One topic that parents are constantly talking about is the importance of sleep for children. You can find a countless number of books outlining different methods, each claiming to be the most effective for getting your child to sleep through the night. During pregnancy, I really put in a valid effort to check out some of this material. Unfortunately, I’m not sure any of this has helped Grey learn to sleep through the night. In fact, the only thing these books did was put ME to sleep. Seriously, if you have insomnia, read a few pages of Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child. No offense, Dr. Weissbluth, but this shit is boring. “Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as lifting weights builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span….” Blah, blah, blah.
While I am poking a little fun at these doctors and their strategies, I did actually try a few, with no success. I wanted the “cry it out” method work. The idea of letting Grey fall asleep on his own sounded great. I tried – and after several nights of A LOT of screaming, I gave in. I read all of these testimonials from mothers who said after a few nights, there baby stopped crying and just went t sleep. Maybe Grey just doesn’t want to conform to what all of the other well-behaved babies are doing at bedtime. I decided the best thing to do was what worked for us. While I am happy to say that our bedtime routine doesn’t take a long time and that Grey has been sleeping through the night all week (Hooray!), I have learned that whether or not you are following a doctor’s methods, bedtime is definitely a science.
Let me explain myself. Ensuring a good night’s sleep for us starts around 8:30am. A good morning nap is crucial to a happy day. I always make sure that Grey eats plenty at his meals, which will hopefully help keep him from waking up hungry at nighttime. An afternoon nap is crucial as well so that he doesn’t fall asleep earlier than usual. The actual bedtime routine starts around 7:20pm. We have to be sure not to start too early, because if he falls asleep a half hour early, he wakes up a half hour early. Bath time comes first, then lotion, fresh diaper, and clean PJs. While my husband dresses the baby, I make sure his sheets are clean and fill the humidifier with enough water to make it through the night. We try to hold Grey off until 8:00pm before his nighttime bottle. Most nights, he falls asleep while drinking his bottle (which is a horrible habit, I’m told… I’m sure Dr. Weissbluth wouldn’t approve). Then comes the most important part – the transfer. I slowly carry Grey to his crib and as carefully and quietly as possible, lower him to his mattress. In order to make sure he thinks I am still holding him, I literally lean as far down as possible. I keep one hand on his back, still singing his favorite lullaby. Seriously, I might as well just get in the crib with the kid until he’s asleep for as much work as it takes to trick him into thinking I’m still holding him. As I tip toe out, still singing that lullaby mind you, I close his door and let out a huge sigh of relief.
While this process might sound a little crazy, it works. Maybe I should give Dr. Weissbluth a run for his money and write a book outlining my own methods for ensuring a good night’s sleep. I may not be a doctor, but our own little scientific take on bedtime seems to be working out just fine.