How many hours should a toddler sleep? (because mine isn’t)

It seems the nights are getting shorter and shorter at my house instead of the opposite. Our lovely daughter has decided sleeping is for the cats and she would rather ramble for hours and hours like some crazed coffee drinker in an all night cafe than peacefully slumber. This means the hubs and I are both starting to slowly go insane.


Sure, we had the no-sleep thing when she was really young, but that was different. She was small and cute and sweet and fresh and new. Sure, she’s still cute, but she can talk now. She can say NO. She can say things like HELP ME, HEEEEAAAALP MEEEEEEE! after being tucked in tight for the night, which causes me to go crashing down the stairs in a split second imagining broken limbs and swallowed pennies.

Nope. She needs her blanket just right.

And now there’s the whining. And the repeating. Whining and repeating, repeating and whining.

No one is having a great time at my house right now. This makes me feel like a horrible parent and doesn’t encourage those lovey-dovey mommy and tot moments I know everyone else is having.

There’s no definite declaration for amounts of slumbering time for kids, but there are a few suggestions. KidsHealth finds most tots sleep around 10-12 hours a night. That’s just a crazy dreamy amount of time for my house. On a good night my daughter averages 8 hours of sleep.

Nope. She’s not napping all hours of the day. She’ll maybe doze for about 90 minutes in the afternoon.

Nope. We’re not keeping her up late or changing up her nighty-night routine. Every evening about 7:45 I trot her downstairs, read her a bedtime story, and tuck her in. The husband and I are lulled into a false reality that she’s snoring away, but usually by 8:30 we hear a little giggle. I ignore the noise and it progresses. Eventually she rolls out the big guns and I go down (I don’t make eye contact or conversation), tuck her back in, and walk away.

Maybe by 10 she’s asleep.

She’s awake by 6.

Let’s just say no one’s real cheery at our house lately.

Maybe tonight she’ll sleep.



Sunday spectacular: And cannibals moved in next door

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

  1. Last night I didn’t sleep. I know I did for at least a short amount of time. But, there were definitely more hours spent awake than asleep.
  2. During the time I was awake, the husband was carving a cave with his snoring. The blatant fact he was so happy off in dreamland caused my blood pressure to rise to potentially fatal levels.
  3. In the other room, the wee tot sporadically coughed, cooed, coughed, cooed, and coughed more, causing me to spend an undetermined amount of time trying to decide if I should attempt giving her some of that natural cough syrup crap that says it’s flavored like bananas and butterflies, but really tastes like shellac, but really works.
  4. When, in fact, I did fall asleep, I dreamt that cannibals had moved into the house down the street, along with their monster-huge Winnebago, and were really eyeing up the neighborhood. But, because our area is so open and willing to understand alternative lifestyles, none of us had the guts to discuss their intentions – and were scared shitless they would eat us (duh). So, we huddled in our houses yelling at each other through open windows.
  5. As the morning sunshine streamed through the windows, my husband rolled over and asked me how I slept and the babe started singing, “mommmmmmy, MOOOOOMMMMMY.”  What was I supposed to do? I gave the hubs a kiss, stumbled out of bed, cuddled the adorable baby, and did a quick check to make sure the cannibals’ Winnebago wasn’t parked out front.


*This picture really has nothing to do with the post – just thought you’d like to see the one freesia that blossomed in my yard…



For the cat(s)


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’m just going to acknowledge first and foremost that my mother isn’t going to like what I’m about to share with you. Nope. She’s already shared her feelings, but, I’m going to have to go out on a limb and do something she’s not going to be excited about (sorry mom). I’m getting a new kitty-cat. Since we had to put our long-time pal Delilah down in November, our little kitty Shasta just hasn’t really figured things out without her. We picked Shasta up when she was a kitten, and the hubs picked up Delilah from the pound in Santa Barbara. I lived with Delilah for almost 10 years, and have had Shasta for just about seven.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have pets at home what it’s like having pets. I love having animals around, heck, I’m partial to fish, too. But, when your pet isn’t right, it’s the worst thing ever. They can’t just come out and tell you, “hey, I’m feeling a bit lonely.” They do what they do, which usually involves behaving in a way that isn’t fantastic, sometimes annoying, and often darn-right-out-of-control horrible.

So, when we walked in the house the night we put Delilah down and Shasta saw she was now the lone cat of the house, she let out a truly sorrowful yeowl that caused both the hubs and I to succumb to horrid gasping dry heaving bawling.

And, guess what? The Shasta cat hasn’t stopped yeoooooowling.

She meeeeeeeeeows all hours of the day and night. It’s not like a social “what’s up” kind of meow, it’s a “I’m lost” kind of meow.

And, it’s the worst.

We’ve been up with her in the middle of the night, we’ve given her loads of extra attention, we’ve played with her, we’ve talked with her, we’ve chased her, we’ve thrown things at her, and we’ve doused her with the water gun.

She’s still yeooowling.

Getting rid of the Shasta cat isn’t an option.

So, another kitty-cat it is.

Meet Coco.

(sorry mom)



© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I went to sleep last night at 9:00 pm. I don’t know the last time I’ve gone to sleep that early. It had been a long day and I was over-exhauseted, over-extended, and just plain tired.

While completely ignoring the husband’s taunts of being a party-pooper for going off to the cozy bed so early, I snuggled down and was snoring within five minutes.

Totally worth it.

I’ve been struggling with sleep stuff on and off for a couple of months now. I have no problem falling asleep, it’s a waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-falling-back-into-dreamland issue. The husband snores, the baby cries, the cat yeooowls, and my eyes pop open and then won’t close again.

Most times this happens around 4:30am. This is that purgatory time of the morning. You’re stuck in that it’s-a-bit-too-early-but-not-really time. You could get up and start your day and be okay, but most normal people are still blissfully slumbering, and you know that, which makes things worse.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most adults need about seven to eight hours a sleep a night – but that it depends on the person, environment, elements….. Basically, they aren’t wanting to tell the general public a number so we all walk around touting that we deserve, should get, or need X amount of hours of sleep a night. But, I know I need at least six hours to function, and at least seven to fully understand sentences, feel confident driving a car, and not catch myself dream-walking through most of the day. If (and I say IF here because this option rarely happens) I get more than seven hours of sleep a night, it’s like being a new person. I feel like I was at the spa. It’s amazing.

So, last night when I slept for (wait, let me count on my fingers to make sure) just about nine hours, I am super ready for the day! Hell, I’m ready to take on the entire WEEK!

How much sleep do you get?

Getting a good night’s sleep

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

There hasn’t been much sleep going on at our house – other than the snoring hubs who seems to be able to slumber through just about anything. It seems the baby’s all mixed up on her sleep routine, which wakes me up, and then the cats are prowling about trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s pushed me to the brink of almost-insanity. Any of you out there (even if you’re not a parent) know how frazzled you are when a decent night’s sleep hasn’t been had. And, my brink of almost-insanity was quickly starting to become total insanity – along with some super-not-so-nice mamma behavior.

I knew it was bad when my mom sent me a concerned email suggesting I might want to look into some solutions for my problem. I started feeling like my “problem” was something else – like I was sneaking cigarettes in the wee hours of the night. I didn’t want to talk about it with others, was quickly becoming withdrawn, slap-happy, and over-caffeinated. I had to agree with mom. Something had to be done.

So, I picked up the trusty computer and did some research. After finding a fun discussion on the Motherboard about where your lack of sleep shows (hello, my patience level!) I discovered an article about Dreaming of Better Sleep. And, ironically, I actually HAD a dream the other night about getting a good night’s sleep. HA.

Well, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. With two-thirds of women not getting enough sleep, you’d think the world would be big mess o-ornery mammas, but somehow we still endure! Luckily, I’m not the type of non-sleeper that’s lying awake fuming over the fact that my hubs is snoring happily next to me or freaking out about work stuff. I wake up because the baby’s crying or the cat is scratching or the hubs biffed me while rolling over.  Then my body seems to think it’s morning – and I start obsessing about the upcoming holidays.


So, I decided to try a couple of Family Circle’s suggestions and turned my clock away from the bed while sleeping, picked up some nice sturdy – and dark – curtains, and started a bed-time routine. I almost felt like I was the kid brushing my teeth, closing the curtains, moving the clock and getting tucked in tight. But it actually did the trick. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I also cut back on my alcohol consumption and made a real effort to have dinner ready before super-late o-clock, which helped, too.

These last few nights I’ve slumbered blissfully for almost six-hours of uninterrupted sleep! This means the babe is sleeping better, too. I think she’s feeding off my happy-sleep vibe. Let’s see how long it continues…

I have my fingers crossed!

So, what are your tricks for getting a good night’s sleep, or are you still tossing and turning trying to find solutions?

The preschool situation

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Well, as you know, my daughter just started preschool, and I went back to school with her. So, not only is she getting used to a new routine, I’m right there with her. Things have been going pretty smoothly (for the most part), but I knew it was only a matter of time before things started to get crazy.

Ironically, I had just been chatting with my friends over at the Motherboard about hitting the preschool scene. My daughter has a bit of a runny nose from her first foray with various germs that she wasn’t exposed to in my squeaky-clean house (HA!) and I was curious if this was a common occurrence with other babes. That’s when things really started to go bump in the night.


First off, my cat has been really enjoying bringing in various living creatures to visit (like snakes) and we’ve had to nip that in the bud by keeping all doors securely closed at night. This sometimes means that wee kitty is left outdoors to fend for herself. Don’t worry – she’s a big girl. But, that didn’t stop her from making some major noise the other night, which woke me up, which then woke up the babe.

I couldn’t get her back to sleep.

So, there we were. Wide-awake at 4 am in the morning – on a school day.


Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t only essential for growing kids, but for adults, too. When everyone is happily rested, it sure is lots easier to gather homework, pack lunch, and easily, and calmly, drop the little bugger off at school. AND, he’ll probably skip away with a huge smile on his face, too.

I’ve learned that having everything ready to go the night before helps ensure that on those crazed mornings (whether due to cat shenanigans or a snoring husband), I get my daughter to school with her important essentials – like food and water. I’m so fine with the fact that she often has on miss-matched clothes or grabbed a unique lovey item to share at school during the day (like my watch).

So, let’s be honest. I’m also having a bit of an issue with the fact that my wee baby IS old enough to go to preschool. AND, that she literally does skip away from me with a huge grin on her face at drop off. Granted, I’m next door and we sometimes see each other during the day, but she sure doesn’t care when I say “bye” and head to my classroom.

I’m learning how to understand that she’s a big girl now, and is ready to have her own adventures without me. It still makes me a little sad, but I’m figuring this whole thing out as I go.

We all are, aren’t we?

Our cat loves snakes (me, not so much).

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Some of you may be aware of our cat and snake issue. It seems our cat is REALLY happy in our new house because she is bringing squiggly snake presents to us on a regular basis. I’m so glad she’s showering us with her cat-love, but I’ve had enough. Between picking up, re-depositing, and walking around the house twitching, I’m also pretty sleep deprived and having countless serpentine dreams.

I finally snapped a picture of the one of two (YES, two) snakes that made a visit to our home yesterday and was able to determine they are a harmless itty-bitty type of snake native to Northern California. SO, luckily they are no threat to us humans (other than being just icky). But the real question is, where are they ALL COMING FROM?!

The first night, I thought the cat had a piece of string or something, until I turned the light on and saw the string give a good slither. I totally freaked, started screaming, the cat went running, the baby started crying, the husband kept snoring, AND the snake made its way under the floorboards. I figured that would be the end of it.


The next afternoon, my husband made some interesting noises as he went down the stairs and then let out a good whooooop. The cat had deposited another wriggler in the hallway. I headed over (because I am the designated snake-wrangler), picked the little guy up with the help of a towel, and re-positioned him across the driveway in an area the cats DON’T GO.

And, then it was quiet for a couple of days.

Yesterday there was a double-header with a visit from a snake around the babe’s bedtime (also re-deposited far far away from the house in a non-cat visiting location) and then another late night. That one got thrown out the bedroom window with some pretty good force (sorry wee snake). I can’t fathom that these snakes are really the SAME snake, which then kept me up for the rest of the night as I imagined a den of snakes slithering about under the house.

There’s some old wood hanging out  under the deck off our bedroom, which also happens to be our snake-cat’s favorite hangout of the moment.

My plans for the day include donning long pants, socks that come up to my knees, boots, and going at the woodpile with a shovel to try to locate the darn snakes. Hopefully there wont be anymore. I don’t think I can take it.

Anyone interested in some brown snakes? They are free for the taking…

5:30 am

I love my cats. We have two cats and they are very different. One is old and fat and doesn’t do much other than beg for food, shed her long hair all over the place and lie on the floor. She has so mastered the art of lying on the floor that I have recently started nudging her to make sure she is still alive. The other cat is small and fast, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Neither one gives a crap about us other than when they want to eat or be let outside.

When I got pregnant I had crazy visions of the cats wanting to sleep with the baby in the crib, the cats scratching my baby, the cats doing nasty things to the baby…. None of these things happened. The fact is, I don’t think either cat COULD jump into our daughter’s crib even if they really wanted to, and just like my husband and I, they don’t really care about her unless she were to start feeding them or letting them outside.

Everyone adjusted to each other fairly well after our daughter joined the household. The small cat runs and hides when she comes near her and the big fat cat just lies there. She even lets our daughter pull her tail without protest, which seriously surprises me.

So, the cats are okay. Our daughter is okay. I am not.

My side of the bed is the side that has the sliding glass doors that open to allow the cats to go outdoors. My husband, who slept soundly through the first year of nights with baby, sleeps through everything. He doesn’t hear the scratch, scratch, scratch at 5:30 am. He doesn’t hear anything. One night I tried yelling at him to see if he would wake up in an emergency. He didn’t even roll over (that’s a whole other story).

It seems the cats have decided that the break of dawn means it is time to go outside and chase the awakening birds. It seems I am the one that has to suffer through the incessant scritch, scratch, scratch of the cats’ nails against the glass. I get up in a daze, open the door, the cats go running out, and without fail my daughter wakes up.

She falls back asleep. I don’t.

I have been living life on 5 hours of sleep for two weeks. I feel like I am slowly going insane. I would like to strangle the cats, but they’re so darn cute.

So, until I figure out a way to leave the sliding glass doors open without allowing the raccoons in, causing our heat bills to be astronomical or train the cats to jump out a window to get outdoors, I will be walking around in a daze.

I did pick up some water guns the other day. Maybe some good cold early morning squirts to my kitty-cats’ heads will keep the scritch-scratching away.

I’ll let you know.

Healthful Mondays: Number 1

Due to feeling slightly under-the-weather with all this sun, then rain, then sunny weather, I’ve decided to dedicate Mondays to a new endeavor – Healthful Mondays.

What does that mean? I’m not really sure to be honest with you. All I know is that I want to FEEL healthy, I want my baby to BE healthy, and there are tons of ways to accomplish this. Some paths toward health I am familiar with, and others I am not.

So, each Monday, I am going to share something that has helped me keep my sanity, lose weight, or has contributed to the wonderful over-all development of my babe. I’m going to try new things (which I usually have an aversion to) and share the results with you. Some of things may be successful, and others may be very entertaining. You’ll just have to check in with me on Mondays to find out.

This week, sleep has been on my mind, and for all you new mommies out there, sleep might be something of a foreign thing. Hey, it’s not just newborns keeping us awake at night – older kids go through tricky phases, too. But, what got me, and the baby, through the first couple months of nights, somewhat sanely, was swaddling!

The most frustrating aspect of the whole swaddling affair is the actual swaddling itself!  If you’re going to attempt to swaddle with a blanket, it is a true art. Practice on a baby-doll before attempting swaddling your squirming baby the first time. Practice LOTS!  Here are the basic steps to swaddle your little one:

– Lay your blanket out on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond.

– Fold down three or four inches of the top edge of the blanket.

– Place your baby on the blanket so that her head is overlapping the top edge that you just turned down.

– Tuck your baby’s right arm into the flap made by the folded down edge of the blanket and the right corner of the blanket. Pull that corner across her body, tucking it behind the opposite side of his back.  You can tuck as tight or as loose as your baby likes.

– Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up and tuck it inside the blanket near her chest.

– Tuck your baby’s left arm into the flap made by the folded down edge of the blanket and the left corner of the blanket. Pull that corner across her body, tucking it behind the blanket on his back.

– Place baby in basinet or crib and hope the whole thing stays together!

Check out these great pictures to help swaddle from Bambino Land.  They also have wonderful swaddling products!

I’ll be honest. While recovering in the hospital, I observed the nurses deftly swaddling up my daughter into a super-happiness sleep bundle. Through my drugged state, I knew there was no way I was ever going to get it just right. So, once we got home, I whipped out the newborn swaddle that was given to me at my baby shower. It was made of super soft material with a wonderful zipper, along with velcro side straps, to quickly and easily wrap baby up – and unwrap and re-wrap during those middle-of-the-night-super-dark feedings.

At first my husband didn’t like that I whisked our daughter away at the appointed hour at night to restrict her in a tight swaddle, but each and every night she calmed down, made a couple of complaints, and fell fast asleep.  Many times for 4-6 hours of sleep at a stretch!

Most pediatricians say that after a couple of months baby will be ready to sleep un-swaddled.  My pediatrician said that when she can pull apart the swaddle, then it is time to try sleeping without it.  Most babies get to that point around 2-3 months of age.  You definitely need to stop swaddling baby by the time it can roll over.  Not a great idea to have your burrito baby roll over in the night and not have its arms free to right itself again.  Trust your instincts and when your wee one seems to fight the swaddle instead of enjoy it; the time has come to move on.

So, if you are planning on swaddling, practice, practice, practice. Or, invest in a slick zipper and velcro swaddle. It might save your sanity – seriously.

Sleep deprivation

The other morning I woke up and didn’t feel like I’d slept.  This had been happening quite a bit lately, and I was turning into a grumpy, ornery, confused mama. It wasn’t so much that the baby was keeping me up, she was actually starting to sleep through the night.  Her uber-early morning wake up around 4 am was the problem.  I could get her back to sleep after a couple times of playing put-the-paci-back-in-the-mouth, but then I couldn’t fall asleep.  The husband snores, the cats want to be fed, and I start thinking and thinking.  This means I average about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. Not a good recipe for the perfect mommy.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem for new moms, and it can affect your health and ability to be the great mom you want to be.  I learned a couple things over the weeks that have helped me get back on track.  Just because they worked for me doesn’t mean they will be lifesavers for you, but when you are sleep deprived, anything is worth a try.  Sooner or later you will find what works for you, and a good night’s sleep will be achieved by all.

First off, exercise.  I am not joking.  Every morning I spend at least 10 minutes doing some sort of cardio exercise, many times in the enclosed comfort of my home while my daughter watches from her high chair.  My eyes may be crusted shut and my hair might be sticking up all over the place, but getting regular exercise is good for you, and it gets your body moving in the morning.  This helps you have a healthy heart start to the day, and will encourage your body to sleep better at night.

Secondly, have a cup of coffee or tea, whatever you like.  Even if you are breastfeeding, a cup of coffee isn’t going to be problematic to your breast milk.  Caffeine in small amounts won’t hurt baby, and it gives your body a lift in the morning.  Keep it to one cup, though.  More could lead to drinking caffeine all day, which will make getting a good night’s sleep challenging.

Third, sleep when the baby is sleeping.  Seriously!  That means if baby falls asleep regularly at 9 pm, then it is time to think about making bedtime 9 pm.  This can be a hard one, but if you want to get 8 hours of sleep again and you know baby sleeps from 9 pm to 6 am, then you need to sleep from 9 pm to 6 am.  When baby is napping, don’t be afraid to lie down and get some shuteye.  Even if you lie down and close your eyes but not sleep, your body is having a chance to relax and recuperate.  Take this time to go over any worries you might have or concerns you are dealing with.  You will feel better after.

Fourth is to ask for HELP!  This is hard for new moms, as for some reason many of us feel that we can do it all on our own.  You are not a failure if you ask for some assistance.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for some time out by having your partner, friend, or family come and baby-sit while you get some sleep.

And fifth is to start a routine or schedule where your partner gets involved in the evening or morning baby’s sleep or wake up time.  Preferably, the morning is the best time to try to set this up.  Pick a morning that works for you and your partner and have them take over the morning routine.  This means they are in charge of baby during wake up, changing, clothing, feeding, bathing – whatever happens – for at least 2 hours one morning a week.  Close the bedroom door, pull the pillow over your head, or play some music to keep yourself relaxed and asleep.

I found the best thing that worked for me out of these 5 sleep slavers was adjusting my sleep times. I felt pretty silly getting cozy in bed at 9 pm, but if it means I am going to get some sleep, it is worth it.  Some nights I stay up late until 10:30 or so, and feel like a teenager again.

Good luck and good sleep!