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biting the bullet

Having done her research, S developed a plan to transition Munchkin out of our room and into his big boy crib. First, we would install blackout blinds, crank up the sleep sheep, and move the rock-n-play to the nursery. Then, once Munchkin got used to his new surroundings, we would put him to sleep in the crib. Finally, after he became accustomed to the big bed, we would stop swaddling him. As with her other well laid baby plans, this one also unravelled in the blink of an eye.

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We did not set out to rush the transition, but Munchkin forced our hand. Over the course of two weeks he had grown significantly more active, and the more aware he grew of his surroundings the faster his interest in sleep waned. Whereas before we could swaddle him, feed him, and rock him to sleep, now all he wanted was play time. He would still take the bottle, sucking down the last drops with his eyes closed, but as soon as it was empty his eyes would flutter open and he would start complaining about being confined in his swaddle. This would set in motion an elaborate ritual of rocking, shushing, and singing that would sometimes last for an hour before he would quiet down and fall asleep.

S was dead set against the cry-it-out method, and we had a few bitter arguments before D convinced her that the time had come. Between the bottle, rock-n-play, swaddle and all the rocking, shushing, and singing, we had given Munchkin too many sleep crutches. We had reached the point where Munchkin would cry in our arms for at least half an hour each night — not because he was hungry (he wasn’t) or because he had a dirty diaper (we ensured that he didn’t) — but simply because he did not want to go to sleep. At that point, D argued, if he was determined to cry no matter what, it was preferable to let him cry on his own and learn to soothe himself to sleep.

The first night he screamed for 45 minutes before finally falling asleep, and several times we came close to losing our resolve. What if he’s too young? What if this will all be for naught? After the second night, S wondered if he hadn’t damaged his vocal chords. His cry had changed and his voice was a bit hoarse and raspy. He used to be so sweet and smiley and he would coo in the mornings, she lamented. What if he hates us for letting him cry so long?

All of the articles we read suggest that the cry-it-out method is harder on parents than on the kids. Whereas Munchkin won’t remember this transition at all, it will take S quite some time to soothe the emotional pain of listening to him bawl helplessly in his crib. That said, although we are not out of the woods yet, the transition to the crib is clearly having the desired effect. A few nights this week Munchkin fell asleep with only minimal whimpers, and we hope the day is not far away when we can simply put him to bed and walk out of the room knowing that he’ll happily go to sleep when he is ready without making a fuss.

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. msophianewman #

    Oh my gosh, he actually fell asleep quietly after a few nights! My niece is 27 months old and still not sleeping well. Best wishes for continued success with the little guy.

    June 23, 2014
    • Not entirely quietly, but with minimal whimpers. It’s still very much touch and go. Tonight he missed a nap, was overtired when we put him down, and screamed for half an hour before finally succumbing to sleep.

      June 23, 2014
  2. C #

    I’m with you D. I had our two boys sleeping through the night within two to three weeks. I had to hold D (another D who married me) down to stop her intervening. It worked! Ok I admit they are now a bit wild when they get together on the trampoline ….. Maybe I should have waited a week or two more :)

    June 23, 2014
  3. Sarah #

    Congrats! I know how hard this was for everyone involved. Even though my spouse and I agreed on CIO before J came along I was surprised to discover that the reality was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Some nights there will probably still be some crying or whining but for the most part they learn really quickly. It is also easier to determine if something is really wrong when they cry at night. Also congrats on dropping the swaddle. J loved his swaddle so much that we kept using it until 6 months or so (he was very opposed to sleeping on his tummy). Hope everyone is getting some sleep!

    June 24, 2014
    • Thanks! It looks like we’re getting into a good rhythm. Tonight he fell asleep without fussing at all. Though he also woke up much earlier than he normally does in the middle of the night, so we’re sure he’ll keep throwing us curveballs. Definitely on the right path thought.

      June 24, 2014
  4. We’ve got a swaddle addict on our hands! I’m looking for ways to break the habit, but nothing is working so far! Good luck with the sleep training. It’s no fun, but it does work!

    June 24, 2014
    • There are certainly worse things to be addicted to. Honestly, if Munch wasn’t so active and didn’t hate his swaddle so much, we’d keep swaddling him. He used to sleep better in his swaddle — once we actually got him to fall asleep, that is. Now he just wants to flip and roll and flail his arms around.

      June 24, 2014
      • Ahhhh, infant sleep. An eternal puzzle….

        June 25, 2014

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