Let me start by saying that I friggin’ love sleep. I’m not someone who can survive on 4 hours a night and to be honest, I’m not convinced the people who claim they can get by on so few z’s are even telling the truth. Sleep, to me, equals sanity. I take that shit very seriously.
When I started to tell people I was pregnant with my first son, one of the most common responses I got was, “Congratulations! Be prepared to never sleep again…”
Oh. Ok. Thanks, person who likely hasn’t had a solid snooze in years but is still kind of just being an asshole
I get it; kids (and especially babies) are notorious for being not-so-great in the sleep department, but even back when I was a total parenting rookie, I knew there were people who had children who were terrible sleepers and there were people who had children who were awesome sleepers and I was determined to be in the latter category (mostly for the safety and well-being of all the people/dogs in my household).
Now, sleep is a hot topic in mom-land. There are sleep-trainers, and sleep-teachers, and co-sleepers – hell, there are even actual sleep consultants that make a living trying to help people figure that shit out.
New parents: Let me warn you right now – tread lightly when entering discussions with other parents about your own sleep practices. It’s a freakin’ jungle out there of moms and dads who love their children so fiercely that they will defend their sleep facilitation practices TO THE DEATH.
They will tell you that yours are wrong. They will tell you you’re too soft or you’re too hard. They will tell you you’re ruining your child for life. They will make you second guess your every decision. But you know what my advice is? Fuck ’em.
When it comes to sleep, you have to do what’s right for you and your family unit and I personally have unwavering confidence that any and all decisions that I make about my kids’ sleep is the absolute best thing for them and for our whole family.
Here’s how it all went down with Rebel Baby 1.o:
For the first few months, we had things pretty easy (as we currently do with Rebel Baby 2.0). When we were ready to go to bed, baby was fed, changed, swaddled and placed in his bassinet where he would sleep soundly with the exception of 1 or 2 nightly wakings for a ‘midnight snack’. Understandable when your stomach is the size of a golf ball.
Now, if you have children, then you know that a couple months of smooth sailing is often followed by a curve ball of gargantuan proportions. Ours came about 4 months in.
Around that time, we became active participants in a nightly sleep dance that consisted of a carefully choreographed routine of bouncing, swaying, dipping, shushing, and low-lunging. Once our little prince had finally dozed off, we would slowly walk up-stairs, gently swing open his bedroom door, then ever so carefully lower him into his crib… only to have his eyes flash WIDE OPEN as soon as his head hit the mattress.
Crying would ensue, the dance would recommence, then, 20 minutes later, once we knew for sure he was out cold and definitely unwakeable, we would put him down again. Then – you guessed it – BAM! Eyes open. Back to square one.
Finally, after multiple attempts, he would go down and stay down. Wine would be opened and I would Google, “how to get my baby to sleep” and count the hours until he’d inevitably wake in the night and require the same damn charade before finally succumbing to sleep once again.
This continued for a little while because most of my Google searches led me to this thing called The Ferber Method. This basically refers to putting your baby in his crib when he’s “sleepy but not asleep,” then letting him figure shit out on his own by crying until he realizes that he can (and should) just go to sleep.
At that point in my life, I wasn’t quite ready to endure that much noise, so we continued with the never-ending sleep-deprived dance from hell.
Then one night, out of the blue, my baby started to find our nightly dance routine highly entertaining. All that swinging and bouncing and shushing and rocking stopped being soothing and started being STIMULATING.
“Sweet Jesus, this is not working,” I thought.
The baby was tired and cranky and so was I. I decided it was time to give this “just-put-him-in-his-crib” thing a go, since all my other tricks were suddenly null and void.
After having done my due diligence in regard to “ferberizing”, I decided on a bedtime routine (because apparently, babies like routine – who knew?) that consisted of a bath, a nursing session, 2 books, a terrible rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, putting on a sleep sack, turning on the sound machine to “white noise”, and saying see ya later, pal.
At first, he was quiet (probably wondering, “Hey, WTF just happened??”), then he got loud (probably thinking, “Hey, how come we’re not playing that bouncing game?”). After 10 minutes of crying, I decided that I would go in and rub his back – you know, to remind him that mommy still loves him… he just needs to go the F to sleep.
Woah, what a mistake that was. Me coming in to touch him (and not pick him up) seemed to seriously piss him off. Shit. Lesson learned. He needed to figure this whole sleeping thing out solo.
After that, I left again. This time, after 10 minutes of tears, I stopped myself from going in. To my surprise, he was sleeping literally one minute later.
In the nights following, we went through the same routine – bath, books, song, sleep sack, sound machine, night-night/see ya later. Our little dude kept going to sleep faster and faster with each passing day. He also stopped waking up in the night (HALLELUJAH!) because he no longer needed us to come and sooth him – he’d figured out how to do it on his own.
Before we knew it, he was going to bed at 6:30pm and waking up at 7am. He was sleeping, I was sleeping – He was happy, I was happy. Life was good again.
Sure, he’s gone through a few regressions over the past 2 years (sickness, teething, travel, and developmental milestones always seem to throw a monkey wrench into baby/toddler sleep patterns), but for the most part, he’s still a sleep superstar – just like his mommy.
Now, I’m of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp. Because of that, my giant 2-year-old still has the same nightly routine as he did when he was 5-months-old. He still loves his crib (thank friggin’ god, because I love that little baby jail too), he still loves to read “Goodnight Moon”, and now he even joins me for my tone-deaf rendition of “Twinkle-Twinkle”. His sound machine still plays white noise (the volume has been turned up since his loud little bro has come into the picture), and he still loves a good sleep sack. (Wee Dreams makes our favourite one: Canadian-made, all-season, and suitable for even a taller-than-average toddler)
I am well aware that eventually our routine will have to change. Maybe he’ll jump out of his crib or just randomly declare that sleep sacks are for babies; perhaps he’ll one day decide that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a bullshit song, and that bath-time is lame… But until then – until he stops sleeping soundly for 13 hours overnight and taking 2-hour afternoon naps – we’ll be sticking to our guns.
At the end of the day, we’re all just playing this parenting game as best we know how with the hand we’ve been dealt, so all the judgey wudgey internet parents who have an opinion on everyone else’s sleep practices can suck it – You do you, I’ll do me – let’s all just throw our hair into top knots, adequately caffeinate, and live happily ever after. The end.
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