I’m Going to Miss the Dreamfeed

Once Damien was sleeping well, he gradually dropped all of his feeds on his own for the 12 hours of his night, keeping only the dreamfeed. By 4-5 months, Damien had dropped his remaining night feed at 3am all on his own, we only had to re-enforce the habit. Since then, I’ve held on to the dreamfeed and it has been my special time with him.

There have been times, for sure, when it would have been convenient to be able to stay out past 10:30, to go to bed early or to drink an extra glass of wine without having to worry about feeding a baby at a certain time. But, given all that, I couldn’t bear parting with my special time with my little baby – my last little baby.

Damien rarely wakes up early anticipating the feed, I almost always wake him up when I open the door or approach his crib. I hear him wake up and sometimes smack his lips waiting for his milk (he may also use his milk sign as well, as I get ready to feed him). I am always assaulted by the wonderful baby smell of his room and the warm perfection that it all is. It’s like my own little piece of paradise. 

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I pick up that sleepy baby and feed him for a few minutes – only 5-10 now, which isn’t very long. There’s no kicking, no fussing, no stretching or pulling of hair. No biting, no banging, no distractions, no preschooler to talk to. It’s just me and Damien and it’s perfect. 

After I feed him, I put Damien right back in his crib and he’s oh so relaxed. From time to time, the feed actually wakes him up for a while, but he’s such a content little sleeper that he just chills out and eventually falls back to sleep. He never progresses to fussing in the same way that Aiden did! He rolls over asking to go right into his crib when he’s finished his milk – no cuddles necessary. 

It’s an amazing experience, nursing a baby, and the dreamfeed has been my little oasis of calm before bed. I’m sure the oxytocin was a nice boost too!

Last night, I didn’t offer Damien milk at his usual time and he slept right through to morning, no problem. I’ve known for a while he probably wasn’t hungry, but he’s my baby and I was selfishly waking him up to spend time with him. I’m going to miss those special times. 

At least I know that he’ll probably still have some night wakings when he has a cold or is teething or whatever. Then again, he popped a tooth out during those 12 hours and didn’t make a peep!

Now, if only there was a sniff detector in his room, since he sometimes dirties his diaper while falling asleep and doesn’t cry, so we don’t know. ;)

Damien’s Sleep Journey

As many of you know, we began sleep training with Aiden when he was 4 months old. He wasn’t a great sleeper and we saw that Damien was going the same way. After a few weeks of early success coaching Damien to go to sleep on his own, he went through a period of purple crying / colic. It was taking 2-4 hours to put Damien to sleep at night: he wouldn’t sleep on his own, he wouldn’t stay asleep if breastfed (even for hours of constant trying, he would keep waking after dozing off), he wouldn’t sleep longer than 30 minutes in the sling or carseat. It was exhausting and usually resulted in me breaking down in tears. Imagine trying to parent a toddler with all that!

I brought our issues to the sleep consultant we worked with for Aiden, Dawnn of CheekyChops, who I’ve continued to work with over the past 2 years through my consulting business. Despite what I thought I knew about teaching a baby to sleep, I had still hit a wall. Dawnn had a lot of great things to teach me about sleep in younger babies (which obviously we didn’t know) and that you can teach a younger baby to sleep better!

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Within a very short time, Damien was falling asleep in his crib with little to no fuss – that’s him sleeping tonight in the image above. It took a week or two to get him to stay asleep; he had issues with his first sleep transition – he treated his night as a nap and would cry through his normal awake period, then resume his normal sleep. He struggled for a while to learn how to go back to sleep (which is a different skill from going to sleep – did you know that?).

Our first goal for our 8-week old was to improve his bedtime and the subsequent 3.5 hours – we let him do whatever he wanted for the rest of the night. For the first few nights, I brought him back to our bed towards morning (we were co-sleeping at the time). He was a reluctant co-sleeper (he doesn’t like side nursing), so that didn’t last long. After the first couple of nights, I committed to keeping him in his crib. There were a couple of nights where he got up frequently (every hour or two), but after that, it got better!

With no interference on our part, Damien began to extend his night feeds on his own. After 4 weeks, we’ve pushed his dreamfeed back to 10:30 and he wakes once at 3:30 to feed on his own – that’s it! We plan to try to coach him out of that early morning feed next month, though he seems to be pushing it back on his own. 

Damien now takes his first and third nap in his crib, though the most he’s ever slept in his crib is an hour. Right now, 4 short naps is not quite enough to get him to bedtime, but there’s no time for 5 naps in his day, so we’re struggling a little to keep him up before bed. Prior to this week, he was taking a long nap in the sling during the middle of the day, but he’s getting too big for it and showing an obvious desire to twist around and suck his thumb; to me, it seems clear he wants to be in his crib. He falls asleep there instantly! 

We’re trying to teach him to extend his nap, but that process could take several weeks. Still, for a 3 month old, Damien is sleeping really well! I’m very happy :)

Now… here’s hoping we can keep this kid from regressing all the time - Aiden is still super stubborn about sleep, despite our best efforts!!

Aiden’s Big Boy Bed Adventures

Aiden has been in a big boy bed for about a month now. We purchased a convertible crib for Aiden which would turn from crib to toddler/daybed to double bed. I’m glad we did, as I believe it made the transition quite seamless. 

Aiden has always been a sensitive sleeper, so we held off on this transition for some time. Though we had planned the switch before Damien was born, we were missing some parts that were originally supposed to come with the crib. Once that was solved, we waited for the new-baby transition to wear off. 

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As expected, Aiden came right out of his crib. Pretty much instantly. He discovered he could read his books, though it took him to night 2 before he realized he could also turn on his book light to do so. After the first hour in his new bed, going in and out to talk about it and look at his books, he thought he’d go see Daddy (I happened to be listening at the time). Well, that was a shock for him. Door closed!

After explaining that he had to stay in his room, and some tears, Aiden finally settled back down. The first few nights he would stay up for a long time reading or talking or examining his room. Now, he sometimes stays up a while, but more often than not simply reads for an hour and then turns off his light and goes to bed. Sometimes we remind him after an hour to stop reading (really, should we complain about this?). He talks, plays around in his bed, then eventually falls asleep.

I thought if he stopped napping this may stop, but he’s had 2 naps fails in the last month and still reads at night before sleeping. He just likes reading. 

All in all, the transition has been great. Though sometimes Aiden still cries if he can’t fall asleep after a long time (sometimes he makes himself overtired, but we can’t control that), his stall tactics are far easier to manage – he can’t throw out his blanky or ask for water if he can retrieve both from his room!

So, for now, all is good! At least until we potty train at night (or at all) and he needs the door open to leave for that! :)

Damien Falls Asleep

Since he was born, Damien has shown a distinct preference for sleeping on his back. Thanks in part to this, and to the ‘easy’ newborn period, we’ve been trying to teach him to fall asleep on his own. Generally speaking, if we keep his awake window short and put him down swaddled with white noise, he’ll fall asleep on his own.

Usually I give him a quick ‘bonus’ nurse if he seems fussy before he goes down, but I try at least once to put him down awake before scrapping the plan and moving to plan B, ‘nurse to sleep’.

I took the above video as Damien was falling asleep last night. At night, he is a little more fussy, so I employed the bassinet to help rock him to sleep. Downstairs, he sleeps in a pack & play and doesn’t use rocking (though I jiggle it for nap extensions). 

Since Aiden was colicky and not a great sleeper, we ended up sleep training him when he was four months. He’s had many regressions since then; it’s just his personality. As a result, we know a lot about sleep and are trying to employ some of our knowledge (and patience) to slowly teaching Damien the basics. Since he is so young, we don’t push it, but wherever possible we work on falling asleep unassisted and on extending his naps if they’ve been less than 1 hour (it works most of the time). 

Despite how awesome this all is, currently none of our little tricks work once Damien starts waking up at night. He hasn’t yet mastered the ‘going back to sleep’ skill at night and I don’t anticipate he will for many more weeks. Since night time there aren’t ‘awake times’ to get Damien tired again, we often are stuck with one big night chunk where he’s awake (day/night confusion) and the rest are easier to get him back down after a feed.

He will sleep in his bassinet if he’s having a good night, but most nights are not so good. His best chunks of sleep are snuggled very close to, or being semi-held in the lying down position by, either Mommy or Daddy ;) 

Spying on Aiden in Bed

A few months ago, we purchased a new video monitor for Aiden’s bedroom. We had a sound-only monitor while he was young, but felt that with all his sleep regressions, it would be nice to know what he was up to in his crib. We were also looking ahead to a time when Aiden would be in a toddler bed and, quite likely, getting out of said toddler bed. It’s nice to know that when we’re downstairs, we can see what he’s up to. It’s also fun that we can watch the monitor from our iPhones.

Sometimes what Aiden is up to is definitely not sleep. His wind-down period can last from 20 minutes to 2 hours, sometimes requiring Ianiv to go in once (or a few times) to remind Aiden to sleep or to deal with one of his stalling tactics (water, throwing out blanky, etc). We knew, for example, when he had taken off his sleep sac – which he then refused to wear ever again. 

And yet there are also both cute and funny moments. Moments when he’s draping his blanky over a stuffed animal or moments when he’s doing summersaults. 

More Aiden in Bed moments in this set.