6 November 2009

baby sleep revisited

You may recall a while back I was reading every baby sleep book under the sun due to Audrey's inability to not so much sleep through the night but remain settled for longer periods of time at night (and not irritatingly call out for me just as I had sat down with a lovely cup of whatever). Up until a few days ago, Audrey's routine was:

6:15am: Wake, Milk, Solids
8.00am: Morning Nap for 2 - 3 hrs
10.30am: Wake, Milk, Solids
12.30pm: Nap 2, for 2.5 hrs, sometimes less
2.30pm: Wake
5.30pm: Bedtime
During the evening/night: wake! wake! wake!

Waking at 2.30pm left a long period of wakefulness unless we put her to bed at 5.30pm. She nursed often during the night (at best it was twice-three times after going to bed until morning, and worst she needed resettling every two-three hours).

Having been driven absolutely bonkers by all this night activity, and probably more by her unpredictability in the evening (we rarely go out at night because I'd just be too concerned whether she would wake or not, and as I breastfeed I'm the only person fit for the job) I went back over some notes I kept from some of the baby books.

Now we follow this schedule (from the book Save Our Sleep) pretty strictly (this is the routine for a baby from starting solids up to the age of 9 months, a slightly modified routine follows on from 9 mths):

7am: Wake (wake up if still sleeping), milk feed
8am: Solids (two courses, savoury & sweet)
9am: Morning Nap
11am: Wake, Milk Feed
12pm: Solids (savoury & sweet)
1pm: Afternoon Nap
3pm: Wake, Milk Feed
5.00pm: Solids (savoury & sweet)
6.20pm: Bath / Top to Tail wash
6.40pm: Milk Feed finished at least ten minutes before bedtime
7pm: Bedtime
10.30pm: Dreamfeed (only if they aren't sleeping through the night)

What is good about this is that it makes the day more predictable (which helps when running errands and meeting people) and also it does away with demand feeding. Plus I think we are feeding her more solids per meal now and I wonder if that was the reason for her night waking. Was I starving my poor child?

With demand nursing she was probably never really going to eat a decent solids meal, much like snacking throughout the day leaving you not longing for a decent meal. This is why this routine allows a reasonable amount of time between milk feeds and solids.

I hope this brings a bit more sleep into our nights. Audrey is a vision of plump deliciousness. I, on the other hand, could almost blow away in the next southerly.

I know many mothers protest at the weight gain that sometimes goes with pregnancy/babies, but is anyone else in the same boat as me, i.e. finding weight a real chore to keep on? My mother is writing me emails saying my arms are resembling Angelina Jolie's (not in a good way). I'm not even going to mention what Brendan is saying. He thinks I am crash dieting for the wedding, but it couldn't be further from the truth. The pictures of women I most admire are those with athletic bodies and rounded edges, not angular hips and concave legs. All my skinny jeans are loose now, sod it! And I really do mean sod it. I know some dear friends have rolled their eyes when they hear of my weight issue, which I find quite offensive. I think being at either end of the spectrum has its problems.

Anyway, a bit of a report back on this new sleep routine:

1st night - bedtime at 7pm, woke at 10.30pm for feed, then at 2pm for a small feed, then stirred at 3.30pm.

2nd night - I did away with the dreamfeed to see how long she would sleep for, and she woke at 3am! Then it was a half feed, she stirred at 4.30am and woke around 6.15am.

She goes down well for her day time naps, but fusses a little at night so we still have to work out the best time for her bedtime. And because this routine is written down, Brendan can easily follow it too. He comes to me reporting that "it's time for Audrey solids", and ''and keep feeding her until she turns her head away'. Okay!

This is the first time ever that she has slept that long through the night, so eating more solids and following this routine seems to be making a difference in a matter of only days.

I can't wait to see how things are a week from now. I am so hopeful!


  1. How wonderful of you to have written that down! I am sitting here, quite bleary at work after popping out to a quick gig last night, and leaving the wee one at his aunts for a few hours. We always end up paying dearly for stirring Leo once he has been popped down for the night, and last night was no exception!
    He is 8 months old pretty much to the day and seems to have increased his appetite tenfold in the last few weeks alone, everything that comes his way goes into his mouth (including those little balls of random fluff that sometimes end up on the carpet no matter how hard you try.)
    Also, I can agree in entirety on the food vs weight issue. Whilst Leo is blossoming wonderfully daily, I seem to be shovelling in everything I can find, and can't seem to gain any weight at all. People are beyond commenting now it seems, and although for a while it is nice, at the same time it's super awkward, it does seem as is my son is sucking the life out of me.
    I can't seem to get in enough food to fill myself up, ever.
    I guess, as long as Leo is happy and fed, I can go on purchasing smaller jeans, that wil be discarded as soon as I finish feeding.
    Sorry about the rant, but you are most certainly not alone, on both lack of sleep, and weight issues.
    Phew, all the best, and I absolutely LOVE your photography.

    Sleep well.


  2. after my first babe, when he was between 9 & 12 months I had a lots of trouble with my weight or lack thereof. like you lots of people around me were worried about me, thinking i wasn't eating, but it couldn't have been further from the truth & i hated my clothes falling off me, & the fact that any curves i had were gone. on top of that i was so tired. i think the problem for me was that my son was having too many feeds & given that he was a big healthy baby, it was a huge demand on my body. i ended up starting to cut down on his feeds & by the time he was one, i had him down to one a day & i felt better & put on some weight. the upside for ryder (my son) was that when i reduced his milk he was more interested in food, so it worked for us.

    i hope you find what works for you!

  3. your new schedule is pretty much what i've been following for a month now. well, except for the nights. still 1-2 hour waking intervals.

    i know sleeping through the night can happen with co-sleeping, but i just can't figure it out. he does both solid feeds and dream feeds all night long. not to mention 1-2 poopy diapers.

    as for weight, i'm the opposite. at first, the weight fell off completely. now i'm starting to gain again. not a huge amount, but enough that i kind of dislike myself right now.

  4. Erica, the biggest change for me is the spaced out milk and solids feeds, otherwise it wasn't radically different. She eats so much more solid food now, and this is causing much less night waking (last night was the 8 hrs stretch without a dreamfeed - tonight i will give her the 10.30pm feed and she should be able to make it through to the morning).

    I wish you weren't so hard on yourself - you always look fantastic.

    Melissa - I'm glad I'm not the only one bleary eyed! If you do give this routine a go I'd love to hear how it goes.

    Christie - I know there'll be a day when my body is my own again. Thanks for your insights :)

  5. Congratulations on finding something that is working! It's great getting something that can reset that little body clock for you so that you can rearrange times and start getting the sleep you need. I found my hardest months with night sleeping for my daughter was 8-9 months which was a huge shock because she had been sleeping through before that since about 5 months. Then I stopped giving her breastfeeds when she woke at night and that helped immensely to stop her waking. Can't remember if I have mentioned before that I found literature from here extremely useful:


    But it seems you have it working for you, that's so pleasing to hear. Best wishes for a full night's sleep very soon!! I'm sure you can't wait. :o)

  6. we've been doing three solid meals now, and leon's naps are pretty much set in place, but he doesn't seem to want much milk during the day, which messes with my supply.

    when audrey goes in for the night, does she simply sleep for longer stretches, or do you avoid nursing whenever she wakes (aside from the dream feed)? i don't know how to avoid nursing leon at night. i can usually get away with a super short session (1-2 mins), but sometimes he cries and cries. and the wet/dirty diaper is a major disruption.

    i am exhausted and depressed. the body issues are just a part of it, i guess. i need sleep, badly. 3 nights ago leon did a 3.5 hour stretch, and i felt amazing the next morning. if only that would happen consistently! i don't think i did anything different.

    i'm glad that you've figured out something that's working for you and audrey. i agree, it'll be nice to have my body to myself someday soon.

  7. My two older kids followed that schedule when starting solids -- it was just natural for them. I hope my third does the same. I think that schedule is great! I've always done milk feeding about an hour before solid feeding, but that's because I have breastfeeding problems and I take every chance I can get to get some breastmilk into the babies.

    I have the opposite weight problem from you, so I'm no help there. :) I'm 9 weeks postpartum right now, and the weight loss is at a standstill.

  8. I love reading your blog. I don't always post a comment, but I understand the weight thing. I'm small to begin with. I'm only 5'2 and my normal weight is 105-110. Before I got pregnant with my first child, I weighed 108. After I had her, I went down to 90 lbs and not on purpose. I just didn't seem to have the same appetite as I did before having her. I use to try to make myself eat, but couldn't gain the weight. I even went to the dr.'s and everything checked out ok. Some people thought I was anorexic and I hated that, because I wasn't. I wasn't breastfeeding either. So, I don't know what was wrong with me.

    I just had another baby about a month ago, and I seem to be doing better this time. I seen to have a stronger appetite. Eventhough I have lost most of the pregnancy weight, I'm still weighing at 113 lbs right now. Which I love! I think my husband likes it too. I'm really trying to stay on top eating all three meals and eating healthy snacks.

    You may just have so much on your plate. With taking care of two children, your business, and planning a wedding...it's a lot.

  9. Erica – since starting this routine she just sleeps until either the dreamfeed or 2am-ish or both. Last night I decided to do the dreamfeed (she was mostly asleep) but she still woke at 1.30am. I should have tried to just quickly settler her but fed her instead. Tonight I will try the dreamfeed and then resettle if she wakes. Honestly she hasn’t been this settled for a long time (if at all). The biggest difference for me is spacing out the milk and solids, feeding her solids until she resembles a Weeble (she looks stuffed) and going by the times in the routine. Though last night she settled without a peep at 6.30pm, so I’ll try that bedtime for five nights and then assess.

    You’re still co-sleeping? I wouldn’t have said this if you hadn’t mentioned being depressed (I remember my dark nights), but I would do everything to get Leon sleeping in his own bed, without you. I never slept deeply when Audrey was sleeping with me. If I may be so bold, perhaps try this routine with Leon in his bed and see what happens. I seriously believe I wasn’t giving Audrey enough solids previously. Plus sips of water to drink throughout the day. It seems the subtle changes the routine has made to Audrey’s existing routine has made a big difference. I used to wake often in a grump; this morning I was singing!

  10. amy h - thanks for your input. And you should not be worrying about your weight a mere nine weeks after delivery!

    Bella loves Julia - I have heard the anorexic thing before too. Do people seriously believe they're not being offensive by saying this?

    I liked the extra curves that came with my pregnancy (late pregnancy water retention most definitely excluded). I'm 5'6.5 (168cm) and my postpartum weight has hovered around 50.5kg/111 lbs which is on the light side of my usual weight. Last week I got a 24 hr stomach bug and dropped to 46kg/101 lbs. I was
    truly horrified when I got on the scales and saw that number. Of all the things people remark on, they are right when they say a lean person has nothing to fall back on during illness.

  11. Hello again, I just wanted to quickly say to Erica that, I am certainly no expert, and I would never have commented if you didn't note the depression, but looking after yourself is top priority. Sleep is a massive thing for me, I used to pop off around 8:30pm and get up at 7, so having a baby warranted some big changes. I adored co sleeping with Leo for the first wee while, and would love it now as well, aside from the fact that subconsciously I was always aware of his presence in the bed beside me. Also, I began to cease functioning on any normal level, and couldn't really even hold up a conversation.
    Co sleeping can be a lovely thing, but for me, the best thing I did, was get Leo into his own bed.
    Do whatever works best for yourself, and although it may feel strange (it did for me for the first hour or so) just give it a go for one night.
    All the best.

  12. I am glad to hear you are getting some sleep!
    My DD has just started sleeping through at 2 years and 10 months! Over the months I tried just about everything to get her to sleep - different routines, cutting out all preservatives, colours etc, allergy testing, busy days, quiet days, long naps, short naps etc etc and in the end I reckon she just did it when she was ready despite all my interfering!

    She still has one breastfeed at bedtime and it is only now that I have started to put some weight on -I have been getting around in clothes with lots of safety pins but at least now things are starting to fit properly again.
    But no more full fat ice cream I am afraid!

  13. i've been feeding leon two jars of food per day (earth's best stage 2), spaced out in 3 meals. but if he seems hungry, i'll keep feeding him until he protests. he usually has milk right before a nap, so about every 3 hours, and spaced at least an hour from solids. i haven't tried water, yet, but i think i will start. i've been worried that he isn't getting any fluids, but was told by my breastfeeding group to not do water until 12 months.

    melissa, thanks for your input. we do not co-sleep by choice but because leon has rejected the crib. the last time i tried to put him in the crib was late September, and that was really really rough.

    i want to get him to sleep in the crib, but i think matthew will have to be in charge of this. he's been reluctant to try. since we're flying back home on wednesday, this week might be a good time to try again.

  14. Erica - what made me so determined to change was hearing that babies do not simply start sleeping through the night (or grow into doing the right thing) - I did at times think Audrey might just start sleeping better, but then we'd have another bad spell and I'd realise that wasn't going to happen. The most important thing with babies is consistency. I've been guilty of starting something new then bending things a little - hence the routine never worked.

    We're going well so far. I can now have a morning coffee after A's milk feed knowing she won't be getting another nursing session when I put her down for her first nap (and then getting a caffeine hit). On that note, do you consume much caffeine? With Lucy, I drank a couple of cups a day. With Audrey I have been much more careful in making sure she gets as little as possible. I really think it makes a difference (I wasn't convinced first time round). And maternity nurse-aunty really believes it does affect the baby.

    Also, have you decided on feeding Leon that amount of food per day, or has he? Audrey has possibly doubled her solids intake since I kept feeding her until she refused. Before I must have used to stop when she slowed down, but it's obvious she needed more as she is sleeping so much better/more soundly.

  15. First of all, I love the pictures, she looks so sweet, so cherub-like.

    Sounds like things are progressing well. We did the dreamfeed for awhile as well -- it really worked for us and helped me catch a bigger block of sleep which was key at the time.


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