Settling into bed at 11:00, having only just put your child down to sleep, it’s easy for your brain to go wandering down the path of self-doubt. Why does it take over three hours to get her to sleep suddenly? Should I be night-weaning her? Is she old enough to cry-it-out now? Have we been doing it all wrong from the start?
Even worse when you start reading the parenting forums for advice and 90% of them advocate methods that you could just never see yourself inflicting on your child.
I know there are babies who get set down in their cots at 7pm and just go to sleep, through till 7am. Maybe some of them were “sleep trained”, maybe some are just naturally easy sleepers. Luella is not one of them.
I keep trying to see the positives – she just loves being up and playing with us so much, that must be why she fights sleep. But she began fighting it harder every night. She’d jump up in bed, pulling at the blinds, crawl out and go for toys, kick and scream and toss and turn for hours. We decided something had to change so we started a new routine.
We’d get her changed, I’d give her a feed, Jim would take her out in the carrier and walk around till she fell asleep then come home and I’d re-settle her into bed. This worked twice and then she’d scream every time Jim started to put on the carrier and scream herself to sleep. And we still weren’t getting her down till after 9.
Finally on Sunday night I tried something new. I re-framed my thinking.
I’d begun dreading bedtime. I’d been worrying about not feeding her to sleep so she could learn to fall asleep on her own. Forcing her to lay down when she wanted to roll around. Reading her one book, singing one song and then lights out when I decided it was time for sleep.
At 7:00 we got her ready and turned out the lights. We got in to bed together with one book which I let Luella read through at her pace. Rather than deciding how long she could nurse for, I just fully took off my bra and let her nurse on and off as much as she wanted. I thought about what relaxes me when I can’t get to sleep and rubbed her feet. At times she sat up chatting, other times she’d lay down quietly. We sang songs.
By 8:00 she was sleeping as I stroked her hair. No tears. No fussing. Just an hour of quality time together as we both relaxed.
We’ve had success every night since. In fact the last 3 nights she’s fallen asleep as I’ve sung the same song to her. I’ve only ever heard it in this clip or Erykah Badu on Yo Gabba Gabba so I have no idea if it’s original, but I do know it’s magical!
I’d been so focused on getting her to bed quickly that I missed this as a bonding opportunity. So that’s how I turned my frown upside down and traded it for a smile :-)