sleeping habits

Toy Bear Breaks Down Sleep Barriers for the Baby

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You ... Complete me!

Many of the sleep issues we have struggled with in the past month have been severely agitated by the development of Maddie’s hand-eye coordination and her subsequent struggles with the pacifier. Once the baby learned that you could grab what you see – the pacifier became a real sleep liability.

Since Maddie has initiated the practice of taking the pacifier in and out of her mouth, it’s gone from a useful tool to a toy. (NOT GOOD) She is most proficient at taking the blasted thing out of her mouth, but putting it in properly is still a work in progress. Now when she sticks the pacifier into her mouth backwards or at the wrong angle, her mood breaks down in a big hurry.

If this sounds like it’s not a big deal, think again. These poor pacifier practices rob the family of approximately 6 hours of sleep per WEEK!!

Just when all hope seemed lost and we were ready to concede defeat, a nameless hero appeared from the ashes. It was a bear, no more than 18 inches long with a smart bow affixed to his collar. He doesn’t speak much, but he offered his paw in friendship to Maddie.

Maddie was reluctant at first, but quickly realized that this bear was someone who was also looking for a friend to comfort. Suddenly, the nasty pacifier lost its hypnotic hold over the baby. She was free to spit it out and take out any sleep-deprived frustrations on the bear with no name.

I don’t know how long this bear will be in Maddie’s good graces, but I hope he’s in for the long haul. I’ve offered him a 10-month contract with bonus potential for each additional hour of sleep we get each week. His agent has assured that we are good to go, now it’s all up to Maddie.

Maddie Undertakes Solo Nap Adventures

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Look into my eyes, you're feeling sleepy!

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. For the past month, Maddie has been taking all of her daytime naps snuggled tightly in my arms. Today we made the parenting decision that this practice was no longer viable and the baby was to begin napping on her own.

This is a radical shift for all parties involved, but apparently babies are supposed to sleep in the same place as much as possible. Maddie looked at me like I was crazy when I put her in the crib for the morning nap. I would like to tell you she took it well, but that was definitely not the case. No matter what we tried, she was more than happy to share her displeasure with all of those within earshot.

I also would be remiss to downplay the fact that this new sleep policy is just as tough on me. It was very hard to put Maddie down in the crib and have her wonder why the heck I wasn’t picking her right back up. I suppose there will be some sort of adjustment period and everything will go back to butterscotch and ponies soon enough. But for now, let’s just say we are not quite there yet.

As for Maddie, her early morning nap was basically cancelled due to lack of interest. No matter how tired she was, the baby flatly refused to go to sleep at all. However, time must heal all wounds, because her next sleep endeavor fared much better. This time her mom put her down and Maddie slept for more than two hours. For the most part, this was Maddie’s only true nap of the day, but it was certainly better than nothing.

Once Maddie woke up from her nap, we headed outside for a little fresh air to clear our heads. Despite the fact that it was significantly colder than it was yesterday, it took Maddie less than 20 minutes to pass out and go limp in the Bjorn. Upon discovering that the baby was asleep, it was time to hustle home to see if we could stretch it out. Of course the second we walked in the door, Maddie was awake again and ready to combat any further attempts at sleep.

Obviously today could have been much worse, but we will have to wait and see how she fares this weekend with her newly revised sleep guidelines.

Putting the Baby to Bed – Seven Times a Charm?

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Do I look tired to you?

Maddie, my precocious 6-month-old daughter, decided that tonight was the night where she would exert her will over her father and the entire household. Her strategy was sound, stand your ground, stay awake and defy those parental bedtime guidelines.

Bedtime is rarely a problem in our household as long as Maddie gets a decent nap during the day. Sadly, that did not happen. Maddie’s DOC Headband is giving her some skin issues so we had to go back to the headband technician at 1:30 this afternoon. The timing could not have been worse. We missed out on Maddie’s primetime naptime and that set the stage for a nighttime battle of epic proportions.

At 7pm, Maddie and her father began our established nighttime rituals. Take a bath, put on the jammas, say goodnight to the house, kill the lights and drink one last bottle. Everything went off like clockwork, the baby was nearly sleeping in my lap as I gently laid her in the crib.

You would have thought I lowered her into a pit of alligators. She went wild, flailing and screaming and giving her dad a little bit of “HELLO DOLLY!” Fair enough, I lifted her out of that “Crib of Horrors,” and snuggled her into my arms where she was quickly falling asleep yet again. I lowered her back into the crib and again the invisible Gremlins shocked her awake.

Now my little angle is inconsolable and I know what she wants. Her every cry and whimper speaks loud and clear, “PaPa, why don’t you just snuggle me all night long and we’ll call it even.” Now don’t get me wrong, I normally let that sweet little girl nap on me when she wants to – but at night, she stays in the DANG crib!

So now father and daughter are stuck – locked in a battle of wills where only one person will get their way. I know, without question, that Maddie will sleep better in her crib, so I really have no choice. For her sake, I must prevail.

After two more failed attempts, I took my disgruntled bundle of love back out into the living room. She smiled longingly at her grandmother, begging to be released from her father’s evil grasp. I handed Maddie over to her grandma and the baby smiled at me triumphantly! But when MiMi tried to put Maddie down to sleep, once again all Hades broke loose!

I recovered Sweet Madeleine from MiMi and restarted the arduous process of putting my baby to bed. After 90 short little minutes and six failed attempts, the princess was finally sleeping in her crib. Free at last, Free at last!

Sleep Slayer Resumes Her Wicked Ways

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Sleep is for the weak!

Whether it’s the new DOC headband or some diabolical conspiracy, Maddie the Sleep Slayer emerged from her lair Saturday night laying waste to all of those in her path. With her 6th month birthday just days away, the little girl spent the entire evening and early morning announcing her presence with authority.

The dream killer first struck just before 11pm and little did we know that this was just an appetizer for a night filled with sleepless thrills and chills. Normally we are able to pinpoint one distraction or another, but not this time.

When Maddie was at it again at 12:30am, I had a feeling the night was shot. The baby would wake up wildly unhappy and then completely chill out and smile each time we liberated her. The smile would fade into sleep within just a few minutes and then it was back into the crib. Forty minutes later, the princess was on the brink again and even a little bit of milk would only buy us another 90 minutes of sleep.

Maddie was obviously trying to soothe herself, but I we wonder if the DOC Headband is providing just enough discomfort to spoil a good night’s sleep. Even after several jarring wake up calls, the baby was again sounding the alarm at 3am. The parents were bobbing and weaving, but it was just a technicality, they were done and the baby knew it. The only work she had to do now was deliver the deathblow.

At 6am, in honor of MLK Day, Maddie let Freedom Ring yet again. I staggered over to her crib, lifted her out and her smile said it all, “I have a dream that one day every parent shall be awakened, every hope of sleep dashed, every drowsy eye opened so that all shall cater to my crooked night time schedule. Free of sleep oppression – Free of nap time – Free of all sleep no matter what form it might take – When we see that day brothers and sisters, we are truly free at last!”

Baby Annoyed With Parental Time Off

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We need to have a serious conversation

It was day we had looked forward to for some time. Gina’s mom had agreed to watch Maddie for an entire afternoon and the world was our oyster. We had a nice leisurely lunch, shopped for some baby clothes and even got to squeeze in a movie. We arrived home nice and relaxed, and of course excited to see the baby.

Gina and I wondered if Maddie would take notice of the fact that both of her parents had been AWOL at the same time. We would not have to wait long for an answer.

Just as we popped in the door – Maddie launched a test of the emergency broadcast screaming system. Judging by the fever pitch of her outburst – it sounded like a real emergency, even though it was just a drill.

I scampered up the stairs to greet my screeching angel hoping that the sight of her Dad would give her some solace. In theory, my plan worked well at first. The second Maddie saw me; she smiled and let me pick her up. Crisis averted, but only for about 45 seconds. This is when Maddie remembered that she owed Mom and Dad a little bit of payback.

Now the crying was back in full force and PaPa couldn’t help. Even when Mom stepped in, Maddie was still not a happy camper. We quickly realized that the baby was exercising her constitutional right to express her extreme displeasure.

We later learned that Maddie had spent the entire afternoon boycotting naptime, so she was obviously pretty warn out. When it comes right down to it, you really have to respect this little lady who is never afraid to share her frank and well-constructed opinions with us.

Baby Loving the Attention, Hating the Insomnia

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Why would I sleep at a time like this?

Being in a new house surrounded by throngs of loving aunts and uncles is a great way for a five–month-old to spend the holidays, but it can be very taxing on the baby’s sleep schedule. This came to light around 4:45 this morning when I heard my wife say to me, “Honey, I’m so tired, can you take Maddie for me?”

Well of course I can! I stumbled out of bed and gently lifted my little girl into my arms – Her feet were kicking wildly and she was obviously ready for some thrills and action! After a quick diaper change, we made our way downstairs for a little bit of holiday cheer.

After about five laps around the kitchen and the living room, Maddie was restless and contemplating a shocking wakeup treatment call for the entire household. This is when we decided to take an early morning drive and perhaps try to coax out some that early morning energy.

I got Maddie all bundled up all nice and warm before we began our car journey to destinations unknown. I had just strapped Maddie into the car seat when she suddenly decided that this was not the best time for a car trip. She was quick with the anger and more than happy to give me the business just as we eased out of the driveway, I reached into the back and let Maddie hold my pinkie as a peace offering.

Maddie fiercely gripped the finger and tried to decide whether or not this was a worthwhile gesture. After we made it about 300 yards down the road it really didn’t matter any longer, because the baby was fast asleep.

We drove around for about an hour and even got the chance to visit a McDonald’s drive-thru. By the time we arrived back at home, all sins were forgiven and Maddie had a nice little nap under her belt.

As it turned out, she would need every second of that sleep, because putting her bed later that night was all but impossible. As we know from past experience, it will take a day or two to get Maddie comfortable and sleeping well in a new setting.

Maddie Gets Serious About Sleeping

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Do Not Disturb

A little less than two weeks ago, Maddie and her parents were going toe to toe on the sleep issue. Way back then, Maddie considered naps to be up there with crimes against humanity. All attempts to put the cherub down for a nap were met with great vengeance and furious anger. Most of the time, either one of us could be treated to some crying or screaming during these unjust periods.

What a difference a week makes. Gina figured out that Maddie was on about a 3-hour sleep cycle and so we have been trying to put Maddie to sleep before the 180-minute countdown expires. It was hard at first, but naptime seems to finding itself into our daily culture. Maddie loves to change things up of course, but for now, the bear within baby is content to bulk up on some hibernation like slumber.

Maddie has really initiated the change as she consistently improves upon her own ability to soothe herself. This has been nothing short of impressive to her parents who observe her every sleeping moment on the video monitor.

There was a time when Maddie’s arms were public enemy number one when it came to her trying to get some sleep. They would flail around during her attempts at sleep which would often shock her awake. Now, the baby is using both of her hands to soothe herself. She mimics the motions of a person who is drying their hands under one of those sanitary fast food hand driers. It’s not a quick process, but she is getting a little better at it with each sleep attempt.

What’s also fascinating is that we have been told multiple sources that sleep begets sleep – the more you get during the day, the better you sleep at night. For the time being, this is also working out in our favor.

The baby’s increased sleep also seems to be taking the edge off of those funny little pre-nap tantrums Maddie was so fond of throwing. But there is one lesson we are reminded of time and time again – every time we learn something new about parenting – at least nine unanswered questions take its place.

Baby Burning Holiday Candle at Both Ends

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Why would I take a nap at a time like this?

Once again (just like Thanksgiving) Maddie has renewed her own personal holiday tradition of boycotting sleep. This weekend, Maddie used holiday activities like shopping and visiting friends as a platform to strike down naptime as completely uncalled for.

This nap drought was NOT due to a lack of trying by her parents – Maddie was put down in her crib time and time again, only to rise like a warring Phoenix from the ashes. She woke time and time again screaming and demanding liberation from the confines of her crib and the terrible injustice of naptime.

If there is even the slightest hint of any activity in the house, Maddie is determined to place herself in the center of it like she did this weekend. It doesn’t help that she is always more than happy to charm and delight anyone who enters our home. We had some friends come over for a little holiday cheer this afternoon, and the Madster was in full entertainment mode.

As soon as she spotted our friends Dan and Michelle, a huge welcoming smile spread across her face. She batted her eyes and let them know she was ready to play and ready to party.

Everyone was having a great time, but after a couple of hours, Maddie began to rub her eyes. This is the telltale sign that our little treasure is losing stream and needs a nap. Mom shuttled her away and began the unenviable task to trying to put our little lion club down for a nap.

It lasted for all of 15 minutes before the little war eagle was screeching from her bedroom yet again. Gina went back and forth with her until the angel was back out front with us living the dream.

It’s nice to fantasize that naptime will get easier with Madeleine, but we have actually come to grips with the fact that our little girl will likely be combating naptime for years to come.

Maddie Using Sleep to Combat Vaccination Blues

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Forgot my coffee!

Two days after our vaccination misadventures, Maddie is feeling a little bit better, but still struggling to sleep off all the nasty drugs churning in her system.

The baby not only slept until seven this morning (WHICH IS A MIRACLE!) but is making sure to catch extended catnaps at every turn. The first nap came after we had a couple pieces of furniture delivered this morning, including a new recliner! As soon as the delivery guys left, Maddie and her PaPa raced over to check out the new recliner. We looked at each other and decided to take that bad boy for a drive.

We plopped down into our new seat and Maddie knew exactly what to do – she passed out dead asleep in my arms in less than a minute. It was an hour and half before she finally woke up, but it was clear that this little nap of hers was just an appetizer. It was also apparent that this new recliner might work out very nicely in our happy home.

I really had to prod Maddie during her afternoon feeding just to keep her awake. The baby was only half way through the bottle when it became obvious that she couldn’t finish. Just before Maddie fell asleep, we decided to pay one more visit to the new recliner in case it was feeling lonely.

The leather chair greeted us like a long lost friend. Maddie’s little temper was flaring, but as soon as we settled in, the chair’s comfort assumed control of the situation. Maddie and PaPa both succumbed to the charm of the chair as we were forced to take another nice long nap.

Maddie ended up sleeping for two full hours and indicated that she is a big fan of the new chair! Good job Mom!

Sleep Terrorist Takes Down Parents

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The monkeys made me do it!

College and professional sports coaches are often quoted as saying that nothing good ever comes from a phone call that wakes them up at 3am. The same can almost be said for parents who get woken up by tiny sleep terrorists like my 4-month-old daughter Maddie. OK – that’s not true at all, when I see that smiling little face, it really doesn’t matter what time it is, even though we have been stunned awake at 3am on back-to-back mornings.

The interesting thing is that the baby is waking up very happy. There’s no anger, she’s just impossibly wide awake for 3am. As parents, we take full responsibility for the baby’s recent sleep issues. We recently changed some of our sleep procedures for Maddie and obviously she has some objections she would like to voice. We recently moved the baby out of our room and into the crib in her own room. So far, she’s not a big fan of this shift and I have to admit that I really miss having her in the same room with us.

So as we deal with this transition period, little Madeleine’s sleep schedule is all over the place. So far, the only place I can get her to sleep after 3am is in my arms. Again, I would love to complain about this, but having my little girl asleep in my arms is way up there for the things I love about my life.


I have to admit that the lack of sleep has been a little bit debilitating and the baby’s temper tantrums during naptime are completely off the chart. She screamed (and I mean screamed) for ten full minutes every dang time I tried to put her down for a nap.

However, the process of building good sleep habits must press on and if Maddie is forced to take naps with her PaPa, he really couldn’t be happier!