I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing my own baby sleep post for a long time. Jack has just entered into a new phase of sleep and detachment so it’s a good time to talk about baby sleep!
My two boys slept as differently as babies as I suppose two adults might. My attitude is completely different this time (read: more relaxed). As I just told my friend who’s expecting her first, the book I turned to when Hugo was a baby was Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book because his philosophy instantly clicked with me and helped me feel less anxious about being a mom. But I also perused The No Cry Sleep Solution and tried a few suggestions from there.
First baby sleeping habits
When my first son was born, I dutifully got up and sat in a rocker to nurse him during the night before putting him down in the bassinet near our bed. That lasted a couple of weeks before I started bringing him into bed and sleeping much better and longer. But as the first few months passed, I grew terrified that he would never sleep in his crib. I don’t know why I thought that, maybe I read it somewhere or heard it in my mommy group. Hugo only napped when I held him for the first few months, too. He wanted to be close to me all the time, without a doubt.
One night when he was about four months old, I was worried that if I took him into my bed, he would never, ever leave. When he woke up after I had gone to bed, I nursed him to sleep and placed him gently in the bassinet six times in an hour and a half before giving up. That was the end of that battle. But bedtime posed another apparent war of wills. I would sit nursing him in the dark in his bedroom before gently placing him down in his crib once he’d fallen completely asleep. Then repeat once every hour when he woke up until I went to bed. I spent a lot of time in that dark room for reasons I can’t even figure out now. Again, I think I was under the impression that if I didn’t succeed in making Hugo sleep in his crib that he would never, ever sleep in it.
That was before I understood that it was just a phase. That everything is just a phase, and it will all pass. Hugo probably would have slept better with a later bedtime than the books told me he should have, and in my bed. He eventually became accepting of sleeping in the crib. He knew he was going to end up there and wake up there, and that I would always come when he needed me, and it was OK with him. I think that happened around 5 months. There was the moment when I put him down, he stirred, I held my breath as he looked around, then put his head back down and went to sleep.
He didn’t end up sleeping through the night in his own bed until he was three and we used a sticker chart. I night weaned him when he was around two and a half. I was worried that he would still be trying to climb in our bed in the middle of the night after I had baby number two, but it all worked out fine. And as it turns out, Hugo is a very heavy sleeper.
Second baby sleep (live and learn)
When Jack was born, I was much more relaxed about his sleep and nighttime parenting, as Dr. Sears calls it. Jack is a very light sleeper. He is likely to wake up when being put down, and he did not like it. I nursed him to sleep in our bed from day one for naps and at night. Then I just had to extricate myself very carefully, so he wouldn’t even stir. Jack slept in the bassinet at first, but outgrew it almost immediately. Once I replaced it with a pack and play, our bed became the only place that he slept. And I was fine with that.
I was comfortable with co-sleeping from my experience with Hugo. We have a bed rail and keep the covers off or very low. I’m a very light sleeper, and sync up with my little one as far as night wakings go. I often don’t remember how many times Jack wakes to nurse overnight because I’m not exactly awake myself. I just try to flip him from one side to the other for equal nursing time.
A couple of months ago, Jack started getting up and crawling as soon as he woke when he was in bed by himself. I was terrified that he was going to fall off the bed before I could get into the room to get him, so he graduated to a toddler bed without ever sleeping in a crib (or the pack and play set up for that purpose). At first I continued to lie down next to him and nurse him to sleep in the toddler bed, but Jack was getting squirmy and would kick out and away from boob-height over and over while we both got frustrated. So I started sitting on his bed and holding him in my lap to nurse to sleep, then putting him down on his belly in the bed. Jack’s pediatrician gave the thumbs up to belly sleeping for Jack when he was nine months old and was flipping himself over most nights. With his size and early mobility (walking at eight months!) his doctor was confident that Jack was in no danger from SIDS.
The interesting thing to me was that Jack would stir when I put him down, and yet he would settle in and return to sleep without complaint. That was a first, from my super light-sleeping Jack. Just like Hugo had done when he was five months. It took Jack until 10 months before he was cool with going to sleep, knowing he was by himself in his own bed. That was huge! And my inspiration to write.
This week, Jack slept straight from around 8:00 pm to 2 or 3:00 am in his bed a couple of times. I never mind curling up with him in bed (because BABY) but it’s nice to have some space! I’m very proud of his independence and enjoying every minute as best I can. Nine to ten months old is my favorite young age, because they are all personality and no attitude!