Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sleep and #4

If I could give advice at all of the baby showers that I have been to during my lifetime - all over again - it would have nothing to do with being happy, going for walks, going on a weekly date with one's husband, enjoying being a mother, or any of the other silly pieces of advice I gave.

My advice will now forever be:  teach your baby how to put him or herself to sleep on their own - as early as possible.

Oh, and, by the way, this advice intricately and powerfully influences, or rather, totally determines all of those other things I mentioned.

Each of our four sweet children have settled nicely into the middle of our bed after sleeping peacefully and deeply through the night in their own cribs from 6-weeks-old until 7-months-old.  At that point, something happened with each one.  They recognized that they were alone in the room?  They started waking up naturally as we all do, and didn't know how to return back to sleep by themselves?  I don't know.  But, I do know this:  once they got snuggled between mom and dad when they were 7-months old, there was no returning to their crib.

Luckily, though, I realized just yesterday, we are now on child #4.  Even at this moment as I type this post late at night, he is snuggled up to my husband, burrowed next to his back.  Yes, let him sleep, I remind myself, for, very soon (though not soon enough... is it at 26 months that it works?), he will be old enough to bribe.  And then, it will be all over.  Suddenly, we will no longer have a permanent visitor every night, stretching his or her toes and arms horizontally in order to be constantly touching both mom and dad, or curling his body around my head in an attempt to get comfortable.

Yes, at 26 months, our other three children returned voluntarily to their own beds, determined to receive a sticker, treat, toy, or whatever we decided to bribe them with.  It only took a couple of weeks of bribes and the training was complete.

Only 7 more months to go...

I need to stop.  It's a bit too fresh to try to imagine and write about what goes on each night while I am struggling innocently to get a restful night's sleep.

Maybe when my children have their own children and I am asked at a baby shower to give my most valuable advice, maybe then I will enjoy the memory of these years without sleep - just a little.


Britt-Marie said...

Oh yes! So true. Your baby's ability to sleep (and especially fall asleep on his own) directly affects how you sleep, and handle all those things. Although, my problem wasn't having the kids in our bed it was getting them to sleep (awake, on their own). My first always nursed to sleep and I didn't know how to break that habit. My second wouldn't nurse to sleep so he would cry for hours every evening because he was so over tired. I finally (after much sleep deprivation and with advice from friends) learned a few things with my third and I know when to put her down and she goes down awake usually w/o much crying.

Jamie Lamb said...

I read lots of "self-help" books (mostly parenting--I need all the help I can get). My favorite sleep one is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weisbluth. The book's not organized very well (he's a doctor, not a writer--at all!), but I love that he backs up his theories with actual studies. No opinions, just proven techniques. I read it when my oldest was a baby, and it's made life much, much easier for us.

Behold, the blessed crib tent (something recommended in the book):


I have the same one in the picture, it's AWESOME.

Britt-Marie said...

Yes! Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child! Wonderful. Also several friends tell me how they love Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall (only available through her website- so that's the bummer.) I've seen the schedule she outlines and have been following it (loosely), it has helped a lot.