Who Needs Sleep? Well, You’re Never Gonna Get It.

What is it about kids that makes them so anti-sleep? When did we, as adults, reach the point where we no longer really cared what else was happening and could sleep?

Alex has never wanted to miss a thing. It doesn’t matter what is going on, he needs to be there. He needs to see, hear, taste, touch, be a part of everything. This trait of his does not lead to much sleep–on his or my side.

I’m finally realizing that he goes through stages of sleep refusal. For weeks at a time he will sleep through the night, but then BAM! he stops. He wakes up a few times a night and generally very early in the morning. He takes shorter, restless, naps. He fights going to bed at night.

As suddenly as it comes, it goes. He’ll go back to sleeping through the night and taking good naps (good for Alex is over an hour, sometimes as much as two). Putting him to bed at night is a breeze and he wakes up in the morning happy.

Then the sleep-refusal stage comes back. And it’s hard. For me and Alex. Alex is tired, but refuses to sleep. So he becomes more tired. No one needs to hear about what happens when a toddler is tired, so I’ll just say this one word: TERROR.

Thank goodness he’s cute. And he’s lucky he knows it because he is able to completely manipulate me into forgiving his terrible behavior and lack of sleep. “Mommy KISS? Mmmmwaaah! Mommy and Baby HUG? Mmm Hug.”

Happy at the Zoo

Who Should I Be More Proud Of?

First, we have exhibit A:


Exhibit A managed to get into my bathroom. This is no easy task. First, he managed to get inside the building, which involves two heavy doors or a revolving door and an even heavier door. Second, he either made it past another door, many flights of stairs and yet another door, or he got on the elevator, rode it up many levels and got off on our floor. Third, he would have had to get into our apartment. Fourth, he got to the back of our apartment and sat down on my toilet.

Next, we have exhibit B:

A nine-month old baby boy. Exhibit B does not like to sleep. Exhibit B has been known to grind his teeth, bite his thumb, scream in falling octaves, and has even resorted to giving wide-mouth kisses in order to not fall asleep. But look!:


Exhibit B fell asleep on his own without a single protest. He put his head down, moaned, and was asleep in less than five minutes. No crying, no fussing, no babbling, no screaming. Just sleeping.

I really don’t know who to be more proud of today.

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:


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


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