Sleeping… or a lack of

Ohhhh where do I even start.

We still co-sleep part of the night, but Ryan takes every nap in his crib and he starts out the night in there too. Usually around midnight he wakes up for the first time and that’s when I just take him into bed with me to nurse and we sleep until morning.

We went through a phase where he was restless at night (while co-sleeping) and neither of us were getting sleep. And his naps during the day? Wait, I’m sorry–his NAP (singular) during the day? Was an hour long, if we were lucky. Usually about 45 minutes.

And Ryan seemed cranky. Maybe he seemed that way to us because WE were tired and cranky, haha, but then we read about how bad sleeping habits could result in a toddler that throws more tantrums. Uh oh.

Something had to change. Was this normal?! Is this what it was supposed to be like with a toddler?

I finally found some help from Jen at Helping Your Child Sleep. She has a private practice as a Child Sleep Consultant and Clinical Social Worker. Jen developed her interest in sleep and its restorative functions for the brain and body after working with improperly diagnosed children who were simply overtired. I think you’d be amazed at all the symptoms and conditions that can arise just from a child been too tired all the time!

Jen was awesome to work with. I filled out a survey about Ryan’s personality and habits and answered questions about his sleep schedule. I was nervous at first because I was afraid I’d hear a “cry it out” solution. But Jen definitely made sure to ask about our parenting styles and I mentioned we co-sleep and are generally the “attachment parenting” type. Her response was amazing.

She not only gave us a schedule to try out (that did *not* involve crying-it-out), but she also explained the reasoning behind methods and offered to be available for help and more questions while Steve and I tried out the sleep training.

Part of the sleep training goal was to get Ryan to sleep all night in his crib. We (okay, *I*) decided not to do this right now for a couple reasons… 1) Ryan’s crib is currently in our bedroom so that makes it a bit harder. 2) We’re probably moving soon and figured we’d get his own room set up and try it out then. and probably the main reason – 3) I wasn’t ready. Yea, me. Ryan is my cuddle bug and I love sleeping with him at night…. if he sleeps all night in his crib, he’s not my baby anymore! I know, I’m pathetic, haha. But someday he won’t WANT to sleep with me anymore, so I’ll cuddle while I can.

But what we did take away from Jen’s advice–the amount of sleep Ryan needs a day. Before, if Ryan had a poor night of sleep or a short nap, we’d try to keep him up a little later at night with the hope that he’d sleep in later the next morning. WRONG! I know it seems crazy, but to fix a sleep schedule… if a baby needs to make up lost sleep… you put them to bed that much EARLIER at night. You have to track how many hours they’re sleeping a day/night and know how many hours they’re supposed to be getting…. and make up anything that’s lost.

It has worked wonders. I’m not even kidding. His naps are now 2 hours long, at least and without fail. THANK GOODNESS. Those naps are the key to sanity in my day, haha. You mamas know what I’m talking about!!!

But more than that? Ryan’s mood. He seems to be happier and throwing less tantrums. It makes me feel really bad that this is something we could have been working on a long time ago and that his cranky mood was caused by something as simple as sleep! And when Ryan is happy, we’re allllllllllllll happy 🙂

You can request more info from Jen and lucky for you guys–she’s doing a little Q&A on my blog! Awhile ago I asked on twitter and facebook for sleep expert questions. I collected some of them and Jen was kind and generous enough to give great answers that I’ll be posting in a few days.

How does your toddler sleep? Have you ever had a sleep consult or would you like one? I only wish we had gotten one sooner!!!

{find Jen on twitter and facebook too.}

 

5 comments to Sleeping… or a lack of

  • I’ve never had a sleep consult, but probably could have used one. Bryson (my 2 year old) still wakes up some nights, but that it our fault. Because I’m nursing, it’s easier if I snuggle on the couch with baby. Bryson slowly moved his way into bed with my hubby, so now when we put him in his bed, he’ll wake up during the night. Not every night, but pretty often. It isn’t a problem at them moment, but when I move back into bed with hubby, the toddler, and the baby- it’s gonna be crowded. Good luck to you!

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  • Wow, your post sounds just like us! My boy is 18 months, takes one nap a day (sometimes), starts in his own crib at night and then comes into our bed around midnight (and then wakes a few more times before morning.) And like you, I’m not ready to stop cosleeping altogether. Thanks for the tips and for the reference…I just might need a consult myself! I can deal with being tired at work, but I definitely don’t want my child to suffer because he isn’t getting the proper amount of sleep.

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  • PLEASE SEND HER TO MY HOOOOOOOOOOOOUSE!!!!!!!!! Austin is up every 2 hours. It’s awful. I want to DIE. I can’t put him in another room in a crib right now since we’re at my mom’s. I was going to start getting him to sleep in his room right before I left :/ but I’m like you, he’s my cuddle bug. I LOOOOOVE sleeping with him. It’s awesome. But I wish he would STAY ASLEEP. and it’s nothing to do with my being in the bed, because he’ll wake up 3 times before I go to bed. SO it’s needing me to fall back asleep I guess? It seems really weird to me though that he wakes that much. I guess he is a light-post-REM sleeper? Idk. I want to die. did I mention that yet?!?!

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  • I’ve never had a sleep consult but I wouldn’t mind having one, I think we need it. We’ve been doing much better with Mason’s sleeping, we tired the whole putting him to bed earlier thing and it worked for us too! Mason used to go to sleep pretty much whenever he wants. Not he’s alseep by 10 the absolute latest and sadly enough that is a major improvement!

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  • I have a baby (7 months) but that thing about putting them to bed earlier to have them sleep longer is so true. If he stays up really late he will sleep in some of the time (especially if his sleep wasn’t deficient before) but generally earlier bedtime equals longer sleep stretch.

    I feel the same way – Someday he won’t want to cuddle me or accept my kisses so I intend to smother him with my love up until he refuses it!

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