Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sleeping Babies

 Eric sleeps in interesting positions.  I turn him and tuck him in again after he is sleeping.
 Ethan likes to make a "nest" to sleep in, and stays this way the entire night.
 Eddy has his spot at the end of the bed, and does not even lift his head for the picture.
Emerson just cozies into the same place you left him, no twisting or turning. 

If laughter is the best medicine. Sleep is the second best medicine.  I am writing this post for all the young mothers who read, who ask me the same questions, and who value some down time for themselves.  I have been asked many times how I have so much time in the evenings with a house full of kids. I have also been asked over and over how I get my kids to sleep.  Either I have been blessed with five kids who have always been early to bed, or they have never known going to bed late on a regular basis. For them, that early to bed is the habit created.  A habit, with each having their own personalities, having their own wills, having their own reasons to not go to sleep.
I need my sleep. I  also, need my down time which gives me balance to handle the things that require intelligible thought. I need time to regroup, tidy my home, sit and visit with my husband, a friend, or most important time with God.  It does take some planning, and some organization, but as it has been my habit now for 23 years I embrace this dearly for several reasons.

This is not a post to be braggy, a tell all on how "it" is done successfully.  This is sharing what works in my home under the guidance of parents who see the results of a good night's sleep.
Before I had children, I watched parents. I listened to parents, and decided that perhaps if I could do things a little differently I would.  I was a young mom with my first and sat around mommy groups with parents all struggling with the issue of sleep. Moms who spoke of being up and down all night long with a toddler, parents who could not get kids out of bed for school.  I sat quietly as I had my, then, five month old baby sleeping through the night.  I was to young to share any kind of wisdom but knew I could not handle sleepless nights, so my sweet baby boy would learn to sleep through the night and he did at about six weeks.  Tucked in by 7pm, one waking to nurse, back to sleep until about 7am.
As each child was added the same schedule was implemented and thus began the habits, that now take on their own, for a lifetime.  My children are well rested, I am well rested.  If I chose to stagger into bed at 1am, while my children had a full night's rest I had to show up as a mommy who was ready. I  always felt it was not  their fault I went to bed late, so no whines from the mama for getting to bed late. (darn those late night Life Time Movies)

What happens when kids get to bed early is their bodies have the entire night to refuel.  They, all five kids, wake up between 6:30am-7am and get themselves dressed and ready for school. They are healthy.  They are happy and bright ready for the world and all there is to explore. This habit starts long before school ever begins. I still laugh over hosting a toddler play group for Emerson, which he slept through.  Sleep tends to breed more sleep which meant very good napping children as well.  Allowing even more down time to regroup as a mom.   All show up at the breakfast table, well rested, having had time to play, and ready for the day. Excited about learning, excited about going to school.
I think sleep is the best medicine, long before laughter. Tired kids get fussy, overtired kids can not connect the information they need to do well in school.  I learned my lessons by existing. I learned that if I am tired and go to sleep when I am tired I sleep long and hard. If I wait for that sleepy moment to pass I get that second wind. Kids do too. Our need for more time to get things done keeps us running on that second wind, or that fifth cup of coffee.  Overtired puts all us in a half sleep zone, where our over tiredness keeps us from having a solid sleep. Works the same way for our precious children.

A child's resistance to sleep does not mean they are not ready. The world is exciting and they are wanting to be a part of everything.  As the habits are learned for sleeping, their body can settle into sleeping when being put to bed when tired.  Yawning, cranky, not able to follow through, unsettled, unfocused, are all behaviors I recognize in myself when I am tired, so I ask the question why it would be different for my children.

My experience is narrow, but experience that has proved to develop children who are well rested, do well in school (which is huge especially with all of these boys) and children who still challenge the need for sleep, but once settled look at these precious sleeping angels. I have  a quiet house after 7pm.  

My methods for teaching young infants to sleep have absolutely nothing to do with letting them cry it out. I can not stand by and watch an infant cry, mine or anyone else's child.  I learned to watch those signs.  Even infants with no language will speak with body language.  We try to over fead our infants because they are fussy an hour after a feeding, rather than recognize that they might just need a little rocking and some sleep.  Overfeeding results in spitting up, which results in a young mom now diagnosing an eating sensitivity, which then produces an entire string of problems.  

I have sat with with many crying and frustrated moms who were told to put her infants on formula. I AM NO EXPERT, but our bodies were designed to feed our babies. (and even-so, if you choose to bottle feed I embrace it) I  have asked the same questions as to how it would feel if you were to drink milk every thirty minutes?  I asked these moms, before trying the formula to  nurse their baby and then wait a good solid three hours.  After having nursed, within 40 minutes each baby started to fuss, I show these mamas how to hold and rock a tired baby, and each precious baby dropped off to sleep and slept the next two hours and woke up HUNGRY....took in a good nursing.....and within 3 weeks these babies were sleeping well, nursing well and never had to go on formula and developed sleep patterns that produced happy, content, and sleeping babies.  And mothers who enjoy a good nights sleep too.

I know these methods may seem silly to many, but not at all to those moms who struggle night after night to get a baby to eat, or sleep, or eat, or sleep. or just to stop crying.  I can count on more than one hand of those infants that had colic, out of desperation these moms asked my advice and followed a few simple suggestions to have the colic gone within 24 hours.

Again I AM NO EXPERT, but I have learned a few things and time tested methods that work, not on one, but all five of my own kids and those mothers who have asked for my help.  Three of my own children are very STRONG WILLED.  I mention this as there is often that excuse as to why a parent can not keep a child in bed.  There are many things that can be done, because if there is one thing my strong willed children know is that this mama is stronger.  So if you want to have some grown up time, as I always say to my friends...come on over any time after 7pm.

1 comment:

  1. I was never a fan of letting my infant son cry it out. Just seemed to me that I was showing him that I loved him only during the day. That when he was scared at night, just deal with it. I did not make any milk so we used formula, but the lessons are still the same. David was not a good sleeper for being a preemie he was hungry so night feedings lasted for a while. Once he figured it out, all was well with the world. May you continue to bless all these new mommies Elizabeth. Where were you when I needed your wonderful kind words? Take Care.


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