Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ada's Sleep Schedule

Someone commented asking how I got Ada to stop feeding to sleep. So here goes...

I sprinkled her with fairy dust.

No. I just stopped feeding her before putting her in her crib. She sort of adjusted to it, and then didn't. Her naps are all messed up because she went and played at grandma's for a weekend after getting pulled out of day care and now has two new daytime babysitters who are trying to figure out the best way to get her down for her naps.

Here's what has worked (sort of) for us...

I must mention that Ada has always been a good sleeper for us and has been sleeping through the night (6 or 8 hours at a time) since she was 10 lbs or so, and really all the way through the night (10 to 12 hours) at about 13 lbs --experts say that is the "magic number". But she came into this world sleeping 4-6 hour stints when most kids were up every three hours. She might be a rare breed.

And at 6 months, she gets up around 7, eats (she's on solids), plays, goes glassy-eyed and slows down, gets a little more fussy, rubs her eyes against your shoulder when you pick her up and takes a 45 min or longer nap around 9. Then she eats, plays, glosses over again around 1 and goes down for an hour or more. Again, gets up, eats, plays, maybe grabs a cat nap for 20 minutes around 5 pm and then is out for the night at 6:30 or 7. The trick to getting her to stop feeding right before bed is that we were in an eat, play, eat, sleep routine and I swapped the second eat portion out with a sway, shhhhsh, sing, bounce for a few minutes in front of the crib, then put her down to scream for 5 - 10 minutes as I occupied myself with dishes or other housework to avoid focusing on her screaming. To keep me out of her room while she settles down, we have an egg timer on the fridge that I have to wait for her to hit 15 minutes before I can go rescue her. If I have to go in, I settle her down for about five minutes and then try the cry it out thing again with the timer. If that fails, I go get her and give up until she goes glossy-eyed again.

Some days it all falls apart but most of the time it has been working well. She's teething now too so if she is having a really bad day and spazzing out so bad I don't know what to do, I admit that I cave in and nurse her. But then I try to wake her a bit if she falls asleep, I read her a book or poem and then put her in her crib. Or even change her diaper one more time in between. Anything to get her to break the eat-to-sleep association.

I'm going to give this schedule a few weeks too as it is something that all of her sitters and I need to get consistent about before she'll understand where we are coming from. And I try not to ever leave the house during nap time. That's just asking for trouble.

Moral of the story: Feeding your kid to sleep is bad (it can rot their teeth and cause ear infections), but sometimes bad things happen to good people. Just try your best and see what works for you and your child. What doesn't work today, might work tomorrow.

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