Philip slept very poorly for the first 6.5 months. He only wanted to sleep either in my arms or eventually, in his swing. If he were in his swing, he would rarely sleep more than 3 hours at a time even. With our doctor warning us that he should be sleeping in his crib so that he can stretch out and move about as he needs, we naturally were anxious and desperate to get him to sleep in his crib.
Philip decided that he loved his lovely crib....to play in. That's about it. At first, after many different tactics, I could get him to sleep in the crib for 2 hour chunks at a time. I figured in time he would sleep longer and longer. Nope. He actually got worse to the point that I would spend hours upon hours trying to have him fall asleep in my arms, do the transfer, and he would instantly wake and begin crying relentlessly. Uugh....
When he reached 6.5 months, and I had tried every no-cry solution known to womankind in various forms and various combinations, I realized in my bleary eyed and minded state, that our family was in a sleep-deprived crisis and I needed to kick it up a notch for the sake of my entire family. My son was depriving himself of much needed rest and we were chronically sleep-deprived and suffering as a whole.
I am absolutely against abandoning your child in the middle of the night to let him scream and cry himself to sleep, so when I say that I researched every no-cry sleep solution known to womankind, I meant it. I went through several books, numerous forums and internet searches, testimonials, etc. I tried it all. Disheartening at best, as I simply wanted to spare my child from any negative associations with sleep. But desperate times called for desperate measures.
Now that I knew my son and knew what made him tick, for the most part, I began developing a bit of a tougher sleep training method comprised of various parts of the techniques I had read worked for other moms. And you know what? I got him to sleep in his crib the first night. By night two and three, he was sleeping peacefully up to 7-8 hours at a time! Within several weeks, he would sleep completely through the night from 8pm to 6 am. Unbelievable. I could not and still find it difficult to believe this is my child!
Here's what I did, in case you are curious:
By 6.5 months, I knew two things that allowed me to do what I did successfully and psychologically healthfully: #1: the issues Philip had with sleeping were behavioral and habitual; he never had collic(thank you God) or reflux issues, and #2: he was old enough and beyond psychologically developed enough to understand who we were and that when we leave his presence, we would be coming back - especially if he were to need us.
We started out with quiet time/music time a little before bed, got him into jammies, and read him a book (having bath time helps, too). I then nursed him and when he was finished, I didn't wait for him to fall into a deep sleep before laying him in the crib with a breathable blanket pulled up to his chest. He fussed. Aaaand fussed. What I have found out in my research is that with this fussing and crying, it is only protesting. They are kind of saying: "hey I don't know how to fall asleep like this....I'm pretty sure I need you to help me fall asleep via nursing/pacifier/rocking/etc." The object is to teach them how to fall asleep like this; to be able to soothe themselves into sweet slumber.
So I would allow Philip to fuss for 5 minutes with me out of the room, then I would go back in, pick him up and shoosh and sway him until he quieted down again (not necessarily until he was asleep again) and put him back into his crib after a minute or two of that. He would begin to fuss, but I'd leave the room. We continued this interval pick up/put down of a few 5 minute intervals, then 7's, then 13's....and I'd go in a bit sooner if he really got himself worked up into a serious cry. This went on just under two hours the first night, but then he slept for 4 hours at a time right away. I couldn't believe it.
The second night...same ritual, but it only took 30 minutes. Third night, 20 minutes. By the fourth night, 10 minutes. Fifth or sixth night, no fussing at all - he just grabbed his blanky, turned to his side and closed his eyes to sleep! Was this my child?? Why yes! I realized the importance of what I had taught him: that it is good to sleep on his own and that if he truly needs Mommy, I would return to him at whatever hour of the day/night.
Now, he loves to sleep in his crib. He can roll around and switch positions throughout the night to suit his comfort, stretch out and play with one of two stuffed animals I have in there for him if he needs some down time before falling asleep. And best part, he is so much more well-rested and so are we! This is what a growing little mind needs: sleeeeep and lots of it. Now, he only waked once, maybe twice a night if he is teething real bad or if his tummy hurts (starting solids is a new challenge to the digestive system). Amazing!
I felt so guilty those first few nights, but now I see what a great benefit this is for him and our whole family and that teaching him to sleep on his own is truly the best gift I have given him yet. Steven and I finally have hours of free time together after he goes to sleep, so we can strengthen and preserve our marital relationship, not to mention me-time(wow, nearly forgot what that was!), cleaning time, and projects-time...after having nearly none of that for 6.5 months! Aaah, liberation :).
I have no regrets. I would not have tried what I did sooner than 6 months. I am satisfied that I educated myself thoroughly and tried every no-cry solution before resorting to a "fuss"-it-out with check-ins from mommy when I knew he was cognitively ready to understand what was going on and create positive associations with sleep.
In other news, I spotted this really cool Katydid on the side of my work building. It was about 3 inches long:
I love bugs! I had to laugh to myself because obviously, our amazing Creator designed the Katydid to camouflage amongst green plant life, but He did not allow this disguise to be fool-proof, as this particular little guy decided not to use it wisely: it was about 2 feet from being perfectly camouflaged with grape leaves/vines of the same color....it chose to instead park itself smack dab in the middle of this pure white side paneling. Oye...
Aaand....here's a fluffy bunny I spotted two days ago in our back yard:
I definitely did a double-take with this one. A plump white rabbit with chocolate points, grazing in our yard with her wee little one (brown and speckled with larger-than-normal ears).
Ah, Wisconsin wildlife!