Gotta stick to the schedule

The most-useful parenting book we’re reading so far is still Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Author Marc Weissbluth is a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern and founded the original Sleep Disorders Center at Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital. He imparts essential ideas:

  • No newborn can comfortably stay awake for more than 1-2 hours at a time
  • Falling asleep is a learned skill and you can teach babies how to do it without crying
  • Tired babies are fussy babies and vice versa
  • Tired babies are less alert and learn less effectively
  • Babies who miss daytime naps do NOT make it up at night. In fact, the opposite is true: babies who miss naps crank out cortisol and other stress hormones to stay awake (but overtired) and subsequently have trouble falling or staying asleep
  • 4 out of 5 babies demonstrate drowsy cues so that you can get them to bed within their window (before they melt down), but 1 in 5 don’t. For these others, you have to watch the clock and start winding them down to sleep before they run out of go juice
  • Sleep cycles and durations are a function of brain maturity (age)

At almost 11 weeks past their due date, our babies are still in the process of firming up a daily sleep schedule. While the timing is a little fuzzy, and will be for several more weeks, they’ve settled into two nighttime sleep blocks and three daytime naps. As long as we keep this routine going, there’s almost no crying at our house.

Total Baby app: Sam’s timeline for the last week

On Saturday, Bill’s Mom invited us to visit and we made a valiant attempt. The upsides are that we saw Nancy, her sister, and brother-in-law; celebrated a belated Christmas; and enjoyed a yummy dinner. The downside is that we blew the girls’ nascent schedule.

We packed up the girls right after the late-morning meal and hoped they would sleep in the car… but they didn’t. Once we arrived, we set up their rockin’ new bouncy chairs in a dark, quiet bedroom and tried to get them to sleep there… but Sam didn’t. We scarfed dinner quickly, hurried home again, nursed, and bundled them for bedtime two hours later than usual and hoped they’d sleep, but for some time they didn’t. We limped along, managing to nap for an hour before midnight, pushed the middle-of-the-night feeding to 2 am, and hoped we’d get a long sleep block afterward. The girls each managed 4-1/2 hours… but not at the same time. As a result, our (parent) sleep since midnight looks like this:

Total Baby app: Bob’s sleep since midnight


I’m sure that we will venture out again, maybe even soon. But we need time to recover from last night first, and we’ll schedule it really carefully.

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One Response to “Gotta stick to the schedule”

  1. jbholzer says:

    Poor sleep-deprived Bird. Having spent last night in the hospital with Chuck I particularly relate.

    But what kind of freak children have you hatched that don’t sleep in the car!?

    Speaking only as a grandmother, not any kind of expert, I surmise that the whole outing was 103% NOVELTY. In which case the cure is more of it, but in smaller doses, like just a ride in the car, or after minimum transit “just” a new place and/or new people. Which also brings us back to that whole discussion of familiar soothing items…

    Wishing you sweet dreams soon – Mom

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