A time for change

One of the biggest mistakes we made as first time parents was getting J in the habit of nursing to sleep.  Didn’t seem like that big of a deal until recently…but there’ve been a few things recently that have made this mistake very evident, and the consequences not so fun.

1 – as J gets older and I continue to nurse him, he doesn’t so much nurse for nutrition but more-so out of habit.  As part of that, he tends to “play” more than actually drink anything.  As my nips are quite sensitive now (yay pregnancy) this “play” tends to feel almost like torture – either being painful or just plain annoying.

2 – Since J doesn’t have much opportunity to socialize with other little ones being at work with me, the Hubs and I have discussed a few options – either childcare, or mommy/toddler classes – as a way for him to get this social interaction a few times a week.  If he does go into childcare, he has to be able to fall asleep on his own, and his nap schedule would change pretty significantly.  Likewise, if we do any toddler classes, they tend to fall right in the middle of his naptime as it is now.

3 – when the Baby comes, I won’t be as available at bedtime as J is used to now, as I will be splitting my time with Baby and Daddy will be helping with putting J to sleep as well.  I’d rather start to change J’s expectations around bedtime now then throw him another curveball when the baby comes and changes his whole life anyway.

So, we made the decision on Thurs. night to change a few of these things since I know that we’ll have a full 3 days in a row where we can implement these changes.
Change #1 – no nursing at bedtime.  We kept his bedtime routine the same otherwise, but instead of spending 5-10 minutes either nursing or rocking J to sleep, we simply snuggle him for a few minutes then lay him down in his bed and leave the room. This has worked spectacularly for the past 2 nights…I am simply amazed…
Change #2- only one nap a day instead of 2.  Today I  tried an 11am nap, but J wasn’t having it, so we did a 1pm nap instead after getting home from lunch with Daddy, and he slept for an hour and a half.  Plus he didn’t throw a huge fit earlier in the morning, which makes me feel better about only letting him take one nap.  I think this is still going to be the biggest transition though…and I’m kind of dreading it and how it will work at my office when I won’t be nursing him either…
Change #3 – less nursing in general.  Today J didn’t nurse at all.  He didn’t ask for it either.  Plus I’m OK with giving my sore nips a little break.  I don’t know that I am done with nursing J, but I certainly don’t intend on nursing him before naps or bedtime…we’ll see how that all works out going forward.

The fact that the last day and a half has gone so well with these changes makes me feel like my intuition as a Mama is working as it should.  Trust your gut! If you feel that it is time to make a change with the way you are doing something with your little one, why not give it a try?  In my case I have to be 99% convinced that it is the right time and the right decision, but so far my gut hasn’t led me astray when it comes to J and his needs.

Deciphering cries at 3 am…

As a strong dis-believer in the cry-it-out method of sleep training, there have been a few things that I’ve learned.

1. The journey in getting to a “normal” sleep pattern for your little one may be a longer road, but you will eventually get there
2. There are plenty of other methods out there that you can use or adapt to meet the needs of your own family
3. No matter what method you use, you’ll still struggle with the guilt or doubt over if what you are doing is best for your kiddo
4. You will try and try again no matter what method you use, until it all finally falls into place
5. Nothing will stop a little one from waking randomly in the middle of the night sometimes.

When I say that I don’t believe in the cry-it-out method this is my stance:  I want my children to always feel that their needs are being met.  I want my children to know that if they need comforting, that we will be there for them.  I never want my children to be forced to fall asleep after crying with no comfort – this perhaps is my biggest no-no, as an adult I’ve had my share of crying-myself-to-sleep and I’d never wish that on anyone in the world, least of all my children.  While I do believe that it is important to understand when it is time for sleep, I do not support the theory that allowing a little one (who doesn’t know any better) to cry into the darkness with no answer will eventually teach them a positive skill. For my family, there are other ways to build this skill.

I’m not saying that parents who do choose to use the CIO method are wrong in their choice.  I believe every parent makes the best decisions for their own family.  In this case, the CIO method does not fit my family or my mentality as a parent.

Once we were able to maintain a consistent napping and bedtime schedule, J’s sleeping patterns improved.  As first time parents, you are bound to make some mistakes along the way – in our case we made plenty of them with J’s sleep from the beginning.  But after 14 months J finally started sleeping through the night.  That doesn’t mean he always sleeps a solid 11 hours from 7pm to 6(ish)am, BUT we know that he is actually capable of doing so and he does quite regularly.  There are still random nights – maybe 2 out of every week – that he will wake enough in the middle of the night where he fusses enough that I will do in and help him settle back into sleep.  Being that I am still nursing him, I will nurse him for comfort (I know that’s mainly what he nurses for now) until he calms enough to either fall asleep again or I know he can self-sooth himself back to sleep from that point.  J has been known to randomly screech in the middle of the night though, and we’ve learned the differences between his “sleep” cries, his “waking” cries, and his “something’s wrong, I’m up” cries.

J recently got his 15 month shots (varicella and mmr) and he’s also sprouting 5 new teeth.  4 molars and a bottom tooth all at the same time…poor kiddo!  Needless to say, he’s had a mild temperature and been extra fussy and needy for the past week.  No wonder he’s been waking more than usual at night.  I suppose another reason when the CIO thing doesn’t sit right with me.  This week I’ve answered J’s midnight cries a little quicker than other times – if I was in pain or had a temp. and needed a little extra love, I’d want someone to come help me out – why wouldn’t I do the same for my little one?

That all being said, it doesn’t mean that when J cries at 3 am that I don’t groan and wish that he’d put himself back to sleep.  At 3 am no one is happy about being awake involuntarily!  But since when does being a parent mean you’ll get your full 10 hours of sleep? Ha…