I was thinking the other day, if sleep wasn't such an issue with little ones, I'd be a very happy momma. Sleep has always been a big issue with me. Starting with #1, sleep was something I never knew I needed as badly as I do until I was seriously deprived of it. I had never been in such physical pain due to lack of sleep. When she DID sleep (which wasn't very often), I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn't sleep. Every little sound jolted me awake, thinking that she was waking. It was horrible. I had always been around people that would basically say, "MAKE HER STOP CRYING, I CAN'T STAND TO HEAR A BABY CRY!!!" I always felt like saying, "Well gee...maybe I should stop pinching her then because I thought EVERYONE loved to hear my baby cry as much as I do!". Seriously though, people...who DOES like to hear a baby cry? My first cried incessantly. Honestly. It NEVER stopped. Well, okay, it did...at 8 weeks, but 8 weeks of incessant baby crying, especially when your husband is deployed and it's your first baby and you have NO idea what you're doing is enough to drive you crazy.
Okay, I digress. I did what it took...and now that she's 9 years old, she's a light sleeper, but a good one. Along came #2. I didn't have time to fawn over her sleep habits like I did with #1, mostly because I was STILL catering to #1's needs while letting #2 figure it out on her own. Needless to say, #2 was a better sleeper. Not fantastic...but better. I still didn't really know what I was doing, I just knew that I didn't want #2 to be like #1 in the sleep department. She still wasn't sleeping thru the night until around 2 years old though...way TOO old as far as I'm concerned. Along came #3. He was a dream from the beginning. He was the quintessential "slept thru the night at 2 months old" baby. I didn't have to do much with him...he just slept. He is 4 right now and he STILL is a great sleeper. He's the only child I've ever heard of who, at 4 years old, will put himself to bed when he's tired...whether it be noon, 5pm or bedtime. I knew better than to think that it was anything I had done...God had just blessed us with an easy baby (maybe to convince us that we should continue having more!) and for that we were VERY grateful. #4 has been a challenge. I've blogged a lot about it. He didn't nap well, he hasn't been a good night sleeper. He's been a challenge in many ways--he's a strong-willed child, a very cute strong-willed child. Now that we have #5, we're having to figure things out so that we don't go crazy. Sleep training started about a week and a half ago. Jeremy has been sleeping in the room with the little guy and letting him cry himself back to sleep when he wakes. Jeremy is taking a very gentle approach and it's really paying off. Nights are still a bit tricky, I'm not sure why other than perhaps he's teething. At 1 year, 2 weeks and 1 day old, he still only has 2 teeth. Naps, however have improved dramatically. He's been taking close to a 3 hour nap every day. It's been WONDERFUL.
Soooo...I've decided that I need to do something different this time around. I know that there are many, many mommies who have more children than I do, and they're not walking around like zombies, and I refuse to believe that the majority of mommies of many children are simply blessed with wonderful sleepers. I've been "talking" with a woman on a website I visit who has 10 children. She's been giving me some advice on how to sleep train a baby from birth. I also re-read Babywise (which is coincidentally basically the same thing this woman has told me)and started implementing a sleep training regime (if you want to call it that) a few days ago. It goes a little something like this: Make sure baby takes a FULL feeding. Keep baby awake so that she can eat as much as she needs (she's doing GREAT in the eating department...she's a fat little thing!). Let baby have a short "activity" or awake time and when she shows signs of being tired...get this...put her to BED! *GASP* What's that you say??? Put her WHERE??? Wait, where is the "nurse her to sleep" or the "bounce until you've both passed out", or the "put her into the swing and pray she stays asleep"?? No...there is none of that. It's that simple. Put her to bed. I'm swaddling her...she likes it, all of my babies have. I bring her to bed, I swaddle her and I put her in her crib and leave the room. Sometimes she cries, usually if she wasn't OVERtired before I put her in there, she's fine. I've been amazed at how quickly she drifts off into a nice, peaceful, sound sleep and sleeps for 1-2 hours at a time. Let me state for the record, however...she seems to be a rather easy baby so far. I'm not sure if this is working so well because she's easy-going or because it's really that simple. I do believe that babies NEED sleep, DESIRE sleep and need to be TAUGHT to sleep...and to sleep WELL. I'm hoping that doing this from a very young age is going to help her develop good sleeping habits from this point forward...sleep is such an essential thing, especially for a growing baby that it really should NOT be rocket science.
I'm really not sure if doing this from the beginning with any of my more "difficult" babies would have worked so well...of course, there is no way of knowing. One thing I do know is this...unless you have a lot of time, patience and don't need a lot of sleep, sleep training has to happen at some point...why not start from the beginning instilling good sleep habits and not stress about a little bit of crying...hey, newborns cry a fair amount no matter WHAT you do...better to do it in the crib where they have a chance of falling asleep independently.
I'll keep this updated as I pray that Lilah continues to sleep as well as she has been. Oh, and for the record, she sleeps with me at night still. I put her in her crib in the evening and let her sleep as long as she will. When she wakes up, I bring her to bed with me. I don't have the energy yet to work on night feedings. That will come soon though because I really miss sharing my bed with my husband--and being able to stretch as I please without the fear of waking a baby!