Do the sleep challenges ever end? We’re having a rough day over here.
After our delightful time away in Colorado, aka my soul place, J has adopted all sorts of different sleeping patterns. When we were away, J said he wanted to sleep in the “flat bed” and since the room where he stayed had one, we gave it a try, instead of using his travel crib. It worked great and we really enjoyed being able to snuggle with him while he went to sleep. So much so that we would sometimes fall asleep too or just lay there watching his little eyes droop and cheeks bloom into that sweet, rosy napping boy color.
Now that we’re back at home, in the land of the room with no flat bed and only a crib, things have been pretty topsy turvy. In short, over the past 2 weeks, he got pretty used to having someone lay down with him while he was falling asleep. So now he’s been screaming maybe 70% of the time when we leave him awake for night-time or nap. I’m able to write at this very moment because our nap battle, which began at 1 and ended a few minutes ago at 2:15, has ended with victory for me. I have a sleeper. But here’s how it went down:
- We read 3 books, sang 2 songs, then “boo boos,” our very secret code for “boobs,” the typical routine.
- J cries when I put him in his crib, wants me to snuggle with him and leave the door open.
- I don’t want to, so I don’t.
- He yells. Then climbs out of his crib and plays with toys.
- Then opens his door every few minutes, sticks his hand out, holding a random object — a rubber band, then a dragon wing — and saying “Here, Momma.”
- I go in, tell him that if he doesn’t want to sleep he needs to have quiet time.
- He announces he has to poop.
- He poops.
- He announces that he wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine.
- I say that if he takes a nap, he can.
- I deposit him in his crib and he screams.
- I walk out.
- He climbs out of his crib.
- I walk in, make no eye contact and put him silently back into bed.
- Repeat these last 2 steps 15 times.
- He climbs out, plays quietly on his floor for 20 minutes, then begins the “Here’s a random toy I’m gonna thrust through a crack in the door, Momma” routine again and says “I wanna watch Thomas.”
- I say he needs to have more quiet time if he’s gonna watch Thomas.
- And then somehow, I wound up in there holding him on the rocking chair and he nursed himself to sleep.
I know that this is, as one Fantastic Mr. Fox would say, a complete cluster-cuss.
I know I was not consistent. I know I tried a jillion different strategies (and I didn’t even mention when I went in, grabbed his crib mattress, blankets, stuffed animals and pillows and put them on his floor–in all my wisdom, I was trying to simulate the “flat bed.”). And after all that, I ended up “caving” by nursing him to sleep.
Here’s the deal: J is almost 3. The same strategies that used to work just don’t any more. And a lot of the good resources I’ve found for sleep drop off after the first couple of years. Like this one my friend B, mom of a 3-month-old, emailed me, with the endorsement, “I just found it and I am like yes finally the answers in plain English!” If you have a 0-12 month old, go forth and enjoy.
I also read and re-read choice sections of the Weissbluth sleep book when we go through a period like this. I’ll be the first to admit that I credit the Weissbluth sleep book as one of the things that saved our lives in J’s 5th month. I’ll also be the first to admit that his book will probably push your buttons if you take your place on the “anti-cry-it-out” side of the firestorm that is the baby sleep debate. Regardless of his opinions in the cry-it-out department, I think Weissbluth has some very useful things to say about naps, and sleep cycles and typical sleep patterns for infants in particular. Again, though, I’m kinda coming up empty now that I have a willful boy who can climb out of cribs, open doors and hit, kick and scratch.
So kids, what are your recommendations?