It’s time for another sleep log analysis and boy has it been an interesting month! We’ve made several changes and they seem to be making a positive difference on Sprogzilla’s night time sleep.
The beginning of the month wasn’t too bad, Sprogzilla was down to one nap a day with a slightly earlier (9pm) bedtime and was staying down up to around 4 hours for the first session. After about 1am, he would sleep next to me in the co-sleeper cot for bursts of between 30 minutes and 2 hours. This part of the night was the most difficult for me and I usually woke up tired from nursing all night.In my last sleep-related post, (Still) No Rest For The Wicked, Alexis of Troublesome Tots suggested that 9pm was still a relatively late bedtime for a 12 month old taking only one nap a day. I had a good think about this and wondered if I should adjust things. I looked up sleep/nap routines online and came across a guide by Elizabeth Pantley, author of the well-known “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” book. I decided to give her schedule a go and try to keep some kind of order to Sprogzilla’s naps.
My biggest concern was how to go about doing this consistently. We have always had a problem with getting Sprogzilla to go down when he doesn’t want to, which is why naps have generally been a bit all over the place. I’m no fan of letting him cry it out, but we had to find a way to gently make him understand that certain times of day were designated nap times whether he appeared to want one or not.
I remembered reading a post over on Alternative Mama’s site called “Crying It Out Vs Allowing Crying“, which ultimately led me to Janet Lansbury’s blog. I learned about the concept of letting your baby cry, but remaining with them, reassuring them that they are safe and loved until they feel relaxed enough to settle. In particular, we were intrigued by the notion that babies need to cry to let go of past tension and emotional hang-ups.
I wasn’t sure this approach would work, but decided it was certainly worth a try. We tried it for the first time on the 23rd of July, choosing 11am and 3pm as the optimal nap times and putting him down for bed around 8:30pm. For the first three days, things went really well. Sprogzilla always nursed to sleep for his naps and first thing at night, so no crying was involved there. Sprogdaddy was the one who typically sat with him while he tried to settle after night wakings as I was worried he would want to be nursed if he saw me. On one occasion, he spent the best part of two hours comforting Sprogzilla in the middle of the night as he wailed in his cot. I didn’t sleep much those nights either, as I remained on-call in case Sprogzilla really needed me.
Bedtime on day three went completely tits-up. He didn’t nurse to sleep, so I popped him in his cot. There followed 20 minutes of hysterical screaming to the point he was almost retching. No amount of reassurance would calm him, he had a clean nappy on and I gave him some teething powder in case his latest toothy peg was giving him grief. Sprogdaddy and I sat in the nursery hanging our heads in despair. This is exactly what I was worried would happen.
I remembered how when he was younger, white noise would calm him. I didn’t really expect it to work now, but setup my portable speakers and iPhone app anyway. It was as though someone had flicked a switch – he literally flopped over onto his front and went to sleep! Unfortunately, I was so worried about how stressful the evening had been for Sprogzilla that I couldn’t sleep myself for hours and was constantly checking the video monitor to see that he was OK.
The rest of the night continued as normal, with him coming into our room in the early hours. From then on, however, everything changed. He suddenly stopped nursing to sleep and I had to put him in his cot awake. He cried every time, but we persisted with the reassurance. I no longer went to nurse him every time he woke in the night, Sprogdaddy went in instead. Sometimes it took nearly an hour for him to settle. The white noise had to be on all the time, quite loud as he fell asleep but then we would gradually turn it down over the next 20 minutes to a more comfortable level.
We also made two major physical changes to his sleep routines. Firstly, we stopped using a sleeping bag, which he had been using since he was merely weeks old. As he is so active in his cot now it seemed to be restricting his movement and we wondered if he was uncomfortable. Secondly, we started giving him porridge right after his evening bath. Previously, we didn’t give him food before bedtime and if we did, it was yoghurt. Porridge helps produce tryptophan, an essential amino acid with sleep-inducing benefits.
On the 28th of July, he went to bed at 8pm. We wanted to bring bedtime forward as it apparently means he should sleep better and longer. Between then and 6am the next morning he woke twice in his cot – and self-settled! Neither myself or Sprogdaddy had to go in and comfort or nurse him. Ten amazing hours with no assistance from us. I thought that day (or rather night) would never come! He then slept soundly for another two hours after coming into our room.
It had to be a fluke. I didn’t dare hope it would happen again and fully expected the typical four hours maximum the next night. But he slept nine hours the next night with more self-settling. In fact, since then he has not slept less than seven and a half hours.
I’m still not used to this incredible change and I’m still nervous it won’t stick. I can’t actually sleep very long myself, so I get rather annoyed in the morning when I’m still tired. Guess I’ll have to re-learn how to sleep for longer than a couple of hours at a time.
I still don’t know if he needs two naps or if he is some kind of transition phase. Over the last few days, he has refused to take his afternoon nap. He’ll be up and down in his cot like a yo-yo and it takes upwards of 45 minutes to get him to sleep sometimes. Surely this much effort isn’t necessary for one nap?
We’ll have to see how things go in August…..