Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nearly 3 Years

That’s all it took for my son to be physically ready to sleep through the night and go to bed at normal bedtime.

We’ve finally managed an 8:30 bedtime on a regular basis where he actually falls asleep in a reasonable amount of time and sleeps until a decent hour.

This is my reasoning why I think that the thought of sleep training propaganda is bunk. It purports that ALL children can be trained to allow their parents an uninterrupted night’s sleep and a small amount of child-free evening wind down time if you only follow their directions.

We tried them, only to have weeks long stretches where sleep was harder to come by than ever and no progress would be made at all. With Sasha’s language development, it became obvious that all of these wake-ups and demands for attention in the middle of the night came with a very real, very physical need. Once that was made clear, we decided to give up on sleep training once and for all. If your child is hungry/thirsty, has pain, needs to get up and use the toilet, or has terrifying nightmares sleep training is not the answer. Those needs have to be addressed individually.

He now has a stash of cheesy bunnies in his room and goes to bed with a baby bottle or sippy cup of ice water (he can drink from a regular glass, but it doesn’t work when he’s half asleep). If he gets hunger pains at 1am, he is now able to get up and get a few crackers by himself and a drink and then go back to sleep. We keep the little trainer potty upstairs and he is able to use it on his own most of the time (the big potty poses a danger as he sometimes doses back off in the midst of a midnight pee and falls off his seat. The trainer potty keeps him from falling far). He is beginning to learn about dreams so isn’t quite so hysterical when one wakes him up. Sometimes he can even talk himself back down to sleep. Pain, wetting the bed, and a few other glitches still exist to his nighttime independence but we’re making big progress.

It’s all just evidence that children will sleep thru the night when they are ready and you just need to make sure you aren’t training them to stay awake. Consistent attempts at a reasonable bedtime and further consistency in putting them back to bed will eventually work.

When they are ready. Children all ascribe to their own timeline and they don’t read the parenting books.

I fully expect another spurt of nighttime wakefulness when the next growth spurt arrives. That’s when he has problems with ‘growing pains’ in his legs. I’ll be ready with the 2am calf massages and the Motrin.

1 comment:

caramama said...

Yeah!!! So glad he is figuring out how to take care of himself in the middle of the night. You are a great mommy for learning what he needs, being there for him, and helping him figure out how to handle it himself.

"If your child is hungry/thirsty, has pain, needs to get up and use the toilet, or has terrifying nightmares sleep training is not the answer. Those needs have to be addressed individually."

I would like to add to your list: slow to learn how to self-soothe. It's been very clear to my husband and myself that our daughter simply did not have the ability to self-soothe and get herself to sleep. Now that she is three, she is finally able to understand what we've been trying to teach her for over a year - self-soothing skills and simply how to fall asleep. As she is learning how at bedtime, we are hoping it carries through for those times she wakes up in the middle of the night. It's still a work in progress, and I'm also sure there will be set backs down the road. Sigh...