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Friday, February 24, 2006

Whatever It Takes

Dear Son appears to be following in his sister’s footsteps when it comes to napping. Dear Daughter never napped in her crib a day of her life until she was at least seven months old, and at that point it was still no easy feat.

There was no Babywising or Ferberizing Dear Daughter. She required nursing, holding, cuddling, and rocking until she was sound asleep and then ever-so-carefully be placed in the crib if there were any chance of a nap or a night of sleep happening. After being cuddled to sleep in the rocking chair, I had to ensure there were no creaking or squeaking noises when I lifted my derriere from the chair. If there were any noises, Dear Daughter would stir and threaten to open her eyes, which would be the kiss of death that would require starting all over. So there I would perch in mid-squat, frozen and holding my breath until I was reasonably confident she was not going to open those eyes. Then there was the tiptoe to the crib, and finally the very delicate task of lifting her over the crib rail and lying her down. If she stirred at this point, I had to freeze in whatever position I was in, even if my arm was pinned between her body and the mattress, and pray she would settle. Only then could I ever so carefully, in double slow motion, slide my arm out from under her and in stealth fashion tiptoe out of the room.

When Dear Daughter reached 8 or 9 months of age I discovered I sometimes had to take additional measures. If her eyes opened once she was laid in the crib, I learned to duck to the floor very quickly and hide behind the bumper until I didn’t hear movement and her breathing sounded just right. Only then did I dare lift my eyes over the top edge of the bumper to peek, and if it was safe, crawl on all fours out the door, just to be sure.

After sharing these tips with Grandma H, she shared with me one day how she had even gotten to the point of ducking to the floor and then carefully crawling out the door. When she reached the doorway and turned to look, there was her Dear Granddaughter watching her. As soon as Grandma was out the door, the crying began.

I tried Mr. Ezzo and Mr. Ferber’s approaches. They didn’t work for Dear Daughter. After eventually working up to back to back 45 minute sessions of crying it out, Dear Daughter still would not sleep, and I no longer felt humane. I thumb my nose at both Mr. Ezzo and Mr. Ferber’s approaches. In spite of the fact that they both suggest that a baby will not learn to sleep through the night if not made to follow their one-size-fits-all approaches, Dear Daughter has only required parental intervention to settle in the middle of the night a handful of times in her entire 2 ½ years of life. I hear horror stories from other parents that their 2 year old is still waking up several times a night and requiring help getting back to sleep.

Having a baby who loves to cuddle is a great blessing most of the time but terribly frustrating those times that I would like to peel myself away from the other half of the Velcro to do things like pee and sleep.

Looks like Dear Son may be following suit. I tried to put him in his crib to sleep as soon as he came home from the hospital. It never worked from day one. If he cannot be held the whole time he naps, he will at least accept his bouncy chair, which he insists having set on vibrating function. We go through a lot of batteries. Unlike Dear Daughter, who only napped in her swing for the first seven months of her life, Dear Son doesn’t like the swing. That’s just as well; at least I can set the bouncy chair in the crib. Perhaps that’s a step toward getting him to nap in the crib without it once he outgrows it.

On the flip side, Dear Son is already doing quite well sleeping through the night. He is generally up only once between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning.

I have my own philosophy, which may not be as well written as Mr. Ezzo’s or Mr. Ferber’s, but it doesn’t require trying to force your child into a mold that doesn’t work and it doesn’t make a parent feel like a failure for not continuing to insist on the forcing. My philosopy is do what works, and figure it out as you go along--and always remember that the time is precious short.

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