Tag Archives: sleep training

Astrid – Why, Why, Why?

Family Day Fun

It started suddenly without warning and has been a non-stop barrage since. On February 18, Astrid asked her first “Why?” question. I don’t remember what it was about but my response was promptly followed by a follow-up “Why?”. As many parents know, “Why?” is the perfect question because no matter how thorough the answer, you can always go deeper with another “Why?”.

I like encouraging her curiosity and answer as much as I can, but after the 5th why I usually have to respond with “Why do you think?”

Snow What!?

February was an unusually snowy month in Vancouver, including a full-on Snow Day on February 12 when all the schools and daycares shut down. It was cool to see all the kids running around the neighbourhood and enjoying a rare blast of real Canadian winter.

Crazy Carpet

Too bad Astrid hated it. The snow was too ‘crunchy’ and cold and she would only watch her friends tobogganing, complaining the whole time.

Cookies

In January Astrid started on a new asthma medication, Advair, and it seems to be having a huge impact. We’ve now gone 45 days without any asthma symptoms, which is a new record. Astrid had one cold in early March and even though she was coughing she never got wheezy. It was nice just having a normal sick kid with a runny nose without worrying about when we would have to take her to the hospital.

Advair is definitely more expensive than the other medications we’ve tried (it works out to about a $1 per puff) because there is no generic version. However, after sending doctor approval to the province’s Fair Pharmacare program and our health insurance provider, we now have 80% of the costs covered.

Vomit Train

Although we’ve avoided asthma problems, we haven’t been completely healthy. Stomach bugs (probably norovirus) ripped through our family in February. Astrid and I were sick twice, with vomiting and diarrhea. Grandma got it too. Emily got mild symptoms from the first bug and somehow avoided the second one. I was just glad we weren’t all sick at the same time so there was always one person with energy to look after the rest of the family.

On a more positive note, Astrid has avoided a tooth extraction, at least for now. After she knocked her tooth out last month, her root extraction was delayed because she got really sick. By the time she was healthy again the gums had healed over. We’re now hoping her body is able to take care of it on its own, but if it gets infected she will have to have surgery to remove it.

Crokinole

Astrid has turned into a very compassionate toddler. When I get home from work she always asks “how’s your day, Daddy?” and “what did you eat at New Hippopotamus?”. When Emily was sick, she started every morning by asking her “you feeling better?”. It might be more of a routine than genuine concern, but it’s still nice.

Puzzle with Grammy

When Astrid was really sick in January we abandoned all our independent sleep practices and often slept in her room. After she was better we were still spending up to an hour in her room waiting for her to fall asleep. If we tried sneaking out early, she would just come find us a few minutes later. Now that she’s no longer sleeping in crib we had to find a new approach to sleep training.

Based on some ideas in this blog post, we decided to try confining her to her room by holding the door closed. A few minutes after we left the room, she tried to open the door. We held the door closed and asked her to go back to sleep. She tried every trick to delay bedtime. She asked for a snack, asked for another story, said she had to pee, asked for help with her blanket, and even took off her socks and asked us to put them back on. When that didn’t work she cried and got upset. Through the door, we encouraged her to sleep and sang to her. When she really got upset, we went in once to calm her down but otherwise stuck to the strategy.

It took 60 minutes the first night and 45 minutes the second, but after 4 nights she went to sleep on her own without trying to escape. Since then she’s resisted on a few occasions (especially after daylight savings time kicked in) and figured out some new tricks like pushing books under the door and turning the light on, but it’s been much better. Fingers crossed, but she hasn’t figured out she can watch youtube on the iPad we use as a white noise machine.

Mornings have also been better since we got the Gro-Clock. She always waits for the sun now (programmed for 7 am) before coming into our bedroom to wake us up.

After her sleeping improved we let her have a sleepover at Grandma’s house. She did pretty well, although she woke up at 6 am and crawled into Grandma’s bed.

Painting

Astrid loves painting and doing art. We’ve let her curate her own gallery.

Art Gallery

New skills for Astrid include putting together puzzles, identifying around 10 letters, and counting to 13.

Fairy Whale

More pictures of February and March.

Baby Data Nerd

ProjectAstrid.jpg

It’s time to unveil Project ASTRID – Analytic System Tracking Rapid Infant Development.

I’ve been working on it for the past two months in my spare time. It’s a webapp hosted on Github Pages that visualizes some of the baby data we’ve been tracking. Originally, I just wanted to analyze Astrid’s sleeping patterns, but the website has morphed into a digital baby book with milestones and growth charts. I’m still adding features to it, but it’s polished enough that I’m happy to share it.

The chart below is probably the most interesting one I’ve created so far because it quantifies the quality of Astrid’s sleep. It shows her night sleeps, with the longest stretch in blue, the second longest in red, and the remainder in orange. Like all parents, our goal has been to get Astrid to sleep through the night. So that means getting as much blue as possible.

overnight_sleep.png

On October 7, after weeks of crappy sleeping, we started sleep training with Astrid. We didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a steady improvement over the next month. Then we hit sleep bliss. Astrid slept for 12 hour stretches every night for 3 weeks. We were living every parent’s dream. But last month, we hit the dreaded sleep regression. Luckily it only lasted 2 weeks (although it felt like it would never end at the time) and things have been better lately. We’re still waiting for those consistent 12-hour nights again, but she’s only waking up once a night right now, which seems very manageable.

Project ASTRID is open-source and adaptable for anyone else who might want to use it for their own child. Although realistically I know I’m probably the only one who likes having this much data about their baby. I just hope that one day our daughter appreciates the nerdy, data-heavy view of her early life, or at least isn’t completely embarrassed by it.

Astrid: Month Five

Tummy Time
Our little girl is now five months old and not so little anymore. She continues to grow and mature at a rapid pace, and is still in the 75th percentile for weight and height.

Standing Up Assisted
Astrid’s biggest development leap in the past month has been learning to stand with some assistance. She still doesn’t roll over or sit up on her own, but she loves standing, especially when she can look out the window. She’s jumped a few milestones but I’m sure she’ll figure out rolling and sitting soon.

Sleeper

Our sleep training last month has paid off and she now regularly sleeps through the night, often in 10-12 hour stretches. We have a nice bedtime routine with lullaby music, a feeding, a fresh diaper, changing her into a nightgown, and reading a story. Then the lights go off and the white noise is turned on. Some nights she falls asleep on her own and sometimes she needs some help with a soother and some bouncing.

More Interested in the Cat
There are lots of little changes in her personality and perception of the world. She’s taken an interest in our cat for the first time, reaching out to grab his tail. Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind. She also gets distracted during feedings for the first time, with any new noise pulling her attention away from eating. She has much better coordination and is able to pick things up, use both hands to hold things, and bring toys to her mouth.

Chewing on her spoon

She’s teething madly and loves to chomp on anything nearby. At dinnertime we give her frozen washcloths and a rubber spoon to chew on. I’ve tried giving her solid food a few times (avocado and pear), but she’s not interested yet.
Eating Avocado

She had a very infrequent month for poops, a few times going 8 days without a bowel movement. Luckily that pattern seems to have changed in the past few days, although it does mean more messy work for us.

More pictures …
Continue reading Astrid: Month Five

Astrid: Month Four

Too Big for the Bassinet Astrid’s fourth month was all about sleep, and what happens when she doesn’t get enough. It’s been a slow transition, but we’ve gone from being easy going parents who let their child sleep whenever she wants (with lots of rocking, bouncing, and stroller walks) to obsessing about naps and bedtimes. Sleep training hasn’t been easy, but I think it’s been worth it.

Astrid started the month with poor sleeping habits and it only got worse for the first few weeks. After reading too many sleep books and blogs, we realized she had built up a sleep debt and we needed to be more vigilant about ensuring she got enough sleep.
Too Many Baby Sleep Books

Before we could make any changes, everyone got sick. First Emily and Astrid got colds. A congested baby doesn’t not sleep well. Then a week later, I got a nasty flu that sidelined me for a week (luckily I managed to keep it to myself).

The sleep problems have been compounded by Astrid’s early teething. I think we’re still a few months away from her first teeth, but she loves gnawing on things and sucking on frozen washcloths and soothers now.

Teething with a Frozen Washcloth

On October 7, after a few weeks of frequent night wakeups and a grumpy baby during the day, we let Astrid sleep in the swing overnight (following some of the recommendations from Precious Little Sleep). It seemed unnatural to have her in a moving swing all night, but we were ready to try anything to get a good night’s sleep. Even though she was buckled in, we didn’t entirely trust the swing and worried she would somehow fall out of it, so one of us spent the night with her just in case (at least for the first few nights).

The first night she slept in the swing felt like a miracle. She slept for 6 hours and then another 4. The next few nights weren’t quite as miraculous but over the course of the month we’ve slowly increased the amount of sleep she gets every night and how long she goes between feedings (at least at night). She’s even sleeping in to anywhere from 8 to 9:30 in the morning. Some other things that have helped:

  • Moved bedtime earlier – from 9:00 pm to 7:30 pm.
  • We’ve been conscious about putting her down drowsy but not completely asleep, so she can learn how to fall asleep on her own. This is definitely still a work in progress.
  • Use the soother to calm her but try to remove it before she falls asleep.
  • We’re slowly transitioning off the swing. We don’t run it all night anymore. After she falls into a deep sleep we turn it off but leave her in the swing. Next step is to get her sleeping in the crib.
  • We’ve managed to cut out the midnight feeding (huge triumph in the past week). Sometimes she still wakes up but we can usually sooth her back to sleep. So now she’s sleeping from 7:30 pm until her 2:00 am feeding. And then sleeping until a 6:00 am feeding.

Although the past week has been a good sleep week (which is giving an overly cheery tone to this blog post), we’ve also learned that we can’t expect consistency. I don’t think we’ve had two consecutive days with the same sleep schedule. When we put her down to sleep, we never know how long she’ll sleep for. She definitely keeps us on our toes.

Cat in the Crib

During the day, we’ve been more strict about naps. We used to play with her until she started getting really vocal and upset. Then she would refuse to nap, screaming at any attempt to help her fall asleep, even though she was visibly tired. After reading more about napping, we realized we were overstimulating her.

Now, we watch how much awake time she has between naps and try to get her to sleep if she’s been awake for 1.5-2 hours. At the first sign of tiredness (a yawn or a face rub), it’s nap time. Sometimes she naps in the crib, sometimes in the swing.

So that’s been our foray into sleep training. Obviously still a lot of work to do, especially transitioning her out of the swing and into her crib, but we’re in a way better position than we were a few weeks ago.

Happy Thanksgiving

Other than our obsession about sleeping, we’ve still had a lot of fun times with Astrid. Baba and Dido visited from Manitoba for a long weekend.

Baba and Dido Tim

And we’ve had a few visits from the grandmas.

Ladies

For the most part, Astrid is very healthy and continues growing along the 75th percentile and is hitting her development goals. She reaches out for things and is grabbing toys.  She enjoys tummy time a lot more and has come close to rolling over on her own, but she hasn’t quite figured it out yet. She really likes the new songs that Emily has learned, like Peek-A-Boo and Roly-Poly.

Workout

The biggest worry is she hasn’t pooped in 8 days. We’re not panicking yet because she only drinks breast milk (which doesn’t generate a lot of waste) and she still seems happy and is not experiencing any pain. We’ve been letting her play without a diaper, daring her to poop, but so far no messes to clean up. If this lasts any longer we’ll be calling the public health nurses for advice.

Kale Bouquet
Maybe she needs more greens in her diet

Bumbo
Sitting in the Bumbo

Stuffed Animal Line
Conga Line

Ordering Sushi
Ordering sushi

Stroller
Monkey Business

Astridnaut
Astridnaut in training

Toy Time
Toy time

Astrid: Month Two

Beach Time
Happy 2 month birthday to our little girl, Astrid. It feels like we’re getting the hang of being parents and she’s establishing a more predictable routine. It hasn’t been all sunshine and beach parties, but things are getting easier, especially over the past 2 weeks.

The biggest change is that we feel more rested and less exhausted than we did last month. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re adapting to life with less sleep or she’s sleeping better. Probably both.

Mobile View

Parenting is becoming less of a chore and more fun. Astrid is more interactive – she smiles, makes happy baby noises, and reacts to sounds and objects around her. She really loves the mobile Emily made for her. When she’s awake and happy she’ll stare it for up to an hour as it slowly spins above her. She also likes hanging out with her stuffed animal friends – Maurice the mischievous monkey, Pauline the perky penguin, and Ekua her elephant spirit guide.

Last week Emily took Astrid to the library for story time. Astrid was the youngest baby there and slept through the whole thing, but Emily learned a bunch of kids songs that she enjoys singing with Astrid.

Animal Party

We still don’t have a life outside of the baby and it’s tough to plan anything. Astrid doesn’t have much of a schedule, except for one day a few weeks ago when Emily freaked about sleep training and tried putting her on a rigid nap schedule. That proved to be more effort than it was worth, so now we’re back to letting her nap when she’s tired.

For the most part she feeds every 2 1/2 hours during the day and spends the rest of the time awake and playful or cat napping. Her only scheduled activity right now is bath time – Wednesday and Sunday evenings around 8 pm. It helps calm her down and sleep better. We try to get her to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 pm.

Bath Time

We’ve been lucky she’s been developing some good overnight sleep habits over the past two weeks, without us having to stress too much about it. Most nights (fingers crossed), she goes to bed at 9 pm and sleeps until 2 or 3 am (a good 5-6 hour stretch). Then she feeds and goes back to sleep until 6 am. At 6 am, I take her and Emily goes back to bed. We do playtime for an hour and then I try to get her to nap for an hour.

Anna, Astrid, and Zoe

During the day, she cat naps for short stretches (up to 30 minutes) in the stroller, carrier, or on the floor with a soother in. The only way to get her to have a long nap is to put her in the swing. It usually knocks her out pretty quickly. I don’t know if that makes us lazy parents or smart parents, but it sure beats having to push the baby around in the stroller. At least this way we can do other stuff, like eat, cook, and watch Netflix, while she’s napping.

Messy Reward Donuts

Astrid is a very regular pooper. A pretty consistent 5 poopy diapers a day, and you have to be careful when changing her because sometimes she tries to sneak one in before the new diaper is on. We’ve started a tradition where you get a donut every time you’re pooped on. It was Emily’s idea (she’s had a few poop explosions while breastfeeding) and I think it’s just an excuse for her to eat more donuts. But she usually gets one for me too (even though I’ve only been peed on), so I’m not going to argue with yummy vegan donuts.

1st Bottle Feeding
My biggest triumph of month 2 is successfully bottle feeding Astrid. I’ve done it 3 times now and it was pretty easy (twice at 6 am while Emily slept). We’re lucky that Astrid has no problem drinking from a bottle. We know a few babies who refuse to.

So the plan is to occasionally pump and I can take care of the odd feeding. That way Emily can leave the baby for more than 2 hours during the day or get a full night’s sleep when she needs it. It’s also nice for me to be involved in the feeding.

Astrid in the Garden

So we’re two months in, Astrid is healthy and happy, and we couldn’t ask for more. She has cradle cap and sensitive skin (she gets heat rashes easily and has some eczema on her legs), but otherwise she’s very healthy and gaining weight and a good rate. We don’t want to jinx it, but she’s a really sweet baby.

Pouty Faces