Monday, November 3, 2008

How long?

How long do you let an almost 2 1/2 year old cry in her crib when she's tired but won't sleep?

Situation: When I hold Samantha, her eyes are heavy and she'll fall asleep. I lay her down, and she is awake and won't sleep. Her room is extremely dark (thanks to a black sheet I pinned up over her window) and she is -- or at least was -- swaddled. I know she's tired, but I'm not sure how long to let her go. Taking naps have become increasingly painful as I've been holding her until she falls asleep. Advice anyone? Please?


Megs said...

Maggie pulled the same madness. Plus with Callie you don't have all the time in the world to try rocking Sammy to sleep all the time. I've read 2 sleep books ("The Sleepeasy Solution", and "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" because just when I think I've figured out how to get Maggie to sleep well, she hits another developmental milestone and we have to start from scratch). Both books say that you can let your kid (who is old enough to sleep through the night, which Samantha is I reckon) cry for an hour. That seems like a long time and the first couple of times she'll probably scream for 45 minutes to an hour, but Maggie went to sleep so much better after that. It was 45 minutes the first night, 20 minutes the second night, 5 minutes the third night and then after that she didn't cry. We had some good solid months of heaven until she learned to climb out of her crib. Still trying to figure out how to get her to stay in her big girl bed... but good luck with Sammy. That's so hard. I competely feel for you.

bostonroms said...

Jen. I totally understand your woes. We have sleep problems with Sam almost nonstop. So... take my advice for what its worth and realize that we certainly aren't doing everything right and are still trying to find good solutions. (aka i'll be checking the comments to this post for ideas!!!)

#1 - As Marcus probably could tell you, there seem to be two different schools of thought when it comes to parenting young children. The first is parent-directed... as in you are in charge and your child needs to learn to do things (cry to sleep). The second is that your sole job as a parent to is make your child feel secure (rock them to sleep).

I have wavered back and forth between the two camps with Sam and Z. I think something in the middle is best, but I'm not sure what that is.

I love Ferber (book - Solve your Child's Sleep Problems). I love it best (and have read most of the others) because he is the director (and a doctor) of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Boston Children's Hospital. Basically - he knows his stuff.

#2 - Ferber's technique. You go through a bedtime / naptime routine that "tells" your child its time to sleep. Then, you place them in bed and leave. You return in increasing intervals until they fall asleep on their own. (like your friend does with her little one). This DOES work, but the process can be painful. Our Sam has exhibited separation anxiety, fears of the dark, restlessness, nightmares, etc. We go on a cycle of some good sleep and then a week or so of horrible sleep. And we strictly Ferbered Sam.

Now, Z we've done a mix of ferber and rocking. We would rock him until he was mostly asleep and then lay him down. Over the course of about 2 months, we have laid him down more awake and more awake until now I can lay him down completely awake and leave him there. He doesn't even cry, just goes to sleep. He's such a dream.

I don't know if any of this is helpful. The bottom line is that if you leave Samantha to "cry it out", it WILL WORK eventually. I'm not sure if this technique contributes to other sleep issues later on (like we have had with Sam), but the most important thing is to teach your child to fall asleep without external sleep aids (ie - YOU, rocking, pacifier, etc). So, if you're aiming for that goal and make it there successfully, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Share your secrets with me!!! :)

Hope this train'o'thought comment makes sense. MISS YOU LOTS!! Love your cute girls.

Jared said...

Both of our boys tried to pull that...

(oh by the way, it's Jared, from Marcus' BYU cohort)

It sounds mean, but we put Derek in a portable crib in the basement with a baby-monitor. He screamed his head off for hours initially, and we just turned the volume way down to where we could just barely hear it. After a few days, he'd fall asleep after screaming his head off for about 30 minutes, then he would fall asleep right away but cry for 45 minutes in the middle of the night. It was probably a month or two before he started sleeping through the night.

Every kid is different, just remember that crying is not harmful, and learning to sleep through the night is just another way of saying 'learning to self-soothe.'

Sorry to get all psych-geek, you probably get enough of that from Marcus :)

Beth Schellhous said...

We're also experiencing difficulty with nap time, despite Lareine being tired, she insists that she is not. So, we've tried "quiet time", in which I give her books and a quiet toy in her bed and I reassure her that I will be back to get her. I then tell her that I will be back in an hour. Usually by the time an hour passes she's asleep and then I leave her until she wakes up. Otherwise, at least I've had an hour to get a couple things done. But hearing your child scream and cry is torture, I'll admit. But when I talk to her and tell her I will be back she understands. She cries for at least 1 minute every afternoon and every night. But usually I just hear her reading books to herself and her stuffed animals until she falls asleep.
Now, if we could only get the separation anxiety calmed down for Nursery...

D-n-E said...

Jenny, I have had nonstop difficulties with Reid and napping. I have always felt that no matter what I tried it didn't really work and when he was ready to go to sleep on his own he just did. Just a few months ago I was having your same problem. I let him cry for over an hour for several days and he would not fall asleep. Finally after he'd cried for so long I would just walk in, lay him down, and stand there. He'd fall asleep in 2 minutes. Letting him cry was not working and it was really getting to me. So I started just sitting in his room after going through his time-to-nap ritual and laying him in his crib. I'd read and he'd fall asleep in a few minutes. A couple of times it took about 15 minutes and a couple of time he stood up and I had to go lay him back down or leave for a few minutes to show him that if he stood I would leave, but most of the time it was literally a minute or two and he was asleep. I decided to look at it as some me time. I enjoyed the brief snippets of reading I got done (but I didn't have another kid to worry about). After a couple of weeks of this working well, Dan was home on a weekend and put Reid down. He just laid him in his crib after a little wind down ritual and walked out. He went right to sleep. AH!! So on Monday I tried the same thing and he went right to sleep. He's gone to sleep on his own since then (except when we vacationed in the Virigin Islands, but that's a different story). I don't know what changed in a matter of a week or two that made him willing and able to fall asleep on his own but he did. Like I said, I don't feel like I have much control over it. When he feels like it he does it. Not that I won't try, but my efforts at forcing him to do something always seem fruitless.
The realization that has helped me when it comes to Reid's napping is this--it passes. Each naptime passes and I can't let it ruin the whole day. Each stretch of bad napping time passes and I'll have a good week or two. Another problem may arise, but that will pass too. Even the knowledge that someday napping will pass completely and he won't nap at all helps me during extremely difficult spells. I don't know if that will help you but it gives me hope and allows me to keep an "eternal" perspective if you will and not get bogged down. Good luck.


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