Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Sleep Deprivation Cure

When you're having a conversation with someone who has recently had a baby, the topic somehow always comes around to one thing: sleep. "Is she a good sleeper?", "Is he sleeping through the night yet?", "How much sleep are you getting?" It's inevitable. Babies and sleep go hand in hand.

Adjusting to a new baby is no easy task--yes, you'll be tired. However, after the first couple of months, moms and dads shouldn't have to be completely sleep deprived. According to Babywise, of babies on a parent-directed flexible routine, about 75% of them were sleeping through the night at 7-9 weeks. 96% of them were sleeping through the night at 12 weeks. This goes for breast and formula fed babies. To non-Babywise readers, this is a sheer and utter **miracle**. To Babywise people like myself, I was stressing when Will wasn't sleeping through at 9 weeks! (He slept through at 10 weeks from 10pm-6am).

What's the secret? A parent-led flexible routine. I don't really like to call it a "schedule" because you really can't fit a baby into an exact schedule. But it is a routine/semi-schedule that you direct based on your baby's cues. Most people who are not informed about this type of system, think it's some Nazi-style schedule where you only feed baby at a certain time each day and the baby spends hours in his crib "Crying It Out." After all, demand-feeding baby is currently the "in" thing. I can post Babywise Misunderstandings in another post. This post is how to get some sleep!!

Whether you go by the Babywise book or the Baby Whisperer, they are both the same concept. I like The Baby Whisperer because it has a cute acronym: E.A.S.Y.

Y=You time!

The vast majority of new parents switch the A and S and end up feeding (the E) the baby right before they sleep. Remember my post on Accidental Parenting? Start as you mean to go on--you don't want baby to associate eating with sleeping...otherwise you'll be nursing to sleep when they're a year old! I love you, but no thanks.

I pulled one of Will's sample schedules (yes, REAL LIFE!) from when he was about 12 weeks:

E: 6:00am: Wake up, eat, diaper change

A: Playmat or bouncy seat

S: 7:00am: Nap

Y: This is when I would shower, have coffee, get ready

E: 9:00am: Wake up, eat

A: Playmat, bouncy seat, whatever else a 3 month old does!

S: 10:00am: Nap

Y: Me time! (actually, Brooke-time)

I would repeat this routine until about 6:30pm and that was technically "bedtime." Scott and I would wake him at 10pm (The Baby Whisperer calls this the "Dream Feed." I call it "topping them off!") and do a diaper change and feeding before we went to bed and he slept solidly until about 6am the next morning. Some things to note:

- He was never awake for more than about an hour to an hour and a half at this age

- During the day, I never fed him right before he went to sleep (the exception is the bottle right before bed and the Dream Feed)

- At three months, he was taking (3) 1.5 hour naps--his last afternoon nap was a catnap (45'ish min). Sometimes he would take this catnap, sometimes not.

- "Bedtime" should be roughly 12 hours from their wakeup time. Will was an early riser (still is!), so his bedtime was also early (still is!). If baby wakes at 8am, then shoot for their bedtime being 8pm. Don't forget to top them off! :-)

- Pick a waketime time in the morning and stick with it. If baby naturally wakes at 6am, you can make that their wakeup time for the day or feed them and put them right back to bed and wake them later. Remember, when ever you decide their wakeup time is, that is when you start E.A.S.Y.

- Around 6 months or so, they'll end up dropping the last 1-2 "naps" of the day and just going to two longer naps.

So that is the E.A.S.Y./parent-directed routine in a nutshell. It goes against the popular belief that you should never wake a sleeping baby. In Will's case, the kid was ALWAYS sleeping during the day. He would hardly wake up during the day, even to eat! Therefore, he liked to "play" at night. Waking him for feedings during the day helped him distinguish his days and nights (days are for eating, nights are not!). It also ensured he was getting enough to eat during the day, so he wasn't waking at night to eat (or play!). For most of us, that type of routine works much better with our adult schedules :-)

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