Sleep. It’s just one of those things that, as a parent, you always wish you had more of, no matter how much you get.
Actually, our kids have pretty good sleep habits, it’s something we’ve always been on the same page about, since we are sleep lovers ourselves. Developing these sleep habits in our kids is a different story entirely…It was a struggle with Connor and then with Gigi we were able to do it a whole lot earlier and a whole lot easier because we knew when she was ready and didn’t have to give a trial to every method we thought might work. There were way less tears involved with her process…both mine and hers.
Eh, you live and you learn. I certainly don’t think we did anything that was awful with Connor, we just didn’t know how to do it and what we should do: cry it out, sit with him, lay with him, rock him, etc. Our confusion only made exacerbated the problem and confused the poor kid. Instead of sticking with one method we bounced all over the place. I look back at it and I think to myself, the boy was crying for consistency, not for us! Okay, well maybe for us too. But more for consistency.
…and that’s when we were successful, when we sat down and decided how we were moving forward. Now, for Connor that didn’t come until he was about 18 months old, when we made the transition from the crib to his bed. We set limits, we would stay
with him until he was visibly sleepy and on the edge of sleep (that period right before they fall asleep where their little tired eyes follow you out of the room but their bodies are too tired to move and their mouth too tired to cry out), but we wouldn’t lay with him. When he would come wandering into our room in the middle of the night, we set more limits. We would only let him settle in our bed if it was 5 am or later. That was hard, but it was necessary for him. It sounds like we are these hard asses that force our kids to sleep, I promise that isn’t the case. If you ask me or my husband, we actually like when the kids come into bed with us, but
for Connor, it was getting to the point where it was preventing him from getting the rest he needed, especially on the mornings Matt needed to get up early to go to work, and the next day would be one battle after the next with him. So, we put our foot down. We would bring him back to his room, we held him when he cried, we rubbed his back when he didn’t want us to leave and we always let him come in the bed after 5 am. It became routine, it became expected and…it worked. Some nights we were tucking him back into his bed 3 or 4 times. It was exhausting. But it worked. And for us, it was a loving and gentle way to nudge him the direction of healthy sleep habits.
And then…then there was Gigi. 10 days old, sleeping through the night. I had to wake her to feed her, she never stirred. She ate, she rolled back over and went to sleep. Of course, as blissful as that was to have a newborn and a 20 month old sleeping through the night at the same time, it all came to a screeching halt when she started solid foods at 6 months. Her intestines revolted for about 2 months until we were able to get her tummy to settle at night, a story for another time.
She has always been a much more independent sleeper than her brother, which is interesting because we coslept with both of them, Gigi was always much more willing to go into the bassinet and was content to be near us. She never wanted to be on us like Connor. We struggled to get Connor to sleep in his room, even for a nap, until he was a year old. Gigi took all of her naps in her crib from about 2 months old and stayed in her crib all night, even if she woke, by 7 months old. It’s what she wanted. If she was nursing at night, she wanted to eat and then be put back down. If she woke up crying or upset, she wanted to be soothed and then put back down. It’s actually at the point now, and has been for the last few months, where after a few minutes of rocking when she has finished her milk before bed, she points to her crib. Bed time calls and she answers. Same for naps.
Long story short (maybe not that short..) I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to do “sleep training”. Creating healthy sleep habits is a process and one that was, and is, easier for us when their are minimal tears involved, but I’m not about to sit here and tell you that we have never let our kids cry. It was never our first choice, but it’s happened. What’s important is that we have two very good sleepers now, which means good sleep for us, too! It just makes us a much happier family!