Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Sleep

Ok...I'm going to blog some today on baby sleep.  Let me start out by saying I mean this in no way to be offensive to any mom who has used CIO, Controlled Crying, Sleep Training, etc.  I'm just trying to offer our view and what worked for us. 

The reason, yes, I am against those methods (doesnt mean I am not dear friends with those who chose them, its an agree to disagree kinda thing and I personally refrain from discussions regarding it to spare our friendship and hurt feelings, they know my views, I know theirs). 

Secondly, I get endlessly tired of new moms posting about having trouble getting their baby to sleep (we are talking newborns) and being told stuff like "Oh you HAVE to let them cry"  "Just shut the door and go put on headphones" "Its really hard but its worth it, you dont want them spoiled" "Don't EVER let them sleep in your bed, they'll never leave."  "You don't want to always have to rock them to sleep" and anytime anyone mentions something like co-sleeping, rocking/nursing to sleep, and the like, they are aghast at how ruined and spoiled my child will be and how I've "really messed up" and will "regret that later."

Well guess what?  It's later and no regrets.  Here is how our sleep situation has progressed.

First sleep situation...sedation. [sarcasm] Really the best method if you want your newborn to sleep all night and not interrupt you.  A little bit of a pricey option...you are looking at a few thousand a day for the NICU stay, but look what you are getting...24/7 child care, etc.  But for mom and dad, totally stress free, lots of sleep at night.  [/sarcasm]

But eventually the NICU will send you home.  Then you'll have to figure it out for yourself.  They train baby to sleep on tummy then tell you that sleeping on tummy is bad...gee thanks for that.  At that point what we did was we had him in a bassinet beside the bed.  We had no qualms with the idea of co-sleeping in our bed but he was on a monitor and was very small so we were a bit nervous.  So he was in the bassinet until he was about 6 months old.  When we woke up and he had his legs slung over the bottom. 
Then I said, "Yay, he's all grown up and can move to his bed".  Then nighttime came.  I didnt WANT him to leave.  The next room was way too far away.  And we were still nursing and well..I didnt want to walk that far in the middle of the night.  Oh and it was cold..yeah...he might get cold.  He needed to stay in OUR bed.  So...thats what he did!

This continued for about a year.  We tried his baby bed a time or two.  He was never a fan.  We'd put him in there asleep and when he woke up to nurse or whatnot I just brought and kept in him our bed.  Worked quiet well, I could go back to sleep while he was eating.  We all got more sleep and no one was stressed out.  (I do believe that crying it out unnecessarily stressed babies..I just do.)

At around 18 months we decided that since Isaac obviously hated the baby bed we'd try a toddler bed.  At least then he could get up and come to our room on his own, saving us from having to go get him.  (Wow, we sound like such lazy parents).  That worked a little better, still not great.  Of course we felt the mattress was uncomfy so no wonder, we have a pillow top!

But we kept working with the toddler bed.  We'd rock to sleep and lay him in it.  Then around 2 I decided he needed to go to sleep in his bed.  I tried laying with him..took an HOUR out of my night.  Then I tried being tough...that lasted maybe one night.  Just didn't work.  He just wasn't ready.  And again, he still didn't like the bed much.  So this year for Christmas he got a twin bed.  A "big boy" bed.  With a real (nice) mattress.  And sheets with choo choos and trucks.  And comfy room for mom and dad to lay with!    We did our standard lay with him some, but he was just getting more wound up, laying with him was defeating the purpose.  Then one night I said, "Go to bed".  And guess what...he did.  Then it happened again.  I finally found  a bedtime that suited his needs (9:30).  At that time he willingly goes to bed, gives everyone kisses, grabs his stuffed dog and climbs in bed.  Oh sure, he'll poke his head out a few times, to which I tell him to go back to bed and he does.  He asks for a cup.  Sometimes he'll cry a bit, just a tantrum, but I tell him to go and make him go back.  He'll call out for me in a singsongy whiney voice, to which I'll respond "go to sleep Isaac".  Then I'll hear talking, singing, muttering....then all will grow quiet.  I'll tip toe back and what do I see?

I think I am ready to call this a success.  Its been several weeks now and he is in his bed all night much more than he is in our bed.  Sure some nights he'll join us, but an occasion is okay, it was the every night expectation that needed to cease.  But I truly feel it is because I let him be a baby when he was one.  I let him grow up when he was ready.  I followed his cues.

I say all this not to put down one method over another.  But to point out, that letting a baby be a baby, rocking, coddling, co-sleeping, does not "ruin" or "spoil" a child.  Nor make them poorly adjusted.  Or create a child that has no independence.  (all things I have been told.)  It IS possible for your child to one day sleep on their own without massive tear shed.     


Julie @ A Journey Not A Race said...

Dani woke up every 3 ours until she was almost 3 years old. Thanks to that preemie schedule she was on for so long. She slept in a bassinet by our bed until she was 9months and then she slept with us until she was 4 and was starting Kindergarten. She did great all on her own and to this day goes right to bed when told and doesnt have to have a night light, music or tv. Infact she can't sleep with any of thise things. I really think it was more me then her in regards to her sleeping with us but ya know... I had to be away from her for 10 weeks and she was on a heart monitor until she was 6 months old. I was willing to pay the conswequences for whatever I was creating. :) I say to each their own. Don't worry about me and I won't worry about you.
I have no regrets! Infact, I miss those days!

Morgan J. said...

It seems to me that you just made your life and his harder...tough love can go a long way sometimes in my opinion...

Erin said...

I have to disagree with that one. I don't think "tough love" has a place with infants and babies. Being "tough" is just stress and abandonment on babies.
I don't see how we are "making his life harder" since I now have a wonderfully adjusted two and a half year old that sleeps in his own bed all night.
Each parent has to make their own choice, but I personally think gentleness and kindness goes a long way. I am very much into "attachment parenting" and it really has paid off for us. Best of luck to you and your little one on the way.

Rochelle said...

I have had 6 kids...and the only one whose sleep routine I REGRET is the one who was given "tough love". We did not let her cry it out...but we moved her into her bed/crib at 4 weeks...and mostly she stayed there. I lost sleep by having to get up to care for her. My hubby and I spent more time apart than together because she needed to be "in her bed".

we learned from our mistake...the others stayed closer (either by on in our bed)..and the latest one....has never slept in a crib. :)

tough love is for adult children who need to get their lives on track and there is no other option to give them to help them.

The.Village.Idiot said...

Great post Erin, and I agree with you on a lot of this. Our first child was very independent - even in utero. I think he thought I was holding him back. LOL From night one, he slept in his crib, in his nursery. The few times we kept him in the room with us (either traveling, or when he was sick) he was cranky, irritable, and did NOT like Daddy's snoring at all. NOBODY got any rest those nights! When baby 2 came along however, it was a completely different story. After two nights of listening to my newborn scream her head off, and finally picking her up to find she was soaked from sweat, and trembled for an hour afterward, I decided it was better for her to be NEAR me; in the same room, on a wide table in a Moses basket where I could read out and touch her if she needed me. (Her birth was complicated, and we were separated in the early days, which I think contributed to this need.)

Both of my children are beautiful, healthy, well adjusted children who do not come and get in our bed at night. Sometimes they'll come to cuddle, watch a movie, or just be near us, but they sleep in their own beds and have since they were very small. They're 14 and 11 now.

Baby 3 is on the way, and there's no plan at all for sleeping arrangements. It will depend on what what Baby needs, and what Mommy needs. I am the best determinate of what my child needs. . .period.

Kim said...

It seems to *me* like you had an easy time of it, Erin! Your story is so encouraging to those who've chosen the gentle way :)

CappuccinoLife said...

Excellent post Erin. That is similar to how ours went (minus the sedation bit, of course). We combined co-sleeping with a bassinet or pack n play. I saw it as completely pointless to drag myself out of a warm bad every 2 hours at night in order to nurse. I was more liable to fall down the stairs or drop the kid than the get much sleep.

By two, they were all in their own bed in their own room, without a single problem. I had one child who had night terrors for about a year (between 2.5-3.5 years old), and even he stayed in his bed all night. That was actually way worse for our sleep than having a little on in our room ever was.

Anonymous said...


All three of my kids co-slept with me and...things couldn't have been better.

I faced so much junk over it you would not believe but I just stuck to what was working for us.

I now have a 21 (almost 22) year old daughter, a 14 yr old son and a 12 yr old son who are happy, well adjusted sleepers.

I have had no issues with privacy or anything that many of the parents I horrified with my sleeping and open feeding arrangements were so afraid of.

My children feel they can come to me at any time to talk about anything - and they do - but they also respect my space and have their own. (something I was warned would be SUCH an issue when I was first nursing and co-sleeping)

It works for nursing moms and is the natural way to parent - children just sleep better when they feel secure and cared for.

I have never figured out why some people try to turn mothering into rocket science *shrug*

All you need to do is follow what you believe - give what your children want and balance it when you can with what is best for them and what you need for you...

To me - it seems like nature has already done most of the math.

Mom + baby + warmth, comfort & security = rested Mommy/happy baby.