At this very minute, (I began writing this a few days ago) I am basking in a proud moment for Mama as well as for Baby. I (not Daddy) put her to sleep in her crib for the first time! And what’s even better than that is the fact that it took only 3 minutes for her to get settled (with my hand resting firmly on her tummy to prevent her from getting up) and then 1 more minute (without my hand) to fall asleep. That’s right, folks…4 minutes! I realize that to most of you, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal. Let me assure you that in my world, it is. How ’bout we backtrack a bit so you can fully appreciate this moment along with me.
For the first 2 months or so after giving birth we had a colicky baby. I had no clue what this was until I educated myself on the behavior from hours of online searches. 9 months later, I’m still not 100% sure on what it is exactly, but I think that’s because not one source that I came across had a simple or direct answer or explanation for it, either. What we were dealing with was a very fussy and needy baby who needed to be held most of the day and most definitely needed to be held or rocked to sleep in my arms. This may be typical, except for the screaming. Man, did she have a set of lungs on her. She would scream for hours, at times. We’d feel helpless and hopeless. She’d have a few episodes of this daily and nothing we did would soothe or calm her. Lucky for us, this only lasted a few months (I had read other moms’ stories of their baby’s colic lasting up to a year!). Putting Mia to sleep for naps and for the night was the worst. Not only did she have to be in my arms (not Dad’s. She wouldn’t let him put her to sleep hardly ever), but I had to be rocking her. What made this even more tiring was that I had to rock her in my arms while walking around! The kid knew when I was sitting! The second I would set my rear end down in a chair or on the sofa, she would squeal. As soon as I stood up, she’d calm back down. At nap time or in the middle of the night (when she’d wake up for a feeding) you’d see me swaying my body side to side, bouncing my arms up and down, bending and bouncing at the knees up and down, “sshhh’ing” and singing, for up to 20-30 minutes sometimes, until the baby fell asleep. I was exhausted, but I did whatever it took to stop her crying.
Enter, an inflatable exercise ball…aka the tool that saved my sanity.
It had been sitting in our living room since Mia was born but it never dawned on me to use it to put Mia to sleep until I read mention of it online from another mom with a colicky baby. I had tried using our rocking chair but it never worked and since I was always required to be “on the move” while rocking her to sleep, I never sat on the ball. Let me tell you, once I did…a miracle happened. Mia fell asleep in my arms within 10 minutes of me bouncing on the ball. It was a life saver. I highly recommend to any other moms in a similar situation to what ours was, to try “the ball.” I used it over the next 4-5 months to put Mia to sleep without any fuss, taking only 5-10 minutes before she was out like a light. Still, Mommy was the only one who could do this. Mia didn’t let Daddy “bounce” her to sleep.
The next phase to Mia’s sleep routine was getting her to fall asleep on the couch next to us while watching one of her shows or movies.
Daddy initiated this transition so that he could actually help getting her to sleep AND to get her out of the habit of falling asleep to movement and in my arms. Once asleep, she’d be moved into her crib for the remainder of her nap. This worked fabulously for about 3 months. It saved my back from rocking this sack of potatoes many times each day and it gave me a break from putting her to sleep since she let Daddy put her to sleep on the couch. What a beautiful thing.
The current phase of her sleep routine is putting her to sleep in the crib. Again, Daddy initiated this phase. When he notices her getting sleepy, he takes her into her room with the lights off and lays her down in the crib with her bunny and blanky. At first, it took at least 10 minutes and a bit of fussing from her before she’d fall asleep. It’s less now, with the fastest knock out time being 30 seconds. He does have to keep his hand firmly on her belly to keep her from turning over and getting up on her knees to stand up in the crib. I tried the new routine but being that the crib mattress is so low now, it’s hard for me to stay bent over for a long period of time, holding her down until she falls asleep. It kills my back! Well, today (Friday) I finally did it. I finally put her to sleep in the crib by myself and in a total of 4 minutes! What a difference in our routine now from our routine 7 months ago. We’ve come such a long way and I know it will only get easier from here. Mia has been pretty cooperative with each transition we’ve entered. Our ultimate goal is to be able to just lay her down in her crib when she’s tired, kiss her on the head, give her the blankey and bunny and walk out of the room, leaving her to fall asleep on her own. Those of you who have had this routine since your little one was only a few months old…ggrrrr. You don’t know how lucky you are.
To help me figure out how to reach our ultimate goal, I’ve begun to read the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
If any of you have read this book or know of anyone it’s helped, please share your recommendations or discouragements. If you have a book you think I should read, instead let me know. If you have any secrets or routines that YOU swear by, please share with the rest of us desperate mamas who seek peaceful and simple nap times.
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