I write this post not as an expert in sleep training, nor in providing a formulaic solution to calm your fussy baby to sleep. This is merely my story, about what worked for my baby. I know that our first baby, Asher, would not have taken to this method as easily, because we had tried some crying it out methods/Ferber methods in the past but failed. It wasn’t very successful until at 9 months when I was ready to try the cry it out method for real. Oh was it painful but effective, and after a week and half he could sleep through the night.
After Asher, I wanted to do things differently with Cailyn. I had always felt kind of badly for letting him cry before 6 months, and thought for sure I didn’t want to let her cry before then.
Well, she cried a lot.
Doctor said she had colic.
It seemed as if every hour she was awake she cried. Every evening my husband and I would spend from approximately 6:00 pm to 12:00 am pacing the floor to pacify her from having a complete blow out. She also didn’t sleep for very long for the little that she did.
Her regular routine was to sleep in the bassinet for half the night, and then not really sleep (but kind of sleep) for the second half of the night in our bed.
Co-sleeping just didn’t work for us. No one really got any quality sleep, including the baby. I suppose it worked for a little bit, but that was in the early-early weeks of complete desperation for just a wink of rest. I was always worried she’d either suffocate from our blankets or get rolled over on. Plus she pretty much pacified the entire time, and would need to be burped several times at night.
The real breakthrough for her fussiness came when we put her in her crib. Not the bassinet, not at night with us in our bed — in her crib. My instinct said she was tired. I was confident all her needs were met, and frankly I was tired from spending night after night pacifying an increasingly tired baby.
She cried for 30 minutes.
She was under 6 months.
Okay, she was under 3 months.
She fell asleep for two hours, I fed her. She fell asleep for 5 and half hours with no fussing in between. I fed her, and she went to sleep for another 5 hours. This was progress compared to 4 or 5 hours!
That next day, and for the next two weeks, she napped in her crib for a good 1-3 hours for each nap, and slept anywhere from 7-10 hours at night. She is still going strong with this, but her naps have shortened some to an hour, four times a day.
Believe me, I tried, and tried and tried to follow what the books say of “never letting them cry” to the point of utter, absolute exhaustion.
As it is, since breaking the supposed “rules” she is much happier, and has way more moments of quiet alertness. I’m happier! We’re all happier. I’ve even been able to have showers again without her screaming her guts out. In general, she cries a lot less, NOT MORE.
In the end, there comes a point when you need to draw a line in the sand, and realize that what the books say you should do really isn’t always best for your family and the overall happiness of the household. I decided to go with my instincts and exercise common sense for the greater good of my family, and it’s been infinitely better for everyone.
I respect that co-sleeping works for some, but for me I decided to go with my gut, and my gut said “put her in her crib.” I didn’t have to worry about suffocation or rolling over on her. I had a peace of mind and space (dare I say detachment!?).
The crib has provided healthy boundaries personally and in our marriage. Ironically, I feel more attached to her because of it and actually feel more sympathy for her when she cries (as oppose to when I was perpetually wearing her). She has done much better overall and is much less fussy since employing some of these detachment techniques.
Really, it came down to making a choice for us: continue pacing the floor every night from 6 pm – 12:00 am, only adding to her sleep debt and ours, or letting her cry for a little bit so she can get some rest, and so we could get some rest. We went with common sense and let her cry for a little bit so she could get the rest she needed. After all, there does comes a point when lack of sleep is more detrimental to the babies health than a little crying (or even a lot in extreme cases).
After the first couple of nights she rarely cries more than ten minutes, and more often than not doesn’t cry at all. I make sure to do my part by looking for signs of tiredness (yawns, whining, lack of eye contact) before I start unwinding her by nursing and rocking her to sleep. She has a pattern of waking an hour later, so I fed her again, and then she falls asleep for 7-10 hours.
I’ve heard success stories using the complete opposite approach, but it just goes to show the unique differences of each baby and parent. I hope my story can offer an alternative voice and relief to any mom that’s been feeling discouraged by no-cry solutions not working out for them. Common sense is perfectly fine to follow.