Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Child Rearing Books & Sleepless in America

The problem with child rearing books is that they make one obsessive. When Josie had only rolled over *once* by her 4 month (?) birthday, I was quite concerned. The pediatrician's take? "She obviously *can*, she just chooses not to." Ok. Wow. Permission not to worry. I actually swore off child rearing books at that point, but occasionally I still give in.
This past month was one of those moments of weakness. Since moving up to the 2 year old class at school, and our trip to Turkey, J. has not been sleeping nearly enough. And a tired 2 year old is *not* a pleasant person to be around.

I stumbled across mention of Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep? at another blog, and though "Ah ha! Something that will help me solve the sleep issue." Requested it from the library, got it, read it over the course of a week, sharing pertinent issues with Ben.

The problem is that the actual advice could be distilled to about 10 bullet points (most of them common sense), but you have to wade through pages of examples and repercussions to missing sleep to get the advice (or because I feel like I have to read the whole book through?). It definitely raised my stress level to read it all, and made me worry a whole lot more.

So I need to remember to skim or pick and choose what to read out of this sort of book, and to be careful in which books I actually choose to read. (I'm generally careful about what media I consume, knowing how easy it is to get stressed out over what you read and watch on TV. Parenting issues, though, prey on my insecurities as a mother and make me want EXPERT ADVICE to solve problems.)

Ok, so here's the summary of Sleepless in America:
  • Many behavior problems can be traced to lack of sleep. Before treating your kid for ADHD etc, figure out if they are missing sleep. Think about how you act when you are sleep deprived -- clumsy, indecisive, emotional, overreacting -- and how or if you see these characteristics in your kids.
  • Average amount of sleep needed, over 24 hours (including naps):
    • under 1 year -- 14-18 hours
    • 1-3 years -- 13 hours
    • 3-5 years -- 12 hours
    • 6-12 years -- 10-11 hours
    • 13-19 years -- 9.25 hours
    • 20 years + -- 8.25
  • Establish & enforce a consistent wake up time, work backwards to a bedtime
  • Work on "calm energy" to wind down before bed, nip "anxious energy" in the bud.
  • Don't worry so much about bad habits, and focus on getting your kids wound down enough to fall asleep when you put them down. (backrubs, lower lights, cuddling, calm reading, consistent bedtime routine, etc.)
  • The more sleep you have, the easier it is to sleep. Go figure. Once we started putting J down earlier at home, her school naps got longer too.

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