No, I'm not the one being deprived; it's my daughter. In her ongoing quest to become a big kid, she stopped napping when she was tired sometime between the ages of three and four months. Things came to a head about a week ago when I somehow realized there was something wrong with my little girl. She was exhausted and constantly fussy, but she would not sleep during the day. On top of that, she seemed to be having more and more trouble getting to sleep at night.
Some Internet research revealed a few things. First, I discovered that her bedtime was way too late. That, combined with a lack of consistent daily structure, was affecting her daytime sleep. A baby Samantha's age needs about 15 hours of sleep each day! And keeping her up doesn't help her sleep better; she will wake up around the same time each morning regardless of when she went to bed. I also discovered that lack of sleep was bad for her brain!
That night I decided to let her "cry it out." I was so desperate for my baby to get the sleep her little body needed. So I read her a story, sang a few songs, and got her tucked in. We both cried for 90 minutes until she finally went to sleep. While I was waiting for her to go to sleep, I was still desperately searching for answers. Clearly just tucking her in and leaving her to cry was not the solution for us. So after asking for help from friends, message boards, Amazon.com, and my old pal Google, I put together a reading list.
What I came up with was a combination of knowledge, advice, and schedules from Richard Ferber, Marc Weissbluth, and Tracy Hogg. I have been following a combination of Hogg's EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) structure for our day, Ferber's gentler version of cry-it-out, and Weissbluth's plan that includes a super early bedtime to help get naps back on track. The last few days have been full of sleep ups and and downs with Samantha crying through some naptimes and sleeping through others, but we are definitely making progress. Today things are definitely looking up and right now she's playing happily with her toys instead of yelling at them! Last night she went to bed with minimal fuss and I had several evening hours free to get some schoolwork done for the first time in months!
I know the road ahead is full of bumps and crazy turns, but we are on our way.