Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Why won't my babies sleep?

Why won't my babies sleep?

I ask this every morning, it seems.  Sacha has been a bad sleeper since birth.  He used to have to sleep on our chests until he was almost 3 months, then he just decided that sleep was optional and started waking up every hour or so wanting nothing but to be nursed. Even now, at 2 years of age, he still wakes up at night, sometimes too often to keep track.

Kees started out as a miracle sleeper.  He slept a solid 8 hours at night until he was 3 months old.  Then it all went to crap. It started with one night waking.  Then 2.  Now, over a month later, he wakes up every 2 hours, sometimes more often. He doesn't always require nursing to go back down, but the sleep disturbance is really getting to me.

We have every sleep book there is.  They are in a leaning tower of ass-vice on my night stand.

The thing is, my kids are very happy.  They are not cranky.  They are not fussy.  They are good nappers. I know that the night wakings are not affecting their state of being.

It's mine (and my dear partner in crime's) that I worry about.

I know many of you are thinking "Just let him cry it out!  In 3 days, it will be all over and things will be right as reign."  I think the same thing.

It sure as hell did NOT work for Sacha. We tried.  God KNOWS how we tried.  But Kees is a different little person, so maybe it could work.

And then when I hear him cry, I just cannot do it.  I get anxious.  I get frustrated.  I get angry.

I don't think letting him cry-it-out is for me.

Should I just resign myself to the fact that my babies don't sleep?


  1. We refuse to let T cry it out either. We just won't. And knowing him, I can't imagine it working anyway.

    And that's fine, except that we miss sleep. Sometimes he sleeps well and only wakes up once, a couple of miracle times he's gone through the night and we only notice in the morning when we compare notes and find out neither of us got up for him, but most nights, he wakes himself up several times, gets a bottle (or a few sips of one), and goes back to sleep. He's rarely up for long, but he does end up in our bed a lot because we're too tired to do more than feed him, make sure he's not ill or hurt or whatever, and crash back to sleep.

    We take nights in shifts these days, and while this cannot go on indefinitely, it works for now.

    Our pediatrician gave us "her blessing" to "go ahead and let him go through the night and cry it out". This is the second time she'd done this, though we don't complain to her about the sleep - she just always asks. She has An Opinion about these things, see, and us poor dumb parents, well, we clearly are coddling him or are weak or are ignorant or whatever.

    She finally stopped when we told her our house is small and that he sleeps in our room - somehow, she thought that was why we hadn't Ferberized him. If she wants to believe that, fine, but I'm with you on this one.

    You know what? I think parents who gets their kids to sleep through the night early on get this from a combination of temperment and luck - not every kid is going to respond to being let cry it out (Hell, my parents tried this until I was almost four - I can even remember it - and I didn't start sleeping through the night on my own until I was bloody well ready), and I think the secret no one tells you when you have babies is that the sleep thing is going to suck and you will have to fool yourself constantly into believing all sorts of things just to get through the day (and night). Almost no one I talk to who isn't playing the "my baby is developmentally ahead of yours" game has babies that sleep through the night either - of course, since most people play that game, that isn't a lot of people, but still... ;)

    I've only got the one, as you know, and I can't give you any advice, but I'll say for my part that I've just resigned myself to whatever T is going to do sleepwise. With two, gah, I just dunno - I might try to win the lottery and hire a nighttime nanny :)

    In the meantime, I'll include you in my wishes when I make my daily sacrifice to the Gods of Sleep (tm) - they aren't listening to me anyway, so it can't hurt :)

  2. Hi, just stumbled across your post on Tag Surfer. I feel your pain...sleep is too precious a commodity to go without for so many years! Both of my kids went until after their third birthdays before sleeping through the night, and NOTHING we tried worked What finally did it for the oldest was keeping a Mozart CD on constant loop in his room overnight. I tried in desperation, thinking "yeah, right!" when someone suggested it, but it worked beautifully.

    Good gets better. :)

  3. Oh man, if I were childless...and lived there...and unemployed, I'd offer a nights sleep for you if I could.
    I tried the crying it out once, because nothing I did was settling him AT ALL. He was just screaming and I was getting angry. I didn't want to be angry so I let him cry while I cried it out too :P A few times months later he'd "whimper" himself to sleep, but I know I've been lucky. I'm glad he slept so well, because the colic was enough on my nerves.
    I'm sure that whenever the next one comes along he/she will not be so easy.
    Hang in there :)

  4. Oh god. I remember those times all to well. I got lucky with boy2 as he loves sleep more than I do. Woody however loves to see what 2am, 3am, 5am looks like so he's up a lot even at close to 4 years old. *sigh*

    hang in there and I hope it gets better.

  5. My first never... ever slept! I know exactly how you feel. I had that same stack of books and it never did me any good. I wish I had a magic answer but I don't. I will keep you in my prayers and pray to the sleep Gods for you!
    I couldn't do the cry it out thing either, just couldn't!

  6. With my twins, we let them cry it out. I was so worn out with each of them having different sleep schedules, which meant I NEVER slept, that when they cried those first two nights, I just smiled because I knew they'd get it and so would I.

    Now, with my 16-month-old J-man? I still cuddle him to sleep, but when he cried out in the middle of the night? Unless he's wet/sick/scared shitless, then he just has to cry and get over it.

    But, that's just me and my method and I was comfortable with it.

    I know some women swear by the book "Baby Wise." I have no idea if it would help you or not, but maybe worth a look? Good luck, sweetie.

  7. Yeah, I can't let him cry it out either... my hubby wants to be all hard assed about it, but I just can't! I tell him, he can do it if I'm not home! (as if)
    I think for me it goes back to the new mom thing, they told me he only needed to eat every 4 hours. And after about an hour and a half he was screaming. So we got to listen to screaming for two hours when all he really needed was to eat. so I guess now I always think he's crying for a reason. and he usually is, even if it's just that he wants me to help him calm down and go to sleep.
    So yeah, I have no words of wisdom, only, I feel (some of) your pain.
    Good luck! ;)

  8. I don't have children. I sleep awesome. :P

  9. Hi Sara,

    Right now, it's 8:20 and the kids are just down for bed. That leaves me with about 10 minutes before Mireille's first of about 5-6 night wakings. My bedtime is stressful. I have to relax, get PJs on, check e-mail and give hubby some attention hopefully get to bed a few minutes before she screams for me. Then my night is a relentless cycle of just falling asleep and waking until the final awake time. I haven't sleep more then a four hour stretch in over 3 years. And more then a generous 3 in over 1 year. Matthé has been sleeping like a dream since about 2 and half. So now I wait for Mimi's turn.

    I have stopped complaining about the lack of sleep to others who have not, do not live through this because I only hear things I don't want to hear. I am angry most of the time about it, but I just keep trucking. Cause as tired as I am, as desperate I am for sleep, I just can't let them cry it out. It just goes against every fiber of my being.

    So I live (and now work twice a week, poor patients of mine!) with fog in my brain and a heaviness in my brow and varying degrees of energy. But my kids are healthy, energetic, seem rested and smart. I just always remember that study I read that says that women who were sleep deprived in their childbearing days are sharper in their old age.

    I feel your pain....your are not alone!!!! Shit, there she is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Relax, a mere thirteen or so years and they'll be sleeping fine.

  11. the trick is to never take them out of their bed, don't pick them up, just calmly lay them back down and say "nighty night time" or whatever the key words are at your house for going to sleep....then walk out of the room, after they scream for awhile (10 - 15 mins or so and then getting a little longer) go back in and do the same thing, talk quietly and calmly at all times, do this over and over until they fall asleep.....It will work, I guarantee..... kids have to LEARN how to put themselves back to sleep when they wake at night...I've never known anyone that it took over 3 or 4 nights for....Good Luck!!!

  12. I feel for all of you... My baby is 20 yrs old now and for 18.5 of those 20 she sleeps like a log. The first year she was also great (maybe getting up 1 or 2 times... yes, even as a newby) but then we went through a few months of more frequent wakenings. For a few months I had tried various methods except for letting her cry... nope didn't work. I finally resorted to letting her cry it out. The first couple of night were hell for me, but then the frequency & length of crying deminished and by day 6... WOW!!!! I GOT TO SLEEP ALL NIGHT LONG!!!! YAHOO!!! All it took was 6 days... 6 DAYS!!! And she has slept like a log ever since. Again, she is now 20 and she doesn't carry any baggage or personality disfunctions for those few days of me allowing her to cry it out. Hell, she doesn't even remember (lol).
    Now, years later... If you have ever watched "The Nanny", this is one of her miracle fixes BUT, You Must Be Consistant!!!! AND remember, you are not going to be a bad parent for letting your child cry a few night in a row to fix a bad habbit. Your child is learning "if I cry, I will get mommy to do what I want" and even though they may be good kids during their waking hours now... that will change. Mark my words because I have seen it time & time over again over the years with friends who ignored a problem with their child and then the childs' behavior escalated as they got older, thus making it much more difficult to change.
    One thing I must disagree with (the previous post by "old mom on October 2, 08): don't go in their room, don't open the door, don't say a word to them UNLESS they come out of their room... even then, you don't say a word. You just pick them up and put them back in bed, turn around and walk out & shut the door. It will upset you A LOT more than it affects the child... Be Patient!! Be Consistant!!! REMEMBER... you will be a much better parent when you are getting enough sleep. You Need To Take Good Care Of Yourself BEFORE You Can Really Take Good Care Of Your Children :-)

  13. Oh, one more thing.... shorten or cut out the afternoon nap. If you are letting them sleep more that 45 minutes OR letting them sleep after 1pm then that can be a factor in their frequent night awakenings. Also, if in the late afternoon (a couple of hours before bedtime) your child needs to get some sort of activity. Even if they can't walk, you can take them for a walk in the stroller for about 20 - 30 minutes and not only will you get some exercise, but it actually stimulates the child which exerts energy.
    Happy Sleeping :-)

  14. my baby is one years old i put her to sleep by 10 at nigth in she wake up about 1 am what can i do to make her stay sleep


Thoughts? Comments? Questions?