When I became Momma Bear I swore I would never let my baby cry it out. It’s cruel and unkind. Babies are not mature enough to understand how to manipulate us. They simply want us. And Little Bean wants Momma. All the time. To the detriment of her sleep… and mine. But then I realised two things, I’m exhausted but more importantly…
Little Bean is not crying.
Not once does a tear pass down her little cheek. She is purely shouting for attention, for me or quite possibly anyone. But since I’m the one who jumps out of bed at the slightest sound of her to see to her, let’s say it’s me she’s looking for.
Little Bean has been waking for anywhere from 1 to 3 hours most nights, anytime from 11pm to 5am, since before she turned one. Ordinarily, I go into her room, lay her back down after she gives me a cute giggle at the sight of an only awake, desperately wants to be asleep, Momma Bear. I curl up on the daybed beside her and spend the next few hours hopping back and forth, from comfort to almost falling over with dizzy spells, to lay her back down. All she wants to do is play and chat with a most unaccommodating Momma Bear. Or throw soothers at her. A pelt of a wet soother at 2.47am is not funny. And it hurts. She has some force.
These night time wakings have taken their toll. Lack of sleep has a perfect way of triggering my anxiety, which no one in this house wants. I can’t quite cope with the two or three hour wakeful period when I’m anxious, worried, scared and fed up. I’m not a nice Momma at 2am. And I’m not necessarily a nice Momma at 2.34pm when overtiredness kicks in and I want to permanently glue a pillow to my head.
I always swore I would never leave my children upset in their beds when a soothing kiss from Momma or Papa would ease their little fears. I agreed when the rampage struck about how any form of controlled crying methods where damaging to our children’s psychological and mental health. I do still believe that but now I realise that every case is unique and different.
In Little Beans case she has gotten used to having me beside her shushing her every so often and kissing her on the head as I lay her back down. She’s gotten used to me strategically placing her soothers, six of them, within reach of her little fingers.
When Momma can’t be heard and soothers can’t be found, Little Beans alert system goes off and she shouts, nice and loud, for me. The ever obliging mother, I cruise along the walls and bump my way into her room, starting the scenario over and over again. My intent is to make sure Little Bean is ok and that Little Miss and Papa Bear get a good night’s sleep, hopefully uninterrupted by little miss shouty pants!
This week, I’ve given up. Things have to change. At 16 months old, Little Bean can learn to soothe herself quickly enough without needing me in the room. So here’s what I’ve done so far. Let’s hope in a few weeks time we will all be catching enough zzzz’s
I gave her a pillow and a duvet.
She manages to get herself stuck in her grobag as she attempts to wriggle out of it or she takes it off completely. There’s not much point in a grobag when she whips it off of her. So the duvet, which hopefully she stays under, is the best bet here. Wriggling out of the grobag only wakes her up too much and when she’s awake, all hopes of falling back asleep quickly are lost. I know I’ll continually be popping in to make sure the duvet is on her until she understand how to use it, but needs must.
Despite having a few teddies as head protectors, she hits her head off the back of the wooden cot which wakes her up. I’ve given her a pillow which she doesnt really use but rather she wriggles off of it. But its a nice cushion for her little noggin.
I have given her one of those little soother clip teddies which I picked up in Lidl last week on a whim. She loves it and so far is the one soother she won’t throw out of the cot. Knowing she has one, easily found soother in the cot is a great help.
Cry It Out
So what I’m doing may not necessarily be a Cry It Out method as such, since she doesnt cry at all. She is simply shouting every so often for some attention. I found that she is happy to lay in her bed and play with her soothers or teddies for a short while, then a shout to see if I’m still there. I have started to let her shout which may last a few minutes. She will then be quiet for over half an hour. If she shouts for a prolonged period, two minutes or so, it could be less, I will go into her, soothe her and then leave. It all depends on the volume an how desperate her shouts sounds. I’m judging each shout to see if she really needs me and using good old maternal instinct whether or not to go into her.
If I get to her door and the shouting has stopped before I go in or if I hear her chomping on her soother then I wont go in as I know she is attempting to fall back asleep.
But if I do go in, I don’t stay. It’s a quick resettle and out I go again. Most times she has been letting me leave which is huge progress for Little Bean.
It’s only been a couple of nights since these changes started but I’m determined to keep it up and not give in by slipping into the day bed beside her. My aim is to get her used to being by herself and not needing me in the room. I’m hoping that I can hold out but I do think if I heard massive amounts of crying, I’m not sure I could stay away.
For the time being, I’m quite glad Little Miss is a deep sleeper so I can attempt to do this with Little Bean. Wish me luck! I think I’ll need it as we over some this hurdle in the toddler years.
I’d love to know if you have had to face the Split Night scenario before and what you did to help your little one sleep through the night.