How can I encourage an earlier bedtime? Schedule advice?

Shelley - posted on 11/25/2009 ( 11 moms have responded )

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ATM, most nights my 4mth old girl's bedtime is 12 - 1am. I have spoken to child health nurses and they make me feel like a failure and an irresponsible parent for allowing her to do this. I have tried so many times to put her to bed earlier.



The child health nurses have recommended that I give her an evening bath instead of a morning one. I tried this and she ended up with a cold, I gave her a bath at 8pm and the windows were closed and she was dressed approriately so I do not know how she managed to get a chill. The other recommendation for us was to let her cry while patting her to sleep. Both my husband and I aren't comfortable with this option, although we did try it for a few days and she keep resisting and then was more out of sync than anything, not as playful, overall not as happy.



She sleeps through the night and wakes usually around 9am for a feed, then back to sleep at 11am after her bath and another feed for anywhere up to two more hours. When she wakes, she feeds again, we play together and I then give her some 'tummy time' and from there we get out of the house for a walk or shopping or visit friends etc. She will then have another nap of up to 2 hrs around 3pm after another feed. She is awake from then to 1030pm, feeding 2hrly in between. She will wake again at 11, fusses and feeds on/off until 12-1am.



She dislikes car trips, butr eventually falls asleep. She will nap in her pram. We use J&J Bedtime Bath & lotion which does help, with this heat I've opted to use powder instead of lotion to prevent nappy rash/heat rash. She is breastfed, occassionally with a bottle of expressed milk.



She is a happy bub and is developing all-round quite nicely. We don't have much of a problem with her bed time as we believe it is not effecting her development and are prepared to sacrifice our early nights.



Could you please provide suggestions and if what we're currently doing is wrong as the nurses have suggested and if we really should be establishing a rigid bed routine at this stage. Will it effect her ability to sleep and sleep earlier later on as she gets older? Could our daytime routine do with some fine tuning? If so, how?

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Candice - posted on 11/25/2009

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I'm with Vesna on this one, Read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth... it helped a few friends of mine.

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Shelley - posted on 11/27/2009

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Since our visit to the nurses, Hubby and I pondered if what we were doing was right so now just find it hard finding that balance with sleep where she gets enough and at appropriate times so the whole household is happy (can spend time together with hubby, have more free time, have more time to do housework etc) and where if she wakes on her own she can fall back asleep on her own and anywhere, anytime with little help. Yet, we don't want to upset her to have to teach her this at such a young age. The way we look at it is since she's only this small once, rocking her to sleep for a few more hours than researched norm is extra cuddle time for us all. However, we are wary with allowing her to do her own thing may have its effects on her development but are closely monitoring it and should anything take a step backwards, we will adjust routines accordingly with healthcarer's advice (will try another centre lol). Perhaps I was wrong to put so much trust into our health network.



I have decided to purchase the Healthy Sleep Habits book, and I'll grab a copy of the No Cry Sleep Solution ASAP - thanks Sacha. I won't be using the cry-it-out methods just yet but if there's any other advice, then I will exhaust all those other avenues and if I don't agree with the tone of them then I'll put them down. But I'll at least give it a try. Don't see anything wrong with encouraging earlier and longer sleeps - will help put my mind at ease with my belief in the link between development and sleep. I'll reluctantly use the controlled crying method as an absolute last resort when she's a little bit older to teach her to sleep anywhere/anyhow with little help.



I'll also experiment with making minor changes to my eating and our feeding schedules, I'll see if taking vitamin supplements at night will change anything as I'm taking them each morning at present. I'm trying to settle her for more naps during the day, easier when we're at home.



Since I started this conversation, I've managed to get her down at 830-900pm, she will wake at 10pm nappy change/nurse, sleep again at 11pm, wakes up at 0400 nappy change/nurse/sleep within half an hr, awake at 0900. Last night's was a little different in between 10pm to 12pm she was awake, she no longer sleeps for her straight stretch of 9hrs though. I will try to cut out a nappy change and nurse slowly, one at a time soon and encourage a longer sleep but it's been a big change so I don't want to stress her out.



Once again, thank you for your kind words, advice/tips/help and re-assurance. It's nice to know how different we all are and our bubs!



Take care ladies and of your beautiful bubs too :)

xo

Jazmin - posted on 11/27/2009

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Hi

After reading the suggestions about that book...i might get it BUT i believe that my little one should sleep whenever she wants to sleep. I dont want any restrictions, schedules, rutines, etc etc to my 4 month old; of course i am a SAHM and moms who work don't have the same opinion :P Shelley: if you baby wants to got to sleep at 1 am...just like my baby...and if that doesn't really botter you....forget about what the nurses said....you are the mommy....you do wharever you feel is better for you and your baby. You put your own rules. That is my personal oppinion Take care

Allison - posted on 11/27/2009

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first of all Never feel like a failure, every baby has a different personality, I think Mothers forget that Babies are little strangers that we are welcoming into our lives and just like adult strangers we have to get to know them and learn who they are, I have three little ones and each one has had differnt sleep patterns my 4 month just started going to bed at 10 he use to be up until 12 - 1 evernight since he was born, I have asked my ped dr. about this and he explained to me that babies that nurse like to nurse at night because Breastmilk is more enriched at night from all the food that mother eat during the day, I started having a snack during the night after feeding baby and it seemed to help him want to nurse longer in the morning and after nursing longer he would want to stay awake longer and it started to move his schedule up, eating and sleeping habits go hand in hand so maybe if you change one the other will start to change to. Also remember you are the mom and you know what's right for your child, if your uncomfortable with something like the cry it out method then don't do it, no method is perfect you just have to do what works for you and your little one.

Sacha - posted on 11/27/2009

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I'm glad that book worked for you. I found the tone of it very guilt-inducing, phrases like "a sleep lost is lost forever" and it intimated that unless you get your kid into a rigid sleep pattern they'll develop ADHD or other problems. So that book wasn't for me.
According to my mum I was a reluctant sleeper too and she ended up going with the flow.

Vesna - posted on 11/27/2009

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Quoting Sacha:

That Healthy Sleep Habits book is a cry-it-out technique, just so you know. I personally was not okay with it. 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' helped us quite a bit. Our 5 month old still resists going to bed earlier than 10/11pm. Don't feel like a failure! It's so hard. I find that getting her to nap better during the day helps her sleep better at night but it's still unpredictable. Good luck!



Just to respond to Sacha's comment; this author is a proponent of the let-cry technique, however, he does state that there are a few other techniques that work as well, such as controlled crying, where you let the child cry for just a few minutes and you go in to soothe.In addition, he states that you can use the no-cry method as well as long as you are consistent in your soothing methods.



Regardless of which technique you choose, the book offers a lot of very valuable information regarding healthy sleep habits;  it would be a shame not to read it just because this author believes that the let-cry technique works best. I personally implement all of his suggestions, however, I used the controlled crying method, where I gradually increased the interval of time between going in to soothe. I started with 3 minutes of crying and go in to soothe, then increase to 5 minutes and then to 10; my daughter was asleep by the time we reached the 10 minutes. Letting her cry was the hardest thing I have had to do- I cried more than she did, but I assure you that teaching your child to fall asleep on his/her own is the best thing you can do for them. My daughter now falls asleep in her crib for naps and night sleep without any crying at all.



If you do not want to purchase this book, you should consider borrowing it from a library, the information and advice is invaluable!

Sacha - posted on 11/27/2009

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That Healthy Sleep Habits book is a cry-it-out technique, just so you know. I personally was not okay with it. 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' helped us quite a bit. Our 5 month old still resists going to bed earlier than 10/11pm. Don't feel like a failure! It's so hard. I find that getting her to nap better during the day helps her sleep better at night but it's still unpredictable. Good luck!

Shelley - posted on 11/26/2009

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Thank you very much ladies, I will definately track a copy of the book down and in the meantime, I will try getting her to bed earlier 10mins at a time by waking her a fraction earlier in the morning.

Thank you all very much! :)

Vesna - posted on 11/25/2009

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Hi Shelley, a book I strongly recommend is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. One way to change your child's bedtime is to gradually wake her up earlier in the morning and not let her make up the lost sleep in naps, so that she will be sleepy earlier in the evening. For example, the first morning, wake her up at 10am and ensure that her naps that day are the same length as previous days. That night, put her to bed 1/2 hour earlier than the previous night. Do this until her bedtime reaches between 6 and 7pm. A 4 month old should not be going to sleep later than 7 pm. This book has helped me immensly, I would suggest you read it, as it contains many helpful suggestions for healthy sleep habits. My 4 month old sleeps from 6 pm to 6 am and takes 4 naps during the day. I'm sure it's not all due to the schedule I'm implementing, however, a lot of it is. Hope this helps...

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I'm not the best one to answer I'm sure, but I think babies do learn routines and somehow if you want an earlier bedtime you'll have to break her routine. It's easier if you do it little by little if you don't want to cry it out. Like try putting her to bed 10 minutes earlier every other night or something. I usually put my son down at 8-8:30 and he does great usually, but we were out with him for several nights in a row and he got to bed late those nights. The last couple nights he got to bed on time but he kept waking up and I'm wondering if it's because he's not used to his bedtime anymore. A lot of people believe in bedtime routines too. I do a short one of reading a short story and praying with him, but I have bathtime in the morning. Sometimes he doesn't go down as good if he's been awake for a long time and from 5:00 to 10:30 sounds like a long time to be awake so I don't know if trying for another nap in there would help her settle or not. I think the quantity of sleep is more important than when it happens, but if you keep the same bedtime it will be harder to break as she gets older I would think. I'm no expert but I hope that helped a little!

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