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.
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.