After a few weeks at home I soon began to struggle. I was constantly exhausted and there was not much I could do my hubby and his mom had both gone back to work and I was suddenly home alone with a newborn and I panicked. I asked everyone for advice. The responses were mixed “sleep when the baby sleeps”, “get some me time while baby naps”, “take advantage of the quiet and peace.” The responses went on and on. They did not help me in the least. I really had no idea what to do. I spent my days (and often my nights) sitting or laying on the couch with my little one in my arms. I was at a loss because we had no sort of bedtime routine.
By the time he was a couple months old I was losing it. I hadn’t had a full nights sleep since before he was born and I was exhausted. I needed a break and that is why I knew I needed to try sleep training. There are so many methods out there. Cry it out, don’t cry it out, put them in their own bed, co-sleep (something I did for months), swaddle, don’t swaddle…it’s exhausting just trying to research and pick a method for sleep training. So, I decided try them all.
Yes, you read that right I tried them all and I will tell you my results, but here is the thing every baby is different. What works or doesn’t work for me might get different results for you.
Co-sleeping works. Simply put co-sleeping works as a part of a bedtime routine, but you need to do it the right way so that baby is safe. In order to keep baby safe there are many things that need to be done. This means sacrifices that both you and your significant other must make. No blankets can be near baby and the mattress must be firm. This worked the best for me when Raiden was small because I often slept alone with him until I got the bed safe enough for him. It did mean that I was never getting a deep sleep because I was always listening for him. He nursed on demand which meant I was constantly moving and shifting my weight so that he could switch between breasts while he was nursing. I found this to be the easiest when middle of the night feeds were a necessity. I just didn’t have the right set up for me to be up and down all night with him.
But eventually mom and dad needed a break and we knew that we needed to find a different solution to our sleeping arrangement because mom was about to lose her shit.
So, swaddling was attempted. This was the most humerus attempts that we made. My son always fought his swaddles from day one, but if you managed to actually get him in a good swaddle he would usually calm down; the problem was… I am terrible at swaddling. I tried swaddling with standard blankets, receiving blankets, the pre-made swaddle blankets with velcro. My swaddles were a joke no matter what. He always squirmed out within a minute of it being done. That made me realize that this was not going to work.
Swaddling was a big no in our home.
Putting him in his own bed. Our next attempt was to just put him in his own bed once he was asleep. This worked for a week or so when he was six months old. It worked great because we had his crib set up high and we could easily lay him down without disturbing him, but he quickly began sitting up in bed and that meant we had to lower his bed. Once the mattress was lowered we could not easily lay him down without disturbing his sleep. (My hubby and I are on the short side and have to really lean over the rail on our toes to reach the bottom.) We all became really stressed out by his instant wake ups when we would lay him down and we gave up on this part of the trick.
We decided to step it up a notch and added the cry it out method to our plan. The first few nights I struggled real hard listening to him cry and scream and flail about in his crib, but after a week I thought we were golden. He was going to sleep while only crying for a couple of minutes before dozing off… and then the holidays hit and shit hit the fan. There was no going back. No matter how hard I tried I could not get him to go back to sleeping on his own.
I started reaching out for advice and everything I was told is that I was missing a routine. It hadn’t really occurred to me because I haven’t had a real routine in my life in years. I have grown so used to working swing shifts as well as my hubby working them that I had forgotten that routine was something to consider.
Our new bedtime routine. I began thinking things through and decided to change a lot of our routine. I started giving Raiden dinner at 5:30-6pm. Once dinner is done we do one of two things either we have bath time with a nice lavender bath or we just jump to pjs which is accompanied by lavender lotion and a diaper change. I usually start talking to him about bed time. While cuddling him in my arms we walk around his room and get it ready for sleepy time. This means we turn on his space heater (we have a thermostat space heater in his room for the winter that is on a timer due to us living in the basement) as well as turning on his nightlight lamp, and sound machine. Finally, as we exit his room I turn the over head light off. By this time it is usually 7-7:30pm and I sit down and we nurse until he is drowsy.
We have been doing this routine through the holidays the best we could and have been having some pretty good results. Most nights he goes down with very little fight, but there are days when he still cries in bed for quite some time. I feel pretty content with our current plan, but welcome anyone’s suggestions on ways to make it a little easier for our little man.
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