Sunday, May 29, 2011
There are a Zillion different Sleep Methods...
I just googled "sleep baby" and got 161,000,000 hits. To anyone that has had kids you know that getting your kid to sleep is a constant topic of discussion/debate. I read the Ferber book, the Baby Whisperer, The No Cry Sleep Solution, and scoured the internet. A mommy needs rest in order to be a nice mommy!
First off, I want to say that there is no wrong way to put your baby to sleep. If it works for you and everyone is sleeping and happy then leave it alone. Just try to think ahead- will you still be happy with this method a year or two from now? Babies are creatures of habit and if you decide to change their sleep habits, you can make it happen, it just might take several nights or longer to get them into a new routine. I ended up trying out many different ways to try to get our babies to sleep and I can only tell you what worked for us. This doesn't mean that it will be the right way for you, but that is okay- you will figure out the right way for you!
My parents allowed us to sleep in their bed and we pretty much stayed there until the next child was born. It wasn't necessarily every night but we would sneak in pretty often. All of us grew up to be well adjusted normal adults.
Munckin slept in our bed exclusively until he was 2. At first I had him in a bassinet next to my bed but this baby was waking every 45 minutes and I was a ZOMBIE! It wasn't my intention but one night I nursed him and fell asleep with him in my bed and then we ended up sleeping for a couple of hours. It was great at first. We all got more sleep. At that time in our lives it worked for us AND isn't it the best thing to wake up to the little face you love the most smiling and snuggling with you. Daddy L was working insane hours and loved to have some time with his new baby even if it was mostly while sleeping.
I had been perfectly fine with him sleeping with us until he started kicking us in the head and trying to squish himself underneath me whenever I rolled onto my side. Eventually, we tried to get him into his own bed. At first I would have to lay down with him in his bed to get him to sleep, but he would sneak into our room every night around 2 or 3am and I would just let him stay- 3am was not a time of day that I was awake enough to stand my ground. Then I finally decided that I would need to have one horrible night where I stood firm and brought him back to his bed every time he woke up. There were a lot of tears and I was exhausted, but after that night of bringing a crying kid back to his bed 8 times, we had a bit of a breakthrough. Bedtimes were slightly easier and he went back to his bed much more willingly. When I was pregnant with Pumpkin I would sit in Munchkin's room in a rocking chair and stay with him in his room until he fell asleep. I slowly moved the chair from his bedside to the door and then was able to tell him I was "going to go use the bathroom but I'd come right back." By the time I'd come back, he would be asleep. Munckin is almost 5 now and while he is now able to fall asleep without me, I still lay down with him most nights to help him to sleep. I actually don't mind that much because there is only so much time left that he's going to want me there and I am going to try to enjoy it.
Pumpkin on the other hand is a completely different child and I had more of an idea of what I wanted. With 2 children now, I wanted to help Pumpkin to be able to fall asleep on his own. I let him sleep with us at times, but he was usually pretty happy to sleep in the bassinet. At about 7 months I tried to get him to sleep in his own crib. First I tried the thing where you sit in the room and gradually move further away from him over several nights. That just made him angry. I could just hear him saying "why are you here if you won't hold me!) Then I tried the Ferber thing with him but whenever I went to check on him at the 5 or 10 minute intervals, his crying would escalate upon seeing me. So rather than soothing him, I was making it worse. A few nights later I tried just giving him hugs and kisses and then saying goodnight and leaving. He cried for 45 minutes that first night; 20 minute the second night; 10 minutes the third night; then 5 minutes the fourth night; then 2 minutes the fifth night. Now I can usually nurse him and put him down awake without any crying at all (Provided he is ready to go to bed- He knows what he wants and if I try to get him to sleep when he is not tired then he cries!)
I never did figure out nap times. My kids nap in my arms (or in the car). Sometimes I can slide them onto the couch but more often then not I just take that as a time to relax. Maybe I will have nap times figured out for some future child.
All the different methods can work. Whether it is co-sleeping or letting them cry it out or something in between- Just try to be consistent and your child will get the hang of it. Keep in mind that something that works when they are 4 months old may need to be adjusted when they are older The most important thing is to do what feels right for you. Don't worry about what your aunt or grocer or hairstylist tells you is the right thing to do. Definitely don't worry about what people who have never even experienced this tell you that you SHOULD be doing. It's something you can only understand if you've experienced it with your own child. Just smile and say thanks.
Just remember, that you will be a better mommy or daddy if you are rested, so try to find a way to get that rest. Also remember- even if you don't figure out a Great sleep solution, this is a relatively short period of your life and it will pass before you know it.