Google+ Authentic Parenting: Sleepy much? 10 Ways to Resist Going Down The Crying it Out Path (rerun)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sleepy much? 10 Ways to Resist Going Down The Crying it Out Path (rerun)

So, does your baby sleep through the night? Why don't you just let her cry? Sleep and nighttime parenting is one hot topic when it comes to newborns and babies and even into toddlerhood, and sleep is somehow something that is magically connected to “good” or “bad” parenting. No matter how much I wish for my child to sleep longer streches, I have choosen not to go down the CIO path - it's not for our family, based on instinct and backed by science, it's just not what we are doing. Is it tempting? Sure, everyone needs a good night of sleep.

But I’m not going there - this is not a post on tips for sleep training, or intended to start war on nighttime parenting choices, it’s just about one tired mama sharing how to resist going down the crying it out path.

1.Forget what everyone else’s baby is doing: It’s hard not to compare notes and find out from other parents what their children are doing. I confess I had “sleep” envy at times. My first only gave up night time nursing around 13 months. At that point he slept 10 hrs straight, although still occasionally woke and sought comfort before going back to sleep. In the end, I learned not to worry about what other babies were doing but to care for my baby in the way he needed me to.

2.Invest in yourself: I worked two jobs and went to college at one point and I was always “tired” – but it was nothing, and I mean nothing compared to the exhaustion of sleep broken nights with a newborn. Getting naps in, lounging on the couch guilt free, eating healthy foods and snacks and prioritizing my energy was in my eyes an investment in myself and my children. If you can afford a sitter or have family that can help even better, take long naps while someone else watches baby or takes care of the house. That renewed energy will help you get through the next night.

3.Dishes and dust bunnies can wait: On occasion (ok more than on occasion) my sink sat full of dishes and the corners had dust bunnies, did I feel lazy and guilty, yes, sometimes I did. Most of the time, I remembered I was storing energy for what to me and my child would really matter down the years: breastfeeding and night time parenting.

4.Change the routine: I have always made breakfast but one morning due to broken sleep, handsome hubby stepped in and took over making breakfast which allowed me to sleep in a bit. It worked so well we changed our morning routine more permanently. Explore similar alternatives that can maximize the sleep time you get.

5.Adjust ideals: A tired mama made for a not very fun mama so when my third came along I learned that it was alright to let my two older ones watch a children’s show while baby and I napped for 30- 40 minutes. This went a bit against my original ideas on TV viewing, but rested I also felt ready to tackle walks in the forrest and playground trips so it was a short term trade that worked for all of us.

6.Drop the resentment: At the end of the day, being tired and not looking forward to another night of broken sleep is not an ideal frame of mind. Instead, I started to focus on the beautiful stillness of the night, the outline of my babies face in the glow of the nightlight, the inspiring shadows on the wall from the garden and even hearing the sweet sleep of my older boys. Yes, by now they both sleep peacefully through the night,( barring any illness or the rare monster invasion.) Changing my mindset gave me peace and a way to cherish these overnight parenting moments.

7.Chant Lalalalala and nod: Nothing like chanting some tunes while pretend listening to well and not so well meaning sleep advice to keep focused on the end goal. It’s not that I was intending to be rude or mean, it just got really difficult to hear “Get in the shower at bed time;” “Plug your ears with an Ipod;”and “You are doing this to yourself, just let her scream a few nights.” I knew CIO was not for me so I chanted “Lalalalala” in my head and tried not to lull myself to sleep while doing it.

8.Load up on patience: Waiting an eternity for baby to fall asleep can be difficult,but in the end the waiting is not wasted time. The time I spent laying next to and waiting for my babies to babble and toss and turn and process the days happening and to finally drift to sleep have turned out to be the perfect time for me to meditate or plan meals, day dream about the future and even catch up on some sleep.

9.Find a support network: Surrounding yourself with like minded parents and a supportive pediatrician can be very encouraging and a great not to feel alone in your choices. I haven’t met many families that haven’t tried CIO, and I get it, not sleeping is horrible – some pediatricians unfortunately still even recommend it and the sleep training literature is multiplying but there are moms and dads out there opting for gentler paths. In my experience, natural and attachment parenting websites have been a good place to connect with other parents.

10.Know that it gets better: When the nights get long and the morning seems to arrive all too fast, take heart that eventually you and your baby will be sleeping if not through the night, at least longer stretches at a time. My five and three year olds go to bed with smiles on their faces, drift to sleep on their own after some serious cuddling and wake up 11 – 13 hrs later with smiles on their faces. My 20 month old – not yet – so yes, I’m one tired mama – but I know with time, it will get better.

Peace & Sleep Well

Are you finding the support you need to get some sleep?



  1. I love how you mentioned eating healthy can contribute to how tired we feel. I completely agree with all points you mentioned - but this one in particular can have a very significant impact and it's often overlooked.

    The choices in what we eat and drink effect how tired we are and our mental state substantially. It can even effect the temperment of our babies!

    Love it!!

  2. I remember the best thing for me was to change my perspective. Instead of thinking my day was done at bedtime, I had to remember that I was nighttime parenting. I am still a mom at night, no matter how much I need sleep--my kids still need me. That little shift helped so much to get rid of the resentment of having to go to my daughter multiple times at night. I would never resent her for needing me during the day, why during the night?

    Luckily we have a sleeper for our second :)

  3. For our family it has always been best to avoid CIO. I sleep better knowing my baby is happy and feels loved. If I sleep that is...sometimes this mama doesn't sleep too much, but I figure I'll have plenty of time to sleep when she's grown up. Thank you for the tips, it helps having a list to turn to when I need a little help dealing with the sleeplessness.

  4. I completely needed this today. I didn't get to sleep until 4am this morning, and was then woken up at 6.55am by my 3yr old

  5. I have a three year old that wakes up every night and comes in our room. I have a two year old that we think sleep walks. Between the two, my night is interrupted at least 3 or 4 times. Then I have my sweet 7.5 month old who on a good night wakes 3 times. On bad nights, I am still up every hour with her. The only thing I struggle with is getting up in the morning. Its madness and I love every moment of it. You have to or you will literally go crazy lol. When we just had one, napping while he napped was easy. With three, impossible. All I can say is thank God for coffee and moms like you who understand!

  6. It's encouraging to know, I'm not the only one tempted by cio. Even my husband wanted me to start.
    He feels though since I'm home ALL day, sleep deprived or not, I should have dinner ready, house clean and dishes done...
    I have trouble trying to figure our how to do it all, plus be on full time night duty. (nope no money for babysitters, chefs, chauffers or maids)

  7. Thank you for the positive words. Our little one had reflux when she was first born and everyone said 'all babies throw up'. You never knew how long she was going to sleep. I nap pretty well and would have coped fine with little bits of sleep but the constant forcing yourself awake when you have just drifted off was torture and I was really unsure how we were ever going to cope.
    Surprisingly, The best advice was a friend telling me that it gets better.

    By keeping her upright after a feed, sleeping her on an angle and cuddling her to sleep before putting her to bed she started to sleep well. From there we adjusted to cuddling her just about to sleep and sleeping somewhere where she could see me sleeping too.

    I kept night times quiet but didn't mind how many times she was up. Long story cut short... now at 4 months she now sleeps 9pm-6am. I have friends who now say they miss the cuddles and I cherish the wonderful time I have spent with her asleep in my arms.

    When I'm upset, I don't want to cry alone and so I think I shouldn't let her. Honestly there were times that I was too exhausted to calm her down and those times she cried to sleep in my arms but at least she knew I was there.


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