When it comes to babies and how they sleep, everyone has a different method and tempers run hot when this gets debated. But basically you fall into one of two camps: Cry it out or don’t cry it out.
There is no shortage of theories on how to get your child to sleep through the night. Some people practice “attachment parenting.” This means parents wear their babies in those slings, they usually breastfeed exclusively and the kids sleep in the same bed as the parents. Then there’s the flip side of the coin. Parents who not only put their baby to sleep in a crib in a separate room, they let their baby cry until they put themselves to sleep.
At first, we’re all attachment parents. Because until recently, Will would only cry when he needed something so we’d always go in to check on him. But at this point, babies have the ability to manipulate us. Namely, they’ve learned that their crying almost always brings mommy or daddy into the room. Even though Will doesn’t need anything in particular, he just wants to play when he should be sleeping and so he cries to get our attention.
Prior to about a week ago, this was our daily routine:
Will goes to bed around 7:30 pm. Then he’d wake up anytime from 9 to 11 pm and we’d give him a bottle. Then he’d wake up again at 1 am and MJ would grab him from the nursery, make him another bottle and take him into our bed where he’d fall asleep with us until he woke up at 4 am. However, I grew uncomfortable with this practice for several reasons. First of all, I’m a heavy sleeper and I didn’t even realize he was in the bed sometimes, which makes me nervous about rolling over and smothering him. Second, I don’t like the idea of co-sleeping at this age. I personally think it’s a road to future trouble that I just don’t want to travel down. And lastly, I want to have the bed for me and MJ. Will has his own bed.
So last week I put my foot down and told MJ there’d be no more co-sleeping and I wanted to eliminate his 11 pm bottle, because at this point he doesn’t need it. She agreed and off we went.
The first two nights actually worked great. Will still woke up around 11-11:30 pm and when he did, I walked in and picked him up. I’d comfort him for a few minutes, cuddle him and sing to him until he stopped crying. Then I placed him back in the crib and left the room. He would scream bloody murder but it only lasted about 10-15 minutes and he went back to sleep until about 4 am.
But now it’s getting worse. He continues to wake up at 11:30 pm and I continue to go in and comfort him and then leave again. But now he cries and screams for longer. Last night he went almost 45 minutes. I was fine with it and I refused to go back in the room because I knew it would undo all the progress we had made. But MJ couldn’t deal with it. She was getting physically ill and approaching an anxiety attack after he screamed for half an hour. Finally she just lost it. She went and made up a bottle and took him into our bed.
I was so pissed. It’s all about developing a routine and now she’s set us back in that department. I’m prepared to let him cry for as long as it takes. And no, that’s not mean at this age. It’s what necessary to get him to the goal of sleeping through the night. And it’s funny because I always thought I’d be the softie and MJ would be the discipinarian. But instead, my wife continues to become a total creampuff and I’m the one taking a hard line.
I know Will can sleep through the night. He’s done it before. I know he doesn’t need that 11 pm bottle because most of the time he only takes an ounce or two and goes right back to sleep. It’s for comfort, not necessity. So if we can eliminate that bottle, he’ll sleep from 7:30 to 4 am. That would be great. But it’s never going to happen if my wife keeps sabotaging our efforts.
I guess that’s why it’s important for parents to be on the same page.