When my pediatrician told me to let our 6 month old cry for 20 minutes before picking her up, I told him it was going to be tough. On the car ride home, I silently questioned whether our bedtime rituals were creating what some people consider to be bad habits. My husband and I had been battling with letting her cry it out for a very long time. I kept wondering–is it healthy for the baby? Is it healthy for us? What about everything I read on having to begin the process all over again if the normal bed time routine gets disrupted?
At seven months, she usually sleeps from 8:30-5:30, nurses, and then sleeps in to at least 7:00. There are some nights that don’t go quite so well. If she falls asleep while nursing or drinking her bottle, she almost always wakes up about 40 minutes later. A couple of pats on the back and she rolls over to fall asleep again. It took a lot of work to get us to this point. I hope that one day, she will pass that 40 minute mark every single night and make it to the next morning.
Then there are the nights when she doesn’t fall asleep while eating and she thinks it is still time to play. I lay her in the crib and she goes right to all fours and starts crawling around. If I leave the room, she begins to cry–separation anxiety has definitely kicked in! One night, it took 15 minutes of her wailing (we gave the pediatrician’s suggestion a try) and me going in to find a crib full of vomit, to determine that “crying it out” wasn’t going to work for us. So, on the nights when she refuses to fall asleep without being held, I leave the room for a few minutes at a time before I go back in and I do my best not to pick her up.
I haven’t found any one single method that works perfectly or a book that has all of the answers. That’s the thing about being a first-time mom. You realize that sometimes it’s like a big science experiment with a lot of trial and error. You also learn that many outside factors have an impact on sleep. For instance, as I write this article, she has been sleeping for over two hours! While yesterday, her afternoon nap was broken into sessions. I blame that one on the evils of gas.
I try my best not to read too many articles where moms talk about how their babies have been sleeping through the night since three months. Or wonder what I could have done differently so that my baby would fall asleep on her own night after night. Our little girl has her own personality. And you know what, even I sometimes struggle to fall asleep. Some nights, I find myself chatting my husband’s ear off in bed until I pass out. Maybe she just wants to do the same thing, too.