Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I fear I may be opening the proverbial can of worms. I’m about to ask you for advice on what I have come to believe is the most controversial topic of conversation when it comes to parenting little ones.
I wouldn’t ask unless we really needed the help. After all, I’ve found that it’s usually best to just slap on an extra thick coating of concealer and pretend that things are fine. “How’s he sleeping,” they ask. “Fine, just fine,” I reply through gritted teeth. But since this month’s natural parenting blog carnival is all about asking for parenting advice, I decided to wash the makeup off, stop pretending, and admit the truth.
We’re having trouble sleeping around here.
Some background Information
My babe is 13 months old. He was born at 35 weeks and after a short stint in the NICU he was exclusively breastfed for six months. Now he is an enthusiastic eater and loves a wide range of foods. We haven’t noticed any particular sensitivities to foods in his diet, aside from pineapple and, perhaps, hummus.
He visited the doctor last week and all his exams were clear. Medically speaking, he seems just as fine as can be. He doesn’t have any teeth yet, and there don’t seem to be any that are imminent.
His general demeanor is pleasant. He smiles a lot. Laughs some. He runs around and plays. He rarely cries or fusses.
He does not now, nor has he ever “slept through the night.” We accept that nighttime parenting and parenting our babe to sleep are part of the gig. We aren’t, necessarily, looking for those things to go away completely.
That being said, if all was well, I wouldn’t be writing for advice now, would I?
My little man’s nighttime sleeping habits have been getting worse with age, rather than better. While we have gotten our first 6-7 hour stretches of sleep in the past few weeks, we have also had some of our most difficult nights to date. Some nights he wakes more than 8 times. Some of those wakings require just a moments intervention. Some end up requiring more than an hour or two.
Naps aren’t all that different. Occasionally he will sleep an hour or so, but most of the time he sleeps about 30-40 minutes, wakes up crabby, and we sling or rock him for the remainder of his nap which can be anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour.
We’re exhausted, very little is getting done, and it is wearing on me, our home, and our little family.
What We’ve Tried
His Own Sleeping Space – Since December our babe has started the night in his own bed. Generally, he joins us when he wakes the first time, though we have tried to have him sleep in that space the whole night through. The location of his sleep doesn’t seem to impact when or how much he wakes.
Night Nursing – While it isn’t ideal, I’m pretty willing to be an all-night buffet if it means better sleep for the whole family. But at times the wakings are so frequent that my milk supply just can’t keep up. He nurses, gets frustrated at the lack of supply, and doesn’t drift back to sleep. Then he needs more help. Slinging, rocking, walking.
Wearing Him Down – We’ve tried to eliminate nursing as a sleep cue. When we tried, I would nurse and then my husband would settle him to bed by wearing him down (the same thing I do during the daytime). When that happens, my husband (usually) or I (sometimes) get out of bed, snuggle him up in the sling, and walk laps around our bedroom. This can take 10 minutes or an hour to get him into a deep sleep. But even that isn’t a guarantee. Often he wakes immediately when we try to transfer him back into the bed and the whole routine has to begin again.
Staying in Bed – We’ve tried rubbing his back, patting his tummy, singing songs softly. I’ve tried bringing him to lay on my chest. When we try to settle him back to sleep without getting out of bed, most of the time he escalates. A gently stirring babe can often be coaxed back into sleep, an awake and angry babe cannot.
Temperature Regulation – We live in an apartment with steam radiators that we have no control over. Generally it is hot. We’ve tried to cool it down by wrapping the radiators, cracking the windows, and wearing lighter pajamas.
Snack Before Bed – We’ve been giving him a snack before bed, usually something with protein, to help tide him over.
More Daytime Activity/Attention – We’ve significantly increased his daily activity level with (sometimes two or three) walks to the park, more physical play in the house, and more attention in general.
More Daytime Babywearing – We’ve tried to give him more mama and papa closeness time by putting him in the sling or in the Beco during daytime waking hours. We thought that maybe he was just trying to get more closeness or attention at night because it was lacking in the day. So far it hasn’t had much of an effect.
Sound Machine – We thought it might help him sleep more soundly if he wasn’t awoken by the noises of the city, us, or our neighbors. I think it helps, a bit, but it isn’t substantial.
I’m hoping that you, the readers of this natural parenting blog carnival (link), have some collective wisdom that you can share with us. What are we missing? What else could we try? What else should we be looking at or for? How can we help our babe, and us, get some better sleep? Or is this just something that we have to grin and bear, something that will pass with time?
Keep in mind, of course, that we are unwilling to entertain any suggestions of letting our precious babe “cry it out.” Please give us ideas that will fit within our cosleeping, breastfeeding, attachment parenting ideals.
Sleepless in Chicago
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)
- Replace hitting with…? — Acacia at Be Present Mama is at a loss on how to handle her three year old’s hitting.
- Two Questions — Alexandra at Breastfeeding Momma would like some ideas on how to strengthen her bond with her 8-month-old daughter; she’s also looking for input on an emotional topic: vaccines.
- Balancing Needs When Baby Trumps Mama — Alison at BluebirdMama wonders how her child’s need for noise and energy balances out against her need for quiet and space. (@childbearing )
- The McDilemma — Annie at PhD in Parenting is on the arches of a McDilemma. (@phdinparenting)
- Where is the mutually agreeable solution? When parenting calls for blood draws — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick has a child who needs regular blood tests that are torment for him. How does a parent honor a child when his health is on the line? (@RaisingBoychick)
- When To Wait To Nurse — Cave Mother wonders what age toddlers can be asked to wait to nurse.
- I don’t love you Mama! — CurlyMonkey wonders what to do with her daughter’s intense feelings. (@curlymonkey_)
- Help a Mama Out — Danielle at Born.in.Japan isn’t getting much sleep with her cosleeping, night nursing, cranky little guy and hopes you can help with some suggestions for shuteye. (@borninjp)
- Dear Abby: My daughter really misses her Daddy — Darcel at The Mahogany Way needs to know how to help her daddy’s girl get the connection with her father she needs — and not feel left out in the process. (@MahoganyWayMama)
- What’s Going on at School? — Deb at Science@home is in a quandary: how can she find out what really goes on at school without stepping on the teacher’s toes? (@ScienceMum)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Advice — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to find volunteer work that includes her toddler. (@CodeNameMama)
- How do you deal? — Erin at Beatnik Momma does not want to engage in “mommy wars.” She’d like your input on how (and how much) to discuss her natural parenting choices with curious friends and family who parent differently. (@babybeatnik)
- Dear Abby — The Grumbles at Grumbles and Grunts gave her son a banana…and no solid food since. What’s the next step in baby-led weaning? (@thegrumbles)
- Excuse me, I have a poop question — Jessica at This is Worthwhile has a question for you about toddler tinkling. (@tisworthwhile)
- The Half Empty Nest Syndrome: What to do when Momma gets replaced by a cow? — Joni Rae at Kitchen Witch Momma is suffering from “half-empty nest syndrome”: what do you do when your babies start growing up? (@kitchenwitch)
- Peer Pressure — Kate at Momopoly worries what message her daughter’s new friend is sending — but how to break up such an infatuation? (@Momopoly)
- When I Fall Down — Katherine at Momioso.com needs your wisdom on how to be more gentle and at peace with herself. (@naturalparent)
- A question of sleep and sanity — KeepingMumSane needs your toddler cosleeping advice in order to, well, keep mum sane! (@keepingmumsane)
- April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice — Lauren at Hobo Mama needs a chiropractor … or help getting her 36 lb toddler to walk up the stairs. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Driver’s Ed for Mommies — Maman A Droit is a self-confessed terrible driver and is scared to drive with her baby in the car.
- Solo Parenting — Mammapie at Downside Up and Outside In needs tips for being a single working mother while her partner’s away. (@mammapie)
- Itsy Bitsy Biter — Mamapoekie at Authentic Parenting needs your advice about her daughter, otherwise known as the pitbull.
- How Can I Avoid Beauty Obsession? — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is at a loss ever since her tomboys turned into wannabe princesses. (@bfmom)
- Seeking Stability in Chaos — Michelle at Seeking Mother is in a heart-wrenching position. She needs your input on how to make a toddler feel secure during a time of transition, the illness of a parent, and multiple (new) caregivers. (@Seekingmother)
- Mama, That’s Too, Too Boring! — Michelle at The Parent Vortex started out asking how to encourage her preschooler to get dressed — and four days later, she began to without prompting! (@TheParentVortex)
- Dear Lovey Hart, I am Desperate. — Mommy Soup from Cream of Mommy Soup has several questions for you, from how you play favorites when no one’s your favorite to how to tell off strangers curious about the ample size of your family. (@mommysoup)
- Diaper Duty Dilemma — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has a simple request: talk to her about cloth! (@babydust)
- What Do You Need My Son — pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start wishes her calm four-month-old hadn’t turned into an inquisitive and dramatic six-month-old. How do you handle changes in baby’s personality? (@pchanner)
- Dear Natural Parenting Community — Sarah at OneStarryNight wants to know how to respond to criticism from family and friends over breastfeeding. (@starrymom)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Help — Sarah at Consider Eden feels like either her to-do list or her parenting is suffering, because she can’t do both! (@considereden)
- To potty learn or not to potty learn – that is the question — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes wants to know whether it’s time to start potty training. (@sheryljesin)
- Seeking Patience — Starr at Earth Mama looks to the collective tribal wisdom of this community to learn how to teach patience to children.
- A Dirty Girl Comes Clean — Tashmica at Mother Flippin’ is struggling. How do parents deal with their inability to keep their children protected from danger? (@Mother_Flippin)
- Uli and the Pussy Cats — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis has a toddler who likes to put kitties in headlocks and ride them like horsies. How best to separate the little beasties?
- Perceptions of Discipline — Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t use conventional discipline with her child — and doesn’t know how to respond around people who do. (@zoeyspeak)