Monday, June 29, 2015

my love/hate relationship with Cry It Out

Oh good! Another post about baby sleep.

Sorry folks, it's endlessly exasperating/fascinating to me so I'm just going to keep posting about it.

My mom once told me that as soon as she began to notice any sort of pattern or routine with any of her babies' sleep, it would change. We have found that to be true with Johnny.

We had just fallen into good bedtime routine, Johnny was weened, the floor bed was working like a dream, Alex was getting him to sleep in about 15 minutes- short for us. And he was sleeping well. We started to notice a change when the days started getting longer. It was taking longer and longer to get Johnny to bed. 20 minutes turned into 30 minutes, and then it was taking us almost an hour to get him to sleep. We'd take 20 minute shifts lying down with him, which always turned into a wrestling match of trying to get him to stay in his bed.

One night after and hour and a half of this tag-teaming, Alex said in exasperation, "I won't be able to spend this much time putting him to bed once school starts." I knew he was right. That meant we'd have to figure out a way to get Johnny to go to sleep faster, or I'd be doing it all on my own.

The next night when it became apparent we were in for another bedtime marathon, I knew something different was needed.  So I tucked Johnny in his covers, gave him his water glass, kissed his forehead and left the room, closing the door behind me. He started crying immediately, but I told myself to give it 3 minutes.  I stared at my phone in agony the whole time. When I went back in after the 3 minutes were up I was surprised to see that Johnny had stayed in bed exactly where I had put him. I laid down with him to soothe his crying, and when he started climbing on me and jumping up and down I tucked him in and left again.

3 more minutes of crying, I needed Alex to wait with me by his door this time because I couldn't stand it by myself. After 3 minutes Alex went in to soothe him, and then left again. This time we decided to wait five minutes, and before the 5 minutes were up he had fallen asleep.

I felt conflicted the remainder of the evening, I was relieved that we had gotten him to sleep in less than 30 minutes, but I also felt guilty for letting him cry, and like a failure of an attached-parent for having to resort to this heartless method of sleep training.

The next night, after a few minutes of snuggle-wrestling we reluctantly decided to try crying it out again.  And he fell asleep after only a few minutes. After being accustomed to hour and half battles over bedtime this felt way too easy. More feelings of guilt. Shouldn't I be working harder and earning some glorious parenting battle scars? This isn't how we parent!

After my 50 hour labor and almost c-section delivery of Johnny, where nothing had gone according to my "birth plan" I learned that the best birth plan is a to have no birth plan.

Now I'm learning the same thing about parenting. There is no best and perfect parenting method. Flexibility is more important than ideology. And the way you parent often changes with a child's development.

I never let Johnny cry it out as an infant. I personally wouldn't let an infant cry it out. An infant's needs are immediate, and they don't understand why you're gone.  I'm glad I chose to do it that way and I plan to do it that way with baby #2. But a two year old is so different than a 6 month old who has no idea why you're gone and feels like you will never come back. Johnny knows when it's bedtime, and he tries to put it off. Instead of my presence being helpful and soothing, it was distracting him and keeping him awake.

Some nights Johnny falls asleep right away with one of us lying down with him.  I love when that happens and wish it was like that every night. But most nights he fidgets and talks and won't close his eyes, and so after a few minutes of snugging, I leave. I still don't like doing it, even though he hardly cries at all. But I love that he goes to sleep within 5 minutes. Some nights I tuck Johnny in his bed, he asks for his water cup, then pushes me away and says "bye bye". Then I'm a puddle of emotions as my heartstrings go SNAP! My baby doesn't need me to fall asleep any more! It's a little sad, but mostly it's a good thing.


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1 comment:

  1. We let our first cry it out and she slept through the night by three weeks old. She has some ADHD issues and I have heard that it could be linked to CIO so with this one, we are not doing CIO. I actually have to wake her up to feed her because she isn't gaining weight like she should so it's a lot different. It's amazing how much we learn along the way.


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