I've written about my child's sleep issues [and by direct consequence- my sleep issues] at length and the difficulty of waking up multiple times and the resulting oatmeal brain I was sporting for weeks on end. I'm happy to share that we've gone from tearful up-down-pat-down to him passing out once his head hits the lambskin, and from 5-6 wakings to 1-2. [though there are certainly days that are exceptions to the new rule]. Awesome? doesn't begin to describe it.
I thought once I got to the my baby sleeps! stage I would, in the vein of sleep experts everywhere, [or at least how I imagine them to be] write a long and fanciful post with glasses perched on the bridge of my nose, sipping tea and elucidating pearls of wisdom on how I, Aisha, successfully put her baby to sleep- and how you can too! Except the truth? I have no clue what happened. One day we were all in tears at bed time- and then one day- we weren't. While I'm not sure what happened I'll share the top six theories floating around our home in the hopes that maybe something here will click for you if you are likewise struggling and searching for advice as desperately as I once was. And, if you have your own tried and true method, please do share!
Theory #1: The Sorta Cry Sleep Solution. When the night wakings became six nightly, cry-it-out became a serious consideration. I read up on it, blogged about it, talked to parents who did it, [and batted off parents who accused me of not appreciating my child enough for even thinking about doing it] and then finally one night, did it. We put him down at 8pm and per his pediatrician's suggestion, did five minute intervals of crying and pat-downs. It was awful. To those of you who've done this for weeks on end- you have incredible resolve because we learned that first night of heart-wrenching soul-crushing tears that we were not cry-it-out folks and after an hour of straight screams K went upstairs and patted him to sleep. . . and then. . . he slept until six am. [though I spent the entire night waiting for him to wake up anyminutenow]The next night, when he began wailing five minutes after going down for the night, while we agreed we wouldn't do cry-it-out again, we decided to take Kate's suggestion and let him cry for ten minutes- and ten minutes only- just enough to get him tired and then pat him/rock him whatever he needed. But then, at minute eight? He fell asleep. The day after, same drill and at minute three? Asleep. The next night? He lay down for the night, closed his eyes, and fell asleep- no. battle. at. all. Did this mean we did cry-it-out and it worked? We're not sure since we were told cry-it-out took days, not. . . day. Still, there were other things that coincided that could have had a part to play such as. . .
Theory #2: More feeding. When we switched to more solids in his diet, his doctor said a solids meal replaced a breastfeeding session. This led to him eating solids all day except first thing in the morning and right before bedtime [and then every two hours all night long]. Getting some baby recipes from Superfoods I was struck by the suggested feeding schedule which incorporated nursing snacks in between solid meals and decided to give it a try. I believe this goes a long way to make sure he gets his required milk daily and may be contributing to his curbed demands for feedings at night.
Theory #3: His own room. I wanted him to go to his own room once he slept six hour stretches since I didn't want to get up and trekk to another room every two hours all night long but his sleep stretches began lengthening once he went to his own room and while I expected him to fight and cry about the change in environment- he actually liked it. We're not sure why though we suspect the window in our room by his crib was drafty leaving him chilly at night. Whoops. Big whoops.
Theory #4: Noisy Fan. Our heater went kaput this month and space heaters were sold out everywhere so in an effort to keep the kiddo warm we got a heating fan. It was noisy and we worried he wouldn't sleep- but it seems like it soothes him- blocks out chatter and clatter downstairs and could have a lot to do with this whole sleep solution.
Theory #5: Routine. While we had a routine: diaper and PJ change, nursing and bed, I now include story time and lullabies and I can tell once he sees me pull out the book that he knows sleep is soon at hand. At first he would look at the book and begin squirming and crying, now he smiles with a look of resignation as though he's accepting this nightly fate. Even if this has nothing to do with it, I do love reading with my baby.
Theory #6: None of the Above. While I can't find it online, many have told me that something clicks around 8-9 months with sleep regulating not from the stomach but instead from the brain. So really, it could be as simple as, it was simply time.
The biggest thing I learned from the entire saga is to trust my instincts. I respect the sleep experts but I'm a Waleed-expert. Its important to read the books if they help you feel better but remember the buck stops with you and you know more than you realize. In any case, I hope something here helps someone reading- and if not- I hope this gives a bleary eyed parent reading this post some hope that maybe one day, their bundle of never sleeping joy will one day also find slumber.