I’ve recently read a couple of posts about sleep or lack of it and the struggles parents have to get their children to sleep through the night. Emma at Me, The Man & Baby has been explaining her dislike of leaving her son to cry and Pooky at Poor Parenting has been admitting that she too keeps quiet about her daughters sleeping habits. Finally, today I came across a great post from Kate at The Five F’s that made so much sense to me and made me feel better about how we have chosen to deal with Mini Mck’s battle with sleep
We are so scared of teaching our children bad habits and causing ourselves more stress in the future that invariably we turn to so-called parenting gurus, who tell us that if we don’t take action NOW, our child will not learn to fall asleep by themselves and they will have all the control. We are told to leave the room, leave them to cry and if we are allowed in the room we are not to touch or talk to our children and instead leave them to learn alone what we require of them.
Thankfully, when we first began to realise that we had a child that, shall we say, could not make friends with sleep, I quickly rejected these sleep training methods, knowing that they were not for me and certainly not for Mini Mck.
We did whatever we could to get him to sleep and it seemed his cot was never going to be his bed of choice. We rocked and walked and fed and co-slept and drove the car on the dual carriageway at 3am on many occasion. He slept in his cot, in our bed, in his pushchair and in his car seat. On one occasion he managed all of these options in one night. We stopped co-sleeping at about a year as I felt it was causing more frequent night waking (and I was right) and since then he has slept the first part of the night in his cot and then moved to his pushchair for the rest. He still had to be asleep before we could put him in his cot.
I stopped mentioning his sleep issues in company as most of the time I went away feeling like the most awful parent and all those doubts that I tried to banish came flooding back. Friends and family raised their eyebrows when I mentioned he spent much of the night sleeping in his pushchair and any mention of the fact that he was yet to sleep through was met with questions about what we were doing or not doing.
These questions imply that he wasn’t sleeping because we had done something wrong and I strongly believe that the main reason is simply that he wasn’t ready to. I am sure that we could have forced the issue by leaving him but we wanted him to do things at his own pace. No different to crawling, walking or talking.
I realise I am releasing the powerful wrath of the Law of Sod by this next sentence, but finally at 17 months we are making some progress.
He has begun to sleep from bedtime until morning, meaning that he stays in his cot all night. If he does wake we are sometimes able to get him to lie back down without being picked up and in the last week we have tried putting him in his cot awake, simply sitting by him holding his hand, and he has fallen asleep this way.
I only have one piece of advice for anyone who is struggling with their babies sleep: You know your child better than anyone. You will know when it is worth trying the next step, you will know when they are ready.
So many times we were told that we were “making a rod for our own backs” and that if we didn’t get control, he would NEVER learn and yet here we are. It may have taken longer to get here than many others but the result is basically the same: a child that sleeps in his own bed all night (ahem…most of the time), but a child that has been allowed to get their in his own time.
Children naturally grow out of things, they go through stages and if they didn’t there would be an awful lot of 10 year olds that could only sleep if rocked to sleep by their parents after drinking a bottle of milk!
So, if you are being told that you are making a rod for your own back, please remember that even if you are, you will be able to take that rod and snap it into many pieces and some point in the future.