Friday, January 13, 2012

Sleep Training

Anybody who knows me and my family are pretty familiar with the familial set-up we have in the Master bedroom (i.e the Family Bed). It started off with baby numero uno sleeping between my hubbie and I in our queen bed. Then came baby number 2. And with him came a second full size bed to go alongside the queen in our room. The order is pretty consistent. Baby in the corner nestled into Momma who is sandwiched between said babe and son number one who is usually wrapped around my back, shoulders or head. Then comes Daddy who is known to frequently complain about the lack of a snuggle bunny. The set-up may sound crazy to some, but to us it has been a slice of heaven.

A little before our eldest son's first birthday we acquired a Thomas bed off Craigslist with the presumption that he'd love it and instantly want to sleep on it. At the time we were in the middle of pregnancy number 2 and I had not then heard of the Family bed.  A year and a half on and Thomas has only ever been slept in through the night a couple of times by our friends kid. We have never wanted to push our eldest out of the family bed. We believed it would be a natural progression on his journey to become a 'Big Boy'. And seeing his friend sleep there really did pique his interest. A couple of months ago he requested to sleep on Thomas out of the blue and so we obliged. I slept with one eye open on the monitor and the door and he only ever made it part way through the night. After a few days came a request for Momma's bed and we happily reverted back to Our Family bed, admittedly a huge relief for me and I slept a little more soundly in spite of having a toddler wrapped around my neck again.

Now we are 10 weeks pregnant with baby number 3 and again the question had arisen, where will he/she sleep? I am no longer ignorant to the notion of the Family Bed, but 3 kids in with Mom and Dad? Even I think that sounds a little bit bonkers. I had been thinking that we'd move both boys out together when our 11 month old is weened off of Momma. However a couple of nights ago our big kid started to show an interest again in poor old neglected Thomas and so far this week he's been sleeping in his own room, like a big kid, until 4am or so, when he comes back to our bed for a couple of hours. I miss him, but I'm more happier and ready to let him go this time. The only glitch in an otherwise timely milestone is that he has to be put on the potty 3 times or so a night, which is harder to accomplish in a different room.

And now opens up an opportunity to start my own personal style of sleep training for our 11 month old, who until now has always been nursed and bounced or rocked and snuggled to sleep. We had all the time in the world for scampering around our bedroom until the early hours with our first baby, until he would bury his head in the pillow in exhaustion and happily fall asleep with a few pats. Alright, so I admit, this romantic memory was not always the case. There was plenty of teething and crying, and midnight rocking and strolling. But the point remains that we had more time for this. Baby number 2 has always been better at falling asleep and staying asleep for a few hours at a time. I'd wager it's more him than anything we've done to for him.

Fortunately it's meant that he's fit quite easily into our eldest kids bedtime routine. After our eldest is asleep, baby is usually walked around in Daddy's Ergo until he's happily transferred to our room along with our eldest (at least up until a few days ago), at a reasonable hour so Mommy and Daddy can have some time. Now however that room is free to again scamper around for all hours in. And this fact I pointed out to Papa last night just as he was about to load up Baby and walk him to sleep at his usual time of 8:30pm.

Admittedly there was a bit of a hesitation on both our parts. I mean the routine we've got down, is pretty slick and we're definitely guaranteed some adult play time if we stick to the program. However, I convince Daddy that we need to just go hang out with Baby until he puts himself to sleep (squawk free). And so we do. We collect board books and take our cups of English tea and a pretty tired baby who's extremely happy none the less to be getting a free pass. And we play, and read, and play some more. And he squeals in delight for over an hour and a half (Daddy makes sure to point this out). But who cares? It was FUN. And baby was on top form with such dedicated parental attention. Eventually his patience started thinning, and I play rolled him down over and over. He teethed awhile on a pacifier and a fake toothbrush and hummed his sleep song. He even crawled over head down to wall, then sat up and pointedly banged his head against it a few times, awaiting our response. Importantly no crying, or bawling or actual 'sleep training'. Just gentle encouragement for him to lay his head down. The end to all of this was when our poor exhausted little fella climbed into my arms and closed his eyes with a cry in protest. I barely rocked forwards and back before laying him down and patting his back for a minute or so and the kid was OUT!

OK, so a lot more effort, but a LOT more fun! And he was such a happy camper. These family moments build magical memories and I can't wait to see how Baby's 'Sleep Training' works out tonight!  

No comments:

Post a Comment