Daddy Duty

Sleep, Eat, Diaper Change. Repeat.

A Miracle?

on May 3, 2012

We may have turned the corner on sleep.  I didn’t want to announce it prematurely, but my wife and I have been ecstatic the past 3 days. Why?

JJ’s been sleeping pretty well on his own at the moment. Unfortunately, we didn’t get here overnight. 

We all know that sleep is important. As adults, we should strive for 8 hours plus and many studies even support mid-day napping despite the reputation you’d get at work if you were caught sleeping on the job.

However, in children, the books suggest that sleep is especially important as they can’t “make up” sleep. Basically, if a child pulls an all nighter, sleeping the entire next day doesn’t make up for past night’s sleep as it does in adults. Therefore, it is suggested that every hour of sleep is ESSENTIAL to a baby as they are supposed to be sleeping upwards of 12, 14, 16, and even 18 hours as newborns.

To date, JJ hasn’t slept anywhere near the recommended amounts. He was sleeping 14 when it was suggested to sleep 18 and 12 when it was suggested to sleep 16. When we brought it up to the Pediatrician, she didn’t worry and said that some babies just sleep less. Furthermore, she could see that JJ was eager to explore the world and was an active little squirt.  Nothing to worry about.

However, there’s one huge point I need to add. To get the numbers he was getting, he dang near insisted on being held during the day for his naps. He would sleep on his own at night in the dark, but the day time was a completely different matter. Imagine Claire’s and my tired arms. We obviously knew that this couldn’t continue as it was becoming disruptive to our lives.

As to how this behavior started, we “blame” ourselves. I’m not saying what we did was bad, per se, but it created a disruptive habit for our lives. From day 1 when JJ came out of the womb, family, friends, and strangers told us to put the baby down so he doesn’t get used to being held. We were reminded of how kids in orphanages don’t cry as they’re ignored most of the time and know that crying will not get them attention (I know there are some fine orphanages, but that’s not the point and you get my drift). 

However, in thinking of the orphanage model and having read some other psychological studies, we didn’t want to leave our baby heartbroken. In addition, we were afraid of giving him feelings of abandonment, insecurity, and a lack of confidence, so we held him a lot! Another mantra that fed this behavior is the simple idea that you can’t spoil a newborn.  Feed it when its hungry. Hold it when it cries. Etc. Basically, be there and baby the baby. 

For his first five months of life, JJ has had as good of a life as any baby ever has. I know he has because I provided it for better or worse. We have babied him beyond babying and ensured that every one of his needs has been taken care of. We sincerely love him and will do everything in the world for him. However, he’s turning 5 months old today and we knew that for my all of us to be successful, we’d need to begin teaching him to be more self sufficient, including learning to fall asleep on his own. 

About a week ago, we implemented some sleep training. At designated times, we would rock him shortly, give him his toy blanket, and put him down to sleep. As he was used to us rocking him to sleep fully, he’d normally cry until he was picked up. We let him cry for 10 minutes, then soothe him, then cry for 20 minutes and soothe him, gradually increasing the time he was on his own until he finally would fall asleep. Months ago, we tried to simply leave him “cold turkey” and he cried for 3 hours straight. We caved at the time and picked him up and held him to sleep as was our habit at the time.

After 3 days of pretty rough crying, JJ is sleeping pretty well now. He’s getting sleepy at designated times and can sleep with little to no involvement from us. We’ve had 3 successful days so far and hope it continues. We also know that teething is around the corner, so our peace and quiet may be changing soon despite our best efforts. However, the last 3 days, Claire and I have been the most well rested we’ve been since having JJ as we are free to handle our tasks free of holding JJ and have more time to catch a little shut eye ourselves. Hallelujah!  

Having gone through what I’ve gone through, given the chance to put the newborn down when its first born vs. babying it the way we have with JJ, I’m still torn. I think I’ll have to settle on some sort of balance between the two. I still don’t think I could do the simple put down and walk away all of the time. Heck, one person told me to just ignore my son like he’s not there like he does with his son. I think not.

P.S. It’s the craziest thing when JJ used to cry bloody murder when he felt he wasn’t being attended to and would literally turn into the happiest, smiliest guy ever when he was picked up. Going back to the time he cried 3 hours straight, he smiled like nothing happened literally minutes after being picked up. Weird!

P.P.S. Another thing they tell you in parenting classes is to put the baby down and walk away when the baby is getting to you as no baby has ever died from crying. It’s ok to let the baby cry sometimes!

P.P.P.S.As those of you have met JJ can attest to, he never did his big crying spells with strangers, so you never saw the worst. He reserved them for Claire and me. Lucky us! 🙂 He always gives smiles to everyone else! Smart kid!






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