Category Archives: Sleep

Q&A: rocking baby to sleep

Eric writes:

"I have been pouring over various entries in your blog for a while now and decided to ask you a few questions.  Based on different books (Ferber, Weissbluth, etc.) and doctor recommendations, my wife and I tried CIO and it was miserable…for us and our son.  It didn’t feel right and we were reassured when we read your thoughts on babies who increase tension by crying.

We have found some success by rocking our son to sleep though it often seems to take ages for him to fall asleep.  This might seem ridiculous, but one question is about how to get our son into the crib without waking him once he does happen to fall asleep.  On several occasions, he has fallen asleep in our arms by rocking him to sleep but awakens as soon as we set him down in his crib.  Do you know of a successful way to put him in the crib without waking him up?  Also, what is your stance on rocking him to sleep?  I know that you suggest rocking as a way of calming a baby who increases tension through crying, but should we be letting him fully fall asleep in our arms?  The problem is that if we don’t let him fall asleep in our arms and we attempt to soothe him while he is lying in the crib, it takes a much longer time and he seems to be more restless. 

We are experiencing other sleeping problems (night wakenings), but would really like to try to first tackle the issue of getting him to fall asleep without the nightly battle that it always has been.  I am not sure if his age would vary your response, but he is approximately 4.5 months old right now.  He was born approximately 3 weeks early due to my wife’s development of HELLP Syndrome. 

Exhausted and eagerly awaiting your response,
Eric"

Ooh. Three things I hate combined into one post:

1) HELLP Syndrome. For those of you who don’t know it, it’s like turbo-ultra-mega preeclampsia, and is very serious. If the baby doesn’t come out, the mother can seize and then her organs shut down and she dies. I’m glad Eric’s wife and the baby came out of it healthy. We should all keep a close watch on our blodd pressure and the protein in our urine while pregnant.

2) The 4-month sleep regression. It just sucks. There’s no way around it. 4.5 months minus 3 weeks puts Eric’s baby smack in the middle of it. It’s so so hard for babies to sleep at this age.

3) The cultural expectation that a baby that young should be able to go down awake and that if the baby can’t it’s something the parents are doing wrong.

Yeah, there are things you could be doing to screw up your kid’s sleep. Some of them are obvious, like playing loud music at 10 pm in the same room your baby’s in, or snorting coke while you’re breastfeeding. Some of them are not so obvious, like drinking coffee in the morning while nursing(caffeine has a half-life of 96 hours in a baby’s system–go figure–but it doesn’t seem to affect some babies at all) or putting a kid in pajamas that make him/her too hot and sweaty all night.

But aside from a really small group of things, there’s not much you can do to change the way your baby sleeps. It’s largely a function of personality and age. If Eric’s baby needs to be rocked to sleep, that’s the way the kid is. It doesn’t mean that he’ll be like that forever, or even a month from now. Just that it’s what’s working now. By Any Means Necessary to get everyone as much sleep as possible.

So I think rocking your kid to sleep is fine, as is putting your baby in the swing, or nursing to sleep, or using a pacifier, or having the baby go to sleep with a comfort object or white noise machine or anything else people use. (If you use a comfort object, make sure you have a spare in case something happens to the primary one, or you’re screwed.) You child will not need that thing forever, and you’ll probably have a good instinct about when you can switch that thing out of the routine. At the very least, you’ll do better making sleep changes in your child if you have some sleep under your belt, so think of it as strategic pacing.

But. If it takes forever to rock to sleep, I’d look and see if there’s something else that might work better. Eric and his wife tried CIO so they know that doesn’t work for their son. (In contrast, my second son didn’t want to nurse or rock down, so I tried letting him cry and he fell right to sleep after a few minutes. Stunned me, since my first son would escalate if I let him cry for more than half a minute.) Maybe swaddling would work, or something else. I wouldn’t be afraid to try other things, because they just might stumble onto something that will work faster than the rocking. Or maybe not, and the rocking is as good as it gets at this stage.

It’s just awful staring down the barrel of a long, long bedtime routine (those of us in the 3-year-old sleep regression can sympathize). You’re finally at the end of the day, and you know you’re still facing an hour of getting the kid to sleep. No way around it but through it, but it still just makes you want to cry, and ask for your money back.

How many of us have suffered through the problem of getting the kid to sleep but then not being able to put the baby down into the crib?! It’s the bloody hangnail of the first year of parenting. I’ve head suggestions of putting a heating pad/hot water bottle in the crib to leave it warm, then moving it right before you put the baby down, but I didn’t have enough hands to do that. You can let the baby sleep for 20 minutes to get deep into the sleep cycle before putting him down (and then let all the blood rush back into your arms) and that might help. I’ve also heard that in Australia they don’t have this problem because they all put their babies down to sleep on sheepskins, and the sheepskin magically keeps them asleep. Honeslty, I can’t remember if I came up with anything good at that age because I was so sleep deprived that not much stuck from that phase.

So, can anyone solve the problem of putting the baby down into the crib and keeping the baby asleep? If you can patent it, you’ll make mountains of money.

And if anyone else wants to sympathize or complain, please feel free.

 

The 2 1/2-3 year sleep regression

Can we just talk about this sleep regression?

I talk a lot here about the 4-month sleep regression (when you feel bewildered and bleak), the 8-9-month sleep regression (when you feel defeated and hopeless), and the 18-month sleep regression (when you feel insulted and irate). But I haven’t talked much about the 3-year sleep regression. We’re in the middle of it here (although he won’t be 3 until May), so i thought maybe some of you would like to complain along with me.

The other sleep regressions seem to be characterized by frequent wakings throughout the night, but this 3-year one seems to be all about not going to sleep at bedtime. When he first goes into his bed at 8, and is still awake at 9:45, it starts to piss me off. There’s only so much water a kid can drink, the monster-scarer is in full effect, the temperature is fine, and no you cannot come out and read with me. And, what’s more, your brother needs to stay asleep so he won’t be tired for school tomorrow.

Honestly, at this point I don’t even care if the little one actually goes to sleep, I just want him to be quiet so he won’t wake up his brother. (The progressive lowering of standards also seems to be characteristic of the 3-year sleep regression.)

What I’ve finally come to is that I can provide him the opportunity to sleep, but cannot make him do it. We have a temporary peace with his staying in his bed quietly (so he doesn’t wake his brother) and my not caring if he’s asleep or not. I definitely don’t think it’s something he’s doing on purpose. I think it’s the same thing that happens at the other sleep regressions–the kids are working on something mentally or developmentally, and their bodies and minds just simply can’t sleep right then.

This too shall pass.

Anyone else want to complain about the 3-year sleep regression? (And, moms of older kids, is there one coming at 6 years?)

Q&A; Rolling over in sleep…ACK!

I love it when readers answer their own questions. Nancy writes:

"File this under "don’t brag about how your baby sleeps 11-12 hour pernight" as it will come back to haunt you!  We sleep trained our 6 month
old son with excellent results about 6 weeks ago and have had mostly
amazing sleep-filled nights ever since (with the exception of a couple
of teething incidents).  Last night at 1 am, he decided to roll over
for the first time in his crib.  As he found himself on his belly, he
immediately started screaming.  My husband flipped him over and was
able to quickly get him back to sleep only to have him do the same
thing again about an hour later.  This waking was much more involved
and required about two hours of rocking, feeding, shushing to get him
back to sleep.  He has very strong legs but his arms haven’t quite
caught up yet, and rolling over has been a pipe dream of his for the
last month or so.  Any ideas about how to help him get through this?
Is the prescription just lots of tummy time so he can master this
milestone during the day?"

You’ve got it. He’s more wakeful in general because he’s working on the rolling over, and the only way around rolling over is through it.

There’s no way to force a kid to get through physical milestones (hearing stories about someone "teaching" their kid to walk always makes me laugh), but the more a child can work on the skills the sooner s/he’ll get good at them. So tummy time is exactly the prescription to end your nighttime wakeups.

Once he can roll over easily on his own, he’ll stop waking himself up by rolling, and he’ll also stop being up and cranky and needing to be soothed so much, because that part of his brain will be able to relax again.

You’ll probably have to sleep train him all over again after this is over (the dirty little secret of sleep training), but depending on how old he is when he gets through this, you might be in the middle of the 8-9-month sleep regression. Which is one of the worst times to try to change your child’s sleep, and will make you really frustrated. So I’m hoping he comes through it more quickly and you can get on a more even keel first, but if you end up with this movement leap transitioning into the developmental stuff of 8-9 months, just know that it won’t last forever, and he will sleep all night again eventually.

Oh, and here’s a good point to mention that although we’re all told to make sure our kids sleep on their backs, once they can roll onto their stomachs we can let them keep sleeping that way (if they will).

Comments on rolling? Milestones? The upcoming weekend? Which of the new toys are still in favor and which ones have already been ignored?

Help for parents of early wakers?

I’ve been getting several emails from parents who have toddlers waking up really early (like 5 am). The kids are obviously still tired, but can’t get back to sleep or stay asleep. Then they’re cranky for the rest of the day.

I’m sure many of us have gone through this on limited occasions (it happened in my house yesterday, which is why I didn’t post and was foggy at work all day), but having it happen morning after morning would be truly demoralizing.

Here are the things I’ve suggested:

  • Blackout shades on the windows. You can buy actual blackout shades, or you can buy blackout material at a fabric store, or even just heavy drapery cloth and make your own.
  • Mess around with bedtime. Sometimes it seems like the kids are just in the wrong place in the sleep cycle, and that’s why they wake up. So switching the starting sleep time around might alleviate the problem. (I also think it may be sort of the same effect whacking the side of the TV has to get it to stop fuzzing out, but that’s just me.) As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I’d start with bumping the bedtime earlier, unless you’ve already got a 7 pm bedtime, in which I’d try 8 pm. (FWIW, it seems to me just from hearing people talk that most kids have a sleep-time sweet spot between 7 and 8 pm, so if you’re totally up in the air I’d start with 7 and see where it gets you.)
  • Check out the naps. How old is your kid? Most kids older than 18 months are down to one nap a day, in the early afternoon. If your toddler is still taking two naps, the early waking might be part of trying to drop the second nap. Messing around with that might give you some more information.
  • Look at what your kid’s eating. I think diet problems (including bad reactions to artificial things or acids, and reflux) usually manifest themselves earlier in the night (waking up screaming an hour after going to bed is a classic sign of reflux or too much acid, for example). But you never know. Anything that’s causing stress on a kid’s system can make the difference between being able to go back to sleep after the slight arousal of finishing one sleep cycle, and if they’re having a tummy problem of any sort, that could do it.
  • "Psychological" causes. I didn’t know what else to call it, but some kids go through a monster phase, when they wake up and are scared of random things or of monsters or of being alone. You could definitely try some kind of monster-scarer or other comfort object (I think you’ll have better success with something you get specifically to scare away the bad things than just trying to use an old comfort object) and explain that it will help them get back to sleep in the middle of the night and keep them safe.

But if none of this is working, what do you guys recommend? Like everything else in parenting, you could just wait it out. But if your child is desperately tired, and you can barely function at work, you need to  get everyone sleeping longer ASAP.

Does anyone want to offer solutions, suggestions, anecdotes, or commiseration?

Q&A: crib mattresses

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it!

Speaking of a sleeping baby, Kristen writes:

"What are your thoughts about the flame retardants in crib
mattresses?  Should we be concerned about the chemicals in our mattress
and our baby’s mattress?  I was looking into getting a rubber mattress
but I can’t get any solid non-bias information."

I can’t imagine that those flame retardants can be good for anyone, least of all babies*. If you can afford it, I’d definitely look into an all-natural (rubber or organic cotton) mattress for your child’s bed.

However, the price difference is enormous between a regular mattress and an all-natural one. I’m about to switch my younger son from his crib into a twin-sized bed, and the gap between What I Can Afford For a Mattress and the price of an organic cotton mattress is truly insurmountable. (Unless there’s some organic cotton mattress company who’d like to send me a twin-sized one to review for this site.)

I’m going to try to mitigate some of the effects of the toxic traditional mattress by putting down a wool blanket under the mattress pad (yes, they make wool mattress pads, but those are expensive, and my mother has wool blankets aplenty to give me), which will also provide some waterproofing as we head into nighttime potty training. (Of course this is no help for kids who are allergic to wool.) I’m also going to hope that the pillow acts as a buffer between any fumes and his nose.

Anyone else have anything on crib mattresses?

* Hey, if your baby doesn’t sleep all that well, at least that’s one good thing about it–they’re not breathing in all the crib mattress fumes as much as the better-sleeping babies are. Come on, you knew you could get some snark here on Christmas Day.

Samantha needs some hugs

If any of you are in HR and would let me pick your brains about something (not my current job–no worries), please email me. Thanks.

Poor Samantha writes:

"I’m at my wits’ end.

I don’t know where to start.  I do know that my head is pounding and my eye bags are now purple and I long for my baby to sleep for a 4 hour stretch.

I wrote to you over 3 weeks ago and told you how my 12 week old was waking every 2 hours (at least).  Well now I think she has got into the habit.  The gas that was waking her has stopped and I thought that the 12 week growth spurt would be over by now, but at over 15 weeks, she is waking regularly.  She cannot put herself back to sleep.  I’m trying to get my nipple out of her mouth so that she falls asleep without it in there.  Sometimes it works but she wakes after half an hour and nothing seems to get her off.  She gets so upset, she doesn’t even realise a boob is being offered.

On top of that, she is finding it hard to get to sleep in the day.  She has switched on to the world and I think it makes it difficult for her to nap.  My husband has been away for the last 2 weeks so I have been the sole parent.  It’s so hard when she wakes every 30, 90, 120 minutes during the night and then only naps for 30 or 45 minutes in the day. She is so tired when she wakes from her naps and it’s getting harder and harder to get her off (even boob and bouncy chair are failing).  The other day I planned to walk with her in her carrier for an hour and a half to get her a decent nap.  The carrier always gets her off.  And it did – for 20 mins.  Then something woke her and she screamed.  She wasn’t in pain because I could stop her from crying for a bit but I just couldn’t get her to sleep.  In the end, she cried herself into a sobbing sleep, with me sobbing next to her.

I feel like such a loser.  Young teens have babies, women have twins and toddlers to contend with.  Some people put up with sleep deprivation a lot longer that my measly few weeks before melting down.  I only have one, lovely little baby and I’m exhausted and tearful.  I sometimes feel angry towards her.  I know it’s wrong and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, but I do feel like putting her in her cot and leaving her to cry because none of my efforts are working.  I don’t want her to lose her trust in her mummy.

I’m quite certain that the reason she is getting so upset is because she is tired.  Plus, maybe she is picking up on my increased tension as the sleep deprivation continues.

I’m now really resenting breastfeeding.  I found it really hard in the early days but I persevered because I wanted my baby to have the best. My husband and mum were constantly telling how ‘breast is best’ and I continued.  However, I’ve never been the best expresser and with my husband’s shifts and time away with work, the baby has forgotten how to use a bottle.  Now I can’t even get a break in the day.  I long for some sleep.  My friend’s baby can go off to its grandmas armed with a bottle (and pacifer – which my baby also has no idea how to use but does have an overwhelming desire to suck) and she can recharge her batteries.  Not me.  How can breast be best when the baby’s mother can barely raise a smile in the morning??

I know time will be a great healer, I just feel so exhausted.  My in-laws keep saying how she should be sleeping for longer periods by now and perhaps I should start her on solids.  I just can’t see her ever sleeping for longer periods – it’s all so foggy.  I have bought Elizabeth Pantley’s book, which I’ve read and will start the logs soon.

I love your website – it’s such a comfort.  I know there is probably no solution – just to wait it out, so I’m sorry if I’m wasting your time. I think I’m just searching for hope and support."

Oh, honey. This is just so sad, and I have felt every one of the emotions you’ve written. Especially the part about how feeling like a loser because other people deal with much tougher things than this.

You’re right that the ultimate cure for this is going to be time. But in the meantime, I have a few things to offer:

She’s heading right smack into the 19-week developmental leap, which means she’s in the middle of the 4-month sleep regression, which reduces many parents to quivering masses of pain and despair. Remember this post when we all shared how awful the 4-month stage was? Let’s go back and read the two pages of comments (you have to click "Next" at the bottom of the screen to see all of the comments) about people going through this torturous stage. You are not alone. It ends eventually.

This is probably the worst time possible* for you to be the sole parent for two weeks! That’s just adding so much on top of this that makes it worse. Of course you’re completely fried. If there’s any way to afford it, I’d try to get someone to come in to help you for a few hours a couple of times a week, at least.

Now, about your in-laws: Babies all slept longer when your ILs were parents because the babies all slept on their stomachs. I really wish there was some way for us to let our kids sleep on their tummies without risking SIDS**, because I’m absolutely convinced that that’s why we’re all so consumed with sleep–they don’t sleep well in general, so it’s not just that we’re nervous or micromanaging or whatever. I get 5-6 sleep-related questions a day, and I just think some of them never would have been issues back in the days when kids all slept on their stomachs.

In theory, I think that if you want to quit breastfeeding, you should
feel free to without guilt. Your daughter has already gotten way more
breastfeeding than most kids do, and kids are fine on formula. In
reality, however, I think weaning right now will make your situation
worse because she won’t take a bottle from you so that will add another whole
level of struggle to your day. Also, weaning could (two days in a row
with this warning) push you into full-blown PPD from the hormone drop.

Instead, I think you should ask someone you trust to take your daughter for 3-4 hours every other afternoon so you can stay home and sleep. Send along a bottle of pumped milk or formula. If she drinks it, she drinks it (and whoever she’s with might take it–you never know what kind of magic someone will have, and most babies won’t take a bottle easily from a breastfeeding mom), but if she doesn’t take it, one afternoon isn’t going to hurt her, and it’ll get you a stretch to help fortify you for the next few weeks until she breaks through the developmental leap.

You can’t deal with this all by yourself anymore. You’ve done everything right. There’s no magical way to get her to sleep while she’s working on this developmental leap, so instead people need to be helping you to maximize the sleep you can get each day. If no one knows how much you’re dealing with, send your husband the link to this post, and ask him to help. Dealing with a not-sleeping baby alone is what propels women into PPD, so don’t even begin to minimize what you’re going through. You need someone else there to hold that baby while you sleep four 4 hours in a row. And not someone who’s criticizing the fact that the baby’s not sleeping. Someone who knows what a great job you’re doing, and just wants to be part of your team when you need it.

Now, readers, please say something nice to Samantha.

* Maybe not exactly the worst time. A woman told me her husband left for an overseas two-week business trip when their first child was three days old. Yeah.

** Whoever can come up with a no-risk-for-SIDS tummy-sleeping device deserves billions and billions of dollars.

Update on “going insane from lack of sleep”

Remember Stacy, who was going insane from lack of sleep? She wrote back in to update us:

"Reading that post now, I can hardly believe I typed that message toyou.  I sounded so exhausted, so miserable! Which I was.  But the news
today is much better.  My son, who is now coming up on 1 year, is
sleeping through the night.  Ahhh!  I still get giddy just THINKING
those words!

I took a hodgepodge of advice from you and your commenters.
First, I spent a night in a hotel.  It took a long time to wind down in
that hotel bed, and I almost rushed back home.  But once I fell asleep
there I got 6 solid hours of blessed rest, and I felt like a million
bucks the next day.  I don’t know what I thought would happen in my
absence, but my husband did fine with the baby.

That successful night convinced me that you were totally right
about letting Daddy manage the sleep process.  I started nursing the
baby before his bath, PJs, or any other element of the bedtime
routine.  Then I would hand him off to Daddy and let them do their
thing.  Within a week, they had a great routine down.  Removing the
nursing from the bedtime routine entirely was huge, but alone it wasn’t
enough.

So my husband and I would set goals each night.  The first was
a very modest goal – we wouldn’t let the boy nurse unless two hours had
passed.  Once that was accomplished, we kept inching the goalpost a
little further away.  Three hour stretches, four hour stretches, and so
on.  During this time, I’ve been sleeping in the guest bedroom with a
white noise machine (finally, that thing is worth what we paid for it)
and my husband has been in our bed with the boy.  I left my husband
alone to do whatever he wanted when the boy woke up between allowed
nursing sessions.  As part of my commitment to letting Daddy manage the
process, I would not nurse the baby until my husband brought him in to
me.  I had to let go and trust my husband to make the right decision,
to discern when the baby truly needed to nurse.  It was hard at first,
I was waking up frequently and fretting.  But nothing terrible
happened, and in time I began sleeping – really, seriously sleeping –
between nursing sessions.  Bliss!  We’ve never left him alone to cry,
but he has
done a lot of crying in there with Daddy during this process.  I’m not
100% thrilled about that, but he’s obviously sleeping better for it,
and he always wakes up sunny the next day.

A
couple of weeks ago, we were able to get the boy down to one nursing at
night, with 4 hours between.  Then, this week, we eliminated even that
one nursing session.  We’ve been aiming for a 9-5 "no nursing" block.
He’s been giving us 9-6:30.  It’s fantastic.

I know everything could change at a moment’s notice, because
kids will be kids.  But I’m now rested enough to deal with it.  And I
now know that he CAN sleep through, so even if he regresses it won’t
feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I also have to
deal with easing myself back into our bed sometime, and I worry about
that transition.  Overall, though, things are a thousand times better
than they were when you answered my question.  I may not have had the
gumption to go through with it without the support from you and the
wonderful, sympathetic commenters who have Been There and Done That.  I
look back and wonder what took me so long.

So thank you.  Thank you thank you thank you so much :)"

Hooray! You’re welcome, Stacy, from me and I’m sure from all the commenters who posted on that question.

I think the moral of the story is that there is no magic cure. Nothing is going to work in three days to make your kid sleep through the night. But if you can get yourself 4-5 hours in a row, you’ll have enough presence of mind to be able to formulate a plan that works for your particular family. Then just keep going. A lot of us have been there, and there’s nothing sweeter than a long-sleeping baby.

Now, a question from me: My younger son is very clearly left-handed. Can anyone tell me what things a left-hander needs? All I know for sure is different scissors. He’s 2 1/2, so is only starting with cutting, but really wants to do
it, and our right-handed scissors just aren’t doing it for him. I’d also love recommendations of where to buy things for left-handers (online would be great). Thanks!

Q&A: adjusting to naps with caregiver

Apparently this is "sleep problems and single parenting" week. Here’s a question that combines both. Kay writes:

"very soon i’m going to have to go back to work (sigh. sigh.).  my daughter just turned a year old, and to say sleep isn’t always her thang would be an understatement.  i’ve gotten used to our schedule/routine for sleep, but soon she’ll be taking her naps with someone else.  the only thing that works for us is for me to nurse her down in bed, then roll away.  almost like clockwork, she wakes after 30 minutes, and if i’m close by i can nurse her back down to sleep again.  i’ve tried rocking, patting, pacifiers, etc. – she wants the real deal, nipple action!  she only takes one nap these days (1-2 hrs when i’m right there), so naptime is a one-shot deal now. if this matters, she does something similar at night, with frequent wakings to nurse (we co-sleep).  and i’m not into CIO, though i say that with NO judgment to others.

okay, so my point is….  how is someone else, someone who she doesn’t even know well, going to get her to sleep???  i feel like i need to establish a new routine BEFORE i just throw her into this kind of mix, but don’t know where to start.  i’ve read previous posts about sending in the other parent, etc, but i’m a 100% single parent.  i seriously lay in bed (while she’s asleep!) thinking about this over and over.  it’s bad enough to feel like i’m leaving her with someone else, much less knowing that she could be crazy sleep deprived.  she is SO active (started walking at 9.5 months and now just goes and goes), but she does not konk out when she’s super tired – she just gets more ramped.

in respect to the tension-releaser vs builder, she is a very determined (and lovely) toddler who seems able to cry for long periods of time (the couple of times i’ve sat in the room and tried to get her to sleep in her crib).  aaaaahhh, it just makes me want to rack up my credit cards so i never have to go back to work until she’s in preschool!  i would be so grateful for any suggestions you or your readers (especially single parents) have."

Your guys know I always say "You’re the best parent for your child." I mean it, and if it’s the one thing I hope anyone ever takes away from this site that’s it.

But there’s another half to that. Which is that you’re the only you there is. Your child is going to react to you in a way that s/he doesn’t react to anyone else in the world. That’s great in some ways–you’ll be the one who gets hugs and kisses and a special kind of love. But sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one who can do things.

Your child, though, knows who you are, and that no one else is you. And your child doesn’t expect anyone else to be you. Your child can form meaningful rituals and bonds with other people.

At moments of big change, like starting day care, it can feel like you’ll be helping everyone if you become the facilitator of those rituals. But it’s not your job to create a relationship between your child and someone else, just to set the stage to allow it to happen.

What I’m saying is that whoever cares for your child will come up with a way to get her to nap. She may not like not being able to nurse to sleep anymore, but she’ll adjust to going down for a nap with her caregiver, and she’ll probably still want the nurse-and-roll-away from you on weekends. But it’s not your job to come up with a new routine for your caregiver to follow. Your daughter probably wouldn’t accept it from you anyway, and why make tension between you right before you have to change something in her life?

Let the new caregiver come up with the plan that works for them. You stay you, being the mother and doing the mothering that you do when you’re with her.

And it’s going to be OK going back to work. Unless it’s not, in which case you’ll figure out something that you can live with. At this age everything changes so quickly that what doesn’t work now could be perfect in three months, and vice versa.

Now, in the comments section I need tales of children who will only sleep one way for you, but can go down a different way with someone else. I’ll start: My younger son does not like to take a nap when I put him down, and will keep making excuses for me to come back (the whole "I need some water" routine). But he goes down easily with his babysitter, who created a routine involving a "tuck-tuck" (which I assume has something to so with tucking the blankets in around him) that he sometimes requests at times when she’s not there.

Anyone else have anything to share? We’re assuming she’s getting a competent caregiver who’s got her own bag of tricks to get Kay’s daughter to nap.

Q&A: How long can the swaddling go on?

If you live in the US and can, please vote today!

I still don’t know why it’s happening, but I keep getting questions in clusters. I’ve gotten a few recently about how long you can swaddle a baby. A couple of the parents are wondering if they can still swaddle because there’s nothing else that gets the babies to sleep, but the parents are worried that the babies are too old for swaddling at 4 months.

(Are we surprised that a big sleep dilemma is rearing it’s ugly head at four months? How convenient that that’s both the time kids are having sleep problems leading up to the 19-week leap, and also the time when popular culture tells us our kids are supposed to be sleeping perfectly after going down awake and if they’re not it’s our faults. Sheesh.)

There was also a note of confusion in two of the emails because the babies were still calmed by swaddling, but would then work their ways out of the swaddle in the middle of the night. Without the swaddle, the parents had a hard time getting the babies back to sleep, but the swaddle didn’t take. It was a big conundrum wrapped in a Catch 22.

I don’t really have much about swaddling. My older son was an anti-swaddler. I think he was just so happy to have room to stretch out finally (he was 9 1/2 pounds at birth) that there was no way he’d have submitted to a swaddle. And my second one was OK with the swaddle, but it just kind of faded away after a few weeks.

It’s my gut feeling, though, that nothing bad is going to happen if you continue to swaddle your baby until s/he stops responding to it. Assuming your baby gets plenty of time on the floor with his or her arms and legs free during the day, swaddling isn’t going to prevent them from developing physically. And if it gets the baby to sleep at night, hop on it.

One of the writers said "Right now I feel like he will need to be swaddled until he
is 3 years old" and that made me laugh, because when kids have that three-year-old sleep refusal thing (we could call it a sleep regression, but that makes it sound all babylike and genteel, which it’s not) wouldn’t it be awesome to just swaddle them in a big blanket and have it actually work? Maybe I’ll add that to the list of Kid Products That Would Sell In The Millions If Only They Worked.

Now, that doesn’t help the parents whose kids are wiggling out of the swaddle. That, to me, seems like the signal that the swaddling days are over. But how to transition to something else. My suspicion is that it can take weeks or even a few months, like some kids waver between one nap and two for weeks or months and are miserable nappers during that time. But, again, I’ve never lived it.

So, swaddlers and former swaddlers of the internet, give us some data points. When did you stop? Did your child fade out of it? Did you make a deliberate decision to stop? What did you do instead?

Q&A: Sleep problems on a regular cycle

Hey, I completely missed the time change! I use my cell phone as my alarm clock, and it switched automatically, so I didn’t have any idea it had happened until I’d been awake for three hours. Duh.

After two years, no one asks me anything about sleep that I haven’t heard before. Except for this question from Katriona (love that name, BTW), which would surely win an award if I had any awards to give:

"Ok, here’s my weird sleep question.  It seems that every month DS’s sleep goes wonky (he’s 9 months old).  By wonky I mean waking every 45-ish minutes, crying a lot in his sleep, having a tough time settling.  He’s not a great sleeper to start with, up every couple of hours to nurse or cuddle, so we co-sleep.  No biggie, I really love co-sleeping.  Anyway, I started to notice that his wonky sleeping always occurs about 2-3 days before a full moon and settles back down 1-2 days after the full moon.  I don’t think it’s food related (he’s still almost exclusively breastfed) and I don’t think it’s anything in my diet that’s effecting him via the breast milk.  In your experience, or anyone else’s experience, has the full moon really affected your child’s sleep?  Or am I just grasping at straws trying to explain why my son’s sleep gets all weird?"

You know, the moon shouldn’t be able to affect a child’s sleep by the logic of our 21st century world. And yet, if it is, then it is. Just because we don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. The map is not the territory, you know?

Are there any ER doctors/nurses reading who know if it’s actually true that there are more injuries around a full moon? Because if there are more injuries then, then whatever aspect of the moon’s phase that causes more injuries could certainly be keeping Katriona’s son up.

The only other explanations I can think of are that 1) if Katriona has her menstrual cycle back and her cycle falls around the full moon time the quantity of her milk could be affected* and that could cause the extra wakings, and the timing would just be coincidental, and 2) the full moon could be causing something else to happen in the environment that’s waking up Katriona’s son (maybe her neighbor has his men’s drum circle meeting during the full moon every month and the drumming and howling wakes up the baby, or the moon makes all the dogs in the neighborhood go nuts and bark all night and that wakes him up, etc.).

But if it’s neither of those things, then personally I’m totally willing to just accept that the full moon is making her son’s sleep wig out. Anyone want to agree or talk me out of it? Happy Monday.

* Some women experience a drop in milk supply each month right at the beginning of their menstrual periods. The fix for this is to supplement with calcium (preferably a calcium and magnesium mix) for a few days before and into your period each month. I don’t think enough women know this, so please pass it on.