Babies and their sleep

I don’t know who first said the following, but I do know that it is unbelievably true:

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”

It’s probable that Alex is a particularly “bad” sleeper, but I do know that it is completely normal for a baby not to “sleep like a baby.”

“Sleep like a baby” means to have a deep, uninterrupted, sleep. I have never taken care of a baby who has completely uninterrupted sleep, and it seems to me that the deep part would not be the best idea for the baby, evolutionarily speaking.

Deep sleeping implies hard to wake. Hard to wake means that if something happens, sleep will continue. Now, we all know those people (Zach is one of them!) who are hard to wake up. You poke, talk, push, and often they’ll still be sleeping. Personally, I’m not one of them. I wake up when someone walks into the room. I wake up at the first sign of Alex making a sound. The latter meant that by 4 months of age Alex had to leave our room (we were co-sleeping) because even though he was sleeping slightly better I was still waking up because, let’s face it, babies are loud sleepers! They moan, groan, gurgle, even cry in their sleep.

Lately, we’ve been struggling with how to make Alex sleep better. One of the main issues is that he hates to sleep. He will fight it with everything he can. He wont lay down, wont put his head down on your chest while you attempt to rock him to sleep, will cry, moan, groan, very loudly, all in order to keep himself from falling asleep. Of course, this leads to long battles every single nap time and bed time.

Beyond that, he wakes up a lot. A lot. On the best nights, he will wake up about three times, putting himself back to sleep twice and needing to eat and be comforted the other. On the worst nights, he’ll wake up every 2-3 hours needing a lot of comfort, so much comfort that you just have to rock him completely back to sleep.

We’re working on him putting himself to sleep more, by doing the least we can to get him to fall asleep. When he’s tired, we put him in his crib. This has yet to work, though, because he will start playing with the crib rails, sitting up, standing up, and talking if not crying. Next, we rock him until he is calm. If he doesn’t fall asleep on his own, we rock him until he puts his head down. Failure on that front means we have to rock him until his eyes are closed (and typically he is moaning at this point, his last attempt at staying awake). That seems to work pretty well, but when that fails, and we’ll try a few times, we end up putting him to sleep.

Then, that whole process gets repeated every time he needs to nap or go back to sleep at night.

Needless to say, it’s exhausting.

Alex is lucky he is so extremely cute. When he’s awake, he’s so much fun and such a happy baby: always smiling, giggling, interacting with the people around him. Sometimes, he just babbles back and forth with you:

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And when he sleeps (after a guaranteed long battle), he’s precious:

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It’s just too bad that sleep doesn’t come naturally. It’s too bad Alex doesn’t “sleep like a baby.”

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4 thoughts on “Babies and their sleep

  1. The first years can be exhausting, but I am convinced that we’ll look back on these moments with fondness. Our little ones will eventually sleep through the entire night – completely on their own – and we’ll remember the sleeplessness with a bit of sweet sentimentalism. (Don’t you think?)

  2. I have a not so great sleeper here too.. Muski can go for 7 hours in the day without a sleep and be none the worse for wear! Over night he is a restless sleeper… I have no suggestions except to say that since I stopped trying to fight against it and just worked with it… things have been better. At least I am not so stressed out about it!

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