I should start this post by saying I am completely agnostic on any reasonable method of getting children to sleep. I suspect that kids respond to different things, and when parents stumble upon some expert’s method that happens to work for their kid, they become evangelical about it. If the expert’s method doesn’t work for other families, the successful families often assume the others did it wrong, or are insufficiently committed, or what have you. Sometimes these conversations get ugly. That’s one reason I avoid mommy forums.
I haven’t formally “sleep trained” any of my kids. The oldest has never needed much sleep, and that was apparent from the beginning. After him, I always had other kids around, so militantly enforcing nap times in the crib was not going to 100 percent work. Also, my kids are relatively flexible — on some things at least — so life does not fall apart if the nap or bedtime moves a bit.
I am trying to figure out how to deal with number 4. He goes to sleep at a reasonable hour (unlike kid #1) but my time log reveals that since June he’s woken up during the night at least 4-5 nights per week. At least once a week there would be a 2-hour stretch in the middle of the night. He can sleep through the night…he just doesn’t want to.
I attribute this to a few things. He is incredibly social. This is one extroverted baby. At 9 months, he has almost zero stranger anxiety. When I took him to the pediatrician recently, he was so excited to “chat” with the nurse and the office scheduler during his lead test that he actually laughed while his blood was being drawn. Yes, laughed. (Scary side note – the next morning I found him chewing on something. It was the Band-aid from the blood test. I hadn’t thought to take it off his finger before bedtime). I suspect he wants to be interacting with the world, even in the middle of the night. He’s also a really big kid. Weight and height 85th to 95th percentile. He needs a lot of calories and some nights when he’s woken up and the crying-it-out thing isn’t working, he’s nursed and guzzled down 2 bottles and then gone back to sleep. Then I feel bad that I even tried the cry-it-out method when he was clearly hungry.
So…I try different things. A key one is upping calories during the day. He is getting more protein-rich baby food. I may create a bit more of a bedtime ritual, but one that is a wee bit less full-service. And also trust he will grow out of this. That is the good thing about having four kids. I know the baby sleep issues don’t last forever. Indeed, there’s an epilogue to this post, which I wrote last week. For whatever reason, the babe slept quite well for a few recent nights. On Saturday, I went to sleep at 10:55 and woke at 6:05 with the baby — I didn’t even get up to go to the bathroom. Seven-plus straight hours of sleep felt amazing. I had some crazy dreams! I think my brain is trying to piece itself back together after months of interrupted shut-eye. My long run on Sunday morning was much more pleasant than the long run the previous week on limited sleep! And then Sunday to Monday, I got him down at 7 and he slept until almost 6:30. Monday night was bad. He was up for 2 hours again, which I suppose could have been a cause for soul-searching, but nothing had changed, so go figure. Last night he slept through the night again and I slept from 10:30 to 6:30, rolled over, and went back to sleep until 7:15. This is so much sleep I kind of don’t know what to do with myself. I am feeding him more during the day, so maybe that’s it, or maybe he got more activity or maybe something just flipped in his 95th percentile-sized brain. If I’d tried some sleep expert’s method, I’d probably be evangelical about it this morning.
Have you succeeded in getting a good bedtime thing going?
Photo: His older siblings emptied one of the toy bins and put him in it. Then he seemed to be having so much fun that they all wanted to take turns in the bin too.