My baby sleeps…


Tonight my daughter fell asleep for the night at 6:20pm after begging me for her milk at about 6:10pm.  At 16 months (almost 17) she still gets a bottle before bed, which I know I should probably try to break her from (the bottle), but that is the only one she gets for the entire day.  I attempted to switch to a sippy cup twice and I lost both battles and gave in with the bottle after the seemingly never-ending screaming fit continued past 45 minutes.  I digress… I actually wanted to talk about sleep.

I was one of those mom’s whose new baby decided to scream all night long and sleep most of the day…for the first week or so.  Ava was born in the summer so our daylight lasted until around 9pm and that is when the screaming began every night, as the daylight lessened, the screaming began earlier and earlier.  I did not make the connection at first but eventually I decided my little screamer may just be afraid of the dark, or that was her cue that bedtime was approaching and sleep was going to be attempted.  At around one month my little darling finally slept 7 hours straight!!! Woohoo! I was elated, and to be honest, frightened.  I didn’t actually sleep because I kept waking to check on her to make sure she was still breathing (remember, my first child), plus I was used to waking at intervals by this time.  I was also co-sleeping with Ava at the point so I was very in tune with her sleep habits. 

Unfortunately the sleeping through the night was sporadic and by 4 months I was soooo ready for her to sleep in her own bed so I could sleep comfortably and actually sleep.  I managed to get her to sleep in her crib for about 2 months, maybe 6 weeks before she started teething and completely refused to be anywhere without me.  By this time she was beginning to breastfeed almost constantly through the night so again, no sleep for mommy.  I was and felt like a human pacifier.  I remember feeling so exhausted, so frustrated, yet so hesitant to change anything because I felt that I was merely comforting my infant daughter.  After expressing my feelings to many friends and family members and lots of advice, some more helpful than others, I decided to purchase a couple of books. 

I bought three books recommended to me by other moms: The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, and Nighttime Parenting by William Sears.  I read each of these very carefully and I have to say that they were all helpful in one way or another.  I have not read these is almost a year so I cannot remember details from each book but I do know that I tried every method they suggested and guess what? I still ended up letting Ava “cry it out”.  I felt like a total failure because I felt like I was abandoning my daughter.  I literally spent hours trying the other methods to the T and nothing worked for me.  The “cry it out” method worked and it lasted.  It did take longer than the 3 days most people told me that it would take but after about a week we had less than 10 minutes of crying before sleep occurred. I should also say that it took me until about 9 months of age before I actually tried the cry it out method.  The teething slowed down for a little while around this time as well.

Ever since 9 months my daughter has slept in her own bed and still continues to cry once I leave her bedroom.  I do have a routine that we strictly follow each night.  We don’t have bathtime every night because of our dry winter weather but after pajamas we go upstairs with a warm bottle of milk, turn on the lullabies, turn on the bubble lamp (still afraid of the dark), rock in our chair and read “Pretty Little Lilly and the Magical Night” (every night), and sing three songs.  I then tell her “Mama’s putting you in bed now” and she either fusses or says “k”.  When I lay her in bed I sing a couple more songs and tell her “this is the last song” and she replies “k” but wimpers.  I sing the last song, kiss her sweet head, and say “mama loves you, goodnight sweetheart”.  She cries, sometimes for 10 seconds, other times longer.  Even though I still feel bad that this is how Ava falls asleep at night, it is a routine and I try to spend my days reassuring her that I am always there for her no matter what. 

I do recommend reading those books and they make good sense but the ideas didn’t work for my stubborn little girl.  I wish they would have.  Now at almost 17 months old she is starting to play games with me and refuse to take naps (have been down to one for the last 6-8 months), or try to distract me by playing peek-a-boo when I am serious about having her sleep.  I try not to laugh but sometimes its just hard not to. 

Advice: Try what you think is best for your family, if you try and try and try without success try something different.  Always keep an open mind. 

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