This is yet another post about baby/toddler sleep. To read my earlier posts you can see the series I wrote on using The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
Everything I read gives ranges for the amount of sleep a child needs at various ages. There are dire warnings of stunted brain development and increased illnesses if your child doesn’t get enough sleep. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a perfectionist. I want the best for my baby, so that means I aim to get her the maximum sleep in the ranges given. I was frustrated from the start when as an infant I couldn’t coax Anastasia to sleep a full 16 hours per day. Currently, the sources I’ve read suggest 12-14 hours for a 1-3 year old. I’ve been aiming to get Anastasia to sleep 14, since more is better, right? I’m constantly frustrated that I cannot get her to sleep that much and the amount I DO get her to sleep (avg 13 – 13 1/2) I have to spend hours to coax her to sleep, and then she wakes up often.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution, The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep, Raising Your Spirited Child, and various online articles all seem to indicate that the inability to fall asleep is a result of being overtired and not getting enough sleep. (I often hear or read the mantra “Sleep begets sleep”) So I have constant evidence that Anastasia isn’t getting enough sleep, because she won’t go to and stay asleep.
Not To Sleep:
Then the most curious thing happened. A few days ago when Anastasia finally fell asleep for her nap, she did so right after indicating she had to go potty. I had a rather good idea that she had to poop and having had a couple other misses from prioritizing sleep over potty, I did NOT want to clean out a poopy diaper again (seriously gross! I’m so thankful to EC that we’ve had so few..). So after about 15 minutes, when I knew she was in a deep sleep, I brought the potty over to by her bed and took her pants & diaper off while she slept. Then I placed her on the potty and cued her (hoping for a dream poop). She woke when I placed her on the potty and cried, but she did poop. Then I quickly got her back in her diaper and tried to nurse her back to sleep. I thought she was asleep and then used Pantley’s Gentle Removal Method. Suddenly Anastasia was wide awake. She did not fall asleep again that afternoon though I spent 3 HOURS rocking, nursing, and singing to her.
Surprisingly, she didn’t seem tired the rest of the day until the end of supper. She went to bed at her normal time and fell asleep in just 5-10 minutes. The best part is, she slept 2 HOURS STRAIGHT before waking. That whole night she slept really long chunks of time (for her) and slept well into the morning. It was amazing. The next day I went back to battling for sleep but she wouldn’t fall asleep for her nap until the time she usually wakes up. I still tried to get her to go to sleep at her normal time, but it wasn’t happening. She finally did fall asleep a couple hours later though, and again slept well.
This brought me to thinking about the times Anastasia has slept well. They’ve all been when we were busy or visiting family/friends out of town. On those days we don’t push sleep. We just find a quiet, dark place for her crib mattress (we bring the mattress along because she doesn’t like the pack ‘n play anymore) and go through her nap or bedtime routine with her once she seems tired (and I mean more than a single eye-rub). Those days usually are not a battle at all. She reliably gets 12 hours sleep in a 24 hour period and usually sleeps better too. I had previously chalked this up to her being more tired out from the extra people and attention.
I’m starting to suspect that I’ve been trying to get Anastasia to sleep too much. Dr. Sears is the only source I’ve read that says that high-needs babies need less sleep than others. Maybe he’s right. Anastasia can do 12 hours without all the fuss and effort. Maybe that’s all she needs? I don’t know if it is possible that I’ve been trying to get her to sleep too much. I’ve never read anything along those lines before. However, I think I’m going to start experimenting with that, while paying close attention to her behavior, mood, and health to see if perhaps this is the issue. It’s hard to believe this could be the case when our god-son sleeps 12 hours solid at night and then a 3 hour nap during the day (and he’s almost 3). I suppose different children could have different sleep needs though?
What about You?
If you have young ones, what have you learned about sleep? How do you know if your child is getting enough or not enough sleep? Have you ever struggled to help them sleep? How much sleep was/is your child getting at 16 months of age?