Two naps forward, one nap back: Sleep training and deprivation.

EB practicing her "faces" while A2 tries to crawl.

EB practicing her “faces” while A2 tries to crawl.

We have a 2-bedroom house, with 4 humans and 2 dogs.  Hubs and I share a room (obvs.) and so do the girls.  The dogs get the living room.  It’s been a fortnight now and we have successfully transitioned the baby into EB’s room at night.  Yay!  Except A2 isn’t night-weaned yet.  I decided two nights ago that we had all lost our minds and somebody needed to find theirs (read: me) so this baby was going to have to learn to soothe herself once and for all during sleeping hours.

For those of you who don’t know, we did the extinction method for EB.  Read about that here.  At about 5-1/2 months I was being woken up every 45 min and I thought I would strangle someone.  I’m back at that point with A2, even though she has a much milder 3 times a night routine.  This has taken it’s toll but earned her an extra month of night nursing since I wasn’t crazy until this week.  Why the crazy (besides mama being exhausted)?

  1. EB is adjusting to Montessori.  This is “different” according to her.  And it’s full time.
  2. We have to be at her school by 8:30.  This is different for me, and impossible for us.  More on this below with The Chart.
  3. A2 is getting less of me since I started working from home again.  My attention is divided and she wants someone to hold her for crying out loud.
  4. A2 is teething (ouch.  For both of us).
  5. I am transitioning from the pace of SXSW to trying to finish taxes and work at our company.

But all in all, things aren’t bad per say.  Just patience is short and EB’s fuse is even shorter.  First things first – get this baby to sleep more, longer, and I am a more patient mama.  Last night was the 2nd night and how is this baby so much easier than EB was?  She’s been doing great, except for the first crying jag at midnight the first night.  Now she’s like, cool, I’ll just wake up when the sun comes up.  Jeez.

To let A2 cry it out, Eebs has been sleeping in our bed.  That means she’s is a chatty chatterbox till 10 pm till she finally passes out, even though the lights had been out for an hour and no one is responding to her kicking them in the face while she flops around.  This is why I’m not a good-forever-co-sleeper.  Sweet Cheesus, I need some room and I can only deal with so many people snoring next to me.

Too bad we don't have one of these in our house to wear this child out.

Too bad we don’t have one of these in our house to wear this child out.

Because she’s been staying up, she’s a maniac in the morning trying to get her out the door in time for school.  Yesterday was the disaster of all disasters.  There were tears, forced dressings, no-breakfast eating, stanky breath, just get to school for the love of kittens.  We were 20 min late.  So I came up with The Chart.  It’s in the testing phase right now, but I made a list of everything she needs to do in the morning and evening so we can do things in a reasonable amount of time so we can all SLEEP.  It’s all about getting more time with eyes close and we are all happier people the next day.  EB hits her sister less, enjoys food more, and puts her seatbelt on easier if she is rested.  I sit patiently while she is the most independent woman on the planet when I am rested.  And A2 just chills the eff out no matter what.

A2 chowing down on her bib.

A2 chowing down on her bib.

Here are The Charts.  Here’s the link to customize your own for both boys and girls (free/printable).  If she does something that she would normally do anyway, but doesn’t throw a fit, she puts a sticker next to the task.  Like Wake Up – bam, sticker.  Take of the PJ’s – pow, another sticker.  You can see how the first day when we retroactively stickered her tasks (to show her how it works and to see how…little…was accomplished without the having of the fits.  Today was much easier and she will get to fill in all of the morning stickers when she gets home from school, setting the tone for the evening tasks again.  Hopefully.  We have a sh-t ton of stickers since my mom is a retired teacher and we can try out this reward system without wasting money.  I will think of a more permanent system if it ends up working.

A work in progress - the task charts.

A work in progress – the task charts.

At the end of the week, if she’s gotten enough (we’ll see how much is “enough” as time goes on) stickers, she’ll get some sort of reward of her choosing.  I asked what present she wanted yesterday and she said “to get bigger and bigger and bigger” for her birthday, but I think she’s getting her upcoming surprise present and birthday party at Central Market playscape confused with an everyday present.  So today her reward will be ice cream and a playground and our present will be a beer while letting her blow off steam.  We deserve it.

I also took a morning off from trying to get everything in the world done and ate tacos and drank coffee with GS.  She’s great to talk to about crazy-making babies.  I think I am a great birth control for her.

GS holding A2 in the sunshine of a beautiful morning.  Plus breakfast tacos.

GS holding A2 in the sunshine of a beautiful morning. Plus breakfast tacos.

We all gotta stay sane, people.  Whatever it takes.  And nothing works forever, but something new and different might work right now.  I’m pretty sure that’s the secret.  Sleep begets patience, patience begets clarity, clarity begets stickers.  Do you have ideas for getting kids moving in the morning sans tantrums?  I mean, besides bribery, of course.

I see the irony of charting to get babies and charting to get sane babies, BTdubs.  It is not lost on me in my exhaustion.

Sleepy Jells.

Ask Mama Jells: Am I Giving my Kid Too Many Bottles in the Night?

I'm comfortable with sippie cups during the day, and bottles when she's trying to sleep.

See yesterday’s post for the catalyst for this week’s string of advice.  I tackled hitting then, and another question I brought up in Carrie Contey’s Toddlerhood Parenting Workshop was about giving EB bottles in the night.  I really appreciated her answer, because she asked how it made my body feel.  And it has nothing to do with whether or not other kids were still getting bottles at night to go back to sleep.

EB is a champion sleeper.  She demands to go night-night, sometimes foregoing her rocking and a book to help settle down and get sleepy.  She climbs on the side of her crib and looks at me like I’m crazy for not just putting her in there.  I know we are lucky that the bedtime routine takes 1 minute sometimes.  And that there is no resistance.  I appreciate EB for her sensibility.

I sleep-trained her at around 5 months with the Extinction Method.  See this post for getting your kid into the crib.  she used to sleep in a bassinet in my room and I would nurse her on demand.  I just couldn’t sleep with her in the room because every little tiny baby noise she made put me on red alert.  Once getting her in the crib in her own room, I would go in there if the cry was more energetic than say, a wah! for just waking up and I would nurse her.  She weened herself at 13.5 months and now I just hand her a bottle and cover her up.  About half the time she goes back to sleep on her own if I don’t go in there.  The other half of the time, I go in there.  We’re still stuck at one to two times a night needing her bottle refilled.

About to drive from Houston to Austin. I'm ok with EB having a bottle so she sleeps.

The thing is, I don’t really mind it.  If I were mad about it, or exasperated that I had to keep going in there, it might be one thing.  The Hubs and I take turns all night, even though he wakes up earlier than I do and works every day of the week while I work just 3.  And sometimes the dogs are whining about wanting to go out or Duna wants to be covered with her blanket again.  So the dogs can be more frustrating than being awoken for a bottle.  And with all the bottles, she needs a couple diaper changes.  We do overnight diapers, which were really a godsend.  Before it was the leaking that woke her up.  Now it’s just not being able to go back to sleep sometimes.

So until I feel like my body says, “I just can’t do this anymore,” I can keep getting her the nightly or bi-nightly bottle of mostly water and a dash of milk.  I don’t know when we will make it to all water to protect those poor little toofers.  But it made me feel better knowing it was up to me, and not up to some chart that says by a certain age they shouldn’t still be getting bottles or help at night to soothe.  Eventually she will be a teenager and not need a bottle.  It won’t last forever.


Again, if there’s some topic you want me to cover based on what I’ve absorbed from the parenting classes, write in the comments.  Or go to her classes!  They were the best ever.  But I would rather you do both!

x to the o


Ask Mama Jells: How Do I Get my Kid Into the Crib?

A friend recently sent me a sweet email.  I shall now share her compliments and question:


So, I have totally been reading (stalking) your blog. It’s great! And I’m sure you know what its like with a baby….I spend HOURS rocking/nursing.
I need some advice about sleep….M is 3 mos old, and she is still sleeping in her swing. We are also still up frequently during the night. I swaddle, etc. When did u start sleep training and what did u do? I really wish she could sleep in her crib!
Thanks for the quality reads ;) :)

EB's nap time with Gram Gram during Wedding Weekend 2 of 3

I remember taking EB in to the pedi when she was 5 mo old for something that turned out to be nothing (figures) and after her pedi told me she was fine, she asked how I was sleeping.  I said my nights mostly consist of not, so there’s that.  She said EB was ready for sleep training.  It can be done as early as 4.5 mo, and I had a friend that did it at 4 mo, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to get her to sleep through the night at 3 mo.  She is still growing and needs breast milk at regular intervals.

BUT.  That’s not to say she can be trained to sleep in her own crib instead of the swing, or in our case, a swing, then bassinet, then swing, all in one night.  I was so super sensitive to hearing EB in the room with me that the slightest rustle of a blanket, smacking of lips, sigh or whimper, my adrenaline would wake me up 100% and EB would still be asleep.  So by the time I’d go back under, she’d be up and ready to nurse.  Endless cycles of torture.

So we tried the Extinction Method (or cry-it-out).  The Ferber Method, both of which were suggested by the pedi, didn’t work for us because every time we would go back in to reassure her that we were still nearby, she would get hysterical, and cry harder than she was while settling down.  So for three days, we would put EB down at 7 after rocking, reading, and soothing.  She wasn’t fully asleep and I’d tell her good night, I love her, I’ll be right outside, etc.  I didn’t just sneak out (it’s very tempting to put down a sleeping baby and run for it before they realize and wake up) but they understand more than we give them credit.  So I told her what’s up and gently left.  EB cried intensely that first night.  And the pedi reminded us that she’s fine, she’s not hurt, and 45 min is fine, but maybe by then go in and check.  So I went back in and nursed her a little bit and put her back in and gently left again.  She cried for maybe 15 min and was asleep.  Hallelujah!  She woke up several more times during the night and we let her cry herself to sleep again.  We did this on a weekend because it’s really hard to sleep through.  If the cries got frantic, we went in there, because maybe she needs a new diaper or is scared, you know?  But if it’s a cry like, I’m tired and no one is making my eyelids close, then she’s ok and is learning to soothe herself.  By the third day, 15 min of crying was standard and would go to sleep for HOURS.  Totally worth the crazy 3 days.

Of course, this is all different for us now.  We still do the rock, bottle, get sleepy routine and she blows kisses when I’m leaving the room.  It was all worth it to have such a short bedtime routine.  And she can go down with dad, an EBsitter or a grandma.  She knows what’s happening and can predict it.  She does, however, wake up 3 times a night right now.  I think it’s because of the teething.  I have gotten in a bad habit of bringing her a big bottle of milky water (trying to ween her from night milk) and change her diaper (it’s a lot of liquid at night) and maybe rock her if all that has woken her up too much.  It’s quicker to rock her for 5 min than to wait in my bed for her to stop crying.

I think that when I wean her from milk totally I can leave a bottle in her bed and she can wake up, grab the water, and go back down on her own.  And maybe I need to invest in some overnight diapers because she’s lying in an inflatable pool of pee around her.  Who could sleep with THAT?

So for M’s age, I would suggest training her to go back down in her crib after nursing.  She still might wake up to nurse during the night for the next month or so, but it’s a good time to start her getting comfortable with her room and crib now.  And if she’s just nursed and has trouble falling asleep, you can try either of the two methods I mentioned above.  Ferber just means you go back in at longer and longer intervals so they know you’re still there.  It depends on how delicate your M is.  EB is NOT delicate.  But that’s also how I know she’s OK in there.

Readers, please leave me questions in the comments that you have about pregnancy, infants, toddlers, whatevs.  I will be answering questions regularly because I get it a lot of those in my real life and I freely talk about cooters and boobs (because they’re awesome and make/feed BEBES).  You can also email me at ill.sleep.when.theyre.grown (AT) gmail (DOT) com or ask me on Facebook.  I honestly love talking about this crap and you can’t gross me out with mommy/baby stuff.  If I get my period this month, I’ll be talking about the Diva Cup next week and how to use it without going crazy from a piece of rubber in your cooter (I was recently asked this and I thought I’d share).

Happy sleeping,

jell jell