Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Bedtime Story

Pretty much since birth, the little man has been able to express very clearly when it’s time for him to sleep. Unfortunately, he did not come pre-equipped with the mechanisms required to make going to sleep an easy process. He was never one of those babies that drifted off peacefully while drinking a bottle. His eating and sleeping patterns don’t match up in the slightest.

When you add colic and reflux into the mix, putting him to sleep as a newborn was pretty much a nightmare. He had to be swaddled, rocked and patted just so. Eventually, he would give up the fight and fall asleep. We stopped swaddling him many months ago (when we started finding him with his swaddle wrapped around his neck), but the need for rocking and patting stuck – not as easy a feat at 17 pounds as it was at 7.

I read somewhere that you can start sleep training any time between 4 and 6 months. That seems pretty early to me because I don’t feel like babies (mine at least) understand well enough at that point that to get it. But then I started to realize that since the little man gives pretty obvious cues that it’s time for sleep - rubbing eyes, irritability, yawning - maybe it was time to start trying.

So one day, instead of battling the kicking and screaming and pinching, I thought I’d try putting him down in his crib when it became evident that he was ready for bed. I gave him his pacifier, patted his back and then backed far enough away from the crib that he couldn’t see me. He cried a bit, I waited, he cried some more, I went back and patted him again. And then, something miraculous happened. He rolled over and went to sleep. It was amazing.

At this point, the method we use really only works for us about 60% of the time. Other times, the screaming gets so loud and so intense that we just can’t take it. My husband’s success rate is a bit lower than mine because he gives in more quickly than I do, but we’re working on it. Part of me cannot wait for it to work all the time, but there’s a tiny part of me that wants to hold on to those moments when only being in my arms puts him to sleep.


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