Over the next three months, I’ll be participating in a once-a-month REAL TALK REAL MOMS blog series with a handful of powerhouse mama bloggers & small business owners. It’s been so fun to watch these ladies become moms over the past several years; I’m such a fan of these ladies, and I respect and admire them so very much. Being a mom myself, I know how difficult it is to publish blogs posts, get showered, feed kids, make coffee, go grocery shopping, manage a business, etc. I cannot wait to read the stories, advice, and encouragement from these mamas.
This month, we’re talking sleep. For those of you who are just tuning in, I’m mama to two little girls: Zoe and Naomi, 26 and 8 months, respectively. I almost feel guilty admitting this, but both of my girls have been great, happy sleepers. Both girls slept through the night consistently around 1 1/2 months, and it’s been wonderful 🙂 Both girls took a paci (Naomi later switched to her thumb).
I have a love-hate relationship with pacifiers. They work so well until they fall out and your babe wants it back but is too young to figure out how to put it back. Once Zoe would fall asleep, we’d actually pull her paci out of her mouth so that she didn’t suck on it throughout the night or wake up wanting it. We found that this worked well, but involved a lot of involvement from us. We struggled with this paci-problem with Zoe until she was old enough to find/retrieve her paci, and then it was awesome. We decided to wean her from her paci when she was 18 months, and it was easier than I ever imagined. We simply cut an “x” into the tip of the paci so that when she sucked on it, there was no suction. She was so confused (and pointed and said “it’s broke”) but when she asked for her paci, we’d hand it to her, and after trying to suck, she just accepted the fact that her paci was close by. She held her paci and kept it close to her mouth for about 4 nights. After that, she didn’t even ask for it. Cha-ching!
Naomi sucked a paci until she was about 2 1/2 months and then magically she transitioned to her thumb (and now she has a favorite blankie, too…and it just melts my heart). I love love love having self-soothing-thumb-sucker. She is able to find that thumb so quickly and it helps her fall asleep on her own. Which leads me to self-soothing. Before having kids, I read somewhere that, just like adults wake up many times throughout the night and then go back to sleep, so do babies. And they just need to be taught how to go back to sleep. Taught that mommy won’t come running at that first whimper, taught that the middle of the night isn’t time for milky, taught to roll over and fall back asleep. I’m so thankful that I read this, because it’s been my philosophy for the past 2+ years.
For the first few months, our girls would sleep in a Moses basket right next to my side of the bed. I would nurse (in bed) throughout the night for the first few weeks and it was nice to have them so close by. Because I was sleeping so close to my girls, I learned to recognize their self-soothing noises. My natural tendency is to pick up a baby as soon as I hear that first peep. But nooooo. Let them figure out to get comfortable, snort a few times, and maybe reach down and stuff a paci back in their mouth. When nursing in the middle of the night, I tried not to let them fall asleep while nursing, but rather, put them down still awake so they could get to sleep on their own. During the day (and throughout the night for the first 2 weeks or so), I nursed by babies every 3 hours pretty much on the clock. After about 2-4 weeks, I switched to nursing them every 4 hours at night. After about one week of nursing every 4 hours, I’d let them sleep as long as they wanted without waking them to nurse (which tended to be about 5-6 hours of sleep for a week or so). Then, by about 1 1/2 months, they were sleeping for nice long stretches of 8-10 hours.
I thought that having a good sleeper was completely by chance with Zoe, but now that Naomi is 8 months old and she’s been a champion sleeper for 6 months now, I’m hoping that some of it has to do with our parenting style (but who really knows….only time/more kids will tell, hah).
My current sleeping predicament: Zoe’s been waking up around 4 AM almost every morning and coming straight into our room, wanting to sleep in our bed. It started when Joe was on a work trip and I loved it. And I kind of still love it (even though somehow she manages to take up 1/2 the bed with Joe and I each shoved on our sides to the outer fourths of the bed); it’s such a precious time of sweet innocence, and I love hearing her door swing open and the pitter-patter of her feet running into our room, calling out “mama.” But I’m scared this is going to turn into a bad habit. Any mamas been here with a toddler? What should I do? Should I stop this NOW (or yesterday)? Should I embrace it? HAAALP!
Now, time to talk about sleeping as a mom! I love sleep and I’ve always been a napper. Life has changed a lot now that I have two kids (and I feel like I actually need those naps more than ever). Zoe is only taking one nap these days (in the late afternoon), and some days, I have to decide: do I want to take a nap (the answer is usually “yes”) or should I do the laundry, make dinner, wash the pile of dishes, write a million emails, organize props, take a shower before Joe gets home, play with Naomi, etc. The struggle is real, folks. I’ll be honest, there have been times where I shut our living room door (before Zoe figured out how to open doors), put on Robin Hood (her favorite movie), laid down on the couch, and tried to catch some z’s.
Don’t forget to check out all the lovely mamas who are contributing to this new series: