Sleep Training (Again??)

Yup. Recently, Nat will wake up 1x between 3-6am and cry because he’s alone in his crib and can’t get back to sleep?? This time I’m quite sure it’s separation anxiety because he isn’t hungry. Sigh. So if I am conscious enough, I have to resume sleep training by soothing him back to sleep in his crib. Each time he’s carried to join us in bed just conditions him more to dislike his crib. 


The above was a failed attempt by me to “hide” and have him sleep on his own during his PM nap. 

Nat refused to lie down in his crib. I can’t cradle him to sleep becsuse he’s too heavy. Out of curiosity and desperation, my last resort was to just lie on the floor out of sight to see whether he will calm down. 

It failed because he found me at the corner hahaha 

In the end, he did fall asleep in his crib after 5-10 minutes of carrying. 

What I fear more is the early morning episode because it’s random and when we sleep at 12am and have to wake up at 630am, it’s extremely tough to be disciplined to sleep train him. Thankfully it’s only once a night on some nights but still… 

What this article says about separation anxiety is SO TRUE! 

“… your baby can feel panicked when he wakes during the night and doesn’t see you — especially if you were there when he drifted off…”
Hopefully this will pass without us entrenching certain associations that will remain in the long run such as the association of nighttime sleep with our bed instead of his, which is already happening. Sigh.

– CK 

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Almost 1

Can’t believe that Nat is going to be one soon! This time last year, I was in physical agony, 18kg heavier and my hips felt like they were in two parts. Then I realized something last night – he’s still co-sleeping in his crib! These few months, I’ve sort of lost track of the original plan to shift him into his own room by 10 months. Then the moment I returned to work, I think I’ll miss him if he was in a separate room. 

With regard to his sleep, Nat usually does a 845pm to 7am stretch with the occasional cry at 4/5am. If we are too groggy, HJ will just carry him to our bed. Previously, I could soothe him back to sleep in his crib but once I returned to work and started sleeping later, I am a total zombie at 4/5am. 

For 11 months, babies should get around 2-3 hours of day sleep followed by 11 hours of night sleep as per this website. Nat is somehow still sleeping a lot in the day like 3.5 hours avg over two naps. So some days when he wakes up close to 6pm, he only sleeps at 9pm. So it’s a chicken and egg problem as the later he sleeps at night, he’s tired in the day and naps more. However, these 9pm nights are usually an exception so as long as he’s in bed and almost on the verge of sleeping before 9pm, I’m cool. 

Interestingly, Nat’s last feed also dropped on its own. I still remember those days we gave him a full 160-180ml feed at 1030pm so it could last him until the next morning. It dropped to 120ml, 90ml, 60ml and most recently 30ml. Most nights he doesn’t want to drink any top-up milk so his dinner and post-dinner milk of 60ml seems enough to last until the next morning. Interesting how babies naturally ‘drop’ the last feed themselves. 

In terms of his eating habits, Nat still has a monstrous appetite. 

7am: 100ml milk feed 

8am: oatmeal and fruit breakfast 

930am: 60ml pre-nap milk feed 

1130am: 60ml Post-nap milk feed 

12pm: lunch (porridge/noodle/pasta/pie)

1230pm: fruit dessert (tiny amt)

230pm: 60ml pre-nap feed 

5pm: 50ml post-nap feed

530pm: fruit & cereal tea time 

615pm: dinner (porridge/noodles) 

645pm: fruit dessert (tiny amt)

830pm: 60ml pre-sleep feed 

Yup… a monstrous appetite… but we won’t have it any other way. 

Can’t wait for him to cross the 1 year mark which also opens up the food possibilities.

– CK 

Hungry or Habit

My take is that for Nat, at this current age, any MOTN awakening is due to habit. This is also considering how he was able to sleep through before. For 4 nights last week, Nat woke up randomly ard 2 or 3 or 4am, and HJ offered him some milk. Worried that it might form a new habit, I subjected Nat & myself to another round of sleep training i.e. trying to soothe him back to sleep w/o feeding. So far, we’ve had 5 days of relatively peace, thank God.

I hope this regression phase is over. His 8th month did not come with easy nights.

  • Week 1: Nat had 2 more teeth sprouting out so that made napping and sleeping uncomfortable
  • Week 2: Randomly standing up in pitch darkness when it’s time to sleep
  • Week 3: Waking up in the wee hours of the morning (which is fine) but we chose the quickest fix of offering some milk when we don’t really know if Nat is drinking out of habit or hunger?

To answer the question whether it’s out of habit or hunger is a hard one…

Previously when Nat was a younger baby (under 6 months), if he woke up in the motn, we would assess based on his cries whether he’s hungry.

How to tell if it’s hunger? A hunger cry won’t be placated despite any method of soothing. You can pat him, rock him or carry him and the fussing continues – that’s how we determine if it’s real hunger. If it is, we would feed a small amount (usually 30-40ml) to help him last until 630am.

However, since Nat is considered an ‘old baby’ (above 6 months), I know for a fact that he has tanked up sufficient calories in the day so being hungry in the motn should technically not be the case. He eats 4 solid meals a day with milk feeds in-between so his daily milk intake averages around 500ml.

That was when I started to consider other reasons for his random awakenings and fussing. This article was very helpful in corroborating what I already suspected.

Our friend falls into the 1st category of being dependent on a sleep prop.

The official name is “sleep association” but these are more widely known as “sleep props” or “crutches.” This is something your baby “needs” (using that term loosely) in order to sleep.

For Nat, his sleep props are:

  1. The bottle – he gets drowsy after drinking some milk (40-60ml) so it always gets him in the mood to sleep
  2. Hand patting – he sleeps the fastest after getting consistent pats on his butt from us

As a result, I highly suspect that when he wakes up randomly in the motn, he fusses or cries because he is trying to get back to sleep but is finding it hard to on his own.

I think the confirmation for this is that when I resisted giving him any milk until it was the last resort, he was able to go back to sleep after some patting. If Nat was genuinely hungry, the above would not have been possible. Waking up randomly is not the issue, since babies have a different sleep cycle from adults so I guess what is more crucial is actually knowing how to get back to sleep independently after one wakes up in the motn.

This is also not to say that one must not give any top-up milk at all, but instead, to make the assessment based on baby cues and what you know to be true for your baby.

If hungry, feed. It’s only when you suspect it’s not hunger, then one can proceed to eliminate other plausible reasons.

It’s really not easy. That’s why for a few nights, HJ just gave some milk top-up because it would instantly calm him down and he would fall back asleep. However, a new habit may form out of that. So faced with not much choice, I had to try and sleep by 11pm, in order to standby at 4 or 5am to soothe Nat should he wake up. Any sleep training was of course easier during maternity leave when there was no need to wake up for work but it just has to be done, for the sake of the long term and for continuous sleep! This may also push back my initial plans to shift Nat out into his own room because getting up to soothe him back to bed if and when he wakes up is much easier if the crib is just next to my bed.

I guess now we’ll hopefully get a short break before the next milestone?

– CK

Fighting Sleep

Ever since Nat turned 8 months, his naps have been quite a mess. Some days he manages to take 3 naps, if not he will do 2 fairly long ones. Some days he’ll only clock 2 hours+, and then sleep before 8pm+ because he’s tired. Then for the past week, he will wake up at least 1x in the night when his previous “norm” is to sleep through until 630am. I have no idea what exactly is going on but we’ll just have to try and maintain a routine while being flexible in responding to his changing body/needs. 

So yes, I am back to reading up on sleep articles but this time, for 8 month babies who resist sleep such as this.

I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand babies and baby sleep – they’re clearly tired but still want to sit/stand/play then once they cross that fine thin line of overtiredness, all hell breaks loose. 

Other times when he’s not doing all of the above, he will get peckish early in the morning before 6am. Long ago, he needed 160ml for his last feed in order to sleep through. Then it kept dropping to 120ml, 90ml, 60ml and 40ml but he was still able to last until 6am? Now it’s back up to 60-90ml but he will get peckish around 430/530am. 

Let’s hope we this ‘8-10’ month regression phase will come to pass, if it is even that in the first place? Or you know, it could be teething-related since he has 4 emerging at the same time, next to the 4 he already has. 

The picture, courtesy of my mom is a bit blur but it really captures his antics and his 4 teeth. Yes, this is my happy-go-lucky and mischievous kiddo 🙂

– CK 

Sleep Regression II 

The 4 month sleep regression phase, if Nat actually had it, feels like a distant memory now because we may be going through the 8 month one. I completely forgot about it until this morning when my mom texted to say that Nat refused to go down for his 1st morning nap and just kept wanting to sit/stand up. So in the end, he had a 2-nap day. That’s when it clicked – that his usual sleep routine is possibly being disrupted due to his newly acquired skill of standing and a possible dropping of his 3rd nap. 

This is the Nat whom I found awake and standing in pitch darkness.


By 830pm, Nat went to bed (thankfully), as a result of HJ’s bedtime routine of trying to get him to relax as opposed to struggling with him to sleep. Nat had his last milk feed (now only 40-60ml) around 1015pm. Shortly after, at around 1045pm, he was suddenly very awake and I found him standing up in the dark. 

That was when I had an inkling that we are dealing with the 8 month sleep regression. 

This article gives a good explanation of what the 8 month sleep regression is all about before offering some very helpful advice about transiting from 3 to 2 naps. 

I really thought this would happen much later. I mean, didn’t teething happen not long ago that disrupted sleep for a bit? On hindsight, dealing with Nat at 4 months when he kept rolling over during bedtime isn’t as bad as him wanting to stand up whenever it’s time to sleep. 

I also didn’t expect the 3 to 2 nap transition to happen now as the age I had in mind was around 9-12 months? Then I recall that on some days, Nat would have 2 big naps so it makes more sense now.

It just didn’t register that a nap transition was taking place since as long as Nat has at least 3 hours of daytime sleep, it did not matter to me if he took 2 or 3 naps. 

At times like this, I just need to remember that this phase shall pass and that we just need to maintain certain habits whilst being flexible in responding to his changing body.

This regression will pass in time, but if you make a habit of now rocking the child, letting them sleep in your bed, sitting with them until they fall asleep (unless you are already doing these things), or skipping naps entirely, this regression now turns into a new habit for the child, one that will be tough to break.

Oh well, these are all part and parcel of the first year I guess and I’m sure toddler-hood isn’t a walk in the part either! We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

– CK 

It has happened…

In view of Nat being a hazard to himself… I wish this day came a little later – he hoisted himself up using his crib bar and just ‘stood’ there while both of us were sitting in bed. All I remember was that he was originally lying down, then when I turned my head to check on him, I got a shock because I saw his head peeping over the crib staring at me! All I could think of was my worst fear, which is him knocking his teeth out against the wooden bar of the crib -.- 

So the above happened around 8pm, when it was supposed to be bedtime. 

It is also evident that cot bumpers are useless against the Nat. He just steps on them in a bid to hoist himself further up so the bumpers don’t really serve their function of cushioning any hits. This is already the higher bumper set with strings on the top and bottom. He has another set which is a bit lower with strings on only one side so he just kept tugging it out of place. 

P.S his crib platform has already been lowered to the lowest, the moment he could sit up 

Then I came across this interesting Q&A article about baby standing in the crib at night, which disrupts sleep because the baby has not mastered how to sit/lie back down. This is because babies master the art of standing before they know how to sit back down from a standing position. 

Note to self: to be prepared that once Nat can hoist himself up more, it may disrupt his night sleep since he won’t just be sitting up in his crib during the occasional early awakenings :/ 

At times like this, I look back to the 3-5 month phase fondly, when Nat was fairly immobile. 

It’s funny how when they were so tiny, you can’t wait for them to grow bigger and attain the various milestones but once that happens, you recall how life was a bit easier when they were just a tiny bundle. The grass always seems greener. 

– CK 

Baby Furniture Rearrangments

Ever since Nat started sitting up and getting on his fours, we decided to shift around his furniture. As such, his playpen is now in our living room (-.-) while his playmat is now at my mom’s place. His crib is still in our room but soon…… we’re going to move it into his room. I’m prepared to move him this weekend but HJ would like him to snooze in our room for a while longer haha so maybe, we’ll experiment around 8-9 months?

So the main impetus for this is that Nat is rarely on his tummy nowadays, he’s always either sitting up or on his fours trying to crawl.

Moreover, since he’s over at my mom’s place 3 days a week, we decided to just leave his playmat there permanently. Then on the days he’s at home, he’ll be playing in his playpen or on our beds.

The perks to this arrangement is as such:

  1. Safety – The playpen is a much safer alternative compared to our beds or the playmat because if he loses balance and falls forward or backwards, he’s already on the playpen mattress. This was the mattress that Nat used to sleep on when he was between 1-5 months before we lowered it.
  2. Convenience – We can still see what he’s doing inside the playpen when we are at the dining area or kitchen. Then when our helper takes in the clothes to fold, she also does it on the sofa so someone is always looking out for him at any one time. Then when it’s time to read his books, we just lift him out of the playpen as the sofa and rattan chairs are all located next to it.
  3. Dog-friendly – Previously, with the playmat, we had to fold and keep it whenever Cookie came for fear that she may mistake it as her pee pad, which she conveniently picked her toilet to be smack infront of my living room display shelf. Now, with this playpen, Nat can still have his playtime while the dog is freely roaming about so both of them can do their own things concurrently.

The downside to this arrangement is…

  1. Clutter – Our living room floor space now has a playpen smack in the middle. Though it has wheels, there’s only so much place left to wheel it aside.
  2. Empty nursery – Nat’s crib being in our master bedroom while his playpen is now outside in the living room means that his diaper trolley is also occupying a corner of our room. Thankfully there’s ample room to walk from our bed to the toilet after fitting in his crib, diaper trolley and a stool. On the other hand, there is a blank space in his room, which is meant for his crib. Hopefully we can move him out soon (say at 9 months?)

 

Sigh… it’s like the balance between baby-related necessities and household decor is a tough one to maintain. Previously when deciding on any household items, it was always form vs function. Now, it’s form vs function vs baby haha!

Originally,  I was prepared to shift him out this Friday (always experiment when the next day isn’t a work day!) but HJ read some articles about how it is recommended for baby to sleep in the same room for the first year. So now, I guess 3 of us will be stuck in the same room for the next few months.

I mean the biggest perk of having his crib next to us is that if Nat were to suddenly wake up at 5/530am, soothing him back to sleep is much easier compared to if we had to walk out into the adjacent room. However, I think there is merit to having Nat sleep on his own. Who knows? Maybe after a few minutes of fussing on his own, he can fall back to sleep again. Currently, we have to fight the urge to sooth him the moment he cries because if left on his own for 1-2 minutes more, we notice that he actually just goes back to sleep.

To date, we are still trying to be consistent in upholding the following when it comes to nap/bedtime:

  1. Minimal assistance in helping him sleep i.e. let him fuss for 10 minutes or so, which further tires himself out so he’s really on the verge of sleeping
  2. If we have to intervene, keep patting to approx. 5 minutes such that he is drowsy but still awake so he can fall asleep on his own

It’s hard, because it’s so much easier and faster to just pat him until he’s 100% asleep but no, the ‘struggle’ for them to fall asleep without much help from us is a necessity.

– CK

Bedtime Battles? 

We thought once Nat started snoozing through the night at 4 months, we’ll have it good but no. I think after 6 months, it’s a whole new ballgame. We noted that Nat recently developed a habit of resisting going down to sleep at 8pm. Either that or some nights, he’ll suddenly wake up ard 4/5am crying and HJ will usually carry him out of the crib to soothe him back to sleep. Last night I volunteered to wake up. Since I’m sick and can’t sleep properly with my stuffy nose, why not just deal with the baby when and if he wakes right. 

Then I wonder what could be causing his recent bedtime battles? 

Some nights he will knock out from 1030pm until 6am (hooray!). Other nights, there will be one sudden awakening in the wee hours and it’s not for milk. It’s like he just wants to be carried/soothed back to sleep and invade our bed. 

Could it be his day sleep habits? 

I don’t think so. His day naps are quite regular. In total, he gets avg 4 hours of day sleep and he’s up by 530pm for his evening purée. Between naps, he gets 2-2.5 hours of waketime. 

Could it be overtiredness? 

For some nights yes. When we go out for dessert after dinner or to run errands and Nat’s wash up/bedtime routine gets delayed so he may be overtired on those days i.e. staying awake longer than 2.5 hours. 

Could it be his diet? 

Maybe that was the case for yesterday – when we tested him on Tofu (protein) but it caused some wind/gas in his tummy. The best way to tell whether wind is causing problems is when baby is alright sitting up but cries when put to lie down. So some stomach oil and massage usually does the trick.  

Perhaps it’s this… 

I came across an article that talks about how the inability of baby to fall asleep on their own i.e. dependence on something/someone else to sleep can contribute to night awakenings. 

We are totally guilty. 

I think from the newborn stage until 5 months, smacking/patting Nat to sleep was effective but guess not anymore. 

Half the time, he’s able to sleep on his own, but it’s mostly for day-time naps. 

It’s the night time sleep that it’s the hardest to sleep on his own. We try our best to only intervene if we have to i.e. crying due to hunger or crying due to overtiredness. When that happens, putting him on his side with a few firm pats to his butt works most of the time. On difficult evenings, we got to pat for a while more longer (15-20minutes). 

What I had to tell HJ to resist doing was carrying Nat up from his crib immediately once he cries and bringing him to our bed to be soothed back to sleep. Ideally, Nat needs to be soothed back to sleep in his crib, not anywhere else. 

So I guess we got to go back to the drawing board and reapply our earlier sleep training practices.

  1. Put baby down in crib drowsy so he can fall asleep on his own 
  2. Comfort/soothe in the crib as opposed to carrying baby out immediately  
  3. If no. 2 fails, ascertain if baby is hungry/puckish. If we have to carry Nat out of his crib, we should still put him back in his crib to try and fall asleep 

– CK 

Back to Basics

So it’s been 2 weeks since I returned to office on a 3 day work week. Nat has also been shuttling between our house and my mom’s place. Thankfully, he still sleeps throughout until 6am, functioning as both our alarm clocks. However, we noted that it’s been quite hard getting him to nap for long periods in the day (>1.5hrs). I’m not exactly sure why but the last thing I need is for his day time naps to affect his night time sleep then we’re doomed. We also noticed that he has taken to love sleeping on his tummy, in a crawling position?? Weirdo. 

So on the issue of nap patterns,  this article summarizes some reasons why naps can’t last for longer than an hour. 

Just up till a week ago, Nat sleeps the longest for his 1st and 2nd nap (usually between 1.5 – 2 hours each time). 

His 3rd and last nap is usually under an hour, between 4-5pm, just before his evening purée. 

Currently, on the days I go into office, he clocks 1hr for his 1st nap, wakes up around 915am and doesn’t want to go back to sleep. By extension, his subsequent naps are brought forward because he can’t and should not stay awake for more than 2.5hrs between naps. 

I also noticed that this does not really happen on the days I am at home in the morning. Usually I’ll let him nap on my bed next to me and he is able to snooze from 8-10am. Sigh… so perhaps, the change in the morning environment (going to my mom’s place or sleeping in his crib at home) plays some role? I’m not too sure. 

Then as I was reading the article, I realized that we have allowed Nat to form certain sleep associations, just by the sheer effectiveness of some of them. 

Sleep Associations – it is the number one reason that a baby will take short naps. If a child is needing to be bounced/rocked/nursed to sleep then when baby wakes up after his first sleep cycle (which is approximately 45-50 minutes long) he will need those same conditions to fall back asleep.  

For Nat, he sleeps the fastest when we smack/pat him to sleep. No bouncing, rocking or nursing. Just firm pats to his butt always does the trick. He has also taken to sucking his thumb/fingers to self-soothe, of which we always try to take them out. 

So could his nap changes be partly attributed to the effects of sleep associations? I am not sure. 

I’ll wait till this weekend and experiment – as to whether Nat really naps longer for his 1st morning nap because he’s snoozing on my bed next to me? 

I won’t label this as a sleep regression episode because he is still able to sleep through most of the night after his last 10pm feed. As and when he’s not able to sleep at 8pm, it is also usually because he’s peckish and wants milk i.e. maybe a growth spurt? 

This is all quite puzzling. Let’s not even talk about the transition from 3 to 2 naps. We’ll cross the bridge when we get there. 

– CK 

Back in Business

Nat has returned to sleeping till 7am for the past 2 nights, hopefully his early awakening remains just a phase that has passed. Actually there was a blindspot – too short waketime in the morning, which our friend then advised us to try and put him down to nap later around 830/845am. Nat’s length for his 3 naps were also in the incorrect order, with his last one being the longest, that affected night sleep. I am just so glad that we’re not alone in trying to understand baby sleep and how everything is connected (naps, waketime, feeding etc.)

So now that we’re back in business to having a continuous night’s rest… I was able to consolidate some thoughts based on the past 2 days of experimentation.

Waketime: 

  • By right, for a 5-6 month old baby, they should be able to have 2.5 hours of waketime before the next nap. Nat is able to do this in the day except after his first feed at 645/7am. We would let him fall back to sleep right after his feed so while the other waketimes were being stretched, his early morning one was stagnant.
  • As such, I’ve started engaging him by reading books and playing music between 715-830am before letting him go down for a nap.

Naps: 

  • By extension of no. 1, his nap times will be pushed back a bit and by right, the first two naps are supposed to be longer than the final 3rd one.
  • However, Nat’s mid-day nap is always the shortest except on Friday where he napped from 1230-115pm. This was much later and longer than usual. Perhaps, his body is also naturally adjusting?
  • So say he wakes up at 10/1030am, his 2nd nap should be 1230/1pm followed by his last nap at 3/330pm. Then the length of his last nap is supposed to be the shortest since it is a bridging nap to evening bedtime.
  • However, not all babies go according to plan and when I experimented, Nat still snoozed the shortest for his 2nd nap (we were out at a family lunch) before clocking 1h55mins for his 3rd nap. Thankfully he woke up naturally before 5pm, if not I would have had to do what I am reluctant to, which is to wake him up.
  • I guess for now, especially on days we have lunch appointments, I am okay with his mid-day nap still being shorter as long as his total day time sleep does not exceed 4/4.5 hours.

Never wake a sleeping baby? 

MYTH. Debunked here.

I am aware of this and have roused Nat from his sleep by 530pm a few times before because if he’s allowed to nap beyond that, he won’t be tired at 8pm and night sleep will be compromised.

Of course now the challenge is to explain this to my mom and helper who will be his main caretakers when I return to office in mid-May. At most, there may be a bit of inconsistency but at least I will be the key person enforcing his routine 4 days a week when I’m not in office.

My principle is as such – there are certain times when it is legit and necessary to wake a sleeping baby. I also certainly don’t want to compromise night sleep or deal with repeated early awakenings. So as peaceful as Nat’s face may look when he’s napping, when I have to rouse him, I have to rouse him.

I also know some babies have greater sleep needs so for Nat, so I’ve included some flexible leeway. For example, while experts recommend no more than 3-4 hours of day time sleep for babies at 5 months, ill cap his at maybe 4.5 hours? So depending on the time he goes down to nap for his final one, 530pm is my current absolute deadline.

Sigh… so complex but necessary to understand and experiment.

Hoping next week will continue to be fairly stable 🙂

– CK