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When Owen was a baby he would bust out of the swaddle so often that I decided he must not like it. I stopped swaddling him early on and he was never a great sleeper. When Ryan was born I decided he would be swaddled, no matter what, and had great success with the Miracle Blanket. Of course I can’t attribute all the sleeping highs and lows with swaddling, but I know it helped significantly.

By the time Ryan was four months old he was such an excellent sleeper, but he was starting to wake himself up breaking out of his swaddle. I tried all the gradual weaning techniques to no avail. I even tried going to a sleep sack cold turkey and he completely lost his mind, unable to settle and sleep until I swaddled him again. We needed a new solution and quickly.

As I poured over parenting forums, I kept coming across the mention of a blanket called the Zipadee-Zip. It got great reviews, so I had to check it out.

The Zipadee-Zip is a blanket that helps ease your baby gently from swaddling to using a blanket. The starfish design allows the baby to have their arms free, but gives just enough resistance to keep them feeling snugly. There’s no need to worry if the baby rolls over, because unlike with a swaddle, they would be able to use their arms.

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Designed by Stephanie — a mom looking for a solution to her own swaddle-weaning problem — each blanket is handmade to order and comes in both stretch cotton or fleece. See how it works here:

Our Zipadee-Zip arrived just as I was getting Ryan for bed. I figured it was just as good a time as any to try it, so I nursed him, zipped him up and hoped for the best.

He slept 10 hours before waking up to nurse, just like that. That was the entire transition. There was no fighting, no crying. Just a happy, un-swaddled baby. Each night was the same, and even his naps got better.

As per Stephanie’s suggestion, I started with a small Zippy to make the transition as smooth as possible. I like that it covers his hands while he sleeps keeping them warm and his face free of scratches. Ryan takes comfort in sucking on his hands as he falls asleep, so I have to wash it a little more often than I might otherwise, but  I’m ok with that. If he’s fussy, he immediately calms down as I zip him in and he wakes every morning with a huge smile on his face. To say I love the Zipadee-Zip is an understatement. As a matter of fact, I just ordered the medium today! Eventually I will wean him from the Zipadee-Zip as well, but from what I’ve read that usually happens without a problem.

Do you want a Zipadee-Zip?!

Here’s your chance to get one! Stephanie has graciously offered up a free Zipadee-Zip to one lucky reader. If you don’t have kids yourself, it would make a great gift.

To enter, leave a comment about anything you want. Easy, right? I will randomly select a winner next Friday, January 14th.

Good luck!

 

 

Every night before I go to bed, I check in on my babies. Owen is usually sprawled out on his back at some interesting angle, blanket askew, his “Mommy shirt”, an old t-shirt of mine he made his blankie, draped across him. I gently tuck him back in, occasionally removing his wedged feet from between the bed slats, brush his hair off his forehead, kiss him gently and tip toe out.

Next is the baby. I turn the light on in my bedroom across the hall so I will have just enough light to see him, but not enough for him to wake. He looks like the world’s sweetest little starfish zipped into his blanket. Ryan will have rotated to his right — he always does — and will have pressed his face against the one bumper I have in there. The one bumper I put back in because he kept waking himself up trying to snuggle himself into the crib rails. I have stopped stressing about him sleeping like that now, but I always pause just long enough to see the rise and fall of his chest.

It occurs to me that my children will never know I do these things. They might remember the story hours I took them to, the outings at the playground. They might one day remind me of the pictures we drew together or the songs we danced around the living room to. They will know I parented them all day every day, but the memories of the night will be mine alone.

At night I am transported both back in time, and towards the future. Ryan’s dewy skin and sleepy suckling are all baby, and Owen’s rosy cheeks remind me of when he was tiny. The other night, though, before my eyes adjusted to the dark, I caught a glimpse of who my little boy will become. In the dark, Owen’s sleeping profile was so strikingly similar to his father’s, I actually gasped.

Babies don’t keep, but these nights will. In my mind. In my heart. In the dark.

 

Ryan will be four months old next week and yes, that’s wonderful and awesome and he is a delicious little ball of chunk and smiles, but I can’t help holding my breath and waiting for the other sleep shoe to drop.

I don’t have to tell you about Owen and sleep the first year. If I do, you haven’t been reading long enough. Feel free to browse the archives from June 2010 through…oh, well. Now, really. I mean, yeah. Owen and sleep, man. If we’re comparing apples to oranges, this is what was going on when Owen was four months old. At that point, his sleep had gone from erratic to “good”, good being 5-7 hour stretches at night, which really, I suppose for his age was pretty good. But then he hit four months and his first sleep regression kicked in. I had to go back and look it up because I swear, I blocked it out. I recall being awake all the time, but it’s a distant, blurry memory stored away in a dusty corner of my mind with those puff painted sweatshirts of the early 90s. The four-month sleep regression sucked so very much. So very, VERY much.

With Ryan on the cusp of this regression (and from what I hear, all kids go through it in some way or another so we probably will not be skipping over it, no matter how much I wish it away), I’m starting to get a little anxious. Here’s the deal with Ryan: a bad night of sleep for him is going to bed around 6:30 p.m. and waking up once somewhere between 3 and 5 a.m., then going back to bed for a few hours. I know, right? And that’s a bad night! Last night he refused to stay up past 6 and I didn’t hear from him until 7:10 this morning. Part of me thinks we earned this after what we went through with Owen, truly.

You can see why I am dreaded his night sleep getting screwed up. Especially since this time around I have a toddler, and that means no napping during the day to catch up on missed sleep. Owen still takes about an hour and half long nap in the middle of the day, but Ryan cat naps about 40 minutes at a time, so there’s little overlap between the two. I cannot tell you how much more sane I feel this time around; how much healthier than I did at this point with Owen. Sleep deprivation took a huge toll on me last time and I just can’t psych myself up for another round of it.

He’s been a grump this past week, napping crappier than usual and fussing a bit more, so I really do think it’s coming soon. (Also, the drool and red cheeks are here. Yaaaaay, teething!)

So there you have it. My kid sleeps really awesome and he’s going to throw it all out the window because he needs to grow and learn and develop and stuff. Jeesh, kid.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last few nights with Owen have been horrific, to say the least. Seemingly out of the blue he went from going pleasantly to bed and sleeping through the night, to screaming bloody murder at bedtime, despite how much soothing we do, and waking multiple times a night doing the same. Saturday night was so bad, my mother-in-law came over yesterday afternoon just to put Owen down for a nap. I couldn’t take another sleep time tantrum and I myself was exhausted.

I’m assuming this is a phase brought about by developmental changes, a new sibling, and the arrival of fears and separation anxiety, but having “reasons” doesn’t make it easier. We’ve tried to talk to him about it during the day, reinforce a good sleep with a reward like a sticker, etc., given him an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a long nap, a short nap, but to no avail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, talked to family, friends and coworkers with kids and the story is all the same. Most of their kids went through a stage like this around age two and uh…you just have to deal. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I vowed to do the “silent return” to bed Saturday night, where every time your child opens their door, you walk them back calmly to bed saying absolutely nothing. We used this technique briefly when we transitioned him from the crib to the bed. It makes sense, I guess. Any verbal attention, be it positive or negative, is attention. And that’s what they want. So yeah, we tried. And FAILED miserably. We both lost our temper, Owen was hysterical, and when you factor in Ryan’s 3 a.m. feeding (it’s a wonder that kid is sleeping through all this. Score one for the sound machine.), neither Michael nor I slept more than three hours total, and not even in one stretch.

Zombie parents, right here.

This has to end. It HAS to. And soon.

Scene: Sunday night. I try something different and instead of reading our usual books at night, I read them during the day. As I nurse Ryan down for bed I tuck Owen in on the loveseat, turn out the lights and put on this dreadfully (purposely) dull show on Sprout OnDemand where they basically just show random characters sleeping set to an instrumental lullaby. Warning parents: if you’re not careful, YOU will fall asleep watching this. We talk about how they are all closing their eyes and going to sleep quietly. Owen pretends to sleep on the couch and I am hopeful.

I put Ryan to bed and Owen and I walk to his room. We get in bed, sing songs and tell stories. We close our eyes and I cozy with him for a while. We talk again about going to sleep quietly and how if he does this, he can pick out a new sticker in the morning and watch a special dvd his grandmother brought him. I am hopeful, again.

I kiss him goodnight and…HYSTERICAL SCREAMING. I try and calm him, but no. He won’t have it. “COZY!!!!” he screams at me. With a heavy, yet exhausted heart, I walk out and shut the door.

Scene: I park the ottoman at the end of the hallway and set up my my Sleep Training Survival Station. I have a notepad and pen to mark down how many time he comes out of his room. I do this both out of curiosity, and to see if it gets easier as the nights go on. I am committed to making this happen. I have a Parenting magazine (HA!) (they come free in the mail. I don’t know why.) and a hard cider, although I could use something stronger. Let’s do this.

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Scene: 8:04 p.m. He comes out of his room for the first time screaming at me to cozy with him in his bed. I point behind him, he turns around and back we go. I put him in bed and walk out, shutting the door behind me. I return to the ottoman, take a swig, tell the Twitters what’s going on and read a stupid article about Heidi Klum’s new clothing line for Babies R Us. He continues to rant. He screams for me to cozy in his bed, to sit in his rocking chair, to cozy in my bed. I’m sad, but this time I’m more determined. He needs to sleep. WE need to sleep.

Scene: He opens the door for the 4th or 5th time. This time as I walk towards him, he bolts by me and runs into my room screaming to cozy in my bed. He is trying to scale the side of our bed like a sleep-deprived crazed monkey. This kid’s got balls. He is sweaty and sticky. I pick him up and bring him back to bed. “MOMMY!” He yells at me. Not sad. Angry! “Mommy! You come back here!” Sigh.

This continues. Seven, eight times. Nine. And then, it changes. I hear him flop into his bed. His screams become moans, then whimpers, then just the occasional “ehhhh”, reminding me of a windup toy losing steam. Forty minutes on the dot from the start of this ordeal, he is quiet.

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Scene: 3:40 a.m. Owen wakes up crying. I go into his room, tuck him back in, give him a kiss and spend a few minutes rubbing his back. When I get up to leave he protests. I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning. He starts to scream as I shut the door. This time he comes out and into our room just twice over the course of 2o minutes before falling back to sleep. Certainly not quiet or relaxing, but worlds better than the previous night.

Scene: 5:45 a.m. I have just laid down in bed to nurse Ryan when Owen comes into our room. Had this been any regular sleeping night, we would just pull him up into bed with us for a little extra sleep, so that’s what we do. Everyone dozes until 7.

End scene.

I’m still exhausted today, but not quite as badly as yesterday. Owen is is great spirits, but hoarse from all that yelling. I’m not looking forward to nap time or bed tonight, but I am hoping that last night was in fact progress and it will only get better.

YAWN.

As promised, I want to touch base on how it’s going using the toddler alarm clock I bought for Owen. This is a totally unsponsored, unpaid post. I bought the clock myself out of desperation and sleep deprivation!

After we transitioned Owen into his new room and big boy bed, he managed to get the sleeping all night in there part down pat quickly. But since he now could climb out of bed on his own, as soon as he opened his eyes he was doing just that, opening the door and coming into our room. Every day between 5 and 5:30 a.m…WAY too early for his tired parents.

We tried bringing him back to bed and tucking him back in: FAIL. We tried letting him cozy with us in our bed, hoping he would go back to sleep: kick you in the stomach for a half hour FAIL. We tried to let him play on his own with toys in our room while we rested: drive toy trucks on your face for 5 minutes before demanding oatmeal FAIL.

So that’s how I found myself one VERY early morning combing the internet for a solution to our sleep problem. I came across a lot of chatter about toddler alarm clocks doing the trick and figured well, it certainly couldn’t make things worse. After reading some reviews, I decided on the Onaroo OK to Wake! Alarm Clock. I ordered it from Diapers.com because the price was comparable to other places, and since I was ordering it so early in the morning, it would be delivered the very next day.

The concept is simple: you set the time you want your child to wake up. When that time arrives, rather than the clock making noise, it glows green and displays a smiley face (see photo above), indicating to your child that it’s OK to wake up.

When the box arrived, I made a big deal about opening this special gift for Owen and explaining to him what it was for. I set the clock for a few minutes from then and showed him how it glowed. “When the light is off,” I told him, “it’s still night time. We stay in our bed. But when the light turns green, it’s time to WAKE UP! And come get Mommy!” He was SUPER excited about it and started repeating, “Light turn green! Come get Mommy!” over and over. I set it for 6 a.m. and crossed my fingers.

I’ll be honest with you: it has NOT been an overnight success. Not even close. While Owen completely understands the concept of the clock, (he talks about staying in bed until the light turns green all the time), we are still not on a consistent routine with it. I don’t think this is the fault of the clock, though, rather that he’s only just two and when he wakes up, well, he wants his mom. He is slowly getting better with it, though, and after two weeks of using it we have had some really good mornings. On occasion he will wake up so close to the time, so I will go back to bed with him and we wait quietly together until it turns on. I think that has helped him understand the concept better.

I have slowly been able to push the wake time up to 6:15 and today he came RUNNING into my room at 6:17 announcing the light turned green and was SO PROUD of himself. Beaming! Kissing! Dancing!

Well, I had to get up after that. I was so proud of him too! I am optimistic about this little clock. A lot of the positive reviews are written by people with toddlers closer to three years old who seem to get it right away, so I’m not worried about having continued success with it.

Some details:

- In terms of design, I don’t find this little guy all that obnoxious looking. It comes with two interchangeable face plates; a pink flower or a green “alien” (we are using the green). When it’s in clock mode it displays a digital time reading, and when it turns on it makes a smiley face. It makes no noise.

- It is battery powered, which I suppose could be a nuisance to some, but I like that I could position it anywhere in the room and that it’s portable for travel.

- You can set the alarm to stay on for up to 2 hours, so if your toddler happens to sleep through the wake time (yay!!), it will still be on when they do wake up. This way there’s no confusion about waiting for the light.

- There are also options to use the clock as a nap timer, but I haven’t used it, as Owen naps just fine without it.

- The control buttons are hidden under a panel that is flimsy. Some reviews I read said that they were disappointed their toddler broke or damaged the clock by dropping it. I kind of want to say, “well…duh” to those people, because of course your kid is going to want to play with it. To avoid this all together, I put the clock on top of Owen’s dresser facing the bed. He hasn’t asked to play with it, so that’s that.

Overall, I am really pleased with this clock and firmly believe it will only work better for us over time. At around $30 for a clock it is a little on the pricey side, but I don’t think you can put a price on sleep!

- My baby turns two years old tomorrow. I’m kind of blown away by this. I can’t believe I will be posting the first quarterly letter of his second year wishing him the happiest of birthdays, because it’s hard to believe that just two years ago today I went into labor with him. Be prepared for some sap tomorrow.

- Last year we did the big first birthday party, but this year will be low-key with just a family dinner with the in-laws, cake and presents. We will probably do a second cake when the baby comes and my family is in town too. Owen is getting his first bike and helmet — both red (his choice!) — which will, I’m sure, provide hours of entertainment for him, and heart palpitations for his mother.

- In preparation, I’ve pinned about half a dozen cake recipes, so I just have to decide which one to make today. Yum!

- I’m 37 weeks pregnant now, officially full term and ready for this kid to come out. I’m not uncomfortable, I’m just impatient. I really want to meet him! The only two days I’d like to avoid is tomorrow (it would be nice for the kids to have their own birthdays, even if they are close together), and the fourth of July. Being a holiday baby myself (New Years Eve), I know how annoying sharing your birthday with the entire country can be when you’re a kid. Other than that, he can come. I have a feeling he’s not going to make an appearance until at LEAST the 39th week, but I’m willing him out all the same.

I’ve had three real contractions the past few days that were uncomfortable and familiar enough for me pause and think, “now???”, but obviously, they didn’t mean anything. Saturday I was in the mood to clean…and clean, and clean, and clean. Somewhere around 9:30 p.m. while steam mopping my kitchen and planning on tackling the bathrooms next, it hit me that this was exactly what happened the night I went into labor with Owen. I had two schools of thought: one…baby time!, followed by two…wishful thinking slash nesting to the extreme. Guess it was number two.

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Not out, still in.

My appointment on Friday confirmed dilation has started — like, barely — but all that means is hey, guess what? You’re going to have a baby at some point. Duh. I know, I know. Babies come when they want to come. I was just hoping that him being my second would mean he’d come out a little sooner, that’s all.

- I think the solution to any sleep issues Owen encounters is to write about them on the internet, because after I do that they tend to resolve themselves a bit. After realizing that the sound of shutting the door was what was upsetting him and causing him to climb out of bed, I started leaving the door open a bit until about 20 minutes after he falls asleep. Success! No more opening the door. He just sleeps.

The main issue is that with the freedom to get out of bed comes the new routine of him waking so freaking early (see last post), and no. That needs to stop. I ordered a special toddler alarm clock that looks like a little alien and rather than making noise, lights up when it’s time to start your day. We’re on day two of using it and while it hasn’t been an overnight success, I can already see progress and he’s definitely excited about using it. I will do a full review of it in a week or so in case any of you are also bleary-eyed and so NOT bushy-tailed while your toddler drives trucks over your face at 5 a.m. and are looking for a solution.

- Owen is trying to climb into the baby swing so I should probably go stop that. Behold my (very near) future.

After I told you about the few hurdles we had transitioning Owen to his new bed, night three came along and he just…went to bed. And slept. He even started requesting to go to bed and when we finished reading his books, he’d flip right over and go to sleep. Obviously we are parents of the year and deserved a trophy for the amazing big boy bed conversion we pulled off.

Life has a way of smacking you in the face when you start to get cocky, I think.

Two nights ago he went to bed. A few minutes later he opened the door and came running down the hall, crying, to find me. I brought him back, tucked him in, told him I loved him and shut the door. Wash, rinse, repeat. Five times. After the last time he whimpered in there for a few minutes, but then was quiet. I figured it was an off night and we would go back to normal the next day.

Last night was worse. I didn’t walk him back five times last night. I walked him back EIGHTEEN TIMES. No, I’m not exaggerating. I started keeping track after that door would open every few minutes and the pitter patter of little feet would head towards me. And every time — just like alllll the books and websites and other parents say — I would walk him back calmly and quietly (seriously, all I had to do was point towards his room and he’d run back in sniffling), tuck him in, saying nothing more than “stay in your bed, goodnight, I love you”, and close the door.

EIGHTEEN TIMES.

It’s the most workout I’ve had in weeks.

It wasn’t until the end of the 17th round that I figured out that he didn’t want the door shut, so I left it open and he stayed in bed. I thought he was asleep after about 20 minutes, until I heard him come out again. Only this time he wasn’t crying, he was groggy and rubbing his eyes and looked confused (“Is the game over? Are we done playing? This is a game, right?”) so I tucked him in with a kiss one more time. It took a full hour, but he was out for the night. I shut the door a little while later.

And all was quiet, until he came busting into our room at 5:30 this morning and OH MY GOD, KID. I wish I had my phone next to the bed so you could see what I opened my eyes to. Seven or eight trucks lined up on the edge of my bed, a giant Newfoundland head, nose jabbed at me whining to go out and a tiny person with blond hair dancing around saying, “Mama?! Hiiiii, Mama!!!”

 

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Not chai; espresso.

I had resisted putting a gate in Owen’s bedroom door because I didn’t want him to feel locked in there, but if this keeps up I might reconsider. I know it can take awhile when you put them in a bed, but I was SO convinced we lucked out and he just got it.

Smug, be gone with you.

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