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Healthy Sleep Habits

When my daughter woke us up at 5:45 this morning because her biological clock said it was 6:45, my husband said, “I used to like when we switched from Daylight Saving Time.” That was before we had kids who didn’t get it and a baby who really doesn’t get it. There are so many great things to do in Westchester. Of course, if you’re too damn tired, you can’t enjoy anything you try—so what’s the point? Welcome to life with a tiny person.

There’s a whole gaggle of women at Maisie’s school who are pregnant. Many others have just had babies. We all walk around looking like zombies with big ol’ circles under our eyes. When I bump into one of these other zombie moms, the conversation always inevitably turns to sleep.

Of course, I have nothing to complain about. For the past few days, 16-week-old Hudson has been sleeping from 9Ppm until 7am. Amazing, right? Well, that’s most of the time. Of course, the night I wrote this blog, he didn’t go to sleep until after 11 and breastfed for three hours! It’s not that I’m all that brilliant. He’s just a really good sleeper. Then again, I think I learned a few things with Maisie.

That’s because Maisie was a nightmare. Holy cow! That baby wailed her head off in the middle of the night. Desperate, I asked everybody for suggestions. Time and again, two things were recommended. I tried both and they helped a lot.

The first is something called The Miracle Blanket. Now this just seems ridiculous. I mean, what can a blanket do? Well, whatever it does, it really is kind of a miracle. The Miracle Blanket is basically a straight jacket for babies or at least that’s how it seems to me. The blanket secures the arms down first and then swaddles them really tight. It’s like the ultimate swaddler.

I forgot about the blanket when he was first born, but ran out to get it when he was two weeks old. My exhausted husband was a bit miffed we didn’t use it from Day One. It made a huge difference right off, just like it had with Maisie. My friend Rose says she gives it to everybody as a baby gift. Brilliant!

The second tip was a book called, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. Frankly, it’s brilliant. In some cases, the doc advocates “Ferberizing”—making the baby “cry it out”—but he gives you a million other things to try. Most important, he talks about the natural rhythm of sleep and how to get your child into it. For instance, did you know that a baby should go back to sleep within two hours of getting up in the morning? That morning nap is a continuation of the night-time sleep. His advice isn’t just for tiny babies. He talks about older children, too.

Even though his tips made a huge difference, in the end, we did have to “Ferberize” Maisie. It was painful—a long night for us all—but it worked. The night after, she slept like a log and still does. She sleeps from 7pm to 7am every night and often says, “Bye” and heads up the stairs if she’s tired earlier. Up until recently, she also napped twice a day. Now she takes just one long one.

Weissbluth’s basic theory is that if you teach your child to sleep well, he or she will be happy. Maisie is the best sleeper I know and the happiest kid on the planet. I think he’s got a point.

Better yet, Mommy is well rested and, just like the child, a mommy with healthy sleep habits is also happy. A happy mommy is a better mommy.

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