either get teary-eyed or shaky. I KNEW in my heart of hearts that CIO would never ever be the choice for me...until it was.
I have a dear friend who had the same feeling about it, and the same reaction to the suggestions. When she decided to try sleep ‘teaching’, I was honestly pretty shocked. I never pictured her doing it, but her baby was the happy, most adjusted, confident, independent, smiley baby I’ve ever met. She is also a huge proponent of attachment parenting, and someone that I deeply respect in her parental instincts. I decided to hear her out and to really think about the process in a more open-minded way than I ever had before.
What happened to Quinn around 6 months old was what started changing everything I thought I knew about how I felt about it. She went from being a happy baby to a completely miserable one. She would wake up in the morning after a night of waking every 30 minutes to 2 hours, still totally exhausted, yawning, rubbing her eyes, crying, screaming like a pterodactyl. If she was happy and smiling, it would only last for a half an hour or so before the misery would set in again. My little girl who had been so easy and predictable from 0-6 months had turned into a baby who made me feel sad for her all the time. She became super fussy, impossible to soothe, and completely resistant to daytime naps. We would battle her for an hour to get her to sleep for a whopping 20 minutes. Sometimes, actually most times, we would eventually give up and she wouldn’t nap at all for the whole day. No wonder she was miserable and exhausted. “Sleep begets sleep”, as they say, and my little baby was hardly getting any of the 14 hours per day she needed. No, it was more like 6 or 7 total, and every day it was getting worse and worse.
From 6 months old until 8.5 months old, I tried everything. Literally, everything. I made excel spreadsheets and graphs and charted every single time she would nurse, poop, play, nap, sleep, and cry. I took notes on her moods, her activities, her interactions. I tried desperately to find some pattern to go on, to find some consistency, but there was none. I watched her cues like a hawk and tried to react appropriately to all of them. I read 4 different cry-free sleep training books, a hundred or so articles, and mommy blogs galore. I watched videos, talked to other parents, and consulted with professionals. I implemented a very predictable bedtime (bath, pajamas, nurse, songs, and goodnight whispers about how much we loved her, sweet dreams and that we’d see her in the morning) and nap time (pajamas, book, nurse, songs, whispers of I-love-yous and sweet dreams, etc.) routine and stuck to it. We installed blackout curtains in her nursery. We tried about 10 different types of white noise. We diffused lavender in her room and used chamomile in her bath. We stuck to the plan for months and got increasingly frustrated as nothing was working and she continued to get more and more inconsolable. I worried about her developmental and psychological health and was feeling more hopeless with every day that went by.
We made 6:30 pm her bedtime because anything later would make it harder to
get her to go to sleep. Actually, getting her to go to sleep in the first place was never really the problem- that part was relatively easy, it was the *staying* asleep that was hard. Her ‘normal’ was that she would go down at 6:30 or 7 pm and then
MOMMY'S TIME OUT