Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sleep Training, Take Two

With a second baby, some things are easier and some things are harder. For example, breastfeeding is going well. Bottle feeding (while I'm at work) is not. But Ada is doing her best with a sippy cup, and seems to be getting enough to eat.

Ada is almost five months old, and sleep training should be well underway. This is one of the things I would have expected to be easier the second time. We've read the books and we have "sleep training experience" from Jude, but I'm finding that getting Ada on any kind of consistent sleep schedule is challenging. It's not that she doesn't sleep. She does...but not with any predictability with respect to go-to-sleep time or sleep duration. Sometimes she'll take a 2 hour morning nap, sometimes it's 30 minutes. Sometimes her afternoon nap starts at 2, sometimes it's 4. Sometimes she wakes up at 8:30 in the morning, sometimes at 6:30. Sometimes she's up once in the night, sometimes twice. Sometimes she's in bed for the night at 8pm, sometimes it's closer to 10. I don't know if we've ever had two days with the same sleep pattern. Also, we've had limited success with getting Ada to fall asleep on her own. Usually one or both of us ends up rocking or walking her to sleep. If she wakes up, we give her the opportunity to get back to sleep on her own, but it often doesn't work without some help.

I was reading back over Jude's five-month post over the weekend, and was somewhat surprised to remember that at this age, Jude was in bed every night by 7pm and we were looking for babysitters so that we could go out on the town. I can't imagine having that kind of confidence in our ability to get Ada down for the night at that hour, let alone the energy to want to leave the house!

So, what's the problem? I could blame the conflicts with Jude's schedule, or the noisy nursery, or a difference in Ada's "sleep personality". Or maybe it's a question of commitment. It's true that Jude was a better sleeper from the beginning (following in his Mom's footsteps of loving the multi-hour nap) while Ada seems to have her Dad's sleep proclivities (a 20 minute nap is often more than enough to leave her refreshed). But it's more than that. When Jude was a baby, we were able to decide to focus on his sleep schedule and make it a priority. We had the time for that, and few other pressing commitments. Now, there's preschool drop-off, and trips to the Zoo, and grocery shopping, and evening parties, and a million other things that get in the way of being home to allow Ada to sleep in her crib with any sort of regularity. So she's napping in the car seat, or in the baby carrier, or getting to bed late, or being woken up to suit someone else's schedule.

So far it's working out reasonably well. Ada naps most days, and sleeps well enough at night. We have days when we're tired, but also days when we get enough sleep. I think we're still in the "just getting by" phase where we do what we need to do to keep everyone as happy as possible. But I wonder if our haphazard approach to Ada's sleep needs is going to come back to bite us at some point. They say that lifetime sleep patterns are molded during these first months and years. Are we going to be able to "catch up" at some point and get her on an age-appropriate schedule, able to fall asleep without parental assistance? Or is this just something that we have to accept when it comes to raising the second child? The needs of the family are so much more complex this time around.


Alex, Andrea, Lucia, Magdalena Jones said...

I am right there with you on this post. I wish I would have posted about the girls' sleep habits, but I feel that Lucia had a regular morning nap, regular afternoon nap, and a normal bedtime and wake up time. Magdalena is also at the mercy of her sister's / the family's schedule and often only gets one nap a day. Not for lack of trying! But if she naps too late in the morning, she won't take a second nap. And if she doesn't nap at all in the morning, she only has a midday nap. She sleeps in the stroller and the carseat, and sometimes even the bjorn - all of which rob her of the real crib nap. I think this must be pretty normal for a second baby, and probably gets worse as you have more kids. Will be interesting to see what responses you get from veteran parents. :-)

peg said...

i remember your grandmother saying to me when you were a baby, don't worry she will never remember that you woke her up from her nap to do something! In your case, Linden, you were always a good sleeper, but you were the first child.

Amber said...

Very interesting Linden and so true! We had Jacoby sleep trained at 3+ months old. Antonia is no where close to it. I think my *excuse* is that I know it'll figure itself out sometime and somehow, so I'm in no hurry myself (although the time is getting closer!). I've enjoyed rocking her to sleep and relishing in this baby stage. Anyways, I have no idea how anyone could live a life while keeping two kids are true schedules!