Before Monkey was born, whenever any friends were having troubles getting their little ones to sleep and they mentioned leaving them to cry themselves to sleep, I thought it seemed like a pretty sensible idea. Then when Monkey was born, I realised it wasn’t that simple, and the thought of doing it felt really really cruel. With him spending hours each day screaming in pain with his colic, neither hubs or I could bear the thought of leaving him to cry himself to sleep.
So we did what many parents do and helped him to sleep. We rocked and shushed and patted, drove him round in the car, took him out in the buggy and let him suck our fingers. We tried to use a dummy though could never get him to take one! We did anything that worked and our lives and sleep revolved around getting him to sleep and keeping him that way. Honestly? It was exhausting, and miserable. I spent a lot of time crying and feared for my mental health. So after a few months of this we started looking for other ways. We tried “The Baby Whisperer” but didn’t manage with her techniques at all. If anything her pick up/put down technique just seemed to mean that Monkey screamed louder and for longer. Every child is different but at the time we blamed ourselves.
I remember people saying to me “maybe he just isn’t tired” or “maybe he doesn’t need the sleep” if I complained I couldn’t get him to sleep. But to me the answer to that was then why is he miserable? He was clearly tired. I had no problem with a child who was awake and happy to be, my frustration came from comforting a child who was miserable and clearly tired, but who refused to stay asleep!
Although we had initially discounted the possibility of “cry it out” techniques, we eventually got desperate and came across Dr Ferber’s progressive wait method. It seemed a little kinder than what I had thought of as “cry it out”so we decided to look into it more. I wanted to make sure we did it properly, if we were going to do it at all, so I bought his book “Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems“* from amazon and had a read. This book covers children of all ages with problems sleeping, with advice on anything from night terrors to sleep walking. The section we were interested in though is about younger children and helping them sleep better without being rocked, etc. There is far more information than I could hope to convey so if you are having problems, I strongly recommend that you have a read.