Friday, May 17, 2013

Zuzu's Zzzzz's

So this is Zuzu's bedtime routine.

We have dinner. 6-6:30ish

We clean up dinner and have play time. 6:30-7ish

We put the baby in the bath around 7pm.  By 7:15, she's usually dried and lotioned and in her pajamas.

Then it's time to nurse in the rocking chair, then read books (one random choice, followed by Good Night, Moon).  Then we sing songs, snuggle, and typically by 7:30pm she's looking good and sleepy and it's time to put her in her crib.

If she's really wiped out, she'll lie on her side, sigh sweetly, close her eyes, clutch her hane (blanky), and drift off to dreamland.

But most nights she really fights sleep.

I'll gently lay her in the crib on her side and pat her back to say good night.  But she starts squirming and then she's crying and rolling over on her tummy to push herself up.  She then stands in the crib, screaming and crying.

I haven't even moved from my position next to the crib, so I lay her back down, where she closes her eyes for just one moment before she realizes she's about to fall asleep, at which point she starts screeching, rolls over, and quickly climbs up to a standing position.

And we repeat this several times with me saying things like, "No, honey, we're not doing this right now.  It's night-night time.  Just relax.  You're obviously tired.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  SHHHHHHHHH."

Until finally I lay her down and she stays down and falls asleep.

She doesn't usually resist being laid down, but just when I think she's settled in the crib, she's resolute about standing up and crying.

Until she finally admits defeat and accepts sleep.

It's not like this every single night--there are a few nights when she lies quietly and falls asleep quickly.  But we've really been seeing this routine frequently.

And I don't like it!

Our peaceful bedtime routine starts to feel like a battle.  I dread the end of it and I miss the brief window of time when we had a seamless transition from rocking to sleeping in bed.

Here's the other thing--she loves rocking and snuggle time, but she rarely lets us rock her to the point of actually falling asleep.  Unless she's sick or absolutely exhausted (she had one day when she only took ONE 30 minute nap at daycare), she doesn't fall asleep when she's in my arms (or David's).  She'll relax, but when she's actually going to nod off, she gets really squirmy.  She really wants to be lying on her side, and kind of spread out, instead of snuggled up on our laps.  She started doing this when she was about six months old, and for the longest time she seemed very happy to be laid down in her crib to drift into dreamland.

But now... she gets fussy in our arms and seems to want to be put down so she can spread out and sleep on her side.  And then she cries when we set her in the crib.

Does crying have to be part of the bedtime routine?  Is this normal?  Just a phase?  I don't want bedtime to be fraught, but I've also found that David and I NEED a couple hours in the evening for just us after she's gone to bed, and since he's been working late so many nights we haven't been having dinner until 8pm (so much for our "family dinner hour" that worked so well for a while--damn the month of May and all of its after-school activities).  We often find ourselves tired, hungry, and frustrated on the nights when the lay-the-baby-down-over-and-over routine goes on longer than usual.  (Wednesday night I had to lay her down three times, and she fell asleep on the third try. last night she went down on the second try--other nights have been much more of a battle.)

Any ideas?  Anyone perfect the bedtime routine and never have any issues with their children falling peacefully asleep in their beds with no tears?  I don't believe you.  But share your secrets.


  1. Everyone and their neighbor will have ideas about how best to get your baby to sleep! But since you asked...

    What time does she wake up in the morning? By her age, Gwen was doing best on 11-12 hours a night, which meant bedtime at 19:00 and waking up between 6:00 and 7:00. You might actually have better luck moving Zuzu's bedtime up some.

    Have you tried leaving the room and letting her do her fussing and squirming and crying without you in sight? Try it, for just 5 minutes, and you never know what might happen. It's simply amazing how long time can stretch when your baby is crying, but I've timed it, and the agony that has been sitting in the livingroom listening to her cry lasted three minutes.

    Good luck! You're so right, those few hours post-baby's bedtime and pre-parents' bedtime are really important for sanity.

  2. I'd put her down an hour earlier. All of my kids are in bed by 7:30 most nights, and it's heaven.

    Dorothy goes down at 6, Cooper at 6:30, jack at 7, and Harry at 7:30.

  3. i know several Momma's attest to the cry it out method, but it's what worked for us. When he was 9 months old, we did this. He was so dependent on me and my husband putting him to sleep, that he seriously didn't know how to go to sleep on his own. He's now 2.5, and goes to sleep on his own. He is still in a crib, and I lay him down in his bed, but he usually goes down without a fight. I deff think it's just a stage and possible maybe a separation thing?

  4. Finn goes down about 7:45/8. He is obviously a year older, but since about 7 months we just put him down and leave the room. Obviously he gets the snuggles and nighttime love, but once we lay him down we just leave the room. I honestly can't remember if he had a phase where he fought it. I'm sure he did because most kids fight sleep at some point, but if so it was short lived and e learned quickly that he may as well go to sleep because we aren't there to comfort him or hang out.

    But each kid is different and so much of their day prior impacts their sleep. But I'd say just put her down and then just leave the room. It may upset you at first to hear her fuss, but I'd suspect she will settle down quicker than you think.

  5. Brooke, our children must be some kind of cosmic twins.

    They sound so alike how they go to sleep--squirmy, the whole bit. Davey was really small the last time he fell asleep in my arms. Usually when he starts drifting, he starts doing the same thing--squirmy and wanting to stretch and go in his crib.

    With that said, about a month ago, he started doing the pull himself up in his crib and cry routine when we would set him down to sleep.

    After multiple attempts at shushing and trying to get him to go to sleep for several nights, I just started walking out once I tell him night night and I know he's sleepy.

    He fussed a little for a few nights, but started getting back into his prior routine of drifting off.

    I don't know. Hope that helps.

  6. We've been having a horrible time trying to get Owen to sleep at night. The problem is that we are basically trying to let him cry it out, but after 45 minutes of hysterics I end up going into his basically I've just been reinforcing that if he is hysterical for an hour he will get what he wants. Sigh.

    He's nine months and although we have the same routine every night, his response to it is always different. I don't know what to do, so I'm hoping you get a lot of helpful comments! To make matters worse, although he is 25 pounds, he still wakes up to nurse every two hours or so. At this point the inmates are running the asylum but I don't know how to wrest back control. Argh.

  7. Lillian goes to bed at 7. We start bath and slow down routine around 630. By 7 pm she is being fed and snuggled. I lay her down sleepy (eyes open but ready to sleep) sound machine on, lights out. If she fusses I allow her to fuss for 10 mins. I go in at 10 mins and either put her soother in or if she is really fussing rock and soothe her back to not crying. She is then put back down and we repeat. I have found that if I stay in eyesight it just unravels. She needs to fall asleep alone. That is what works for us. We have gone through phases of being needed to rocked to sleep or assisted to sleep and I have transitioned her to this point where she does it herself but I am never far. 10 mins is long enough for her to settle herself or for it to be apparent that she needs an"reset."

  8. We went through the crying phase, too. After some reading, we did a modified form of cry-it-out. We would let Eleanor cry for about 10 minutes, then go in and soothe her just a bit, not picking her up, but making sure she was comfortable and rubbing her back. We would leave her room as quickly as we could. Usually, she would cry again. After a few (looooong) weeks, she got much better about falling asleep on her own. The theory was that we could reassure her that we were here, but we should teach her to sleep without our constant intervention.

  9. Ditto here. But, we co sleep. So the evening is spent with Deepak holding her. Started as bonding time with papa, but now she totally needs him in the evening.however, It helps to make the room dark and put her projector by her side.she operates it,and gazes at the fishes on the cieling. Also, I put the air purifier on a high mode for the white noise. That has helped her sleep on some lucky days, if not all.

  10. A few thoughts:

    She may be overtired by then, especially if she's been awake for more than 3-4 hours (that depends on how good her last nap was).

    7:30 is a good bed time. But if she woke up at, say, 3:30 ... you may shoot for 7 p.m. I know that is SO hard, but it would be worth it.

    Also, I agree with another commenter: Walking out of the room and letting her fuss on her own for a few minutes may be magical.

    Good luck. My daughter took way more than three times to get to sleep. Sounds like Zuzu's schedule might be a bit off, but it sounds easily fixable.

  11. I would try an earlier bedtime. Frances barely made it to 6 that first year. We slowly pushed it to 7 the next year, and even at 3.5 she can rarely stay up til 8 without complete meltdown.

    It sounds like she's past tired, particularly if she's been up for more than three hours since nap. Eating, bathing, pulling up, unpacking :) is going to wear a girl out. Sounds like she'll probably settle down well on her own if you leave her, although I know it's hard to do.

    My kids needed 12-13 hours a night for years and years, and if they didn't get it their naps were horribly short the next day. It's so counter-intuitive but true.

    F could not settle in our arms at all either. She needs her own space. We moved her out of our room really early because she needed to tune out everything. Also, she uses a noise machine, and turning that on every night at the last moment seems to be a good trigger for giving up the fight.

  12. No advice here, just sympathy--the screaming and crying is so stressful for mama and dad!

    I am surprised though at all the earlier bedtime advice, but I guess it depends on morning routine too. 6-7pm just seems really early. Our bedtime routine is a constant work in progress and is anything but perfect. Bode doesn't go to sleep until well after 9pm most nights (falls asleep nursing and usually tranfers okay) but he sleeps in late in the morning which works well for our schedules.

    I hope sleep fighting is a quick phase.

  13. It seems like once something works, then all of a sudden it doesn't! I used the 3 Day Sleep Solution with my first son because he hadn't slept through the night at a year old. He was on a 6-6 schedule...I know, seems early. My family thought I was crazy but it worked. He actually went to bed at 6, and woke at 5. It worked perfect and he had time with daddy in the morning. She does a method of cry it out. We only did it for the first 3 nights, kind of a boot camp because bedtime had gotten so bad. I reluctantly agreed to try it because she mentioned that first bed time becomes a struggle...then nap time. As a stay at home mom, I could NOT lose nap time. NOT. Do your routine, lay her down, and walk out. I'm not saying you can't go back in, and how long you wait is up to you, but let her settle herself. And if she hasn't napped well during the day, move up bed time. I've read you can't really make up for lost sleep, but early bedtimes help. There was a book called "Is My Child Over Tired" by a doctor that I really liked.

    Since you have to be up and out the door early in the mornings the earlier bedtime might help. Its hard when the spouses aren't home yet,and most bedtimes I did alone, but the sleep was worth it. I was happier, my husband was happier, my son was happier and we all got better sleep. Good luck!

  14. I agree with the other comments that maybe start your bedtime routine a bit earlier. My kids (5 and 3) still are in bed between 7-7:30 every night. There were times in that first year where they would go to bed as early as 6:00 and sleep until 7:00 the next day. Everyone has their own sleep may just be a of those, 'will we ever it make it past this?' phases.

    Good luck! I know sleep is one of the most frustrating things....I agree with you that some good husband/wife time in the evenings is the best. That is why we have always pushed the early bedtime from the start!

  15. Definitely sounds like a phase of some kind, although that doesn't make it any easier on you. I also second the advice to try some gentle crying it out. We did some graduated check and console when Margo's bedtime routine went to hell after we stopped using the soothie. If she was just fussing, I'd let her be, but if she got to really crying, I'd go in and soothe her without picking her up, and leave when she was calm. If she started crying again, wait a little longer than before to go in, then calm without picking up (although I would pick her up if things were really bad, but the goal was not to). Repeat as needed, It with lengthening intervals. It might take a few nights, but that worked for us in three nights.

    Personally, I'd try that before earlier bedtime. We had our oldest on earlier bedtime to solve a sleep issue, and we ended up with a kid who woke up at 5am. That was a killer, because I am not a morning person. I did not realize at the time that we had created those early mornings. Now that both kids are in bed later (because we aren't organized enough to get 2 in bed earlier than 8pm), they sleep until 7am, which is when civilized people wake up in our house.

  16. Meg had a similar problem. She slept great for her first 6 months, and then the second 6 months were taken up by her fighting sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night.

    Ultimately, once she turned 1, we were fed up with it and fixed the problem. Thankfully, Meg took to it in a single weekend (though the intertubes said it could take two weeks...).

    We put her in her crib, said "Good night, we love you," and left her room. Once she started crying, we opened the door, peeked in, and said "We're still here. Go to sleep. We love you!." Then we repeated this a few times and gradually stepped the time lengths. First 1 or 2 min, then 5 min, then 10 min, then 15 min. We never went beyond 15 min.

    The next night, she just stayed in her bed and didn't cry. :-)

    You've probably read about this method before, but the rationale is to remind the kid that you're still there, even if you aren't coming in to hold her or pick her up. Can't do it, though! Picking them up gives them what they want, and if you give in, it won't work.

    Good luck! Hope you guys find something that works for you!

  17. yes, just leave her be. she'll be silent in a few minutes, 10 tops. we stimulate babies just by our presence. of course she doesn't want to be in a boring dark room by herself. but if you stay, you help keep her awake.
    do this now when she's not totally aware, don't wait until she's 15 months old and KNOWS you are leaving her in distress!
    having a baby who can fall asleep on her own is a great gift, and they can only learn it themselves. in a few nights she'll hardly protest at all when you leave.
    and when you do leave...and she's upset -- GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. go outside for 15 minutes and save yourself the stress and guilt.

  18. oh, i also agree with the earlier bedtime thoughts. and don't worry about leaving her standing up, she'll figure it out and will lie down on her own eventually! =)

  19. Sounds just like my baby girl, who is a few days younger. I could have written this exact post two days ago. Plus, she started waking up every two hours during the night again :( For my daughter, how she falls asleep at naps is strongly connected to how she falls asleep, and how well she sleeps, at night. She does the same 'standing up and screaming' thing after I put her in her crib. Walking out of the room just made it worse, seriously, and I wasn't going to let her scream for 10 minutes. She wouldn't fuss, she would jump up and down in her crib screaming. So after our sleepy routine, I put her in her crib and stay in the room with her, singing to her if she gets too upset and occasionally patting the crib with my hand to 'entice' her to lay down. The trick to good sleep, it seems, is that she has to lay down on her own. So far, in the past two days, things have greatly improved! 5 minutes to get to sleep tonight. For what it's worth, she goes to bed around 7pm, depending on her last nap, but unlike others, she has to be up at least 4 hours in order to be tired enough for bedtime. Good luck! And super big hugs.


  20. Wes had to cry for five-ish or fewer minutes every single night to fall asleep for upwards of a year! It was just his thing. So I don't know if there's a way around it (probably?) but for us, that was actually just what worked. We even told babysitters "If he cries for more than five minutes, something is wrong, but otherwise let him go." Sometimes it was only thirty seconds or so. Kids are weird.

    That picture is BEYOND sweet!

  21. It's a personal decision to cry-it-out but I have to say, it works. It's painful but it has a purpose. I'm a big fan of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" - he explains how important sleep is to development and how sleep is a learned skill - one that they kind of have to learn with some tears, unfortunately. We did a check and console with both our guys and the payoff is huge. There's also a great website called "Troublesome Tots" - she's funny as hell and you won't feel so guilty if you do try CIO.

    And I would try the earlier bedtime - it's sounds crazy but it works. Sleep begets sleep and it sounds like she might be overtired which always makes them fight sleep more.

    Good luck - for what it is worth, Henry is still not sleeping through the night, although he only gets up once as opposed to the 6-7/night he was waking prior to the sleep training.

  22. Yup, everyone has their own thing, I guess.

    I have no idea. B is finally to the point where he happily goes to bed. Like, he'd probably walk there himself and get if he could figure out how to get over the railing. But yeah. Wasn't always peaches over here.

    I think eventually they find solace in that "safe" spot of their own. It's their bed and their bed only. B has learned that and now coos and doesn't even stand up anymore when he wakes. He just chills happily on his back.

    My thought is that she just will get it eventually. And until then, keep the routine and keep reinforcing the behavior you want. I know it was super stressful for us. There were days I would give up entirely on naps and just do stroller walks (and still do when we travel and it's a new bed!). But you guys need that time. I so, totally get that. So important for your sanity and marriage. And wow! You can talk intellectually without having to say something in a baby voice about not touching the electric outlet.

    I know this routine all too well and I know she'll come around. It's just a matter of time. But as you know from my food rants and stresses with my great-sleeper-but-shitty-eater, I want results now! I don't want to deal with the stress! So how about I just empathize and wish we could have a glass of wine together. Hah.

  23. no advice here. baby girl has to be literally on top of me at night to go to sleep. and she sleeps in our bed. so yea...