For months now, I have been talking about doing a blog on sleep — or lack thereof! — but have not gotten around to it. Mainly because I kept hoping that I would be able to offer or add my own success stories about getting Mina to sleep. Alas, we are still in search of the magic potion that will ease the child into slumber without her needing to hold onto my thumb for comfort! Yes, I did say that she needs to still hold my thumb to go to sleep…sigh…
When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding babies, food, nutrition, labor, pregnancy… you name it, I read it. Except, interestingly enough, sleep. I have no idea how that crucial concept slipped through my fingers. It is really baffling to me. My best friend Sunny was a month ahead of me and we would swap books or websites, but neither one of us talked about SLEEP! I really wish we had because I think I would have been more prepared. I really believe that research and initiating a sleep training of sorts when they are first born lays a foundation for the months to come. Yes, there will be hiccups and bumps along the road, but things may be easily righted by to normal.
Mina slept great until she was about 5 months old, and then she started screaming in her bassinet. Come to find out a month later, she had developed a dairy allergy and started to scratch at her face when she woke up. No more “let her settle herself down by herself.” It soon became, get to her fast before she rips her face to shreds and makes a bloody mess of the crib! We had to swaddle her and run to her upon the first moment of restlessness. At that point I began to dive into books about baby sleep. I walked down to TKE and came away with 3 books: The Lull-A-Baby Sleep Plan, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution. Three completely different ways of dealing with sleep and I was more confused!
I have to say that Lull-A-Baby was a complete waste of money. It was filled with acronyms that you had to remember and timing this and that which made no sense — remember, I am sleep deprived, maybe 3 hrs sleep and I need to remember what WOO is? Yeah right! I should have known from the caption: Turn any baby into a great sleeper in 7 days (or less)! I felt suckered by an infomercial!
Next came Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I found it very informative about babies’ sleep cycles and how long they can be up and when to start to put them down, etc., and I wished I had had this when Mina was born. I feel that it was presented in a very matter-of-fact way that was understandable and do-able. However, I put the book down at a certain point because I began to disagree with some of the more extreme measures. There came a part of the book which talks about the toddler leaving the room to go find comfort in the parents’ room. It happens too often, what do you do? Well, according to this book, one option is to take the child with you to the store, buy a lock for the child’s room and tell the child that if he/she doesn’t stay in the room at night, they would lock them in instead. I really don’t believe in such scare tactics and felt that that would be more traumatizing to the child. How can you bring your child to the store to pick out a lock for his/her own room and feel that that is an OK thing to do? Also, his cry-it-out method completely didn’t feel right to me. I don’t see how creating that much stress in a child is ok. I know others will disagree, and that’s fine, I expect it. I tried it and let her cry for up to 15 min, but then it completely backfired on me. Instead of making her “more independent” and “self soothing”, she became even MORE clingy and wouldn’t even let me move two feet away from her. Ok…. NEXT!
On to The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers… finally someone who was speaking my language. Pantley was understanding and practical and she didn’t make you feel like a bad parent if you were not following the “normal” sleeping arrangements. She made me feel that it was ok. I remember her writing that as long as everyone (mom, dad, baby) are getting sleep, there is no problem. Maybe the baby is bed-sharing or co-sleeping, maybe one parent is in another room. However it was arranged, if everyone was ok with the situation, there was no problem. She gave practical tips on how to get the child to sleep and magically!!! Mina began sleeping in her crib and waking just a few times a night. She was getting to bed around 6:15, had the music playing, no light in the room and it was BLISS!
Bliss never lasts too long in this house, since something else inevitably decides to rear its ugly head. TEETH! Teething wreaked havoc on our sleep patterns and sleep wakings and have brought us back to square one. At the moment, I am in the process of weaning (yes, I am still nursing), moving to a big girl bed, and falling asleep with an animal or lovey. In trying to manage all this, I am currently sleeping on blankets (with our IKEA chair cushion on top) on the floor in her room, next to her bed. And you know what? I am ok with that. It won’t last forever and I don’t really care what other people might think because it works for us for right now and that’s the most important thing. ~ Elif