Sleep is An Urban Legend

By Sarah Fader

When I had Ari, two and a half years ago, I told myself I was never going to sleep again. What did I know? I was a new parent, I’d heard babies didn’t let you sleep because they constantly needed something or other, to be changed, held, fed and all that jazz.

I didn’t like being deprived of sleep, but I knew that was part of the deal. Two and a half years later here is my reward for not sleeping:

Unfortunately, Ari has had some major sleep issues over the past six months. Read more about his insomnia here.

Those sleep issues have just gotten a whole lot worse because of this new arrival:

The lady pictured above, Ari’s sister Samara (1 week old), fascinates him to no end. Now he doesn’t want to sleep because he’s afraid to miss out on helping with the baby. When Samara cries Ari says cute things like “Don’t worry, Ari’s here!”

I’m thrilled that Ari wants to be actively involved in his little sister’s life, but frustrated by his lack of sleep.

Here’s where you come in, dear readers:

What I know:
–Newborns, inherently, have a lack of routine. They may sleep two, three or maybe even four hours at a time, depending on their mood.
–Ari needs a sleep routine desperately.
–How do I get Ari on a sleep schedule while caring for a newborn?

Please help a mama out!

Sarah Fader records anecdotes from her daily life at at Old School New School Mom. She also currently runs blog workshops for elementary school children in New York City and provides freelance transcription services for major television networks, in between running after a two year old.

26 Responses to Sleep is An Urban Legend
  1. melissa aka equidae
    February 4, 2011 | 3:39 am

    been trying to keep him on his normal routine since Maya’s birth 3 weeks ago – so far it helped though he is having anxiety issues and not sleeping as well as i hoped

  2. edj
    February 4, 2011 | 5:42 pm

    OH your kids are ADORABLE!! (I just read this and the next post at once. That baby smile! Soo cute.)
    You asked for advice. I would just try to keep Ari’s schedule as even as possible. When my kids were little we did “room time,” so that even if they weren’t asleep, they had to stay quietly in their rooms (cribs or bed) and look at books or something. The result of this was that they took naps till relatively late in life (i.e. 5); they would often just fall asleep during room time. I don’t know how helpful this is, but it worked for me and helped preserve my sanity, such as it is.

  3. Mary
    February 7, 2011 | 12:10 am

    If I were you I’d seriously consider transitioning away from co-sleeping. The most helpful advice I ever read about sleeping was that the bottom line is to maximize the sleep of all parties involved. If what you are doing isn’t working it’s time to try other strategies. Last time you asked for advice you mentioned that you couldn’t do any kind of “sleep training” but it’s not that you have to make drastic changes, just try different things, be consistent and give them time to work.

    Try avoiding naps in the afternoon, waking him up no later than 7am and If I were you I’d seriously consider transitioning away from co-sleeping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big co sleeping fan and we still do it part time with our almost 2 year old. But I can’t think how I could make the logistics of my daughter plus a newborn plus full-time cosleeping work, and my daughter has always been a good sleeper. Not my doing I hasten to add; whether your kid sleeps well or not is largely biological though parents can facilitate or hinder good sleep habits. If you do keep cosleeping I would have a rule that at night there is no “helping”. If he does anyway then he needs to sleep elsewhere or have some other consequence.

    I’ve also heard that some kids respond to sleep rules well posted on the wall and reviewed before bed every night. The important thing is to follow through on consequences that you articulate. For instance, if you say: no story if x and x happens, you can’t read a story even if there is crying and promises to stop etc. The theory is that you are then teaching that they can misbehave once and get away with it. Hope something in here is helpful, ignore the rest!

    I would also second the advice about quiet time as well. I know a lot of parents of more than one child swear by it!

  4. Anitra
    February 7, 2011 | 8:48 am

    I will third the “quiet time”. We instituted that with our two-year-old after she moved to a bed (and I was 6 months pregnant). She’s in her room, on her bed, for 2-3 hours after lunch every day. Most days, she’ll look at books for 20 minutes, then fall asleep. Some days, she’s too wound up to sleep, and that’s OK, because I still get a needed break.

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