 5 or 6 a.m., so I couldn’t really complain about his nighttime sleep. But he would not nap during the evening, and by bedtime I felt like he was really overtired, especially since he wasn’t exactly getting many hours of naps during the day. We were also having to do more and more rocking, swaying and soothing to get him to sleep. Last weekend I decided to try putting him down at 7 or 8 instead of 10 or 11, just to see what would happen.
Well. It took a bit of adjustment, and we returned to a night feeding for a couple nights, but the hours have inched up and last night he slept through from 7:50 until 6:30 a.m. !!!!!
Let’s just enjoy that thought for a moment. He did wake up 45 minutes in and need to be rocked in the bassinet for a couple minutes, but then when he roused (I heard little coughs on the monitor) at 3 and 4 a.m. he went back to sleep himself. Of course, I lay in bed for a while wondering if I’d have to get up and pump—it was almost a full 12 hours between feedings! Ouch. But after breakfast this morning we played for a little while and then he went down for a nap at 8:15 or so. Fascinating.
As long as we’re talking about sleep, let’s talk swaddles. Tucker really hated the swaddle at first, and fought his way out of them pretty consistently even in the hospital. We started out using the hospital flannel blankets, and then moved to muslins from Aden and Anais when he got too big for the flannels.
Very early on I tried the Miracle Blanket and he was so furious that I felt guilty and didn’t try again for weeks. It is basically a straight jacket, and I just couldn’t bear it when he was tiny. Once he was consistently busting out of the muslin wraps, I decided to try again, and what do you now--he didn’t mind so much! That thing is amazing; the inner strips go over the arms and then under the body, pinning them down, then you pop the legs into a pouch. Another strip wraps over the right arm and the body and tucks between the left arm and body. And then a looooong piece wraps around the whole baby several times, turning them into a tight cotton burrito. It is un-bustable. Even my little Houdini couldn’t escape.
He could outgrow it, though. (He's a bruiser--at his 2 month appointment he was 14 pounds and 25 inches, and he's definitely still packing on the weight.) I still use it on warmer days during naps, but he’s really too long for the foot pouch now. He was also getting far too violent about kicking his (well-tucked-in) blankets up, and while we always put them really far down, I worried about how I’d keep him both safe and warm.
Enter the sleep sack. I knew we’d need one eventually but I was concerned about swaddling. Turns out that’s taken care of: We got the Halo Swaddle Sleep Sack in microfleece. It keeps his arms pretty tightly contained and he’s nice and warm without any other blankets.
As the temperature drops, one other babywear item I highly recommend: A fleece suit, preferably in two pieces. I found a really snuggly Ralph Lauren fleece hoodie and footed pants set, tags on, at a charity sale for a couple dollars. Even if we’d paid full price Ben says it would have been the best money we’d spent--he says he feels like a good parent every time he dresses Tucker in it. It’s loose enough to pop over his cotton one-piece suit, so if we go somewhere warm we can take off the fleece and he’s still dressed. And since it’s in two piece we can just use the jacket if he’ll be in the stroller under a blanket, or add the pants to put him in the carrier. The hood fits nicely, so even if he doesn’t have a hat on his head stays nice and warm. It’s just a very useful thing for this weather before we need heavy snowsuits or anything. And it’s really cute, too. We used it along with a lion hat for his Halloween costume! I wish I could find the set we have but I think it’s a couple seasons old... This is a one-piece option from the Gap and they also have a jacket version. I can’t find footed pants like we have, but if you see something like that, snap it up!
Kate Flaim is a freelance journalist and food blogger based in Cambridge, Mass. When she's not cooking or writing, she is gearing up for the arrival of her first child this summer.