He has been sleeping through the night AND falling asleep on his own for about 6 weeks now. He has never done this before! You might be wondering, WHAT have you been doing these past 3 years??? Most people get their babies to sleep between 6-12 months old, it seems. I have tried:
- The obvious stuff, with consistent routine, cry-it-out straight up and cry-it-out from a distance, sleeping near, with, on, over, and around him
- Black out shades
- External window shades for cooling
- Bedtime music cd (clinically proven to induce sleep)
- Cooling or heating fan, humidifier if ill, white noise air purifier nightly
- Various visual sleep clocks
- Various sized beds-crib, twin, and now, full size bed
- Soft, cool sheets
- Room is sensory sensitive, no toys, only stuffed animals and books, minimal plain décor without stimulating patterns
- Light lavender scent on pillow
- PJs without tags, soft
Gets more serious and pricey here:
- Several types/sizes of weighted blankets
- Occupational therapy techniques of joint compressions and brushing
- Chiropractic treatment
- In-home sleep consultant x2-Sleep Sense program (interesting stuff, check it out if you are having problems)
- Surgery = ear tubes
- Developmental pediatrician evaluation
- Medications: tylenol, melatonin, reflux medication, benadryl, homeopathic options and finally a prescription sleep aid
We were about to sign up for another surgery (tonsil removal for possible sleep apnea), but then we tried a method a sleep medicine physician suggested. How he knew this would work-I will never know.
He gave me a prescription to go away for a week and let someone else take care of Ben's bedtime routine and evening wake-ups.
I thought I was dreaming (since sleep-walking and daydreaming were a normal thing) when he said I HAD to be out of the picture. That would be amazing, right? Somehow he knew that Ben needed to separate from me and rely on his own self-soothing to get to sleep.
He gave me a list of rules that included I disappear when the bedtime routine begins. Some other loving caregiver must get him ready for bed, have a meticulous routine, and put him to bed at night while he is still awake. That person had to leave the room so he could learn to fall asleep on his own. If he got up, that person was to be a "robot" and say "back to bed, night night, I love you, " and walk him back to his room.
Now I swore I had tried this before, sometime during the previous 2,000+ nights before. But I was MOM. And he was relentless and knew how to wear me down, so it just didn't work.
But we paid our babysitter to help for a few nights with this new routine and wouldn't you know...it actually worked! And it has worked ever since.
I can now put him to bed without a fuss. But sometimes he tries to trick me and he pats the bed near him as if to say, "sleep here tonight?" I kiss his cheek, tell him I can't, and he looks away in the distance like he's thinking, "I know, but I just had to try this once." It really has been life-changing for me. As you saw in that prior post, lack of sleep was really affecting me on many levels.
Sleep is SO important-for kids and adults alike. Many illnesses have been linked to improper amount of sleep, like obesity and heart disease. It is important to build good sleep habits as children and I HOPE/PRAY that our streak continues. I think this specific routine worked specifically at my son's age for a few reasons-he was emotionally ready, physically ready (not having so much thirst at night), and mentally ready (knew that mom would still be there in the morning).
Preserving my family's sleep time will always be a #1 priority in my house. To keep us all at our best, ready to learn, and ready to tackle daily stress. My kids will know that being really tired or 'staying up all night' is not a badge of honor! Their bedtimes will be changed accordingly if I hear this...