Sleep!

I can’t imagine a word that is more attractive to parents (besides, maybe, full-college-scholarship.  Because if you hyphenate it, it’s only one word.  That’s a free tip from Science Momma for anyone trying to stay within a word limit).

But babies aren’t exactly known for their sleeping skills.  Even newborns, who sleep on average 14+ hours a day only sleep in 20-minute increments, interspersed with crying/eating/pooping.  It’s no wonder parents can amass large collections of books on the subject, in hopes of finding much needed rest.  There are a variety of methods, including cry-it-out and no-cry methods, and it’s important for families to find the right method for them.

Unless, of course, you’re Psychology Today.  In a very nasty, completely-biased article, the author talks about the severe psychological and physical damage that can occur from this method.  However, after reading the piece, one can’t help but imagine parents purposely making their kids cry (“You want the toy, Junior?  Too bad!  Mine!  Bwa ha ha ha ha ha) and then letting them carry on for an indefinite time.  In reality, sleep methods termed cry-it-out aren’t quite that harsh, as pointed out in this much more balanced review of the article.  In addition, the strategy is recommended for older babies, not newborns.  Plus, every family is different, and different solutions work better than others.

I will admit- I have read Marc Weissbluth’s book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and followed a lot of advice in it.  Dr. Weissbluth’s book is very compassionately written, even though he (gasp!) says it’s okay to let your child cry when needed.

We had tried a lot of sleep methods.  We started with Ferber, but got little in the way of results.  It’s hard to have the resolve to go check on your baby every 15 minutes till she falls asleep starting at 2:00 am.  We then bought a no-cry book, and tried out a few of the ideas in there, to help our daughter to fall asleep in the crib.  After two months and anti-progress (yea, it got worse), I couldn’t stand it.  I was so exhausted, I didn’t feel capable of taking care of her.  Something needed to change.

The first night was Hell.  And then, it wasn’t bad.  She cried less than an hour when we put her down, which is less than I expected.  She woke up twice (a big improvement from the 4+ before).  And she only woke up twice to nurse, then went straight back to sleep.

Yea, that’s right.  You can nurse your baby at night when doing the “cry-it-out” stuff.  Seriously, if you think that it might be the solution to your sleep problems, read one of the books.  You don’t just put your kid in the crib at 7:00pm and pick her up at 7:00am.  There’s a lot more to it than you’ll find in an internet article.  Despite what Psychology Today thinks, “cry-it-out” can actually be a very compassionate, healthy thing to do for your baby, when done right.   No toy stealing necessary.

You can always play with the baby’s toys while she’s sleeping.

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