Dare I say it…I think we may have a new schedule/routine. Now I know that as I say that it will probably change. But for now we are glorying in our 3 full nights of sleep. No waking up in the middle of the night needing a pacifier put in or snuggles from Mommy and Daddy or a bottle. Just 9-10 solid, blissful hours of sleep! Could tonight be night number 4? We will find out….
A little background:
For the most part she’s been an easy baby to put to sleep. When she was about 3 months old, she decided she didn’t want to be rocked to sleep anymore; she just wanted to lay down in her crib and fall asleep. Now that has changed a bit. She’s a little more needy and our night time routine has grown, but overall it’s still pretty easy to get her to go to sleep. Generally we’ve stuck to letting her dictate her napping/sleeping schedule since we figure mostly her body knows what it needs and she’s certainly not shy of letting us know what she needs. Long story short, this wasn’t working anymore since she decided it was lots of fun to be up for an hour or two in the middle of the night (not so much fun for Mom and Dad!) Something had to change!
Here’s how it worked for us:
1. We talked to friends about what worked/didn’t work for them.
I’d done this a few times and we had (I’m sorry to say somewhat inconsistently) tried various forms of letting her cry herself to sleep/back to sleep. Suffice to say it hadn’t worked for us. Something clicked for me this time, though. The common thing was that it was different with each child. So I decided to try bits and pieces of various people’s advice.
2. Cut out a nap.
One thing I didn’t realize until a few days ago was that she was getting too much sleep during the day — making her less tired at night. (DUH!)
3. Make sure she knows she’s in her crib.
For us, that means we do our night time routine, give her a bottle, rock her until she’s almost totally asleep (this takes maybe 2 minutes), then lay her down. She usually rolls onto her side, plays with her hands a little, and drifts off to la-la land. It can be a little tricky making sure she’s the right amount of almost-asleep without being totally gone. But that’s all part of the learning process (welcome to parenthood!). My friend Charlotte told me about a book she read when she was having similar issues with her daughter. The book explained it like this: everyone wakes up in the middle of the night, but they just turn over, go back to sleep, and never even remember. But if this happened and you had moved, say from your bed to your couch, you would notice and it would wake you up. Point: let her know she’s in her crib when she falls asleep so that she’s not surprised by it later.
4. Put lots and lots of pacifiers around her.
She’s plenty capable of putting a pacifier in her mouth on her own. But if she wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t find the pacifier quickly and easily, she gets (understandably) upset. So, lots of pacifiers within reach alleviated this issue.
So far, it’s been working. If she does wake up in the middle of the night, our plan is to let her cry it out. Our friends the Moffats did this and said it took their baby girl 40 minutes to go back to sleep, but after a few nights of this she wasn’t waking up anymore. Basically, we’ve committed to being in this for the long-haul. No more baby in our bed at 4 a.m.
What we’ve learned:
1. Every kid is different. We have to figure out what works for Viola and our family. (This is a lesson we’ve learned a few times already, and I’m sure we’ll have to learn it again sometime.)
2. Schedules can be helpful (though for us, we’re still not prepared to make a rigid schedule that must be adhered to daily).
3. Parenting is fun and challenging and exciting and stretching, and we love this adventure!
4. Sleep is good!!!