18 Month Sleep Regression

I haven’t really talked much about how little my children sleep.  Other parents like to say kind things to us, like, “Oh I totally understand, Junior didn’t sleep through the night until he was five months old!”

And I cry.

We are on three and half years of precious little sleep.

Our fourth baby didn’t sleep through the night until two and a half.  He didn’t just not sleep, he screamed when awake.  We had everything checked out there is to check out, no physical issues that we found.  It turned out he was just an extraordinarily sensitive child, but not quite enough for a sensory disorder diagnosis.  Just enough to be bothered by every little thing possible, which would wake him up.  Too hot, too cold, jammies aren’t quite comfy enough, noises (oh god, no one put ice cubes in their drinks for years after bedtime), etc.   These things affected him.

We did all the things.  ALL THE THINGS.  Breathable fabrics, sound machine, transition to real mattress on the floor, co-sleeping/not co-sleeping (for clarity, I mean bed-sharing), nursing/not night nursing, all the methods in all the books and the internets done over periods of weeks, etc.  The things, we did them.

He just had to get old enough…old enough to do what exactly, I don’t know.  But old enough to sleep better and now, mostly he does.

So we totally had another baby!  Who sleeps better than his brother but not as good as other babies and nowhere near as good as the first three.   And we are in the throes of the 18 month sleep regression.  He’s averaging three to four hours of awake time every night, and on a miracle one night a week he sleeps through the night.

The difference between him and his brother is that while Simon is just awake and will cry at times, his brother was pissed off about it and screamed for the entirety of his wakefulness.  He was so overtired, it was a huge relief to all of us when he started sleeping, to him more than anyone else.  At least Simon follows somewhat of a pattern.  He sleeps well about 1/3 of the time.  I call sleeping well either sleeping through the night or waking up once to nurse and then going right back to sleep.  The other times he’s awake.  He doesn’t seem to know why he’s awake either and I can’t wait for him to be able to tell us.

For the mamas or papas going through an 18 month sleep regression, where your little one isn’t sleeping like they used to, I’m so sorry.  If you are like us and your kids have never really slept well and now you’re trapped in an overtired nightmare, I send you my deepest condolences.  I hope we all get some sleep soon!  And thankfully, I know at the end of this regression is usually some cool new baby tricks and a much, much better sleeping baby on the horizon.

Tired Parents. Really, really, really tired parents.

Funny thing about blogging about being tired. When the babies stop sleeping, and you stop sleeping the few short hours you were previously sleeping, the writing stops.


Image Credit

People, I am fried.  The baby is teething and has pretty much stopped sleeping.  I don’t mean to compare him to a baby who has merely stopped sleeping through the night.  No.  HOOBOY.  NO.  I mean, he never slept through the night and is now waking up more often for longer periods.

(Seriously, the three year old just NOW sleeps through the night most of the time.)

Simon, the 13 month old, is taking forever to fall asleep.  Then he sleeps for a few hours while I frantically work.  (I work from home.)  Then when I’m ready to try to sleep, he wakes up.  Forever and an hour later, he falls back asleep.  I lie down for 25 to 35 minutes until he wakes up.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’m t.i.r.ed.

Montessori Pin Cushion Work

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Yesterday, I sewed Oliver a superhero cape (that was possibly supposed to have been a Christmas gift.  From 2012).  He’s been flying through the house so all my pictures of it have been a blur.  While I was working, he worked too on a pin cushion activity with my pins.  Yes, they are real pins. He carefully takes a pin out and puts it in the bowl or sometimes, from the bowl to the pin cushion.  As you can see from his face, this is important work.

He attends a Montessori preschool and I have been absolutely blown away at what he can really do as a newly minted three year old.   Montessori assumes a child’s intelligence.  They assume that they CAN.  It’s such a difference than what we often assume about children.   That we should wait to let them handle real objects. That they can’t handle it or be careful enough to work with real household objects.  That they need help, big help, intervening help.  My three year old has learned how to do so many incredible things since he started this school six months ago.  Does he do everything perfectly?  Nope.  But he’s shown how to handle an object and he is allowed to do it.

I’m not trained in Montessori.  I’m a mom.  So please take my story with a grain of salt and the freedom to work with your child the way that works best for your family.  With this activity, I showed him how to move the pin from the cushion to the bowl.  Then the bowl to the pin cushion.  Sounds simple, but there are tenets of demonstration that I follow:

Demonstrate the activity silently.  If you are speaking, the child is watching your face or hearing you without listening well.  Move your hands, not your mouth if you can.  (This is hard for me.  Very hard.)

Exaggerate every movement.  I opened my hand wide then exaggerated my first finger and thumb coming together into a pincer grasp, then with a big movement, picked up each pin to move it.  You feel weird for sure, but the child can see your movement very clearly.

Get out of their way.  Don’t over demonstrate.  Don’t start talking about the activity.  Just back off and let them DO the activity!

Oliver didn’t prick himself once.

Sleep and sickness

When our kids are sick, we actually get more sleep.  I know, weird right?  But it’s due to them being exhausted and sometimes, like this time, due to medication.  Oliver is better and just fine.  The baby, Simon, is still battling a cold but hopefully it’s on its last dregs.  To help him breathe at night, we have a warm mist vaporizer in his room, his crib elevated, Olbas Oil on his chest, and yes, a dose of Benadryl.

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I do try to use non-medication tactics before giving meds to my kids.  Even for a fever, we try to let the body do its job before we pull out the medication to lower it.  We offer good nutrition, some sunshine each day, and lots of water.  But at night, when we are all already sleep deprived on a daily basis, I just want them to be able to sleep.  They can’t heal if they can’t sleep.

Annnnd Simon just presented with hives (strawberries from lunch? sickness?  grass from outside?).  Wish me luck.

The Littles Have a Cold

Oh the sadness that is a baby with a cold.

Cell phone 529Yes, that is a sick baby swaddled and propped up on a Ziggy pillowcase.

Both the little ones are sick, along with Daddy.  Head colds, for the lot of them.  Which means it is SNOT-TAY around here.  I don’t know when kids learn to wipe their nose on your shirt or hair, but even the one year old does it now.  The only saving grace is that they are tired and are allowed Benadryl.  Sweet, sweet benadryl.

Flying with Babies: To buy a seat or not

First point of the day: Both the little ones slept through the night last night.  BOTH OF THEM.

In other news, we recently took our kids into a flying tube and confined them for a number of hours.  Sounds super fun.  But hey, we got from point A to point B without needing a map and with the (hilariously low) possibility of taking a nap.  We flew domestically in the United States, so at least our flight was relatively short (4 ish hours).   With ticket prices not being cheap, it’s at least worth a discussion about if it’s worth it to buy your baby a seat of their own or have them fly for free as a lap child.  Our littlest two kids were just under 3 years (35 months) and 10 months on this trip.  Here’s was our plan:

Cell phone 1877

Buy that baby a seat.  Use a car seat.

Do it.  Seriously, I will not fly without babies in a car seat in their own bought seat.  I know, it’s free for a baby to fly domestically if they are under two years old.  I won’t do it.  The biggest reason is safety.  Do you know what you are supposed to do with your lap child in an emergency or really rough turbulence?  You are supposed to PUT THEM ON THE FLOOR at your feet so they aren’t a dangerous projectile to other passengers.

Yeah.

I can’t stomach that idea.  The problem with holding your child in an airplane is that in rough enough conditions, you physically cannot keep a hold of them.  A baby’s head hitting the upper deck during turbulence isn’t worth to me.  And putting them on the floor?  Oh hell no.

The other advantage of a baby or toddler in a car seat is that they are used to being in a car seat.  Mine are in a car seat in our car nearly every day, they have slept there, played there, looked out the window there and are comfortable already.  It’s a norm you can bring to a less normal situation.  And they are contained.  I mean, sure, contained for safety but also contained for less frustration for parent and child because the child is NOT expecting to get down and play too often.

If you know the flight isn’t full, you can take the decent chance that a seat will be open for your baby.  Buy a window and an aisle seat and hope no one needs the middle seat.  Bring the car seat all the way to the gate and if there is room, the flight crew should let you use the seat on the flight.  If there isn’t room on the plane, you can gate check the car seat.

But how do you schlep that car seat to the plane?  I know lots of car seats are nice and light and easier to transport, but most of those are still bulky.  We use a Diono Radian for both of our little ones.  It’s super slim and fits beautifully in a plane seat.  It’s easy to install in the plane making things even easier (ask for a seat extender from your flight attendant). But it’s heavy.  Like TWENTY FIVE pounds heavy.  That sucker is made out of steel.  I am not carrying that thing, even with the carrying strap it has.  Because heavy.  My husband carried it one year and that was the last time that is going to happen.

Instead, I strap the car seat to the luggage.  Deep in Amazon.com comments for a product that straps car seats to luggage I found a parent who shared this trick:

  1. Put your the LATCH strap through the back in the front-facing position.  In our Radian, this opening is more to the back rather than the bottom of the seat.
  2. Attach a 2-inch O-ring to the LATCH clips.
  3. Snuggle the seat up to the front of your carry-on roller suitcase and pull the top tether through the top suitcase handle.
  4. Pull those LATCH strap + O-rings combo to the back of your carry-on, on the side with the luggage handle, pull the strap through it.
  5. Attach your top tether to one of the O-rings.  If things don’t quite pull around together, a few carabiner clips (99 cents at Home Depot) will do the trick to extend your strap.
  6. Pull it all tight with your top tether adjustments.
  7. Tilt roller bag and pull behind you!

With this arrangement, we could pull our two heavy Radians through the airport, unclip the rig for security by unclipping one of the O-rings, clip it back to ride them to the gate and then all the way down the plane’s aisles to the seat.  When I put the car seats in the plane, I just shoved the strap and clip behind the seat.  The plane’s seatbelts worked perfectly in the forward-facing position without a seat extender needed.  We did not ride either kid rear facing in the plane, a decision we made after reading a lot of varying viewpoints.  Do what you feel is best for your family.

The suitcase rigging worked well for us, even if it’s not particularly elegant nor would I trust our older roller luggage pieces to hold the car seats with the kids IN them.  But it got us through the airports without too much effort.  We also brought an umbrella stroller and a sling for kid-containment.  In all we brought three pieces of luggage, a larger checked bag and two roller bags with the car seats strapped to them, a toddler backpack that almost three year old carried himself, a diaper bag, and the two older boys each had a backpack.  For six people, that’s not too shabby!

Being able to stick the littles into a car seat on the plane was a huge help to us.   Heck, they even slept for (small) portions of the ride!