When sleep ‘experts’ and books hand out solutions to beleaguered parents they are a one-size-fits-all solution and mainly catered to the slightly easygoing baby. The majority of babies are fairly easy going.
However if you’ve got a sensitive, high needs baby on hand – who needs the parent or caregiver to regulate him/her – the solutions meted out in books wont work. Its funny but none of these books write about babies like these.
I am pretty sensitive to sounds and lights when I sleep. If my husband comes late and he puts on even the smallest of lights and it falls on my face while I am in deep sleep I am up and he has hell to pay. Similarly a particular baby may be more sensitive to stimuli when compared to another. The sensitive baby becomes the sensitive adult.
With regards to N, it took me 8 long months of agonizing, reading every book, and scouring Google to finally come to terms with the knowledge that I have to accept him, his quirks, his night waking’s, for as long as it takes. I knew from early on making him cry himself to sleep was never an option. I couldn’t do that firstly, but even if I could, knowing his tenacious personality it never would have worked.
After that, I had the 18 months benchmark in mind wherein I thought he’d be closer to understanding me and I’d explain why he couldn’t keep waking through the night.
So here we are. N is almost 18 months old. And SUCCESS!
About ten days ago when N came into our bed for his midnight nursing I started telling him he can’t have more milk until the sun comes up. Then once he was done nursing I told him mama and papa are tired and are going to sleep, you go to sleep too, lie still and close your eyes.
That first night it took an hour for him to fall asleep. He tossed and turned and sat up and stood up all the while I tried to sing to him and pat him slightly. When he finally did fall asleep he was up in another couple of hours. At that point he began to cry and wail so I took him in my lap and held him close and put him to sleep on my lap, the way I’d done for countless nights in the past. He was asleep in less than a minute. He just didn’t want to go through the bother of soothing himself on his own.
The next night when he came into our bed I nursed him and once again told him he needs to go to sleep on his own and no milk until the sun comes. That night he awoke once and I patted and shushed and sang until he fell sleep on his own. He didn’t cry, and took a little while.
Since then it’s been smooth sailing. He comes to bed, nurses, falls asleep in about 10 minutes by listening to my voice telling him he needs to close his eyes and be still, and a little singing. At night I hear him wake chat softly to himself (he says bus car bus car bus car, or boom <moon> star boom star boom star or papa mama papa mama papa mama) move about in bed, and fall asleep on his own without waking his papa or me. At sunrise he wakes me to nurse and then goes back to sleep for another hour.
Oh and another thing. We have a really awesome bedtime routine at the end of which N walks into his room asking to be put to bed in the afternoon and in the night.
What did it take to get N to sleep through the night?
Many many months of broken sleep. A moment in time when I felt he was ready. A little bit of handholding. Lots of gentleness and nurturing. Talking and singing. Trust and love. And tons of patience.
After 18 months I see about 6-7 hours of unbroken sleep in store for me. We stuck it out and I wouldn’t trade one sleepy cuddle. (Ok maybe that’s not entirely true).
Thanks for reading! What did it take for your baby to sleep through the night?