Last night, my daughter went to bed at 5:45pm. This morning, she woke at 6:15am.
That bedtime and the wake-up time are both a bit early for her. Usually she goes down between 6:00pm and 6:45pm. On weekends, when we let her sleep to her heart’s content, she wakes up around 7:00am.
She consistently sleeps a minimum of 12 hours, and up to 13 hours, 45 minutes at the longest. Peanut doesn’t take a middle-of-the-night feeding anymore. Those are straight through sleep totals.
I’m not trying to brag. Seriously – I’m not. You can only brag about things you have control over. Like “I can bench press 350 pounds!” or “I type 103 words per minute!”
Bragging about your kid being a good sleeper is a lot like taking credit for your eye color; you might get to enjoy the results, but you didn’t actually do anything.
Your bench press weight and typing speed are legitimate boasts. My reiteration of Peanut’s sleep totals is just an observation. She’s a sleeper, my Peanut. Like a hormonal and grumpy teenager with mono, she sleeps a LOT.
And it’s the concept of controlling my child’s sleep habits that has me agitated of late.
After a nine-hour workday, I race home and try to squeeze in as much playtime with Peanut as I can. Sometimes we play airplane (“Welcome to Air Peanut, I will be your pilot today. On the beverage cart today, you guessed it, breastmilk! Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff. Wheeeeeeeee!!!”), or I blow raspberries on her pudgy little tummy, or read her a book. But she doesn’t last long.
There’s no mistaking her pre-Z’s – the obvious signs of exhaustion. She yawns. She gets quiet and kind of spaces out. Sometimes she starts to whimper and fuss. And her little mouth searches for her right thumb until she finds it. When the thumb goes in, we know she’s cashed.
When I see the signs, I finish up the bedtime routine, zip her into her sleep sack, and put her into bed. Sometimes she needs a little Bedtime Comfort Boob, as we call it. In that case, she gets a snack, and three minutes later, I lower her into the crib, where she finds her thumb almost immediately and her little eyes close. She goes right to bed without crying.
Sometimes I get a little sad. Around 8:30pm, I miss my Peanut and wish she were awake to snuggle and play with me. But I know she’s happier when she’s getting the sleep she so obviously needs.
But when I told one mom friend about it, her eyebrows raised. “Wow,” she said. “I wouldn’t even like that. I mean…when do you get to see your kid?”
My mother’s jaw dropped as well. “When you kids were little, you went by our schedule,” she stated bluntly. “I would never have let you go to bed that early.”
I think my mother’s memory is going, and she’s remembering wrong. Because I can’t imagine any parent forcing their five-month-old to stay awake just because their bedtime was ‘inconvenient.’
True, keeping Peanut awake to the point of discomfort would allow me to spend more time with her in the evenings. But it would also suck big time, because she’d cry and cry, and when we did eventually try to put her down, she’d be so worked up that she couldn’t fall asleep (I know this because we’ve missed her window a few times and were blessed with Devil Baby instead). I don’t see the point of both of us being unhappy just so I can be selfish about spending time with her.
I don’t care what parenting websites or other moms tell me about “taking control” of her sleep habits. I’m not going to do it – at least, not yet. She’s not even six months old, and as long as she’s still going down without a single tear, sleeping soundly through the night, and waking up happy, she’ll continue to make the decision about her own bedtime. She’s doing a great job, in my opinion. So I’ll leave the ball in her court.
Because the choice between spending time with a happy, giggly baby or a possessed tantrum-thrower is something I definitely can control.
P.S. – A few short weeks after posting this, my daughter hit the 6-month sleep disruption stage, and the wheels fell off. She went from sleeping 13 hours straight every night to waking up 2, sometimes 3+ times per night, and she kept it up for four months. Finally, at 10 months, she dropped her last night feeding all on her own. That’s what I get for blogging about a baby who sleeps well! 🙂