Following is copied and pasted directly from an email to a MOT friend of mine. She has been asking me sleep advice, and wants to do CIO with her nearly-6-month-olds but doesn’t have the time to read Ferber (you all know how I feel… read the book!). I’m no guru, but I’m opinionated. So, here’s my epic email to her (verbatim, just with added links), with my mish-mash, cliff’s-notes version of Weissbluth and Ferber. All in what we deemed her “sleep plan.” Maybe it’ll be useful for someone else out there in the blogosphere.
[Cross-posted at How Do You Do It?]
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Alright, this might be the longest email I’ve ever written. Sorry. I just felt like I had to explain things. Let me know if you have any questions. And let me just say: this is what worked for me and my kids. I’m no expert, I’m no doctor. Not all kids are the same, and there’s no one perfect solution that will have your kids sleeping until 8AM every day for the rest of their lives. (ha!) But, overall, this is what worked really well for us.
6:30am (or later, yeah right!): wake up
8:30-9:00: go down for morning nap, depending on how tired they seem or how early they woke up
12noon-1:30pm: go down for mid-day nap, depending on how late AM nap went
3:30-4:30pm: go down for late-afternoon nap, again depending on how mid-day nap went
6:30-7:00pm: start bedtime routine
7:00-7:30pm: lights out
Here’s my philosophy: well-rested kids with a predictable routine are going to sleep better (good sleep begets good sleep), wake up happier, and be generally easier and more receptive to their world than those who are over-tired or unpredictable. Since that is my starting philosophy, I pretty much think that 95-99% of days should revolve around their sleep schedule. Yes, sometimes you can play with it. But you won’t know how and when to take that risk until they’ve settled into it. So my advice is to stick like krazy glue to a schedule for at least a week or two and see how it goes before you try fudging things around. It can feel restrictive at first, and some people give you grief for it. But, honestly, I eventually found it sort of freeing, because I knew ahead of time what were good and bad times of day for my kids (more or less) and could plan accordingly. If you don’t know when your kid is going to nap, how can you know whether or not to sign up for that 3pm class? And it does mean you need to be careful with outings, because you don’t want them falling asleep in the car when you’re on the way home for their nap, and things like that. Not always super flexible, but it pays off. And yes, I always did the same thing for both kids at the same time. One may wake up earlier than the other, but I always put them down at the same time.
Now, for details…