Monday, January 5, 2015

Dear Mom Whose Baby or Toddler Won't Fall Asleep Alone

Call me naive.  Call me clueless.  But it wasn't until I started being active on Facebook and reading blogs, that I started realizing just how differently our family does things when it comes to sleep. 

You see, I have absolutely no concept of babies or toddlers falling asleep alone.  




Our kids have always fallen asleep with someone until they are around age 4.  It never really occurred to me to do things differently. 

Which is why I have been really surprised to read that other parents have to deal with things like their kids getting up in the middle of the night and wreaking havoc.  Or kids bouncing around in their room, staying up until late at night. Or having to use things like baby gates or door locks to keep kids in their room.

In fact, I think I finally figured out why a few bedrooms in houses we've lived in or visited had the lock on the outside of the door. I never understood that before. Truth be told, I still don't understand it. But we all do things differently and I can respect that different families have different needs.

We've never needed any of those things, because we've always stayed with our kids until they fall asleep.  Mostly that's nursing.   My babies have all nursed to sleep until they were 3-3.5.  But, that doesn't mean that I can NEVER leave them at night. I've been leaving Elsa at night occasionally since she turned one.  She just falls asleep with Daddy or big sister. 

And if they wake up in the middle of the night...well that's easy. Because it's no problem to lie in bed and nurse or cuddle once I'm already in bed.  
And after they are weaned, we just lay down with them until they fall asleep.  Or they fall asleep with an older sibling. But it's with someone.   Until they don't need that anymore and then they fall asleep on their own...which does happen eventually. 

It's generally been fairly painless and not as time-consuming as it might sound.

Yes, there have been times I've wished I didn't have to help them fall asleep. But mostly, I don't mind it.   I think it sets the stage for healthy sleep habits as they grow older. It makes sleep something they look forward to, instead of something they fight. 

Elsa asks for "nana, go night-night" or "nana-take nap" when she's tired.   Because falling asleep cuddled up with mommy is a nice way to fall asleep, don't you think?  And if mommy isn't there, then daddy will do...or big sister. 

And, yes she still sleeps with me, but she won't forever.  Probably by age 3, I'll move her to another room.  Because she'll be ready then.  Or I'll be ready then.  Not her own room...because we don't have enough rooms in the house.  But a room she can share with a sibling or two or three.

And probably for a few months after that, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she'll crawl back into my bed.  And that's okay. Because one day she'll stop.  Truth be told, I can't even remember how old the older kids were when they stopped coming into my room in the middle of the right.  Maybe 4 or 5??  But they all stopped. Well, there was that one time when a certain someone read too many ghost stories at the library around Halloween. Ghost stories are now banned. 

Anyway, they all grow up and learn to sleep on their own.  It's just a matter of time. 

Maybe you feel the need to do things differently. That's okay.  I may not understand a different way, but I can respect that different families have different needs. I've never had 2 kids under 2.  I've never even had 2 kids under 2 and a half.  My closest spacing is 32 months...and it gets  further from there. Maybe we would have developed a different way of parenting if we had children spaced more closely together. But this is the way that works for us...the way that feels most right. 

Let me tell you a little secret.  I don't like crying.  In fact, I hate crying.  I hate hearing babies and kids cry.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  I'll do almost anything to get them to stop. Yes, this does mean giving in. But guess's okay to "give in" sometimes. It really is. And I would almost certainly rather take 15 minutes to nurse a baby to sleep than listen to them cry for 15 minutes. And all those little 15 minutes out of my life are really nothing. 

If you do things differently, I can respect that.

But if you do things in a similar way....I want you know that you won't be doing it forever.  That just because a baby can't fall sleep alone at 6 months, it doesn't mean that they won't be able to fall asleep alone at 6 years.  Because they totally will. I promise. Blogger's honor. In the meantime, enjoy the weight of a cuddly, snugly baby drifting off to sleep in your arms. Because there really is nothing nicer. 
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  1. Haha, so timely!
    We just moved Zuzu to her own bed AND her own room this month. I really felt the need because Baby Boy is due in just 10 weeks and I'd be very concerned about having him AND her in our bed - especially since we only have a queen! She still nurses to sleep and she can be quite demanding at night - wanting to nurse on this side or that side or whatever.
    Honestly, I was beginning to resent nursing. I was getting angry that she wanted to nurse SO MUCH and that she wanted to take up so much of my bed, when I'm pregnant and hardly able to get comfortable anyway. So I just figured it would be easier to get her out, probably night wean, and just increase our daytime nursing.

    It's definitely been a process...she's still not in her room all night long. But I'm happy we're doing it. I'm not sure what we'll do with Baby Boy...part of me wants to not cosleep ever again, I just feel so tapped out right now. I've ordered all the stuff - swaddles! noise makers! light-thingies! - to try to get him to sleep in another space from me as soon as I can (8 weeks? 10 weeks??). But I'm also giving myself space to change my mind...because I know cuddly little babies can be awfully hard to resist. :)

    1. Nursing while pregnant is really hard. I think pregnancy hormones make everything harder. I think deciding where a baby sleeps is such a hard decision. I know for myself, I'm way too parnaoid to have my babies sleep seperate from me while young. I like to be able to reach over and feel them breathing anytime. As I said, I'm paranoid.

    2. I'm sure you don't care enough for an update but...she's doing really well in her own room. She comes in to ours about 2:30 every night, but she has night weaned (THANK YOU LORD) more or less, and sleeps muuuuch better.
      Last night was, literally, her first time sleeping through the night - for the first time in her life. 12-7am. It was amazing.
      If she turns into a good sleeper, maybe I can let baby boy hang in my room a bit longer ;)

    3. Ha..I do care! Thanks for the update! I'm so glad it's going well!! Hooray for sleeping through the night!!

    4. Martha, how old is your little girl? We are going through this now with my 20 month old (I'm 24 weeks pregnant). Mostly night weaned as of the last month and our son will sleep 6-8 hours if hubby shushes him back to sleep. But only one of us can sleep in bed with him since separating the crib (we sidecarred). We are planning to move him to his own room/toddler bed this week.295 rt 46

      Amelia, did any of your kids want refuse to sleep unless attached to the breast for 1-2 hours?

    5. I've had kids who did that occasionally if they were teething or something. And when my babies were tiny, I do think that frequenty we would both fall asleep nursing and I'd awaken 2 hours later and they'd still be attached. But, generally I think I could "unattach" then as long they were in a deep sleep and they would stay asleep as long as I stayed next to them..and then I could slowly sneak away.

  2. So good Amelia! Wanna know a secret? We still lay with our boys until they fall asleep and Wyatt is almost 7. He's just a fearful little guy and it's not worth it to us to force the issue into tears. I kind of look at it as our special one on one time and it's also our extended read aloud time. He will not need us soon enough. :)

    1. I'm pretty sure my 2nd child would still want us to lie down with her if she wasn't in a room with her siblings. She can be fearful too, but since she has siblings, she's fine as long as someone else in the room is with her!!

  3. Okay, so my question... how did you get your husband on board?!

    1. Well, I emailed you a whole long answer...but the short answer is that my husband pretty much lets me makes all the decisions that affect me. And since we breastfeed, then getting up in the night with babies affects ME and co-sleeping is really the only way I can get any sleep.

  4. Yup, I'm one of those who has a completely different perspective on sleep, and independent sleep is really important in our family. But you know what? My kids don't really cry either. They just fall asleep in their beds. We started them pretty young and they just learn that their rooms and their beds are for sleeping and they like it. Gus still wakes up once or twice to nurse, but I just hop in his room, nurse him for 10 minutes and then put him back down and go back to sleep in my bed. Just because my kids sleep in their own beds in their own rooms at ages 2.5 and 6 months, doesn't mean that they're crying and fighting sleep all the time.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I'm so glad that your kids sleep well for you and they don't fight sleep. You hear so much about "bedtime battles" in the media and other places, that I think it's easy to forget that not every family has to deal with them. I'm so glad your children are good sleepers for you. That's really the most important thing, isn't it?

    2. My experience mirrors Ellen's. 😊 Our kids are all really good sleepers and do very well sleeping on their own. Lisette is the only baby I really rocked to sleep every time she ever fell asleep, but that ended when she was 10 or 11 months old, because she was too active at that point to let me rock her to sleep anymore! Now, I read to her and snuggle with her and then lay her down and she smiles and goes to sleep! We have a bedtime routine with the others, and we don't have bedtime battles around here. Cory and I decided early on that sleep was really important to us, and that we didn't want to share our "marriage bed." We are blessed that it works well for us, and it's nice to know that there isn't just one way to successfully rear our children in love!

  5. My child is now 11 and he sleeps through the night... I no longer have to lay down with him... but we always say prayers and give hugs&kisses...
    People were appalled that I rocked him to sleep and laid down with him when we traveled, etc. It's none of their beeswax...
    It's like the bottle. People panic about taking away a bottle. I say, as long as they don't take it to Kindergarten - who cares. lol
    Let them be babies/children.
    And I'm with you... I hate crying!

  6. My baby is practically all grown up now, but he slept in my bed for a long time--from birth until about 4. It was just the two of us, so that was never a problem, plus I was a working mom, so it just meant I had more cuddle time. He eventually got his own room and moved into it without incident or trauma on his part. I missed him, though,
    lol. Every family is different, but I did write a paper in college about the benefits of co-sleeping, which is really only frowned upon in the States and some few other countries.

  7. I keep reminding myself in these early days that yes, they DO eventually learn to sleep on their own! But for now we keep going with the co-sleeping because it's so much easier!

  8. My parents basically used your approach. By the time I was about 10, though, and my younger brother was two, my sister and I had to take turns lying down w/ him at night until he fell asleep. I resented it although, looking back now, it wasn't such a terrible task.

    Also I remember my mom dealing w/ my younger siblings' bed-wetting in my parents' bed, and that grossed me out.

    So, both my girls slept in their own beds from the beginning. (We co-slept w/ Girl 2 for a few weeks, but it didn't work out.) But neither slept on her back week, and they were up so often to nurse-- Girl 2 still hasn't learned to self-soothe very well--that co-sleeping is starting to look a lot more appealing.

    1. I used to pee my parents bed - for some children, bed wetting is actually a neurological condition where their brain cannot process signals properly from the bladder (that was the case for myself and my brother). Sooo...anytime I had to pee at night? I just....peed. It was horrible.

      Did I mention this condition is genetic? If either of my children has it, they will be in pull-ups/adult diapers - I can't believe how many loads of laundry my mom must've done!!

    2. Yes, it's definitely genetic. We have that in our family too. In our family, it seems to be that the children who have it, basically pee the bed until they begin puberty and then it stops. It can be hard making a kid that old wear diapers however. It's one thing when they are 5 or 6...but totally different when they are like 9 or 10. I've never had a kid pee in my bed though...when they are young enough to still come in, they wear diapers (if needed).


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