I feel very strongly about sleep. I understand that having kids in general keeps people from getting regular amounts of sleep. Our experience was probably typical, but felt urgent to me.
Liam’s sensitivity to his environment clearly affected his sleep. As is every new parent, we were scared to have him sleep on his stomach, although we noticed if he slept that way on one of us, he was very peaceful. We didn’t dare have him sleep in our bed.
We started to have success with swaddling, although, as with many babies, he escaped by the end of the night.
We also started to experiment with having him lay on his side. He startled so easily so as to constantly wake himself up. Although he sucked his thumb, he didn’t always do so to lull himself back to sleep.
Visualize, if you will, all of our velcroing and swaddling to try to keep our child asleep on his side.
Falling to sleep was not his issue. It was staying asleep. He finally slept through the night at 10 months. He would consistently wake up at about 5:30 a.m., ready to go for the day. If I tried to put him to bed earlier, he would just wake up earlier. If we put him to bed later, for some reason, he would still be up at 5:30 – with a rough day ahead.
We definitely believed and followed the “sleep begets sleep” mantra. I would make sure he didn’t miss a nap or miss his bedtime by too much. If he did for some reason, I would try to schedule more sleep in as soon as possible, which was not always easy.
While we grew to be thankful for sleeping through the night and accustomed to the early rising, when Kieran was born, things became sleepless once again. Kieran didn’t sleep through the night for 12 months and struggled to fall to sleep every night. Once asleep, however, he stayed that way. Every once in awhile, we would go in to check on him in the morning (having been up with Liam since 5:30) because he was sleeping in “too much!” But it was a year or so of late nights and early mornings.
As the boys got older, I would have them read or play behind my legs as I caught short naps – me without naps is not pretty. We turned taking naps together onto Mom and Dad’s bed into some very special times for our family. Invariable, we would belly laugh and joke until we were crying. Eventually, I would have to have us calm down and even had to threaten expulsion from the bed for those who didn’t settle down.
They don’t nap much now, although as Liam has grown taller, it seems that he will sleep the second he gets into a car – he must be exhausted from all of that growing! We have found that Kieran napping means Kieran staying up late into the night, which we don’t really want on school nights.
Overall, once the boys were old enough, we turned nap time into a time to be close and bond. And I got my much needed rest as well!