The Princess was born she was an absolute angel.She woke once in the night, I fed her,
changed her, put her back down and she went straight back to sleep, right
through a thunder storm in fact.I, of
course, got no sleep that night whatsoever as I couldn’t take my eyes off my
beautiful little girl.I remember
drinking a cup of tea and flicking through a magazine at 4am, still wide awake
while my baby was fast asleep!
continued to sleep well and at around 8 weeks old we moved her into her own
room and she was sleeping right through the night.We never had problems getting her to nap in
the daytime, we would put her in her cot and she’d happily drift off.On a few occasions she didn’t even make it as
far as the cot – she was halfway through tearing up an Argos catalogue once when she fell asleep on
top of it!
goes for bedtime, she’s always had a very good bedtime routine (apart from the
time we went to a friend’s wedding when she was three and arrived home in the
early hours of the morning… The Princess then decided she would rather bang her
head against the floor in a tantrum than go to sleep, but I don’t blame her, I
was so tired I felt like doing the same!)Nowadays she’ll happily clean her teeth and get her PJs on at 7.30pm,
then read a book in bed for ten minutes til we go up to say goodnight.She’s always fast asleep by 8pm.
on the other hand, is oh so different.He doesn’t believe in sleep, it’s just not his cup of tea.From the night he was born, whenever I
attempted to put him into his cot he would scream.Not cry.Scream.All night.He would only sleep cuddled up with me in
bed.So again, I got no sleep
whatsoever, but not through choice this time.This continued when we arrived home.Of course when he was newborn all I wanted to do was pick him straight
back up and cuddle him, which is exactly what I did.They are babies for such a short time and
soon grow out of cuddles, so I treasured those moments.
it may be partly my own fault (Ok, maybe more than partly) that now he is
nearly a year old we still have difficulty getting him to sleep.He’s never fallen asleep while playing with
his toys, or on the playmat (even the old Argos
catalogue didn’t do the trick!) and we’ve always resorted to rocking him and
singing to him if he didn’t fall asleep while drinking his milk (yes, he still
has a bottle at almost a year old, I know he shouldn’t but he does.He refuses to drink milk from a beaker.Water and juice from a beaker is fine, but
milk just does not belong in there.But
I’ll save that story for another day…)
fall asleep after half an hour or so of constant motion in the carseat, but, as
most babies do, wakes up the second the motion stops.We have often resorted to going out for a
long drive at weekends just to get him off to sleep for half an hour.I don’t drive (there are many reasons for
this, the main one being I am incapable of even steering the buggy in a
straight line never mind a car) so this isn’t possible when Hubby’s at work.Plus I hate to think how much money we’d be
spending on petrol!I should mention
here that I’m not lazy, I do take him out in the buggy but it just doesn’t have
the same effect as the car – he’s too busy looking around and pointing at cats,
dogs, trees, to even consider going to sleep and missing anything!
until he was 10 months old that he started to dislike being rocked to sleep –
fighting it and pushing away from us.We knew we
had to try to get him to settle himself to sleep.
I’ve read a
lot of articles and blog posts recently about Controlled Crying.Some people swear by it while others think it
is cruel and nasty to leave a baby crying.I’ve never been a fan of the idea myself and whenever I’ve attempted to
leave The Pickle crying in his cot, after only a couple of minutes he has
started to scream, gag and make himself sick.Not pleasant for any of us, especially him.However, when you have a baby (actually
almost a toddler) who refuses to go to sleep unless he’s rocked and cuddled,
then suddenly one day refuses to be rocked and cuddled – what on earth do you
I needed to
do something about this, not only for my own sanity (and my poor back, which is
completely knackered even before the age of 30!) but for The Pickle’s own
good.If he isn’t settling himself to
sleep at a year old when is he going to learn the skills he needs to do this
and will he have sleep problems as a child, or even as an adult, because of it?
So off we
headed down the Controlled Crying track…..
Crying is a technique where you put baby down, leave the room, then come back
in 5 minutes if they are still crying, quietly comfort them without picking
them up, then leave again.You then
increase the time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes and so on until baby is
asleep.I chose not to do it this way
with The Pickle as I knew he would gag and make himself sick.Instead I decided to stay in the room with
him, right next to his cot, so he knew I was there. However, I closed my eyes in the hope he would
realise it was ‘sleepy time’ and I didn’t talk or sing to him.
day was horrible.It really was.65 minutes and two fresh cot sheets later he was asleep (he
had made himself sick, but the health professionals and everything I had read
had told me to ignore this, just clean it up and try again).I felt drained and emotional, although probably nowhere near as drained
and emotional as The Pickle felt.But I
knew he needed to sleep and that if I gave in and picked him up he would expect
this every time and all that crying would have been for nothing.I also felt better that I wasn’t leaving him
to cry by himself, I was right there next to him.He slept for an hour and a half then woke up
happy and smiling.Thank God he didn’t hate
following day took 40 minutes, he cried but it was nowhere near as bad as day
one.By the third day he was settling
himself to sleep with NO CRYING WHATSOEVER!Hooray!
continuing to stay in the room with him, but now that he is happily going to
sleep when I put him down, I am sitting further away from the cot, by the door
and when he falls asleep I leave.Starting
tomorrow I am going to try leaving the room before he is asleep and see if it
works (fingers crossed he wont even notice I’m not there!)
a whole different ballgame.I know I
should be consistent and do the same as I do for his daytime naps.That, however, is easier said than done.The Pickle acts very differently at night
time.He leads a double life as a Gremlin.It’s true!We have given in to his screaming at night time and picked him up,
firstly because leaving him to scream upsets The Princess and disturbs her
sleep, and secondly, he gets more wound up at night than he ever did in the
day.I don’t know if this is because
he’s simply overtired or if he doesn’t like the dark.That said, if he wakes in the middle of the
night (although 90% of the time he’ll sleep through), I will feed him and put
him back down and he’ll usually go back to sleep no problems.Strange boy!
not get him into the habit of having a night light.If we went away for a few days and forgot to
take it with us we’d be in big trouble!And if he gets used to going to sleep with a light on, it’s just another
habit I’ll need to get him out of at some point in the future.We do leave the hallway light on at the top
of the stairs, as we always have done, so The Princess can see where she’s
going if she needs the toilet in the night.So the room is not completely dark anyway.
is still sleeping in our room.We have a
two bedroom house and until he is able to settle himself to sleep at night and
sleep through we feel it is unfair on The Princess to share her room (even
though she’d love to share!) as she has to get up for school in the mornings
and have had sufficient sleep to be able to concentrate in her lessons.
In the last
couple of weeks, we’ve given The Pickle his milk, then put him down on our bed
(with one of us right next to him in case he decides to make a run for the
edge!) and after some fidgeting, sitting up, rolling round, etc, he will
generally fall asleep.Then we put him
into the cot when he’s asleep.At the
moment this is working for us, but I know we can’t keep doing this forever.
I know he
has developed the skills he needs to be able to settle himself now that he does
it every day for his nap.So although he
doesn’t know it yet, he is capable of doing this at night too.I have no doubt that Controlled Crying would
work at bedtime if we stuck with it but it is such a hard thing to see your
baby screaming for you and having to ignore their cries.It may take another couple of horrible nights
of crying but I do feel this may be our only option now, unless we want him to
fall asleep on our bed every night for the next however many years (this is not
going to happen!)
I know that
the Controlled Crying experts would probably tell me I’m doing it all wrong and
those who don’t agree with letting a baby cry at all would also tell me I’m doing
it wrong… But I’m doing it my way and this is the best way for me and what
feels like the best way for my little boy.