[Also Titled: An Extremely Ridiculously Long Post Detailing Lewis’ Sleep From Birth Until Present]
It’s certainly true that as soon as you and baby seem to get used to a routine or behavior something changes and everything is “new” again. Sometimes the change comes from Baby’s advancing development, other times it is affected by some outside factor. It’s amazing how many times Lewis’ sleep patterns and bedtime routines have changed in just his 7 months of life.
When he was teeny tiny we completely followed his lead and didn’t try to schedule him in any way. I nursed him when he seemed to want it, and if he fell asleep he fell asleep. During the day I would either hold and cuddle him while he napped or settle him into the bouncy seat to sleep. Once in a while he would even sleep on someone else (something that my husband misses getting to experience since he hasn’t done this in a long time.) If it was close to our bedtime I would swaddle him and put him in the crib to sleep instead.
After a while it seemed like he was getting sleepy later and later into the evening, and at 3 months old we decided to institute a bedtime for him. We decided on 9:30 as a good time, and put together a bedtime routine of diaper change, followed by stories with Daddy, swaddling, and then nursing to sleep and getting placed in the crib. A month or two later he seemed to be getting to tired and cranky by 9:30 so bedtime was moved to 9:00.
This routine worked well for a while, until he started boycotting sleeping in the crib and decided he would sleep only on Mommy. I think he was around 4.5 months when this started. It evolved into me sitting on the couch holding a sleeping baby for half the night, repeatedly trying to bring him back into the crib only to have him wake up and cry. Eventually I was so sleep deprived that I just ended up dozing off on the couch for a few hours each night.
At six months we decided enough was enough and started sleep training (which I first talked about here.) It went pretty well with only a little crying/fussing for naps and bedtimes. Then a week and a half ago he got a cold and I threw all the rules back out the window. The first night I slept on the couch with him because I thought being more upright would make breathing easier with his stuffy nose. That wasn’t super comfortable for either of us, and for the past week-ish he has been spending the whole night in bed with me and Chris.
We’ve both been pretty opposed to co-sleeping from the beginning (although he does come into our bed to sleep for a couple hours each morning. But we had a few reasons for deciding it was best while he was sick. For one, I know that I’m miserable and have a harder time sleeping when I have a cold, so I can’t imagine how it must feel for a baby. Since he was already uncomfortable and cranky from being sick it didn’t seem fair to give him the added stress of trying to settle himself to sleep alone in the crib. I also didn’t want to leave him to cry because crying would just make the stuffiness and runny nose worse and more uncomfortable. So, he got to sleep with us.
As of yesterday his cold is completely gone without any signs of runny nose or anything else. We decided last night that it was time to get back on the wagon with making him sleep in the crib. But of course in the week that he was sick we had a new development that affects his sleep: rolling over! I put him in the crib on his back like normal last night, gave him a kiss, and walked out. After ten minutes of crying I went to him and found that he had flipped himself over and scooted all around the crib, which was exactly what I expected to find. I took him out and snuggled him on the couch until he was sleepy and relaxed again, and then brought him back in to try again, keeping his new skills in mind.
This time I set him down on his tummy and stayed there to rub his back and sing to him until he relaxed and finally fell asleep. He fussed at first and tried to crawl to me, but calmed down after only a minute or two and drifted peacefully to sleep. He then slept for four straight hours, something he has not done at all in the past three or more months. When he woke to nurse in the night he was even easier to settle back to sleep on his stomach with just a little back rubbing and singing. His naps today have been equally easy, with hardly a fuss and no more trying to crawl out of the crib.
This newest development in his sleep is my favorite yet. I hated the fact that I had to leave him to cry with the sleep training, but knew it was better for all of us to get some solid sleep in our own beds. I had tried then to stay by the crib and settle him with just singing to him and such, but when he was lying on his back looking up at me he would just become more and more frantic and upset that I was there but not picking him up, and we found that he settled faster if I left the room. It’s wonderful to know that I can now stay by the crib and help him to settle into a peaceful sleep without him freaking out that he is not being held.
Of course this is just the first day of tummy-sleeping and though it is going great so far who knows what the future will bring. I am sure we have plenty of new and surprising changes coming our way in the coming months. But for now I will just enjoy my peacefully sleeping little boy.