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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sleeping through the Night Hunger Pangs...

At just about every visit for the last 2 months, Oggie's doctor has strongly recommended that I turn a deaf ear to his cries in the middle of the night, stay firm about not feeding him, and let him sob himself to sleep. Not in any cruel manner, but by using Kim West's technique like Shuffle or something similarly humane and gentle.

Now, the theory seems to be that a 'normal', average-weight 10-month-old can go upto 10 hours without feeding, with no adverse effect on his growth. He can be trained to recognize that 10-hour stretch of nighttime is to be reserved for sleeping without eating or drinking. This, after making sure he feeds every two hours during his waking hours. Go Figure!

Backing up a little, How much should a 10-month-old eat, and how often? Well, approximately 3 meals (3-4oz serving of veggies/fruits/meats/cereal) and maybe 3 snacks (baby's handful of finger foods/fruits) at daytime - viz., breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks roughly inbetween - giving allowance for his nap times, if they exist, plus about 16oz of breastmilk or formula (some claim up to 24oz).

Hm. Seems like a lot, doesn't it?

But, considering that his stomach is the size of his fist, and that I manage to sneak in only about 5-10 baby spoonfuls before he protests vehemently, turns his face away while mercilessly swatting my over-eager feeding-hand, I guess it makes sense to feed him as often as suggested so it manages to meet the nutritional needs for his age. Perhaps this is precisely why they recommend feeding attempting to feed every two hours or so during daytime...

How then can I train him to not expect any meal from 7:30 pm to 5:30 am, from his bedtime to his wake-up time?

The books I've read so far on teaching babies to sleep on their own, for I do believe I should not be a crutch that makes him rely on me for his restfulness, seem to be geared towards getting the baby to fall asleep on his own in the first place, and then simply extrapolate the same technique when he wakes up in the middle of the night.

Now, when a particularly delightful and sweet-tempered baby decides that no amount of cuddling/patting/rubbing/singing is going to make his hunger pangs go away, and holds out for the measly 4-5oz* of beverage that he sucks down in almost a single long gulp, I feel terribly cruel denying him that in the middle of the night in the name of teaching him to fall asleep on his own. I mean, he can fall asleep on his own if he is not so darn h.u.n.g.r.y, it seems to me...
* and, I have greedily attempted to offer 6-8oz hoping he would sleep longer with a fuller tummy - quite an unsuccessful enterprise so far

Unbeknownst to me, and much to my exasperation, my mother has sneaked into me this seemingly altruistic belief that once I have kids, my life is not my own: I live, breathe, sleep, wake up, eat and think only for the kids, and God forbid I put myself first every once in a while and choose sleep over burnout.

I have been breaking out of it slowly now with Oggie (seeing how detrimental it was for me with Ana), choosing not to co-sleep but to be at a sneezing distance from the wee one at nights, one ear cocked to the tune of the baby monitor and feeling terribly guilty the whole time.

How is that better for me? Well, naturally, it is better for me because it is better for Oggie as he is not dependent on me to rock him or cuddle him to sleep - he can fall asleep on his own terms. But, more importantly, after I set him down for his sleep in his crib, I get to take care of my other domestic chores, and maybe sneak in a movie or show or some good-reading to relax, or perhaps even grope for a sense of fulfillment by indulging in some sewing/crocheting/knitting/painting before I retire for the night and catch a couple of hours before Oggie's tummy tugs at my heart again...

Quelle horreur! I chose not to co-sleep because I can have some "me time"?! What sort of a mommy am I?

When Ana was a baby, she would not fall asleep on her own, so I'd have her on my bed, cuddling and patting till she seemed in deep delta non-REM state, enduring my overfilled bladder and longing to read a book but not daring to turn on the light, or for that matter move much as that would wake her up screaming... it was harder for her to break out of it than me, I admit, but, she eventually accepted her crib away from my bed and learnt to fall asleep.

And, of course, each baby is different, so, I cannot expect Oggie to mimic Ana in every way, at least not at this age, not in any significant way... so, I have to figure out what works for him. And me, of course.

And, letting him cry for an hour before giving in and feeding him makes no sense. So, I watch for signs and count the hours before his wee tummy might feel the hunger pangs again - this depends on how his previous feeding went, naturally - and just get up and feed him. Which turns out to be every four** hours still!
** p.s: it is not like I have not tried loading him up right before bedtime with a thickish 8oz mixture of cereal with formula as the doctor suggested... after wasting about 6 of the 8oz for about 6 out of 6 days in a row, I decided to respect Oggie's tastes.

And my colleagues wonder why I bother chugging down decaf by the potful every morning, leaning over my desk dangerously close to resting my carelessly up-swept hair on the keyboard, blissfully unaware of my mismatched socks...

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At 8:58 PM, Blogger Subhashree said...

Lol to last para. I see your point. I used to feed both kids once in the night. I gave them a 4-5 hour break and religiously fed them whether they were awake and crying or not. It worked for me. And both grew out of the habit once they started solids for dinner.

Anyway, I think that the second child always puts things in prespective, because with the first one we are never sure whether we are on the right track or not. I too have appreciating benign parenting (read back to being lazy) after the baby, now that the brat is mostly independent.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Kodi's Mom said...

I must have missed something. you're back at work? as in full time work outside the home? you are crazy :)

seriously, I battle with the sleep thing with Plane all the time. K was the baby who slept thru the night since he was 2m and hasn't looked back since.
but Plane - a whole another ball game. I decide which will give me more sleep - having him in bed and feeding on demand, 2-3 times in half sleep or getting up each time, walking to the crib, feeding, knowing when he's done, putting him back ever so gently - uff, too much work. we can train him to sleep later.

there is no easy fits-all answer, is there? and why do peds keep pestering abt sleep habits? so what if the kid doesn't sleep thru the night at 8m or 10m? its not like they have to go to school the next day, and i'm sure they compensate with naps. I pretty much ignore the ped on this one.

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Dee said...

I went thru the same dilemma when Chintu was at that phase. But I continued feeding him and it still continues sometimes (gasp!). IF I have another one...I will try my best not to feed him/her atleast after 8 months.
But folks in India find it pretty ok to feed them at night till they are 2!

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Lavs said...

**** I really do not know what to say here. LB learnt to sleep when I pat him but there is a hitch here. He sucks his middle and ring fingers and falls asleep(I have my job cut out when I have to make him unlearn this finger sucking habit). He has weaned himself off breast milk so I give him lactogen early in the morning(after 7-8 hours from last feed) while he is still sleeping. He drinks it and falls asleep on his own. I do not give him much nap time after 7 in the evening. He wakes up at 8 in the morning, sleeps for 30mins after his morning feed and play, then sleeps for 30 mins around noon/1PM. these days he sleeps for 2 hours in the afternoon along with me! Evening: he sleeps sometimes between 7-8 for about 30 mins…and falls asleep by 11PM. Co-sleeping is not an option for me..i have to do it by default..coz I do not have an extra room and I cannot sleep with my kid in another room. Just a suggestion here, why don’t you try co-sleeping with Oggie. May be he needs your warmth to fall asleep? LB never slept in his crib no matter how much I tried. Then I realized that he needed me to fall asleep. I am now sitting and surfing the net with LB sleeping peacefully in the bed. I get my ‘me time’ and LB gets his sleep. And do ignore the ped on sleeping habits. Each child is different and they have different sleep needs. About kids learning to fall asleep on their own..wait till they run and play and tire themselves out..sleep will automatically come no matter how much we try to prevent it. Have I made sense here??
Wishing you good luck…hope things sort out soon!

At 4:36 PM, Blogger NC said...

Hi Sheela, I am reader of your blog, just delurked today :) So My daughter is also 10 month old. And even she wakes up every 4 hrs. But it varies from day to day, sometimes she is up every 3 hrs, while there are days when she sleeps thru the night to get up only at 6 am. I can totally relate to you. But I usually blame it on the day care. She doesnt like it, so usually just skips her milk and food there.I sometime feel that is why she wants to be fed when she is home.
but yes life is tough with a baby and with two, I cant even imagine since both of them have their needs. Woww!! mothers are really superhumans. how do we do that, surviving 10 months without sleeping for 8 hrs at a stretch is not easy.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Subhashree: You are right, it does seem like I am more laid back with Oggie - I was wound tight with Ana, really - what with conflicting views bombarding me from all sides shaking my confidence in my natural maternal instincts...

Kodi's Mom: How are you liking Seattle - saw that you spied Spring over there already :) You are right about ignoring the peds on certain things - we moms have enough to make us feel guilty already without research and medics adding to it!

Dee: I was so resolved to "do things right" with Oggie thinking I learnt enough from Ana, but, each baby being different, they come with different needs and now, I find my resolve melting away under his pathetic wails at night for the measly few ounces that fills his wee tummy!

Lavs, you are so right, and what you say makes a lot of sense - about kids automatically falling asleep when they are older... each child is different, and therein lies the problem. Cramped neck and shoulders cuddling him next to me and not really getting to the deep nREM delta sleep state at nights is what makes co-sleeping a painful prospect sometimes, and I feel awful waking up tired and cranky and having to deal with daily chores and work and then be a cheerful mommy to Ana (and Oggie, of course)... Whoever said Motherhood is easy, right?!

NC, Welcome! And thanks for delurking :) You brought up a very valid point I have been disregarding in my assessments so far - viz., Daycare! Yep, they conveniently say, "he refused his oatmeal cereal with peas, maybe he doesn't like peas..."!! He barely drinks 8 oz in the 8 hrs he spends in daycare each day, and barely eats a handful of "snack" that doesn't stick to his system and I bring home a tired, hungry and cranky baby who has only a few hrs to play with me before he is overcome with exhaustion... Oh Well, c'est la vie, I suppose...

At 10:52 PM, Blogger NC said...

So a couple of things. I can see N on the IPTV when she is in the day care, so sometimes if I see that she is getting very frustrated and not eating or drinking, I drop in and feed her and spend half an hour with her. Good for her, the teachers and me. But I know it can be impractical if the day care is not close by.
About sleeping in the night, our ped never even asks us if she sleeps thru the night. He was like, "yes once a night...I mean you can let her be and wean her off night feedings if you want. but if it does not bother you then let it be. She will grow over it" :) She sleeps with us and I have got used to getting up once or twice a night, but DH sometimes cribs about it. Today we are having the teething pains. Seriously, why couldnt the teething be pain free. Why does everything have to be so painful for a baby?


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