Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hannah - More on Sleeping...

After writing about Hannah last night, it got me thinking about her sleeping at night. At her age she physically doesn't need to eat as often as she does throughout the night, so therefore she's doing it out of habit and comfort.

Last night, when she awoke 4 hours after her last feeding, instead of doing what is easiest (potty her, nurse her, lay her back down), I instead listened to her cry and realized she was making the tired cry, not the hungry cry (confirming my suspicions that she wasn't waking due to physical hunger, but more out of habit and comfort).

So, I changed her diaper and then laid her back down. As expected, she wasn't very thrilled about this change in schedule, and cried some as I patted and rubbed her back. It definitely took some patience as no one likes a crying baby in the middle of the night, especially when you know how to "fix" it.

However, my patience quickly paid off, as she was asleep within ten minutes. Typically, if I had nursed her, she would've been back asleep in about that time as well. Also, if I had nursed her, she would've woke again in about 3 hours. This time, she didn't wake for another 4 hours, giving us a total of 8 hours between feedings.

At first, it may seem backwards that feeding a baby less often will result in more sleep. However, a closer look reveals why. When a baby is eating out of habit and/or comfort instead of for physical nourishment, they become reliant upon eating in order to go back to sleep. Hence, they wake easily and expect to eat. When you teach your baby how to put themselves back to sleep without eating, they learn this and are able to sleep longer.

On a side note: I share this because I know I enjoy hearing other mother's stories and methods; we can learn so much from each other if we can listen with open ears. However, I am in no way saying that every mom should treat night sleep/nursing how I have, nor that all babies are the same. Many moms I know acknowledge that their baby's night nursing is for habit/comfort, and they prefer it that way. Parenting is made up of a whole lot of conscience decisions, based upon what we value. I'm thankful that God has placed babies in many different families and we can, by His grace, raise them how we deem best.


Laura said...

Thank you for this! Now hopefully I will remember when Elizabeth is old enough... Did I hear about Dunston baby from you? I don't remember, but this is the first baby that I have been able to hear what their cry means. Elizabeth doesn't cry much, but it helps when she does. Hopefully that will help with her sleeping. (Amelia learned to wake up every hour on the hour from about 4 month until about 20 months. That is when when I "sleep trained" her.) Gwendolyn was better, but I was better at not feeding her in bed (we co-sleep).

Jill said...

Honestly Crystal - I don't appreciate you telling me how to mother my child. =) Just kidding! No, actually, your post came at a very good time. I am STILL waking up & feeding Hadassah. *cringe* Yes, yes, I know. She's 16 months old! For crying out loud, most people have quit bfing altogether! And with me being pregnant, I needed to start the weaning process yesterday! The other night I thought I would just let her "cry it out", you know? Yeah. Right. She cried for over an hour. Who knows how long she would've cried if I hadn't "rescued" her. She looked so pathetic in her crib too, sitting on her bum, burying her head in the mattress in front of her. She looked like she was despairing. *sigh* Made me feel guilty. Of course. Anyway, I really need to read the 'proper' way to wean. Isn't that weird? I just really don't know how to do it. So here goes nothing! =)

Crystal Carr said...

Hi Laura, I'm not sure if you heard of Dunstan baby language from me or not, I have told many people about it, it's helped me IMMENSELY. I hope things go well for you and Elizabeth, thanks for sharing, it's always fun and interesting to hear about other kiddos and their patterns.

Ha, Jill, you're great! I miss you! I hope things work out with Hadassah. Oh, they do look so pathetic sometimes, don't they, such adorable little things! When I was pregnant with Hannah, Steven had started getting more hungry, waking at night. I had wanted to wait to introduce food until later, so I tried to nurse him again at night. I decided pretty quickly that it was time for food - I just got dizzy and very hungry trying to night nurse while pregnant, I hope it's easier for you!! I hope too, that Hadassah will be more compliant :) Praying for you!

Wife, Mom, Teacher said...

It just occured to me that I was "lurking". I read a whole bunch on here and never left a comment... So:

thanks for posting all this. I appreciate how fair you always are to other parenting types and the disclaimers you make. :) of course I did about the same as you are doing, so I wouldn't even be tempted to think one way is better than the other.

I'm glad to hear how the kids are growing and developing since we can't see it firsthand.