Friday, July 13, 2012

Top 5 Baby Sleep Advice

(Warning:  I got on my high horse for this one, so if I offend you I am sorry.)

Running the numbers.  It would probably scare you if you knew how much numbers controlled my life.  Most (if not all) of my accomplishments have revolved around numbers.  In school, it was grades and sports scores.  At work, it was financial statements, quarter deadlines, annual audits, raises, and bonuses.  So how does that fit in with motherhood?  I became obsessed with getting my kid to ‘sleep through the night.’  For several reasons this became the bane of my existence. 

1.   I require more sleep than most .  My brother-in-law used to refer to me as ‘yellow dog.’  You know…the labrador from the movie Funny Farm, who’s tail caught on fire, but he was too lazy to notice.
2.   This is the number one question that all mothers ask each other.  Hands down.
3.   This is the one quantitative aspect of motherhood, so of course the accountant pounced on it. 
I have now read every single ‘parenting’ and ‘get your baby to sleep’ book that has ever been published.  I have also drafted a letter to each one of them to describe the flaws in their theories and tell them to go to hell as politely as possible ( I have yet to mail one though).  The problem with every website, blog, or book is a little throw away statement that they end with.  It’s something to the effect of, “Remember, every baby is different.”  They give you advice that they claim is the gospel according to Perfect Parents R Us, but then end it with a “remember that all babies are different so it may take a significantly longer time for your baby.”  I have wanted to scream at the end of a book that just proclaimed they had the sure fire way to ensure your baby sleeps through the night at 3 months, but then ends the book with “Be patient.  If your child takes a few extra months to hit these goals that is perfectly normal.”  My response to that is, obviously your book should be titled “The Sure Fire Method to Get Your Child to Sleep Through the Night at Somewhere Between 3 Months and 2 Years.”

Also, all of the books LOVE to throw out statistics to you.  I get very sceptical when people start spouting statistics.  I understand numbers and know how easy it is to manipulate them in your favor (for Christ sake, it’s what I do for a living).  If someone tells me that 50% of babies are sleeping through the night at 6 months then I want to know:

1.       How do you define ‘sleeping through the night?’

2.       How big was the sample size?

3.       What were the variables considered in the sample?  Gender, acid reflux, weight, feeding schedules, etc…

You see what I mean?  I have wasted many a nap time hunting down the elusive answer to “how much should he be sleeping?” After my significant research here are Ellen’s Top 5 Things to remember when it comes to sleeping babies.

5.   Sleeping Through the Night is a rolling definition.  By this I mean that it changes based on the age of the child.  At 8 weeks, Teddy was sleeping solid from 7 pm – 3 am, would get fed once, and then sleep four more hours until 7am for another feeding.  When we asked the pediatrician when Teddy would sleep through the night he kind of cocked his head to the side and said, “He already is.”  Sleeping through the night up until 3 months is defined as 5 hours (see Mayo Clinic – Sleeping through the night).  What?!?!  In what crazy world do we consider that a good night sleep???? I immediately disregarded the term ‘sleeping through the night.’

4.   Beware the asterisk.  Here are just some of things that can throw a wrench into your sleep training that books/blogs/bragging mama’s like to omit: 4 month sleep regressions, growth spurts at 3, 6, and 9 months, cluster feeding,  teething, acid reflux, etc.  Feel free to google any of these items.  If I weren’t exhausted, it would be laughable.  Almost all of these things say that it could take several weeks (meaning nearly a month) for your child to go back to his normal sleeping schedule when dealing with one of these issues.  For example, my son who was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks (I’m rolling my eyes but you can’t see me), but then he went through a 3 month growth spurt.  What does that mean?  He’s starving to death and wants to cluster feed – eating every 2 hours-ish.  He went back to normal schedule after a week or so, but then we went into the four month sleep regression, followed by the development of acid reflux, on the heels of teething…you get the picture.  I’d like to send out a big F*!K you to the ‘Sleeping Through the Night’ myth maker. 

3.    Beware the advice givers.  If one more person tells me that Teddy would sleep through the night if I put rice cereal in his bottle, fed him more, held him more, held him less, I swear to God I’m going to head butt them.  It’s not like I’m walking into the nursery at 3 am banging pots and pans.  I actually want him to sleep.  Most mothers (at least this one) are dealing with information overload, lack of sleep, and a generation gap.  Some tried and true methods of 30 years ago are still golden and some things were ridiculous.  Odds are if you are giving advice, the new mom has already heard it at least 10 times.  Unless she asks for help…zip it.  (I understand this is nearly impossible but we should all at least try.)  

2.   Beware correlations.  I think a lot of people forget about this.  All of the advice givers have your best interests at heart.  They remember what it’s like and just want to help you, but baby amnesia is a real thing and you have a way to block out traumatic events (meaning pregnancy and the first year of the baby).  For example, a lot of people swore up and down that once I start baby food that Teddy’s acid reflux would go away.  They just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t shoving sweet peas down my 4 month old's throat.  The doc had given us a list of several things to watch for and when Teddy started doing those, he said it would be fine to start introducing food.  He also said that somewhere between the  5 – 8 month milestones, most babies grow out of their acid reflux (if they developed it later like Teddy did).  Well, guess what folks?  These two events occurred at the same time.  I’m sure that the solid foods helped weigh down his only liquid diet around the time that the flappy thingy in his throat developed the strength to stay shut.  Do I think that baby food cured him? No.  He also sleeps on an incline, has gone through 5 different types of medicine, and a crazy amount of other acid reflux “solutions.”  I don’t know which one of these items actually was the winner, but I could easily see myself 3 years from now remembering that his flux went away around the time he started eating. 

1.   Tell the truth to your friends.  When one of my friends asks if he sleeps through the night.  I just tell them what he did the night before, and say it changes week to week so don’t judge your baby by him.  But when a stranger brazenly flaunts that their child was an angel and slept through the night at an early age, what do I do?  I put on my bitchiest, slightly annoyed, superior face and say, “Me too!  Aren’t we lucky.”    

Picture me doing a back flip and sticking the landing as I dismount from my soapbox

(My husband refers to himself as the Photoshop Wizard)


  1. you are hilarious. you're saying everything that i'm thinking. thank you.

  2. the photo at the end made everything better. love you. teddy made you a mommie and you are a great one.

  3. It doesn't seem that Teddy should hope for a little brother or sister after your struggles with baby reflux and vomit! Ha ha! Love your stories.

  4. I just laughed through this whole post! If it makes you feel any better, Luke didn't out grow his reflux until a few weeks ago at 11 months, so you are doing better than us! Honestly, I read every book/blog/trick there was on sleeping through the night and had official given up and thought I would never sleep again and then Luke did it on his own. He slept from 8pm-8:30am. I seriously thought he was dead and went in to check on him but he was sleeping peacefully. ha! He did it on his own time and proved to me that no "trick" or "advice" was going to make a difference, he wanted to do it on his timing. He was stubborn but eventually cracked! Teddy will give up and do it too and you will LOVE your life once he does! Now I dont even go in his room before 8:15am! Its amazing!