Thursday, July 15, 2010

Multiples & More - Question of the Week!

How do you encourage healthy sleep habits in your children? 
* When they were infants, how did you get your babies to sleep/nap at the same time?
In this instance, I would have to consider this a positive thing that came out of our 4 week NICU stay.  The boys were immediately put on a 3 hour schedule.  They would be woke up every 3 hours to have their temperature taken, have their diaper changed and be fed.  We continued this routine when we came home from the hospital.  We didn't change it at all!  As they got a little older, we simply increased the length of time they would be allowed to sleep.  Luckily, they pretty much slept the same amount of time.  If one woke up and it wasn't too early to wake up, we would get the other one up.  Keeping them on a sleeping/feeding schedule was the MOST IMPORTANT thing we did and it made things easier on us and them!   
At one point we ran into Cameron waking up in the middle of the night (around 5 or 6 months old), and it was a struggle to get him back to sleep.  We would leave their bedroom to avoid him waking up Daniel (anything to avoid waking up baby #2!).  The only thing that would calm him down was laying in bed with me.  I SWORE I would NEVER bring my babies to bed with me for many reasons.  Mainly I was afraid I would role over on top of them!  However, we learned that when Cameron was cradled in my arms in bed with me and my husband, I didn't move a muscle while we slept.  And if my husband woke up to his crying and I was still sleeping, he would bring him in and put him in my arms while I slept.  Cameron would stop crying, and go back to sleep.  Here is where my Mommy Instincts were in high gear and my mind and body knew he was next to me.  We did this almost nightly for about 3-4 months, and he eventually stopped waking up and would sleep through the night.  Of all the things I miss form that young age, this is one of the things that I miss most.  This is the thing that makes my arms ache and wish I could still curl up in bed with my baby in my arms!

* If they wake up early from a nap, how did/do you handle that?
Like I said above, if one woke up a little early, we would wake the other one up.  To tell the truth, if one woke up, they would cry and 9 times out of 10, they would wake up the other one!  

* Do you have a minimum amount of time that you want your babies to sleep, or at least rest in their cribs for?
Well, my babies are currently almost 4 years old.  And we still aim for them to sleep about 11-12 hours at night.  We recently cut out naps all together (unless they really need it).  They are in bed between 8:00pm - 9:00pm and up around 7:30-8:00am.  They have done close to 10-12 hours of sleep at night for quite a long time now.  Plus they had their nap time(s) during the day.

* Napping transitions (this is a big one!): How did/do you handle the situation of going from two naps to one, when one child is ready and the other(s) were not?
Well, we have learned over time now that Daniel could probably sleep twice as much as Cameron.  And Cameron simply needs a 15-30 minute cat nap to give him that boost of energy!  But when it was time to transition from 2 naps to 1, it worked out well, because we waited to change the schedule until they were both ready.  Even though Cammy could have gone without the 2nd nap earlier, we still had him take the nap.  It might have taken a little longer to get him to sleep, and he usually woke up first, but at least he got his cat nap in and some rest time.  He learned to play quietly or have quiet rest time on the couch if he woke up early.  When Daniel was ready, we transitioned to 1 nap.  However, it proved that Cameron was usually the last one asleep and the first one awake!

If you have older multiples- how did the transition to toddler beds affect their sleep patterns? When did naps *gasp* come to an end?
This question comes at a time when nap times just recently (about 2 weeks) have come to an end.  First off, we transitioned to toddler beds when they were 2 years old and within about 6 months, they were actually in twin beds with side rails (an early gift from the grandparents).  Toddler beds and twin beds were a challenge at first because they were no longer confined.  And that meant that they could get up and play, or hop onto brothers bed!  It took a few weeks to get them to understand that when it was nap time or bed time, they needed to stay in their bed.  But they eventually got it.
And so now we are only a month away from their 4th birthday, and we have stopped taking mid day naps all together as of 2 weeks ago!  I never thought it would happen this early!  But when it is taking 30 minutes to an hour, to get your kids to sleep at night, then it is time to rethink the nap thing!  Granted, if we are out running errands on the weekend, and it happens to be during the early to mid-afternoon time, they usually will fall asleep in the car!  And sometimes if they are acting really tired, I will call for some quiet couch time with a book or a movie.  They get their rest without a nap!  And I have to say that not having to go in to their room 10 + times to get them to go to sleep at 8:00 or 9:00, really makes for a much happier Mommy and a much better bed time routine!

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