the sleep battles

Part 1: Our Story

My first attempt to let him cry it out for naptime:

10:15 am: I walk away from my screaming baby.

My cats are judging me. They’re looking at me like, “Can you hear him? I think he’s dying… Why are you just sitting there?” And I am. Just sitting here. Partially hyperventilating. My heart is racing as quickly as my thoughts. I’m chanting in my head: “you have to do this. He needs his nap. He was a wreck yesterday because you were too weak to let him cry it out. This can’t continue. He needs his sleep…He’s not dying. He’ll be fine. He will still love you.” And it goes on.

10:45 am: 30 minutes. Still crying. My head might explode.

Now, I’ve tried everything so that I wouldn’t have to let him cry it out. This is a last resort. I’ve tried rocking, singing, humming, a turtle that lights up and plays music, head rubbing, tying a shirt with my scent to his crib, driving around, letting him sleep in my arms, letting him nap on my bed…all these things worked only sometimes and ended with Caleb and Mommy exhausted.

Caleb was a dream baby for the first 4 months…and when he cut his first teeth at 5 months, everything changed. The naps went first. Then the screaming started. Now, he screams for fun. He stopped eating well. And then he stopped sleeping through the night. Suddenly, my happy baby isn’t so happy anymore. He’s cranky and fussy, difficult to please, and needs constant attention and entertainment.

And I know exactly why: he’s tired. You’d think that being exhausted would make you want to sleep, but amazingingly, that’s not how the human brain works. When we get overtired, our brains go on overdrive…making sleep more and more difficult. As I look at my tired baby fighting sleep I want to cry. And sometimes I do.

11:00 am: Screaming. “Is this even going to work?” I’m feeling a little insane.

I was against crying it out. I hate the idea of it, but it worked for us at night.  The first night I tried it, he woke up and I fed him (I knew he was hungry because he barely ate during the day). He was acting like it was playtime at 2:00 am, so I kissed him, told him I loved him, and walked away. He screamed for 25 minutes the first night, 20 the second, and 5 minutes the next. And you know what else? He was happy as a lark the next morning because he got the sleep he needed. (Around 6 months old babies need about 11 hours of night sleep and 2-3 hours of naps each day).

11:02 am: Silence. He’s sleeping!!!! Hallelujah!

Stay tuned for Sleep Battles, Part 2: Lessons Learned

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