I read a post on a mum missing her old bedtime routine with her toddler (I wish I could remember who’s blog it was, I’d pop a link to it). This, combined with a few articles on sleep training made me think about our sleep journey.
My daughter has never had an issue staying asleep. It’s the getting to sleep that’s the hard part. When she was tiny I breastfed her to sleep. I’ve since read some people saying this is bad. I don’t understand why, they are then asleep with a full belly, and it’s comforting, why is that a bad thing? They’re not going to need a boob to sleep for the rest of their life! When she was switched onto formula we had the same routine: snuggle in bed, bottle last thing and most of the time she was asleep before she could finish, or was asleep soon after.
Later on, when she was in her own room she started to struggle to get to sleep. We would have to sit next to her cot sometimes holding her hand until she fell asleep. This could take hours! She wasn’t upset in any way – unless we left her. She was just so, so slow to sleep.
Now she’s in her own bed and her bedtime routine is looking at books, then sleep. We stay in bed with her until she sleeps. I love this time. Sometimes she has a little chat before sleeping, sometimes she’s full of snuggles, and sometimes I have to sing the ‘night night song’ 50 times. But this is all ok. She is happy and she feels safe.
In many of these sleep training articles, despite being different methods, they all seem to state that all babies are the same, and their method WILL work. I am sure these people’s methods help many moms and dads who are struggling with their child’s sleep. I don’t believe that these methods can change every child’s sleep pattern, as they claim, and some of the things they say don’t ring true to me. Some say that if your child needs you to rock or sing or cuddle them to sleep, they will need this EVERY time they wake up in the night. Not so in our case. My daughter doesn’t need us in the night, she rarely has unless she has had a bad dream or something has really unsettled her. Even then it does not take a long time to calm her. Mostly she just needs cuddles until she is calm and then we can just pop her back to bed and she drifts right back to sleep. Now she does love to crawl into our bed many days, in the early hours of the morning, but this I’m 100% sure is a toddler/child thing, and nothing to do with the way we help her to sleep.
I heard and read so much when our daughter was struggling to sleep in her own room, that I began to doubt my instincts. I tried the cry it out method (that didn’t last long!) and I got overly stressed about why she wouldn’t go to sleep like everyone else’s baby I was reading about. It ended up being my husbands job to put her to bed as I was worrying and putting so much stress on myself that I couldn’t cope with it and was stressing my daughter out!
Now I’m more confident in myself, I don’t see the logic in depriving my daughter of what she needs at bedtime. Why should I expect her to go to sleep like an adult? She’s a toddler. She needs to feel safe and loved and snuggled to fall asleep. I remember my mom having to do the same with me. I don’t resent me or my husband spending longer on the bedtime routine. I enjoy that we get that close bonding time with her when she isn’t running around like a whirlwind!
I don’t think there is anything wrong with most of these articles, but if I could go back and change anything about my struggle to get my daughter to sleep, it would be to actually sit down and really think about what I felt comfortable trying and not just trying something suggested to me out of sheer desperation! I would also tell myself to CHILL OUT and take a leaf out of my husbands book. He never let it bother him. He didn’t compare her to other babies and was therefore quite happy to sit there with her. This may be partly because he had more patience as he hadn’t been with her ALL day. But I really should have chilled out and just done what my baby needed, in hindsight, she and her needs didn’t need changing.
Image found at dreams.co.uk