Hands, feet, and sleep.

Theo's handThis past week, Theo has been spending a noticeable amount of time contemplating his hands and feet. He does this when he’s already kind of sleepy and seemingly in an introspective mood. When he’s more lively, we’ve been excited to see him grasping at toys. It’s not fine motor coordination yet—he doesn’t reach right out and grab a toy. Rather, he moves his arm in the general direction, his fingers crawling through the air until they land. Then he grabs hold, but usually in an awkward way. I really look forward to when he can reach right out with confidence and clutch the toy of his desire.

While Theo makes his great strides, I try to make a few of my own. I read somewhere recently (probably in one of the two baby books I cherish like dual bibles) that baby should be put down for a nap at the first signs of sleepiness. I’d been going it about it all wrong, I think. I see the fist-sucking and the eye-rubbing, the yawns, the general crankiness, and I wait a little longer for the boy to get truly tired. Problem is, his crankiness escalates. Eventually he gets tired enough to fall asleep, but often after many minutes of crying. And that’s no fun for anyone.

Yesterday afternoon I tried swaddling Theo, putting him in his crib, and offering him a pacifier as soon as he gave those tell-tale signals. Miraculously, he went to sleep with zero crying at all. I was simply amazed. Here I had been (in the past) trying to entertain him or cuddle him in an effort to sooth him, sometimes for an hour, and all along I was probably continuing to stimulate the poor thing. I have been describing his behavior as “fighting sleep.” Was it me instead who was inadvertently fighting his sleep? I’ll keep looking for his little sleepy signals and then let him get away from the lights, noise and interaction much sooner, and see how it goes.

One last thing—I have fallen in love with Theo’s new Sooth and Glow Seahorse. When you squeeze its plastic belly it glows a warm yellow, and the speaker box inside the toy plays soothing music for five minutes. Last night I laid the toy alongside Theo in his crib when it was bedtime. Instead of crying for 15 minutes straight until he fell asleep, Theo was silent while the music played. When it stopped, he cried until one of us turned the little seahorse back on again. This happened a couple of times, and finally Theo slept. It was a much less noisy and traumatic bedtime than if Theo had been crying continuously. In time, Theo may fall asleep faster with his seahorse friend alongside him.

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