These 2 posts on sleeping has been a long time in the writing. I’m no expert, and I certainly wasn’t the luckiest person to have babies who slept through at 4 weeks or some other ridiculous age. But over the years, I managed to find methods that I was comfortable with, and I’ve written it down so that one day I can read it again and laugh mockingly at my past self (I’ll probably think how naive I was!), and/or in case it helps or clears any doubts for any new parents.
Over the years I’ve read the popular books. Gina Ford’s Contented Baby series (I have no less than 3 from that series!), Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Gary Ezzo’s On Becoming Babywise, and a few other “no-cry” sleep “solutions” books. Of them all, I prefer Marc Weissbluth because he is a M.D., and he presents the possible options as well as statistics on typical behaviour for each age range. I’m a sucker for data (although the hubby so rightly pointed out that all research can be manipulated), but it sure beats the I-know-because-I’ve-been-a-nanny-to-dunno-how-many-kids-but-I’ve-never-been-a-mother kind of advice.
For the boys, despite my misgivings, they were carried to sleep, and sometimes rocked an hour to sleep. Not by me, of course. I don’t believe they can be sleepy if they need an hour to be lulled to sleep! They followed a schedule under my watch, but when I wasn’t around, well sometimes you have no choice but to close one or even both eyes. So with Abacus I had to carry him to sleep until he was almost 2 years old, the tail end of which I was in my first trimester, and I was very sure I was certainly not going down that path again.
When Scout was around 2 months old, it was out of necessity that a couple of times she had to be by herself in her cot while I bathed the boys. She was definitely ready for bed, and so she would fuss for a while, sometimes wailing. By the time the boys were done with “pom pom”, she’d already be asleep. After 3-4 days, I let her cry herself for naps too, since Weisbluth wrote that at that age they “can” cry up to 20 minutes. After those few days of crying, for both naps and night time I would soothe her to a sleepy state, usually by nursing, and then let her roll around in my bed (with me still there) and complain a little, even crying if she so desired, before she’d fall asleep. From my experience with the boys, I knew she was going to fuss and cry whether or not I was carrying her, and I didn’t want to have a repeat of carrying all the time, so that was our version of “crying it out”. I would always be in the room with her during the “crying it out”.
Today at almost 3 years old, Scout might still cry and protest every day when it’s nap time, but on “good” days (good, from my POV!), she’ll proclaim she’s tired and lay down and sleep. She can also fall asleep easily in the car, or in a carrier. Just this afternoon in a cafe, way past her nap time, I sat her in my lap, embracing her like in a carrier, and rocked her a little. It probably took me all of 3 minutes to get her to sleep. Her naps have finally settled into a better routine, which is one nap after lunch, but sometimes she’s interrupted by her (very boisterous) brothers. She isn’t the best napper, and sometimes can be asleep for only 30 minutes, and keep going for the rest of the day. I am not sure if this is natural for her, or a result of being toted around a lot as the third child, but it doesn’t look likely that the habits will change soon. With the boys once they were down to one nap a day they slept well, and for usually 2 hours at a stretch. And on some days, in total she only sleeps as much as my 5 year old! Go figure.
And as for the boys, although they didn’t start out with the sleep habits that I would have preferred, eventually both Abacus and Mittens grew out of their need to be rocked, and fell asleep on their own. Abacus is still a fantastic napper – he can still sleep 1-2, sometimes 3 hours in the afternoons and through vacuuming or fire alarms. Mittens seldom naps but can sleep 12-13 hours a night, even at 7 years old.
These days, the three are put to bed at the same time, usually 8pm, although they might not fall asleep or wake up at the same time, depending on whether they’ve had naps, etc. After school, Scout and Abacus have a nap at 1-130pm, which leaves me some time with Mittens. I’m in a happy place now that I don’t have to deal with different nap times!
I am always envious of people whose babies sleep through the night from a mere few weeks old. Although my babies wake up less often these days, they still do on occasion, and on bad nights there are wakings from everyone, one after another, and my sleep is completely disrupted. That’s assuming I can even go back to sleep after I’ve been woken… Dark eye circle concealer is really my BFF these days!
Every baby is different. Some babies might respond to a certain method well, others might not. Not every baby can go on a 3 hour schedule. And there is NO wrong method. If you want to sling your baby the whole entire day, there is nothing wrong with that. In many cultures they still practise that! And my experience with the boys taught me that whichever way you choose to “train” (or un-train?) your baby, things will change, they will grow, their habits will change, and what you did when they were 2 months old might not matter at all.
I sometimes see how kan cheong (anxious) new parents are about naps, and I can see some of myself in them when I was in their position. I smile, and give a nod of understanding, try not to laugh, but mostly I breathe a huge sigh of relief that I’m past that stage, and so glad my kids are willing to wing it on some days that require some flexibility. Of course there are days when everyone is close to melting down because of over-tiredness (me included!!), but with more kids, sometimes you just got to go with the flow 🙂
Do you sleep train?
My next post will be on co-sleeping, and why I’ve gone from having independent sleepers, to a full supporter of co-sleeping. Check back soon!
Here is an interesting article entitled 4 Reasons NOT to Sleep Training Your Baby –
Are you counting down the days until your newborn reaches 4 months old, so you can commence baby sleep training? If you’re planning on sleep training your baby, I urge you to stop right now.