Monday, April 10, 2006

Got a sleep solution?

When I got pregnant, I read a lot of books about pregancy, birth and parenting. The Dr. Sears approach of natural childbirth was very appealing to me. I too thought I would want as few interventions as possible and knew for sure that I did not want to labour strapped into a birthing bed. I wanted to try things like a balance ball, massage, a hot tub session or two, walking around, etc (though I kept an open mind about the drugs which worked for me because I ended up getting an epidural at the time I'll probably get it earlier ;0)

Anyhow, I was very lucky because our hospital shared the same philosophy. They have obtained a baby friendly certification from the United Nations for their nursing policies. The nurses were fantastic (everyone was fantastic) and they were an incredible source of knowledge and information and did not let us leave until nursing was well-established and all our questions about parenting were answered.

One of the things they asked us about was our planned sleeping arrangement with baby. We told them we had a nursery with a new crib set up in the bedroom next to ours. They suggested we might consider letting our baby sleep with us in our bed instead as recommended by UNICEF and the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death. We were worried about crushing him but research shows that the risk of rolling over your baby is very slim (unless you smoke, are very tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol). Turns out that the same sense that keeps you from rolling off your bed at night keeps you from rolling onto your child (isn't nature wonderful?). Anyhow, after reading some of the documentation they provided, we decided to give it a try and I am so glad we did.

Sleeping together has been one of the sweetest part of our last 9 months together -- not to mention that it made nightime feeding sessions so easy that I can honestly say that I was never exhausted as a new nursing mom, not even during the first few weeks! And nothing beats waking up and seeing your smiling baby next to you (or even better, watching your baby wake up in the morning). Daddy likes to have him in bed with us too because it means he gets extra cuddle time with the baby. And our baby is a very secure, good-natured sweet boy who loves to cuddle with mommy or daddy, but who is just as comfortable playing on his own. So no regrets here.

The problem now though is that our 9 month old sleep crawls! Yup, you read that right. As soon as he turns onto his stomach, he instinctively pushes himself up on all fours and starts to crawl...even though he is still asleep! And I am just terrified that he will crawl off the edge (which on our king size bed is pretty high). We tried to put him in his crib the past couple of nights and both times it was really hard and completely unsuccessful.

We've tried putting him there when his eyes start closing by himself, but the minute he realises where he is, he starts to scream and cry and pulls himself up on the bar. We've tried going back in after 5 minutes to comfort him, but he cannot be comforted. He'll only stop crying when we get him out of there (which I know only teaches him that we'll get him if he cries loud and long enough...I watch supernanny!). But I am a loss as to what to try next? Should we let him cry it out? For how long? Is there another way? Have any of you managed the transition successfully? If so, please do tell. I need all the help I can get.

And because we can't think of any other way to get the word around, I too will advertise for Krista's parenting book blog-along every post until we start. If you want to read Wayne Dyer's "What do you really want for your children" book with us and blog about it chapter by chapter once a week, go see Krista to sign up. I think it'll be really worth the exercise. Parenting is something we don't talk about very much. It's almost taboo. Yet, we can gain so much by sharing our experiences and this is why I am really looking forward to seeing how everyone relates to the topics in the book and how that translates to their parenting styles. Hope you'll join us ;0)



  1. Anonymous4:56 p.m.

    If you put him between the two of you in the big bed, there isn't much chance of him crawling off. Most likely direction for him to go is toward the headboard, and he's likely to be stopped by a parental arm.

    When you do find it necessary to move him out of your bed, get one of those toddler beds that hold a crib mattress. Put it in your room next to your bed. That way he's still in reach and can still hear you breathing at night.

  2. Just wanted to give you a nod of support... we're still co-sleeping with our 2 year old (by choice) but remember the "off the bed" perils. We installed rails on the bed edges for times when baby wasn't sleeping between us (someone went to work, got up early, etc.) and only had to have them on for a few months til the possibility of falling subsided. We also lowered the bed when we started as well-- put the bed & box on the floor for less height to fall from.

    I also used to really enjoy the parenting boards at -- they are quite supportive of co-sleeping, sears method baby raising, etc... you might find other practical help there. (Or Dr Sears has a site, I believe, with lots of q&a.)

    Good luck, sleep well. :)

  3. I don't have any "for sure" advice, as I don't have one of my own, but when the girl was young, the hubbo "made" her cry it out - as he cried outside her door. It only took one or two nights and she learned to sleep on her own.
    Good luck!

  4. Anny,
    I feel for you. I'm so glad the family bed worked out for you. I think it's very successful when it's a conscious decision and not just where everyone finally falls asleep. Julian certainly seems happy and healthy! None of my babies (4) slept with us and we had to also go through the "crying it out" stage. I think the guilt is almost unbearable...guilt that you're abandoning the baby, guilt that you're letting them cry, guilt that you're being selfish. A lot of people will tell you that's it's just awful to let your baby cry. Untimately this is entirely the decision of you and your husband. What I can tell you, is this...after a few nights (which, believe it or not will be harder for you than for the baby) Julian will go to sleep on his own. Really. Really. It is very nerve-wracking. I would wait for a pre-determined amount of time (5 minutes, maybe) and then go in to check on the baby. You have to keep it very brief and kind of matter-of-fact...probably don't pick him up...just a pat and a reassuring word or two. Short and sweet.

    I also found that it helped to have a night time ritual (for lack of a better word). It was very calming...a favorite book, the last bottle, get the special toy or blankie and maybe a little song. The same-ness of it all is reassuring to them I think. My kids were very worked for them and I had to have it so as I had more children.

    You will do the right thing. You will. And it will be OK. I certainly don't want to come off as a know it all, but I just want you to know that I've been there. Pretty soon he'll be flying off to Florida with the marching band and then you can panic about chaperones and delayed flights! (Oh wait, that's me!) Life is Good! Just love him.


  5. After reading that last LONG post everyone probably thinks I just talked and talked and talked and bored the babies to sleep!

    Keep your sense of humor, too. It helps.


  6. A good friend of mine took down their bedframe so the mattress was on the floor and put a futon mattress right next to it for her daughter and that has worked very well for her. I believe she put pillows all around the perimeter to try to keep her somewhat contained.

    We tried "attatchment parenting" and it did not work for my daughter - she really needed a schedule. She slept with us for the first five months or so, but I was getting only a few hours of sleep a night because she was SO restless and noisy in her sleep - when she did sleep - that it kept waking me up. We weaned her into the crib by first putting her in it for naps, then for a few hours in the morning (after her early morning nursing), then finally for the whole night. I put my t-shirt that I had worn around that day in the crib with her so she could still smell me. Eventually we had to let her cry it out and it was horrible while it lasted but it was so worth it; all of us sleep much better now and are far less stressed. It usually only takes two or three nights. And in case you're wondering, she is a wonderfully happy girl and plays well by herself and with us and I am not worried in the least about her being emotionally damaged in any way by the experience. On the contrary, she is much, much happier since she has learned to sleep through the night.

  7. Anonymous10:41 p.m.

    My 4 year old loves to sleep with us, he slept with us since day 1, and we both absolutely loved it. But, once he turned 2, he was too big and kept kicking us, so he had to move to his own bed. We tried putting him in the crib (which he was too big) so we converted the crib to the toddler bed, but he didn't like it. Come to find out, he didn't like the mattress. Crib mattresses are terribly noisy and flimsy. So, we got him a real bed--a twin size bed, that did the trick for him and he stayed in it. Maybe your little one has gotten used to both of you and the mattress :). Try putting a little toddler bed in the same room--and to help out, take one of your sheets that all of you have slept on and cover the mattress. He will be able to smell both of you and feel more comfortable.

  8. Anonymous4:52 a.m.

    He sleep crawls- I don't mean to laugh admidst your dilema, but the image in my mind of him doing that is pretty funny.

    Switching my first son into his own bed was pretty easy. he was just pretty good natured about it, so i don't really have any advice about it. Actually I will be coming back here to see what advice you get since we will be trying to move george into his own bed soon enough. Lately we've been feeling crapmed in the bed us three.

  9. Everyone here has some pretty good suggestions and even one I used that worked for my son. Nope, not going to tell you which one. Mainly, because you'll have to find the one that'll work for Julian (& for you). Kids are all so different. Crying for a few nights WILL happen no matter what you try, but you can all 3 live thru it if you stick it out ... be firm and you will all be happy in the end. It just won't seem like it at first. You're a good Mommy ... this is only the beginning.

  10. I recommend the bed rails. Worked for us!

  11. Hi Anny, Gorgeous picture. Our son slept in his own cot and bed since he was born, but alas when we had our daughter she did not want to sleep. I used to have afternoon naps with her because I was so tired too. She is now 4 years of age and still wakes up in the middle of the night and crawls in with us. I end up sleeping in her bed. I did take her to a program that tried to teach her to sleep. You actually do not have any toys in bed with them, just a light blanket so they do not overheat, and if necessary they actually suggested a radio on really low to calm them. You have to stand outside the door and wait a few minutes, go in and settle them, and try again increasing the waiting time so that they realise that you will come back. It is very hard to do. Isabelle actually cried for the whole day we were there and when we got home she slept for 13 hours straight. The best nights sleep I have had since I had her. So just perservere. It does take time. I had post natal depression after I had Isabelle so trying to instill in your baby to sleep when you want them to does take time. One day at a time I say. Good luck.

  12. Let him cry it out. Crying isn't going to hurt him and it will only take a couple of nights. We had to do the same thing with our daughter when she was about 8 months old and believe me, doing it now while Julian is so young will be much easier on you and him than waiting until he is older. Give him one of your t-shirts (that you have worn) to snuggle with and it'll be okay. I promise. :) I have a friend who let her daughter sleep in bed with her until she was 18 months old and getting her to her own bed was difficult and heart breaking for everyone.