The 4:30 a.m. Rule

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Categories Mommy Issues, Overnight, Routines, Sleep

On a recent post, Kristen asked about sleep training and multiples. We used, and are continuing to use, sleep training with our 4 year old singleton son and our 2 year old twins. I read Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child before our son was born and it has been our reference book ever since. When our twins were 6 months old, Dr. Weissbluth published a book on sleep and multiples, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins. (I was disappointed with his book on multiples because it didn’t provide as much practical advice as I had hoped. I think the original book has more information on sleep at different ages and on addressing specific problems, so I’d recommend starting with it.)

I can’t specifically remember what was going on at 9 months, but I know we established a sleep routine when the girls were about 6 months old and much earlier with our son. After dinner there would be baths some nights, then pyjamas, breastfeeding, sleep sacks and bed. The girls were used to this routine and settled quickly. They would usually both wake up to feed again before I went to bed. Then they would sleep for a longer stretch, sometimes until morning.

My husband is a night owl, and he would often bring the girls for another feeding before he went to bed. Timing these late night/very early morning feedings was important. If I was awake to feed them after 4:30 a.m. there was no point trying to go back to sleep. I would have slept long enough my body felt rested. I would be hungry enough I couldn’t put off going downstairs for a snack. By the time I was back in bed, I would be too awake to settle to sleep. My mind would start mulling over things, making plans for the day and composing email. I was better off getting up and doing something productive for a few hours before everyone else woke up. Usually I could make up for it with an afternoon nap with the kids.

Unfortunately, on the rare nights when the kids are awake in the night, the 4:30 a.m. rule still applies. If I’m awake, I might as well just get up. In fact that’s why I was up at 5:30 yesterday morning.

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3 thoughts on “The 4:30 a.m. Rule”

  1. I’m really struggling with nap and bedtime right now (the kids are just shy of 2.5), and even though we have a pretty set in stone bedtime routine, it has been taking them upwards of an hour to fall asleep for both nap and nighttime. They are still in cribs, but the sing, jump up and down, make each other laugh etc.

    We tweeked the routine a little, but if still hasn’t worked. The only think that HAS worked? I leave the house right after we put them down so I don’t sit there seething on the couch that they’re not sleeping. We will be switching to toddler beds soon (a safety thing) but I worry that it will only get worse.
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  2. The Healthy Sleep Habits book is great. I also used “Bed Timing; The When-to Guide to Helping Your Child Sleep” I found that what worked at 6 months does not work at 9 months etc. and it really helps you figure out when to sleep train and when you’re just hitting your head against a brick wall. If I’d known at 3 months that I’d still be working on getting my babies to sleep through the night at one year I would’ve never believed it. I dream of 8 hours (for me!)
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  3. Oh, Bekki, I am right there too. My girls are 2.75 now and it’s making me CRAZY. We have had wonderful sleepers thanks to sleep training and sticking to our guns. Literally, we’d lay them down and off to sleep they went. And before anyone says anything about jealousy (yes, we were blessed with the twins but it really has to do with consistency), my first daughter – 4 hours to get her to sleep at night when she was younger. We still have trouble – up to 2 hours for her to go to sleep – and she is almost 7. We learned A LOT from her and the mistakes we made with her sleep.
    Well, since the girls were a little over 2, the nap and the bedtime ease isn’t what it used to be. An hour for them to settle down and sleep is very common. For the most part, they aren’t screaming for us, they are just talking to each other at night and jumping around like monkeys at nap time. But in the last week, one of my girls is waking up at 4:30 and screaming bloody murder. She wakes her sister and since they’ve been asleep for so many hours, now they are up and so am I. UGH!!! That pattern has to end :)

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