Jen over at Amazing Trips inspired me to get down and dirty and finally do something about Little L’s sleep habits. While the nights are slowly getting better, I’m increasingly concerned with the fact that she just doesn’t know how to fall asleep on her own.
Like Jen I’m a huge believer in the need for sleep. I’ve always believed that a cranky child is a tired child and acted accordingly. C knows that if she’s overly cranky or emotional she’s going to end up in her bed sooner rather than later.
C rarely fights going to bed. She has a music box that she can activate herself. She falls asleep on her own and usually puts herself back to sleep if she wakes up in the night. I was tough on her as an infant and from a young age she was put in her crib drowsy, but awake, until I could put her down wide awake and know that she’d go to sleep on her own.
Until now I have failed Little L. I’ve allowed her to fall asleep at my breast on in my arms. I’ve bounced her to sleep in the bouncy. I’ve held her hand as she sat in the car seat. I’ve turned myself into her lovey and I’ve made it impossible for her to learn to fall asleep by herself. A few weeks ago I realized that she needed a stricter bed time routine and created one that seems to be working, but it was only a step in the right direction.
After the bed time routine operation was launched I hemmed and haa’d and made a number of excuses for not really sleep training her; her asthma made it impossible for her to cry for long periods of time, the house was too small and she’d keep waking up C, etc. Then I read about Jen putting her sweet baby through “sleep school”, and I realized that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors, especially not Little L. She needs her sleep and she needs to be able to get there on her own.
And so last night I launched our own version of sleep school. I followed our bedtime routine to a T, fed Little L a bottle, and put her, drowsy, but awake into her crib. For the first time ever she didn’t freak out when I put her down and she actually fell asleep. Sure, she was up ten minutes later with a poopy diaper, but once that was changed and she was nursed back into a drowsy state she went down again without a fight. She slept longer than ever and didn’t wake for a feed until 3am.
Tonight I was determined to have another successful evening. We followed the same routine and I attempted to put her down, but she reverted to her old ways; from drowsy to wide eyed and angry in 3 seconds flat. I pulled her out and fed her some more, waited until she was drowsy and put her down again, and again she woke right up and cried. This time I let her be. She cried on and off for twenty minutes, getting progressively angrier and angrier until I went back into the room to comfort her. I resisted the urge to pick her up, instead I fixed her swaddle, rubbed her head until she calmed down, and left her alone again. She fussed for a few more minutes and then, miracles of all miracles, fell asleep. She’s been asleep ever since.
I know that, when dealing with infants, every day is a different day and tomorrow could bring a whole new slew of challenges, but I feel that we’re on the right path. Cross your fingers for me. I’m not sure how much crying I can take.