I have recently felt like I have been getting some slack from people within my circle of friends. We all have many things in common, such as we believe that breastfeeding is wonderful and important, that cloth diaper is not only fun and cute, but it is an environmental and pocketbook saver and we all agree that baby wearing is a wonderful tool. However, there are many stigmas still out there around parents that co-sleep with their children, be it with them right next to them in bed or at the end of their bed in a crib or bassinet. Ultimately you do what you are comfortable with, there should be no one judging you on how you conduct your personal life with your family, yet some people feel the need to be in my business and pass judgement on me constantly for anything I do. I don't feel that those people in my life are truly wanting to support me and my choices, as a friend would. Instead they are there looking down on my every move and making flash judgments, like they have some entitlement to do so. A friend to me is someone that you share common interests with and support each other no matter what they choose to do in their situation because everyone's situation is different.
With that said, I have to get something off my chest. I have been feeling as though many of the people in my circle of friends are not truly vested in being my friend, rather they would like to sit on their high horse and judge people that don't do things exactly the way they see it should be done, although they themselves are hypocritical and tend to do the same things at times too. I don't want to point fingers, but I am sure those people know exactly who they are. I seek to be around people that want to share in my interests and can respect the fact that not everyone does things the way they do them. For those that want to remain friends and can respect my decisions, then I will welcome you with open arms, but I will not stand for the condescending nature of your presence anymore.
This brings me to the real reason I am posting tonight. That is to give everyone an update on the sleep training of our eleven month old daughter.
It has officially been one week of Sleep Training and it has been a true success! I know that not all of my friends think that it is the best thing, but the way we did it seems perfectly fine. Kadence never went to bed without me right there rubbing her back and being there when she woke up. I am positive that she is not going to be emotionally or physiologically damaged from being able to self soothe, actually, I think it will be just the opposite, I think she is stronger for learning this skill!
I still believe that co-sleeping is a wonderful tool when the baby is little, for many reasons including the confidence they get in knowing that mommy is right there whenever they need her. It is a wonderful thing for mommy too because it is such a bonding expereince and makes night time feedings a breeze. I would never take back the last eleven months I spent with our daughter in our bed. I know that she is going to be a wonderful little person because of the great start she received. This next chapter in her life is going to make her that much stronger too. She will know how to self soothe if ever there is a time I am not able to be right there beside her. She is going to be just as independent and confident as she would have been if she stayed in our bed/room for the next X amount of years. I am getting much better sleep also, which makes me a better more responsive present mommy.
I want to thank the many girlfriends, you know who you are, that supported me through this process and kept me on track when things seemed impossible. I want to thank those of you that understood that this was the direction we were going with our daughter and respected our choices instead of ridiculing them.
Kadence has been going down for naps without a fuss at all! She knows that after her feedings before nap or bedtime that she is going to be kissed on the forehead, gently put into her pack and play and soothed to sleep as I rub her back or belly until she is peacefully off into dream land. She is sleeping longer and longer every night and spending less time at the breast for middle of the night feedings. I feel that she was ready for this next chapter in her life and she has transitioned incredibly well.
My advice for any parent that is out there thinking about how in the world they are going to transition their child to their own bed, I can only tell you what worked for us and that every child is different. We tried various methods before and it never worked because 1. we weren't ready for it, 2. she wasn't ready, 3. it wasn't the right method for us. We had to use a combination of methods to find the sweet spot and what would her.
In the end we determined that the best way to get her off to sleep was to follow these steps:
- Start with bedtime the first time you introduce them to their new surroundings and stick with it for the naps the next day
- Be prepared to devote at least a week of being at home to do the same routine everyday, so no other elements mess up what you are trying to instill in them. i.e. staying out late at friend or family's house, traveling, missing nap times, etc.
- Only start if you know they are not going through a developmental milestone, such as rolling over, crawling, walking or learning to talk. Same goes for cutting teeth.
- Create a bedtime routine and stick to it
- Keep with the same bedtime as before, but know that it is going to take a bit longer at first for them to fall asleep at their normal time
- Create a soothing environment that is dark, clam and at a comfortable temperature and make sure the baby is dressed in something that will keep them comfortable if they kick off their blanket. We introduced a soothing white noise, which seems to help her focus on sleep and drowns out any other distracting noises, i.e. our wood floors creaking under our feet as we walk away from the crib.
- Stay relaxed as you soothe your baby to sleep. Kadence had a habit of wanting to sit up and fuss, to test to see if we would pick her up, so I learned to lay her back down gently on her side and rub her back or belly as she focused on the shushing noise from me or the white noise we later introduced. It seemed to work quickly when she realized that was the reaction she was going to get by trying to sit up. Do not pick up baby and soothe in arms, during this phase, it will cause them to just cry longer and harder to get you to pick them up again.
- Once the baby has fallen asleep, longest it took Kadence was around an hour, stay there an additional period of time, anywhere from a few minutes to ten to make sure that their breathing pattern hasn't changed and they aren't going to be disturbed by you leaving the room and shutting the door.
- Monitor the baby, either by a baby monitor or being within ear shot. Come to the baby's side anytime they cry or fuss. If it had been more than 45 minutes since she had gone to sleep, I would pick her up and offer her a feeding, within minutes she was ready to go back to sleep and again I put her in the crib and gently soothed her back to sleep. But if it hadn't been that long, I would not pick her up, I would lay her back down and soothe her back to sleep.
- In the morning, or after a nap, cuddle the baby and let them know that they did a great job sleeping on their own. They will get use to their surroundings and be able to fall asleep quickly and smoothly on their own soon.
I hope these tips help someone out there one day when they look to try to transition their child to their own bed. This may need to be done at times when the child is in a new place or has traveled, but consistency is key. If you waiver, it will cause the process to take longer. You are welcome to read about the trials and tribulations we went through for the past week by reading Part I and Part II of our sleep training saga.
I want to hear from you, What do you think about the method we used? What worked for your family? Did you co-sleep? Did you get any slack from your friends or family about how you choose to sleep with your child, whether it be in your bed/room or in their own crib?