M.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN on January 12, 2011
How Do We Break a Bad Sleep Habit (15 Months)?
(I'm sorry if it's difficult to read. For some reason I cannot put paragraph breaks in the right places.)
Our son was very colicky as a young baby and we got in the habit of holding him all the time. When it was time to sleep, when he was put in the crib he would scream (I think being on his back bothered him for some reason, maybe because of gas, now he would roll over immediately to the tummy position, but of course as a young baby we could not let him sleep on his tummy), so we got into the habit of rocking him to sleep and then putting him in his crib when he fell asleep.
Then, he would wake up many times in the middle of the night, so, exhausted and at the end of our rope, we started to put him in our bed. And now, him being heavy and difficult to hold him until he falls asleep, we started to let him fall asleep in our bed next to one of us, and then when he falls asleep, we try to put him in the crib. Since picking him up in his sleep stirs him a little bit, we have to rock him for a while after picking him up and then put him in the crib (and hope that he won’t wake up). Now, he’s getting heavy even to hold him and rock for this shorter time, and he seems to be getting more sensitive to being put in the crib in his sleep that he often wakes up and we give up and keep him in our bed.
So, putting him to sleep is taking a huge amount of time for us. Often, the person who’s in the bed with him waiting for him to fall asleep falls asleep with him, losing the precious “after the kid goes to bed” time to do chores or to do our own stuff.
So I’m seeking advice from you! How can we break this habit and put him to sleep and in crib more efficiently, so it won’t take a huge amount of our time? Letting him cry it out is out of the question. I’m not totally against co-sleeping. That’s what we end up doing most of the time, because either he doesn’t end up sleeping in the crib, or he wakes up in the middle of the night and we end up putting him in our bed. If you’ve co-slept, could you tell me how you eventually weaned your child from sleeping in your bed? At what age? Did you have to strategize and plan it a bit? Was it a struggle?
Also, an important and immediate question for co-sleepers. If he’s sleeping on our bed we’re needing to lose our precious “our own” time because one of us need to stay in the bed with him all the time. If he’s left on his own, he might fall off the bed when he rolls in his sleep or when he wakes up and looks for us. How do you co-sleepers deal with this? Do you all go to bed for the night at the same time as the baby? Or can you leave your baby in the bed on his/her own? FYI, we put him to bed at about 8:30, and we like to go to bed at about 11 (so have at least 2.5 hours of time to spend on our own, but often one of us end up staying with him in bed). Maybe we have to go to bed early with him and wake up early to do stuff, but then we can’t leave the baby in the bed alone in the morning either.
Thank you so much for you input!
<Addition>Thank you for your responses so far. They are very helpful! One point of clarification is that after our son goes to sleep, my husband and I don't necessarily have to spend time together, but we both have things we need to get done, e.g., putting dishes from dinner away, laundry, responding to emails from friends and family, I'm also trying to finish school. So free time after our son goes to bed is precious. Now as some of you suggested, after 30 minutes or so of one of us staying with him in bed, the other goes in, but if we fail to put our son in the crib at that point (which is getting more and more common), one of us need to continue to stay there with him in bed. Is this normal part of parenting? I didn't imagine that putting a child to bed was this time consuming - to the point we have no time to do our own stuff (individually). But maybe this is normal? Sidecar arrangement sounds interesting. I've looked at bedrails on Amazon before but none seemed to have very good reviews - but perhaps I should look into them again. If people have recommendations on brand/model, please let me know. Again, thank you, please keep your comments coming!
P.M. answers from Tampa on January 12, 2011
My daughter has bed-shared with me since birth and she's now 5 y/o. We got her a new bed for Christmas - which we still haven't put together yet but will when time allows.
I've slept better, she's slept better and my husband sleeps the same regardless - because we co-sleep. Children, especially infants and young toddlers - will prefer to sleep with Mommy (or Daddy), over being in a big dark room all alone, waking up scared, hungry, wet, etc.
You can get bed rails to go up on the sides of the bed for when you and husband are out of bed and child is still sleeping.
If one spouse falls asleep with child - which is hard NOT to do because it feels so nice to have a warm body snuggling with you - then the other spouse can go in and wake the other spouse up, if that 'alone time without the children' is really so precious. Personally, I had made her bedtime a bit later, and didn't care if I had 'alone time' at night with spouse - I had her spend the night at Aunt or Grandma's house once a week.
1 mom found this helpful
T.D. answers from Cleveland on January 12, 2011
First, stop refering to it as a "bad habit". It is not a bad habit it's a parenting choice that you haven made and enjoyed. You just need to find a way to continue to make it work for your family. Calling it a "bad habit" puts a negative spin on it in your mind and makes you feel worse about the good decision you made that has worked well for you family up to this point.
Now, you've got lots of options here mama! My personal favorite is sidecaring the crib like a co-sleeper. This allows your child there own space in the crib and all the safety that entails with the closeness of co-sleeping. You can learn all about how to do it here... http://www.freewebs.com/sidecarcrib/index.htm .
Another option would be to put your mattress on the floor and then there is no worry of him falling out of bed when left alone. You could also put a twin/full size mattress on your floor if you have room for it and just sleep there as necessary with your son.
As for falling asleep with him, just have which ever parent isn't in the room with him come and wake the other up after a certain amount of time. You can put a baby monitor in there and just listen for the sounds of sleeping. This is what my husband and I do and we still have plenty of us time in the evenings.
1 mom found this helpful
S.H. answers from Huntsville on January 12, 2011
You say you let him fall asleep in YOUR bed & then try to move him. What about helping him fall asleep in his crib? Lay him in the crib & stay with him until he (hopefully!) falls asleep. Maybe have a chair next to the crib so that you could sit next to him and still be able to reach in and pat his back, etc. Don't pick him up, just comfort him as he is laying in the crib. He just needs to learn that he is safe in his crib :)
M.S. answers from Minneapolis on January 13, 2011
Check out The Baby Whisperer. She has a technique called "pick up, put down" for helping children learn to go to sleep by themselves. The book i have is "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems." I always apologize for the title because I think it sounds arrogant but the technique really helped us with our daughter. It's middle ground between spend-an-hour-a-night-getting-the-kid-to-sleep (that was our experience!) and cry-it-out.
I actually considered doing more co-sleeping with my daughter and invested in a bedrail from Babies R Us (sorry, don't recall the brand--may have been Safety First) that is longer than most bedrails so it made sense to use in a grown up bed.
I totally understand that need for you time and time to be with hubby. It's rough. I hope something works for you.
L.G. answers from Minneapolis on January 13, 2011
My son co-slept with us - it was the only way any of us got ANY sleep! But my daughter has always needed her own space with someone in reach - so I have 2 sort of similar ideas for you.
As far as leaving him in the bed alone - what we did is had him sleep on the covers and then shoved pillows under the blankets to build "walls" around him and then used a monitor to listen for movement. Around the time he was 2 1/2 we worked a little more at having him sleep in his own bed - he was better able to understand our reasons, he got rewards, he has a bed full of stuffed "friends," 3 nightlights and anything else he felt he has needed over the last 2 1/2 years - but he knows that he can still come to us in the middle of the night if he needs to or we will come lay with him if he needs that too. He now can fall asleep on his own, spends some nights alone all night, but still comes into our bed most nights in the wee hours due to a nightmare.
Now my daughter - she needed comfort but room to move - so when we put her to bed, we'd sit or lay on the floor by her crib and keep a hand inside the crib - she'd hold the hand, play with it, whatever until she fell asleep - we often put the laptop under her crib and could use that while she was falling asleep to multi-task. an important note is that we didn't interact with her at all - just offered the hand for comfort. when teething got rough though - she wouldn't sleep through the night and we couldn't spend all night next to her crib - so we put a playpen next to our bed (and put a pillow between the bed frame and the playpen!) and she'd get moved there when she woke up in the middle of the night and one of us would sleep with our arm in there until she finally slept. She has always been up for 1-2 hours whenever she woke up in the middle of the night. She's now almost 3, spends almost every night in her own toddler bed - although we still sit next to her, sometimes offering a comforting hand, until she falls asleep. When she wakes up in the middle of the night now, she's way to big for a playpen, but either we'll go sleep on the floor by her bed or she'll come cuddle in our bed for a while. She's gotten better about falling back asleep pretty quickly most nights.
Another note - we discovered that when both kids started waking the middle of the night - it was often because they had to go to the bathroom - and it was about 15-18 months that we'd start putting them on the potty when they woke up and then they were able to go back to sleep quicker. really helped with nighttime potty training!
Good Luck - hope you find what works for your family! and like Terra said - it's not a bad habit! it's a legitimate parenting choice than MANY people make!
G.B. answers from Oklahoma City on January 13, 2011
He is old enough to go into a toddler bed or twin on the floor. Start putting him to bed on it and sitting/laying beside him like co-sleeping but when he goes to sleep try getting up and leaving. Even if he wakes you can go back in and get him back to sleep. Put a gate up in his doorway and that will keep him from wandering the house. It will start getting him ready to sleep on his own and will take some time but it will eventually work. Even if you have to sleep in there for a while it will get him used to the feel of the bed and then he'll start preferring his own bed.
D.V. answers from San Francisco on January 12, 2011
I could of asked this question myself!! I actually did ask this question, this morning when i came into work and i looked like HELL because i didn't sleep well haha. I just got finished talking to my co workers about having my 17month old son STILL in my bed. I was sooo against co sleeping (my brother slept with my parents until he was 5, then brought blankets and pillows in their room to sleep on the floor till he was like 10!) so i said no way Jose! my Baby will sleep in his crib. He did sleep in his co sleeper bed until he was about 6 or 7 months. When he began to sit up and start to crawl over things I was afraid he would crawl out of his co sleeper bed ( it attached to our bed, at the same level but the railing was only 10 inch tall). Then he went into his crib- after nights of just crying and my husband and i going to get him we began to co sleep. He loves it, i love it, my husband loves it. He is our only baby (i have two older step sons) so we deal with it knowing when he is a bit older he will be in his own bed in his own room. It doesnt make sleeping any easier- i woke up last night almost off the bed because he sleeps so crazy!
So i look forward to reading your post thanks for asking the question :]