While pregnant with Little Bear I had all these grand ideas of what my child was going to be like. I would always make my child sit at the table for dinner (yea right), never eat in the car and my child would go to sleep at 7PM for a full 12 hours of sleep.
I have nieces and a nephew so I knew it wouldn't be that easy, but I was resolved to be strong. Little Bear was born and I became a mush. I let him sleep on me at night, I always gave him a bottle to get him back to sleep and I rocked and rocked him if needed.
Looking back I never gave Little Bear the tools to self comfort. I never even set the tone for night night time when he was an infant. I just thought it was normal that your 9 month old child got up multiple times a night.
At about the year mark I got frustrated with him waking up multiple times a night. The doctor said to let him cry it out. I know this method works for lots of people, but I wasn't really on board with it.
The first night I felt like I cried more than he did. When I finally gave in and checked on him he was burning up and had a 102 degree fever. I felt like the worst mom ever. My friend gave me some really great advice that I think applies to everything in parenthood. If your not comfortable with the method than it isn't for you. I didn't like the idea of letting him cry it out and so it was never going to work for me.
My friend suggested the The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night: Foreword by William Sears, M.D. (Pantley). This I could get on board with. The tips were practical and made sense though I thought they spent a lot of time talking about how to cut nursing down and barely any time on how to wean from the bottle at night.
Little Bear still woke up but maybe not as much. Here is where I took a really dark turn with our sleep habits. I had a bunch of sleepless nights and I started bringing him in our bed and guess what? He slept.
It got to the point where he wouldn't go to sleep unless it was on my bed. I had to lay with him sometimes 30-40 minutes and than wait until he was in a deep enough sleep to move him to his bed. Inevitably, he would wake up in the middle of the night and have no idea where he was and wake up screaming. I would get up in a sleep daze. Grab him and put him in our bed. This went on for months.
I noticed how much I dreaded night night. I felt like a prisoner in my room while he fell asleep. I was starting to resent him for sleeping in my bed and in reality it was my fault. So I dusted off my No Cry Sleep Solution Book and really put the tips into action.
Little Bear was over two and rarely napping so I knew that he wasn't over napping, but I did some more physical play to make sure he was tired at night time Just stuff like running around chasing bubbles and trying to be more active.
I read a book at night night and the biggest transition was I made him go to sleep in his bed, but I sat next to it until he got used to being there. He was still waking up at night, but not as much.
Eventually, we worked on me leaving the room while he was falling asleep. Of course, he called for me and cried (so there are tears), but the difference was I always went in and comforted him. I told him I was putting away laundry in my room and could hear him and if he needed me I would come in. Over a couple of weeks he started calling for me less and less. There were weeks of him sleeping through the night.
Our final step was he has really gotten attached to two stuffed animals for night night. Now the routine is pjs, prayers, noise machine on and I tuck him in with his puppy and luvie. That's it! No more rubbing his back, or coming in 20 times to check on him.
It took three years but we are at a night time routine that I like. He typically goes to sleep between 7PM-7:30PM and wakes up around 6AM. Yes, I wish he would sleep later, but if he sleeps through the night I will take it.
I realize as a first time mom I made some mistakes and am excited to see how I can make sleep a better experience for baby # 2
What are some sleept tips that worked for you?
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