Assorted thoughts on sleep

  • I am in possession of five different child sleep books (most of them lent by a relative). It annoys me that most of the covers have photographs of babies sleeping on fluffy white comforters that, according to the books, are unsafe for babies to sleep on. Bonus for the one that’s sleeping face-down with a teddy bear.
  • All the books include quotes from delighted parents saying how amazingly well the author’s method worked. I’ve started reading the Amazon reviews for something more like an unbiased sample. There are some glowing reviews there, too, but also lots of reviews saying, “This didn’t work at all,” or “This works but would make our family miserable.” I really wish there were research on what percent of families that try various methods get good results.
    (Edit: since reading this, I’m pretty sure that cry-it-out methods are fine.)
  • I enjoyed the Sweet Juniper take on the Sleep Wars, parts one and two.
  • The postpartum depression questionnaire they give you at six weeks has a question about how often you feel tired (never, some of the time, most of the time, almost always?) I wonder if anyone seriously answers “never,” and if that’s basically a red flag that she’s trying to ace the quiz rather than answering honestly.
  • Lily’s most wakeful night so far? Camping in England, which was cold even in July. We didn’t have enough clothes to keep her warm, so the only way for her to sleep was right against my body. I kept fumbling in the dark to be sure the sleeping bag wasn’t covering her face. Know what wakes a sleeping baby? Feeling her nose.
  • This week the pediatrician encouraged me to stop nursing Lily to sleep, lest it become a habit that she wants to continue”when she’s 5, or when she’s 12.” I asked if he had ever seen that happen. He admitted he had not. Screw that. I worked hard to get breastfeeding to work for us, and it puts her to sleep better than anything else. (Thank you, circadian melatonin production.) Now that I actually like nursing her, I won’t mind if she still wants to go to sleep that way for a while. Obviously it won’t work for her daycare teachers, but I figure they have a method or two figured out by now.
  • Critics of various cry-it-out sleep methods do a pretty great job at striking fear into my heart. But Lily’s already done a fair amount of serious crying – she used to scream during most car rides. I tried various things to help her before just deciding to cut out all unnecessary car travel with her. Nobody thinks I’m a bad parent because my child cried in the car. She doesn’t appear to be scarred for life. There is no campaign against driving-it-out.
  • Speaking of weird free passes that we give cars, people seem curiously unconcerned about new parents driving. Sleep deprivation impairs you like being drunk. After four months of poor sleep, I don’t always feel confident in my ability to navigate stairs, let alone operate a motor vehicle with my child in it.
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2 thoughts on “Assorted thoughts on sleep

  1. detteyoung

    I really liked the babies and cortisol summary, thanks for that!

    I’m part way through reading the weissbluth book (gift from a relative), so I was interested to see him characterised as a cry it out advocate. One thing that has impressed me about the book so far is that he discusses different child temperaments (though recognising a continuum) and discussing how different strategies might work at different for different children. In addition I’m intrigued by his approach to sleep learning as being a 24 hour process. Plus he got points from me for referring to ‘dual career families’ instead of ‘working mother’ or similar.

    All in all I’m doing as much reading as I can while she is sleeping well so a) brain is working and b) I don’t feel overly insecure about what we’re doing right now. Today I’m basking in the glow of Rose sleeping a whole 6 hours in a row, so I’m going to knock off a few more chapters of Weissbluth.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Congratulations on six hours! Apparently some babies just sleep well and never really need much “training”, so maybe you’ll get lucky. Lily did six hours the night we got to Oxford (the night after the abovementioned camping experience) and then never again.

      One thing I’m not sure of is whether the checks are actually helpful to the baby. People keep saying, “Ferberizing isn’t that cruel method where you just leave them and never come back in – you come back in periodically and then leave again.” Which sounds like it might be more for the parents’ comfort than the child’s. In fact, it sounds like intermittent reinforcement, which generally trains pigeons/dogs/people to keep doing what they’re doing. So shutting the door and leaving them to it sounds like it might actually work faster and better.

      Reply

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