Baby Sleep Patterns

Why is it that no matter how long my daughter sleeps I obsess over it. If she doesn't sleep long enough I'm frustrated cause I want her to sleep longer. But if she sleeps too long I'm constantly asking "should I wake her?"

I've read (aka obsessed) more about baby sleep than I have about any other baby-related issue. From learning how to get a baby to sleep to learning how to keep a baby asleep through the night and how to merge from four naps to three to why there really is such a thing as the 45 minute intruder. You could say it's been an eye-opening experience...

Here's a general guideline as far as baby sleep patterns. Remember these are just approximate sleep times. Every baby is different. 

Newborn - 18-20 hours a day
3 Weeks - 16-18 hours a day
6 Weeks - 15-16 hours a day
4 Months - 9-12 hours at night + 2-3 naps totally 3-4 hours
6 Months - 11 hours at night + 2-3 naps totally 2-3 hours
9 Months - 11-12 hours at night + 2 naps totally 2-4 hours
12 Months - 10-12 hours at night + 1-2 naps totally 2-3 hours

I am blessed that my 6 month old daughter sleeps 11-12 hours at night. (Believe me it's been a long road getting here...read my post on the challenge of un-swaddling). That means that during the day she usually takes three 45 minute naps. (Ah yes, that 45 minute intruder that seems to wake her up right after the first sleep cycle). She wakes up happy so I know she's rested. If she wakes up cranky there's something else going on...still tired, hungry, gas, poop, sick...you name it.

But today...here she is having slept nearly 3 hours (still strapped in her car seat, of all places). So I'm left to wonder "what is going on and what should I do?" I don't like her to sleep too long during the day for fear it will hurt her night sleep. But then again I don't want to wake her up for fear of getting a real cranky pants. I guess I'll just leave her and let her wake up on her own. Oh, and continue to check that she's still breathing. Don't worry, she is. I'm guessing the reason she's sleeping so long today is because she has an ear infection and got a shot yesterday. Being sick can really impact the amount of time a baby sleeps, but combined who knows the power! If she was a little younger I'd be more concerned about her not having eaten in four hours, but since she's started solids I'm not too worried about knowing she's getting plenty of calories. (She loves the homemade pears we started yesterday, she's been gobbling them up). Of course when she wakes she'll probably be screaming for the milk!

And that's when I'll start worrying about her sleep again...since she got up so late when will she take her third nap? Or should I just stretch to keep her up until bedtime and deal with the cranky baby I'm likely going to have come 6pm?? Oh the worry never stops.

Welcome to new mama-hood!

Recommended Reading:

The 45 Minute Nap
Get Some Sleep: Turn Off the Baby Monitor
How to Get a Baby to Sleep
Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Trouble With Naps: The 2 Day Solution

Crying It Out: The Last Resort

The books I found the most useful as far as teaching my daughter to sleep are:


Getting Back "Me Time"

I'm a stay at home mom, but I'm learning it may be more important to be a SYLM. As in a see-ya-later-mom! I've found, to be the best mom and wife, to have a happy home and a loving marriage, a stress-free week and a relaxing weekend, I need a little time to myself sometimes. A recharge if you will. It may seem impossible to fit it into you busy schedule, but if I can do it, you can too!

Getting time alone doesn't even mean you have to leave your house it can be as simple as handing your baby over your husband and taking a quiet, uninterrupted bath. Lock the door, turn on some relaxing music and try not to worry about the crying you hear downstairs. It's natural to want to run down and help, but this is your time...and it's only 30 minutes.

The moms in my neighborhood have a Ladies' Night once a month. It's supposed to be a game night but it's usually just a gabfest...about what else? Our kids. And that's okay. It's a time for all of us to commiserate, share our battle stories of labor, double check on if the dirty-diaper count  is normal and learn more than you'd ever want to know about ear infections, green snot and ear tubes. Having a ladies night can be as simple as getting together at a restaurant for a few hours after the kids go to bed or gathering at one person's house for a few hours of gabbing and drinks.

Working out is a stress reliever for a lot of women. The first few months of my daughter's life I found it challenging to work out. (Okay so I used her as an excuse because I hate working out). But anyway...I've realized working out for even an hour two or three times a week gives me a little time to unwind and burn off some energy. It helps me feel more healthy and boosts my self esteem. I feel like more than just a mom when I get done. It's also a chance for my daughter to work on the separation anxiety that she seems to be developing from being with me 24/7. My gym has a free daycare. It's perfect because I know my daughter is only a room away so if something is wrong the daycare providers can easily come get me. I always get scared when I see them walking the perimeter of the gym...why do I seem like the only one they come find to rescue my screaming daughter???

Run errands or go to the salon without dragging your baby along. Okay so running errands may not be fun, ever, but if you can avoid taking the baby, even just once or twice a month it will give you a little time to yourself. A fellow SAHM friend of mine offered to watch my baby while I went to get my hair done. It was a stress free trip to the salon knowing I didn't have to feel rushed because my little girl was getting fussy. If you can find someone who you can swap babysitting services with, even once a month, it'll really do you good.

If all else fails and the only time you get to yourself is nap time try to relax. I'm not going to say "sleep when the baby sleeps" because I know that's rarely possible. But don't break out the vacuum or balance the checkbook...instead get a have a cup of tea, read a chapter in a book, take a shower, dry your hair and put on a little makeup. Looking good is feeling good especially when you're a SAHM and it's tempting to stay in your pj's all day. Everything else will get done, just do it during the next nap. One nap a day deserves to be "mommy time."

Remember a happy mom is a happy home so find ways to get happy, relieve stress and get back a little me time. And don't feel guilty about it - you're doing everyone a favor!


Losing the Baby Weight

Today is my daughter's first half birthday. In her first six months she's grown amazingly and almost before my eyes. Her mother, on the other hand, has also grown a bit. Grown a bit tired of trying desperately to firm up the flab left behind exactly six months ago. After a brief session with a personal trainer I've learned there is hope. But it's going to take some work.

I have to admit, I am one of the lucky ones. Losing pregnancy weight was relatively easy. But there's a difference between dropping the pounds and reconnecting with one's abs. Mine seem to have gone into hiding. That's why I headed back to the gym I've been paying for for months, but have not used for months. I made an appointment with a personal trainer who specializes in pre and post natal fitness and I hung on her every word. All I wanted her to tell me was: do these ab machines a few times a week and in time they'll re-strengthen. What she told me was something completely different.

-First she weighed me and pinched me in order to find the percentage of fat on my body. Great!

-With that information we could then find my basal metabolic rate or BMR. That's the minimum number of calories per day my body requires to survive if all I was doing all day was lying in bed. (Right!)

-Then she reviewed my eating habits and told me I’m most likely not eating enough calories. If I’m not eating enough I may be hurting my metabolism and slowing down my energy level. She suggested using a food journal and counting calories to make track exactly what I'm eating. 

-We then found my minimum daily caloric needs based on my energy level. There are tons of online calorie calculators that can help you do this. You’ll also find more information on how many calories you should be consuming in this article “How to Cut Calories to Lose Weight.”

Since I’m breastfeeding I need extra calories but since I’d like to lose fat I need to eat fewer calories. These two things pretty much even themselves out and so for me I should be aiming for around 2400 calories a day. Now usually that would be the number of calories I need to eat to maintain my weight. In most cases you’d need to eat fewer than that to lose weight, but my equation is complicated by the fact that I’m still breastfeeding. Counting calories accurately seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. With the help of the internet you’ll know exactly how many calories you’re consuming and burning on any given day.

So that’s my fitness plan: eat more healthy calories, concentrate on eating enough protein, staying hydrated and work out. My workout plan is mostly cardio with a slight emphasis on abdominals. I have to admit I hate working out so this isn’t going to be easy for me. I like to work out on my own terms: when I am working out to stay in shape not to get into shape. But it is what it is and my motivation is a summer spent at the beach.

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