You would think that by now, we either solved all sleep issues or are walking around like zombies – if we are still walking, that is. However, neither is the case.
Nighttime sleep seemed to improve last week, after we consulted a sleep specialist at Plunket. She recommended to drop the “dream feed” I was giving Maria before we go to bed. Her reasoning: A baby’s first sleep cycle at night is usually the deepest, so when you wake her up for a feed you take her out of it and chances are she doesn’t go back into a deep sleep. The result is a baby that wakes up every few hours.
I wasn’t fully convinced of this, and Maria got already so much used to having a feed around 10:30 p.m. that she would often wake up by herself. Despite not really changing anything, we had some good nights in which she only woke up once.
The current week, however, has been a bit rough again, with several instances of feeds every two hours and a chatty Maria way earlier than we intended to start our day. On the other hand, last night we had a great night. I am hoping once we start solids it will be easier for Maria to sleep longer stretches.
As I wrote in my previous update, Ahmed is having a two-week vacation, so we are getting to spend some more time as a family. Last week, we rented a car and drove to Raglan one day and to the Coromandel Peninsula the following. We were pleasantly surprised by the drive to the Coromandel, which took us through the beautiful Karangahake Gorge and some post card beaches. We had lunch and a stroll on the beach in Whangamata and drove back the same day. Maria was happy during most of the trip as well, but on the way back she kinda lost the plot, as they say here, and didn’t stop crying for an hour, no matter how many times we stopped to fed her or how much Ahmed sang to her. I guess it was a little too much for her.
Now that Maria is getting older, it is sometimes more difficult to go out with her. Unlike those newborn days, she doesn’t easily fall asleep in a place other than her bassinet, and the fact that she is so fascinated by everything going on around her means she gets easily overwhelmed and overtired. Even walking with her in the stroller is no guarantee she will fall asleep, and less so that she will stay asleep.
The upside is that as Maria is getting more and more aware of her surroundings, it is becoming more fun to be in new places with her. She is currently in the grabbing phase, and everything she grasps has to go to her mouth. It is exciting to see her explore all kinds of materials and textures, like soft toys, plastic rattles, crinkly books, and even wooden spoons and other kitchen stuff. From time to time, I give her a spoon to explore the feel and taste of it, and to get familiar with it before we start solids. We haven’t introduced any solids yet, but I am observing her to see if she’s ready. I don’t think she is, but it is nice to see her getting more and more curious about what I’m doing when I’m having breakfast next to her. She is now “chewing” as well when I eat next to her.
Next week Maria will be five months, and we will have another visit to Plunket to check her weight and height. I think I will talk about solids with the nurse then as well, and especially how to know if she is ready. I’m thinking to start with a typical Kiwi food: kumara (sweet potato) pureed and mixed with breast milk. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?