Tag Archives: sleep

Going to sleep

X had completed yet another milestone. Shortly after turning 18 month old, he was capable of going to bed by himself. To begin with, he had always slept in his own room from Day 1. When his cot was converted to bed, he would always get off and run amok in the house. Mr H would shepherd him back to bed and watch over him till he slept. I never had such patience.

One night, Mr H went out for late night drinks with his friends. I brought both boys out for dinner, window shopped, watched TV and played.

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We had a mightily good time. By 11pm, I was tired. Z had gone to bed but X was still very active. He refused to listen to me, so I filed a complaint message to Mr H, who was going to reach home in another 15 minutes, and stormed off to bed.

The next morning, Mr H told me that X was already in bed when he got home. It sparked off the spell of X learning to go to bed on his own and without someone sitting by his bedside.

Guess this lucky streak fell on our laps rather unexpectedly.

Kids.

To fellow parents, it would never hurt to make your opinions known to kids. They might actually grant your wish some times!

Graduating from infantcare

With a startling reminder, X graduated from infantcare and joined the playgroup officially.

It was an official mark of toddlerhood.

A while back, I stopped bringing X up to class because he would cry after I dropped him, as though he was too attached to me. Recently, I heard from Mr H that X would be very cheerful upon reaching the school.

He had also started to understand the concept of sleeping and would go to bed by himself. There was no need for us to sit by his bed and watch him fall asleep.

When he saw skate scooters, he would step on it and try to skate. That was a pretty good and brave attempt.

He had been fervent and consistent on self-feeding too. He was doing a better job than Z at this age.

I supposed the cutest thing was when he understood the concept of throwing and kicking balls.

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My little boy had outgrown his 18 months of infancy.

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The night routine

We had a habit of tucking Z in bed and kissing him good night, like most parents.

Since X had been ’empowered’ to get up and down his bed, there were nights where X was tucked in and he would climb down to go to Z’s room.  He would kiss and hug Z before returning to his room for bed.

I thought that was the sweetest and cutest thing ever.

X also like to perch himself at the bay window and take in the night views.  He would spend 10 minutes admiring the window view and climbed back to his bed.  Another timely reminder to enjoy life and smell the roses.

We could tell that X really enjoyed the ‘ownership’ of his own room.  He would adjourn to his room whenever he felt like a quick rest, that was not unlike Z who used to troop back to his own room for naps.

 

Further enhancement to Z’s room

We had headed down to Flexa to place order for the extension parts to convert his bed to a loft bed.

His basic bed (called the Nelly) was going to be converted to a loft bed with straight ladders (called the Claire).  The Nelly had not been too pricey and we had liked that it was a regular single sized bed with a bed guard for its perimeter.  It was lower than an average bed so that Z could climb up and down with ease when he was 3 years’ old.

We had moved him to this Flexa Nelly bed when X came along and took over the cot.  Now that Z was approaching 5 years’ old, we increased the height of the bed to create a mid-height loft.  We had added curtains for the base of the loft.  Z chose the ‘Knights’ theme.  We foresaw a lot of playing and acting for both kids at the loft.

We added a bookshelf ledge and slip-on back cushions for his bed to create a conducive reading environment.

In 2-3 years’ time, we might even increase the height of his loft bed when he was old enough to require proper writing table.

We could not wait for the extensions and parts to come.

The permutations of a Flexa bed were so flexible and fun that I found it a really good investment.

Roomwarming party for X

 

 

As a follow-up to the room transformation, I decided to throw a cosy roomwarming party for X.  I wanted to create an anchor in his mind of the new milestone in his life.  These were part of my parenting strategy to show X that we understood and acknowledged that he was in a new phase of his life.  We should not be referring to him as a baby.  We were aware that he had opinions, a little mind of his own and we were ready to embrace all of that.

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A simple party in X’s room20140706-195035-71435594.jpg

X was thrilled that we made such a big fuss out of the whole thing.  He was already very pleased with his ‘new’ room.  Throw a party where he was the guest of honour?  He was majorly pleased.  We ate, chatted and fooled around.

I got to ‘serious business’ and told X that being a toddler meant he knew the world better.  However, he was no longer a baby and should not resort to crying to demand his way all the time.  X seemed to understand this bit and was even shaking his head when asked if he had been a good boy.

I also asked Z to share some tips with X on how to be a good toddler.  Z explained to X that he was to eat faster (this was more of a problem for Z), listen to daddy and mummy as well as to take care of his toys.

The revamp of the room and the party had made a significant impact on little X.

It was a recognition of the ‘upgrade’ in status.  X also seemed more reasonable in accepting some of our explanations when we were not able to give in to his odd demands such as eating wet wipes.  Toddlers had a different agenda of their own, a different perception of the world and too strong willed to accept deviations.

By our show of acknowledgement, I wanted X to feel that we heard his little voice.

And it worked.

 

 

Same bed, new room

A homebound weekend due to hfmd meant that we had time to tidy up the house and rearrange the rooms for the kids, especially X.

Every time the child got a little too challenging and beyond our control, my strategy was to up the game and throw him into a new dimension. X and his upcoming terrible 2s’ tantrums were bad. A week into his tantrums made me decide that it was time to transform his room.

A pity that I failed to take the before picture. He was using the cot and his room was very functional. He only used it for sleeping, bathing and diapering. We occasionally played in his room but those were mainly baby toys, aka boring stuffs.

Mr H converted the cot bed to a toddler bed. This $369 cot bed was in its 5th year running. It had served Z for 1.5 years as a cot bed, 1.5 years as a toddler bed, converted back to cot bed to serve X for 1.5 and a refreshed start now to a toddler bed for X.

We dressed up the room, rearranged the storage of toys (akin to shifting of ‘powers’ from Z to X) and allowed X the freedom to get off his bed at any time.

X was majorly pleased with the change.

So were we.

We also took the chance to rearrange Z’s room to improve accessibility to books and planned to modify his Flexa bed system to make it a fun place to hangout.

X’s revamped room
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Z’s revamped room – to be further enhanced
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I dug out an old photo of Z’s toddler room and compared to X’s toddler room. Very consistent looking, I had to say for myself!
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Meanwhile, a decluttered (of toys) home was a delight to my OCD senses. I loved the neatness so much that it felt like a new house to me.

Love for my kids had forced me to close a blind eye to the mess. Now that Z was a lot older, I hoped that by showing him a tidy side of things would guide him to maintain the neatness and orderliness.

Wish us luck!

Getting your babies & toddlers to sleep

Good habits started from young the womb.

Once was lucky, twice probably meant there was some logic involved.  I slept regular hours during both pregnancies and both Z & X seemed to attune to that by sleeping through from 6 weeks’ onwards.

We had heard advices on diluting the milk and reading up on books to make babies sleep.  I had flipped through Gina Ford at Borders and promptly switched off.  However, I thought the most logical advice as given by my antenatal class instructor was communication.

1. Help babies to differentiate night & day via a sundown routine of wiping down, doing baby massage, informing them that it was night time & changing into long sleeved pyjamas.
My take: We took this a step further.  We planned a routine as guidance but things would always change on the ground.  Be flexible and move along.  As long as both babies and parents were happy, why stick strictly to 8pm or 9pm for that matter?  If they slept so early, they would also wake up early!  By being flexible, both kids also adapted to our flexible schedules if we had dinners with guests or friends.

2. A overly tired baby is unlikely to sleep well.
My take:  This is true.  Even as adults, if we had stayed up past our bedtimes, it would be harder to fall asleep.  We could count sheep and force ourselves to sleep, but babies?  How? It was my job during maternity leave to ensure that the baby napped sufficiently by hook or by crook – be it rocking for hours in the rocker while I watched TV or strapping in a baby carrier while shopping for groceries or heading out. I would also provide them a workout on the play gym I.e. 5 minutes kicking at the play gym, 5 minutes ‘leg cycling’, 5 minutes on the tummy, 5 minutes reading, 5 minutes playing with toys and learning to grasp. At 2-4 months’ old, their energies could be expend quite easily. One of my favorites was to let them swim with a neckfloat. They would kick so much that they would sleep for eons thereafter.

3. Do not pick them up at the slightest whims at night
My take: It could be false alarm at times.  To be more accurate, only when they broke into huge tears would we wake up and attend to them.  Z was a tad too long ago to recall but Baby X was so used to not being picked up that he would be happy to roll about in his own bed quietly till I went to his room.

4. Diluting the milk
My take: I believed babies would only wake up for milk because they were hungry.  If your child required the additional resources, why deprive him/her of it?  Until you encountered the other extreme of milkstrike, you would be very thankful for every single milk-drinking opportunity.

5. Crying it out
My take: This used to be my default school of thought.  The elders used to say things like the babies could be manipulative so we should carry them less and should force them to accept the reality that they were just supposed to sleep through the night.  Until I read ‘Science of Parenting’ which explained that babies were incapable of manipulative thoughts because their brains were not so developed yet.  They would cry out of instinct i.e. fear, hunger, discomfort.  If you understood the science behind it, would you bear to let your baby howl for hours?  We had tried that with Z for 2 nights of 45min after confinement had ended.  It was so heartbreaking and Mr H put a foot down on it.  You know what?  Eventually, due to good habit nurtured from the start, Z eventually slept through the night from 6 weeks onwards.  The ‘Science of Parenting’ also explained that excessive crying was bad for the baby’s development because they would always lack a sense of security and hindered their independence.  On hind sight, I thought that was largely true.  Z was always assured that we would be there for him, even to date.  Besides, wasn’t it an ironic trend to be stingy with hugs and cuddles whilst they were babies and spoiled them by giving in to their unreasonable demands as a toddler?

6. Mind over matter
My take: Babies could feel our frustration.  We should always be calm when handling the babies, more so when putting them to bed.  We should also be confident that we could make them sleep because I believed they could feel our resolve and determination, regardless of how this sounded.  If the babies could feel that ‘we mean business’, it was half the battle won.

7. Sleeping apart
My take: If this arrangement was possible and comfortable within the household, it was actually good to sleep apart.  I did not start off planning to sleep in separate rooms from Z.  However, when we planned our matrimonial home, we custom-built a number of fixtures, rendering impossible to squeeze a cot in the room.  We did not think it was safe to co-sleep with a baby on a Queen-size bed either.  Hence, that was how we ended up sleeping in separate rooms from Day 1.  I was a light sleeper and I was breastfeeding exclusively.  I would wake up at night to change diapers and nurse him before he had the chance to cry and wake up.  Even when Z dropped the dream feeds, I still woke up to express milk for stockpile and would check on him.  Hence, Baby X also slept by himself in his own room since Day 1.  This time round, Mr H was the light sleeper and would rouse to Baby X’s cries.

What was the ultimate goal of doing all of the above?  We wanted our children to have a well-rested sleep so that they would not be cranky the next day, and most importantly – so that we could have a good sleep too.

As a very light sleeper, the slightest movements and breathing sounds would disturb my sleep.  I was very thankful that both children did not co-sleep with us on the same bed or in the same room.

When Z could walk, he would walk to our bedroom and tell us that he did not want to sleep in his own room.  Despite a history of owning the room and sleeping by himself, he still wanted company.  That was when pointer #8 came in to seal the deal.

8. Marketing their own room to them

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We converted his cot bed to a toddler bed.  I positioned all his toys within reach.  Then I re-launched his room to him.  At appx 12~14 months’ old, Z was delighted.  He claimed full ownership to the room and was not interested in our company.  He would play till he slept, or played the moment he woke up.

Later on, whenever he changed his mind about not sleeping by himself, we only had to remind him about how sad his toys would get, he would be caught in two minds and always opted to return to his room.  Of course, Pixar helped – with the Toy Story cartoon.

The cot was  also the best $369 investment ever made because Z used it for 3 years before handing over to X and X was 9 months into using this same cot.