September 15, 2005

My Parenting Secret? My wife.

Since I have started to tell people that the twins are sleeping through the night, it has become apparent that this is an unusual thing. Apparently many people’s babies do not sleep through the night at 3 months of age. So, people have been asking me how we did it.

What’s our secret? First, I would never call myself an expert in anything but the art of the afternoon nap on a football Sunday. And, if truth be told, if I had been the only parent dealing with this issue, it’s very doubtful that both babies would be sleeping through the night right now. It was only after reaching a very high frustration level with Jonathan that Andrea did some research and we tried implementing a few things. So, for those of you dying to know how we managed to get two babies to sleep through the night, here it goes…

1) Luck. Swee’Pea is just one of those babies. She has been so easy to take care of it’s not even fair. She is the type that if she were my only child and I were in a parent group and started in on how Swee’Pea hardly ever cried, smiled all the time and slept through the night, parents would be either thinking “yeah, right” or “Bastard.” Well, it’s true. She really is that easy. Swee’Pea just one day missed a late night feeding. We decided to let her sleep. Then she missed the middle of the night feeding and we decided to let her sleep. Before we knew it, she was sleeping through the night. It should be noted that I was freaking out that we were starving her. I wanted to wake her up (after all, she is the smaller of the two) to feed her. Finally, Andrea and I agreed that if she was hungry, she’d tell us. So we let her sleep.

2) Swee’Pea gave us confidence that it could be done. Swee’Pea started sleeping through the night at about 11 weeks and I soon started having serious conversations with TheMonk about him possibly following his sister’s lead. He was still waking up at 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. for his feedings. Somewhere along the way, Andrea did some research that said, “Yes, babies can sleep through the night at this age.” The research also told us that we needed to feed them between 28 and 32 ounces of milk/formula a day (calming my “we’re starving them” fears). So, if Jonathan was getting his allotted amount during the day, there was no reason to think we couldn’t wean him off the night feedings.

3) Cluster feedings. We had been feeding them every three hours when they were getting their night time feedings. Since they would be missing a couple of feedings at night, we started feeding them every two hours or so during the day - especially as we neared bed time. The last feeding we gave them each five ounces which is currently the most they get at any one time. Swee’Pea had no problem with this change. And even Jonathan started sleeping through the 11:00 p.m. feeding.

4) Eliminate bad habits. Now, TheMonk was my Everest. I had to conquer this 3:00 a.m. waking. I had fallen into some bad habits when dealing with my crying screaming infant at 3:00 a.m. First, I would feed him. This seemed to appease him. Second, I would lie him face down on my belly and we’d fall asleep on the couch together. The problem was TheMonk was getting used to eating and falling asleep on Daddy. So, over a period of 3 very difficult nights, I would pick him up, comfort him and then put him back down to bed. I did this over and over again (one night it took me over 45 minutes) until he went back to sleep. In desperation, I also found that this was one of the few times he’d take the pacifier and it seemed to help.

5) Identify other reasons. While now he was going back to sleep easier, he was still waking up nightly which didn’t help me out in the sleep department since I still had to put him back down. During this time I had noticed that he sounded very congested when he woke up at 3:00 a.m. We get a very dense fog that rolls in early morning and it appears his little nose was not handling the change in humidity well. A friend of mine told me about Vicks Baby Rub and that it helped her infant sleep. So, off I went to the drug store. Once I was there I figured if this Rub was good, more menthol should be better. I bought a menthol plug-in that permeates the room with menthol. I also bought saline drops and medicated nose drops for baby. The first night we used the plug-in and the rub on TheMonk’s chest. When I walked in the next morning, it made my eyes water. So we got rid of the plug-in. But the Baby Rub worked! So, every night we rub a little dab on TheMonk’s chest and put him to bed. He breathes well enough to sleep through the night.

And that is how we did it. The only idea in this whole thing that wasn’t Andrea’s was the Baby Rub. She worked 8 strong innings to get the win. I just came on in the ninth inning to close out the game.

EDITORS NOTE: I forgot the first step! The bed-time ritual. Every night we change them into pj’s, feed them at about the same time and then we turn down the lights while listening to soft lullabies. Very soothing sleep environment!


  1. Okay. I’m going to commit every single word of your advice to memory. Like you, my daughter is an angel. Never cries, sleeps long periods–just heavenly. If I had had two of her, I’d be convinced I wanted 6 more children. She still has one middle of the night feeding, but when she (and therefore the parent)is sleeping 7 hours stretches, one doesn’t mind getting up. My son is still every 3-4 hours. In his defense, he was in the NICU for 2 months and that was their schedule. I keep thinking maybe he just hasn’t adjusted. He is also very hard to get back down after a feeding, and like you, my husband often lets him fall asleep on him. I have given thought to the whole crying-it-out thing, but right now my husband’s brother is living with us (victim of Hurricane Katrina), and I hate the thought of keeping him awake. I did just increase the amount they are taking for the first time in a while yesterday. Now I’m going to try insreasing the frequency. If it works, I’ll definitely be sending your wife a thank you note!

    Comment by Amy — September 15, 2005 @ 8:10 am

  2. Ah yes, a tricky subject since babies are all so different, and so many parents have trouble getting them to sleep. I’ve always been hesitant to talk about our success, no strike that, LUCK with Albert, for fear of being seen as a braggart.

    Albert was sleeping through the night (meaning, a full 10-12 hours) at just about 2-1/2 months. We can only attribute this to the fact that BIYM and I are both genetically predisposed to dreamland, and we lovingly passed on those genes to the boy. We also imposed a very strict feeding and nap schedule, and let him cry it out (no more than 15-20 minutes) when we put him down. He very quickly learned how to fall asleep on his own, and how to go back to sleep if he woke up. Today, he’s about as happy and adjusted as a 9 month old can be, and has yet to complain about being put down for naps or at night. In fact, he actually giggles when we are tucking him in, as if he’s excited to be there.

    Glad to know things are clicking for you guys… enjoy the extra shuteye.

    Comment by BIYF — September 15, 2005 @ 8:20 am

  3. I can’t wait until I sleep through the night! If only I could figure out a way to pump in my sleep…

    Comment by andrea — September 15, 2005 @ 8:28 am

  4. EXCELLENT work, Mama and Dada!!!

    With Tod-lar, we stuffed as much food in him as we could during the day. But he had some feeding issues in the fist few months of life, so this made it very difficult. It took us six months to get him to sleep through the night. Worst six months of my life . . .

    Comment by MIM — September 15, 2005 @ 10:00 am

  5. Way to go! Lest all those parents whose children aren’t sleeping that early start feeling guilty and inadequate, three months is early. Two or three months later is in no way “late”. This assumes no prematurity or health issues, of course.

    Your program is excellent, and I am so impressed you found it with your first(s). Andrea clearly has excellent instincts! Don’t downplay your role, though: a supportive partner makes this difficult job so much more possible!

    Comment by Mary — September 15, 2005 @ 12:32 pm

  6. good job you guys! everything you did sounds very familiar. it took us some guess work as well, along with reading various books (too many infact). whew! so the vapor baby rub helps? i’ll have to check that out. syd gets morning stuffiness when the seasons change.

    Comment by jungs — September 15, 2005 @ 11:11 pm

  7. Well done!! Our son Daniel has also been an angel so far (18 months now). We just had my sister in law visit with her kid and OHMYGOD. She’s a complete nightmare with eating , sleeping and screaming. But her parents never taught her a good routine at an early age like we did (fine, it was mostly my wife). And like you seem to have done.

    It’s soooooo worth it to spend a few nights in hell for the future rewards. I know it doesn’t feel like that at 3 AM but you seem to have mastered it quickly.

    Have a nice weekend


    Comment by AdventureDad — September 16, 2005 @ 5:54 am

  8. Very smart of JT, he just wanted some one-on-one time with his dad. Thanks to the friend who recommended the Vicks Vaporub. I am glad you’re getting more rest. WE WANT more pictures!

    Comment by Grandmother — September 16, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  9. I am proud to say that we cheated big time with our twins.
    For about 8 weeks, from age 3 weeks to 11 weeks, we had a night-nurse take care of them from 7PM - 7AM. (underwritten by a grant from the Mom and Dad Foundation– I swear I am sorry for all the gray hairs I caused you when I was a teenager!) This was the only way we could have maintained our sanity as I have a very greuling job schedule (software development), which I could never do under sleep deprived conditions, and The Little Woman was taking care of them days (and pumping all the time) so she was exhausted at night also.
    So by the time we bid farewell to our nighttime helper, the girls were only waking up once or twice a night, which we could handle. They have a pretty good constitution, not being those kind of kids that refuse to sleep, or only sleep during the day, or only sleep for 30 minutes at a time. So we lucked out there too.
    I have no idea how we could have handled the little maniacs without help early on- if they wake up every three hours or so, and you have to feed and change them and get them back to sleep, by the time you’re done, it’s time to start again. How can you do that for more than a few days?
    Have I mentioned that my Grandmother had twin daughters too? And no relatives nearby to help out plus a four-year old (my Dad) and this was the days before Dads (my Grandfather) ever touched diapers and such. The woman was a saint. I wish she were still around so I could tell her so.
    So anyway, welcome back to the diurnal world, man.

    Comment by JJ Daddy in Savannah — September 16, 2005 @ 6:43 pm

  10. [...] Childs Play X2 is hilarious and has two little ones.  Lots of good posts like 3-month abs, Movie Talk, and his parenting secrets to name a few recent ones. [...]

    Pingback by AdventureDad » A few other Daddy Blogs — September 21, 2005 @ 6:15 am

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