16. Read 30 books I haven’t read before and blog about them. (28-29/30)
When I made my 101 in 1001 list, I really did not believe I'd be reading parenting books at any point during the process. Ha. Not only have I read/skimmed/perused a ton, I have a little man who's about to turn a year old in less than two weeks.
As I've mentioned before, Nate is not a perfect sleeper. Now, no baby is perfect, but the key here is that the issues he's having don't work for us. We need him to go to bed earlier at night and sleep more soundly through his daytime naps. If in the process he also stops waking up in the middle of the night, that's great too, but it's not my primary concern.
I chose these books because the snippets I perused really, really spoke to me. Pantley is all about doing what works for you and what feels right to you. This was important to me because the hubby and I parents a lot based on what we feel is right. Obviously we (okay, I) read a lot about what we should be doing, what Nate should be up to, and so on - but we also like to trust our gut. For example, crying. I do not believe in leaving Nate to cry in his crib alone. Ever. (Unless there's an emergency in the house and we need to just put him somewhere secure for a few minutes. Even then, I'd prefer to put him in the playpen so his crib remains a place of rest.)
That said, I am incredibly envious of the parents who can plop their kid in their crib, say "Night night!" and walk out. This has never, ever happened for us. Nate would be screaming before the door to his room shut. So I needed to find a way to ease him into this process because I wasn't willing to let him scream and I needed a plan so that I didn't feel exasperated, angry, and like this would all never end.
Enter the No-Cry books. I've read them both now and we're going a little out of order with them, but that's mainly because the hubby and I don't have time to even discuss these books. What we need to do is start keeping track of his sleep schedule. At his age, he should be getting 11 1/2 - 12 hrs of sleep at night and 2-3 hours of napping in over the course of two naps. In the past week, his naps have gotten better and he's getting 1 hour in one nap and 2 hours in the other on most days. But nighttime? He's getting closer to 10 hours - not enough. We have to move his bedtime back, but haven't been successful at that yet.
Last night, though, I decided to try something. Every night, I sit in the glider with him and we glide and sing until he falls asleep. He starts out sitting on my lap and then at some point, flips himself over so he's lying on me with his head on my shoulder. Last night I decided to put him in the crib at the moment he flipped himself over, because that's his cue that he's truly falling asleep.
For the next 45 minutes, he alternated between lying down, rolling around, standing and shaking the crib rail, talking to his toys, standing and chewing the crib rail, and lying back down. All the while, I stood by his crib, rubbing his back in the beginning, but I eventually stopped when I realized that just me being there was enough. He wasn't complaining about being in his crib, he was just simply fighting sleep. This was already a step forward because in the past, he have been standing in there crying, even if I was right there. Last night he would stand at the crib rail, then put his face down on it as his eyelids drooped. He even fell over in tiredness a few times (which made me seriously have to hold in a giggle). All the while, I sat there on the glider's ottoman, just hanging out - not talking, not singing, not reacting to anything he did - just there as a presence.
And it took an hour from start (getting in the glider and reading three stories) to finish (quietly leaving his room) but he did put himself to sleep in the crib. I walked out feeling like I wanted to throw myself a parade.
I know, it's silly. Before I was a parent, I would have rolled my eyes at all of this. (Hell, I wouldn't even have read this blog post.) But now I feel like helping Nate learn to fall asleep on his own is a serious responsibility I have - one that we haven't done well enough yet.
The No-Cry Nap Solution had a great point that I believe is part of our issue with Nate. We all learn how to soothe ourselves back to sleep when we wake up in the middle of the night. You get in bed, you fall asleep, your rustle awake but go back to sleep. Now imagine you went to sleep in your bed, comfy with your blanket and pillow, but when you woke up in the middle of the night, you were on the kitchen floor with no blanket or pillow. You wouldn't roll over and go back to sleep, right? You'd be confused and upset.
This is what happens when babies are used to falling asleep in someone's arms, like Nate is. They go to sleep with someone there but then wake up alone. No wonder he's unhappy when he stirs; I would be, too. So last night's "experiment" was my first move in trying to get him to fall asleep on his own.
Truthfully, the hubby has the harder part: daytime naps. But we're going to try two solutions to start off with. 1 - Room darkening curtains. Nate's room has southern exposure, so it gets light all day long. I think this helps disrupt his naps and wakes him up early in the morning. 2 - Pantley suggests keeping track of when your baby wakes up from his nap (say after 45 minutes instead of the hour and a half you hope for), then going in to check on him five minutes before you expect him to wake, proactively soothing him to sleep when he stirs between sleep cycles. I have my doubts about how that'll work with Nate (especially since we don't have the darkening curtains yet) but we'll see. Maybe as part of the whole sleep revision package, it will be effective.
I think we also need to revise his whole eating schedule and bedtime, but I'm going to wait until his one year doctor's appointment for any big moves on that so we can see what she says about what he needs to eat since he'll be making the switch from formula to milk. (Hooray!)
I feel really hopeful about the plans based on these two books. Even though the whole bedtime routine took an hour last night (and meant that I didn't get to eat dinner until 10:30pm), the success of it made me really happy and I'm excited to try it again tonight.