Saturday, July 14, 2012

Twinkle twinkle fall asleep

Part 1. Sleeping is an on-going issue with all parents. If there is anything all mothers love in their day, its when babies go to bed and sleep. Preferably through the night.

Sleeping through the night doesn't always happen in our house, and for the first three months of Santino's life, there was not much sleeping at all. First, when he was a month-old baby, he couldn't fall asleep and stay asleep, would cry and wake up constantly. I found "The happiest baby on the block" and the 5 S's, including swaddling and white noise, really really helped me out. Santino slept, and was a rested and a happy baby. Then he grew too big for swaddle, wasn't calm anymore, and in order to help him stay asleep I started practicing co-sleeping. That worked wonders. I got my rest, Santino got his rest and his, or should I say "mine", breast. I breast-fed him exclusively for 6 months, and after introducing solids continued with the breastfeeding until he was 13 months.

My husband wasn't sure about the co-sleeping, so when me and Santino both would fall asleep, he would take Santino and move him quietly to his crib. First, he would wake up more often, then, I guess, getting used to sleeping in the crib by himself, would wake up less and less, and finally around month 5 he slept through the night for the first time. I wasn't sure if everything was OK, so I had to check on him several times, waking up with engorged breasts after not feeding him for the whole night.

Then we went on a 3 weeks vacation. And the sleeping stopped. After we came back from vacation the only place he could sleep was our bed, and he didn't really sleep that much, mostly jumping on our heads, crawling everywhere and trying to fall off the bed. He wouldn't nap, as he couldn't stay asleep by himself. I would rock and rock him with or without the breast, but as soon as I put him down, he would wake up and cry. "Santino is awake" became like a torture phrase for me. I couldn't have any rest, couldn't get proper sleep and Santino was always cranky due to the lack of sleep.

For a few months I suffered. Then I decided to do something about it. It was the time for sleep training.

I read that some babies get it right away, some need a few days. Some need gradual 2-4-6 minutes intervals alone with parents coming back and leaving, some need to just cry it out. All this did not work for Santino. He was not happy at all when he was put in the crib without being rocked. It took me about 2-3 weeks of training, but he finally came to terms with this new way of sleeping, and became a great easy-to-care-for baby. He had 2 regular naps, regular sleeping routine, sleeping-through-the-night and falling asleep without a breast or a bottle. He didn't need any special toys, although he had a monkey with a  musical tail. He loved pulling on that tail in the morning if he woke up earlier while waiting to be picked up and fed.

Then 2 naps became 1. Then time for our annual vacation came. And sleeping stopped. Travel is really not Santino's best friend, I noticed.

And after we returned from vacation and I trained Santino again to sleep in his crib, we introduced the toddler bed.

Santino grew too tall too fast and in order to avoid the dangerous possibility of him jumping out of his crib and hurting himself, we decided to move him in a toddler bed just when he turned 18 months.

Toddler bed was purchased, a cute red Lightning McQueen car. When Santino saw it, he couldn't believe his eyes, got very excited and seemed to love it. The first night he fell asleep easily, as he missed his nap. The next day he fell asleep for his nap without problems, and I was crossing my fingers hoping for the smooth, seamless transition to the new bed. And then it stopped. The sleep that is.

Santino discovered freedom and could not fall asleep in his bed. It did not associate with the calm bedtime anymore. From now on he wanted to jump  on the bed, get on it and off it, I guess just because he could, practically diving off the bed with his head down, or jumping on the edge, stumbling and falling constantly. So from now on I had to be present in his bedroom until he calms down.

It took me hours every night to calm him down until he would fall asleep. I would spend about 2 hours during the day too trying to get him to nap, as he was not falling asleep anymore.

I was exhausted, he was exhausted, falling asleep in his high chair while eating, or watching cartoons on the couch. He would not fall asleep under any circumstances for the nap, not even in a stroller or a car seat.

So after a few weeks of fighting and trying to force Santino to nap, I decided to let him be and gave up on the naps. After a week or so, he finally started falling asleep during the day. He still wouldn't allow me to move him to the bed, but it was a progress. If he fell asleep in the stroller while I walked him around the neighborhood, I would just leave him in the stroller.

When he fell asleep on the couch, I just left him there, happy that he sleeps.

The night time became more difficult now. (Come back to read more about our sleep training, and see how I won this fight)

Read Part 2 here