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Teaching a Baby to Sleep

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Baby_Sleeping

I love sleep. I love everything about it. I love going to bed early on the weekends with cool sheets, clean jammies, and a mountain of pillows behind my head. I love waking up early and staying in bed to read until a disgraceful amount of time has passed and the dog is whining to be let outside.

And don’t even get me started on naps! I got mono during my junior year of college, and secretly I didn’t mind because I got to nap often and without guilt. I love to sleep.

When you have a baby, sleep suddenly becomes a major talking point. Sleep, diapers and paying for college. These are the trifecta of topics that strangers will bring up with you once the child is born. Also, pacifier use. But everyone loves to talk about sleep, specifically, how little sleep you may or may not be getting.

I was one of the lucky ones. “Hi baby,” strangers would coo at my darling ball of a boy. “Are you letting your mommy sleep?”
“Actually yes! He’s been sleeping through the night since he was six weeks old.” I would smile and then continue on with false modesty. “He really taught himself how to do it. I can’t take any credit for it.”

But, do you want to know the truth? In my heart of hearts, I totally took credit for it! My boy, Cruz, was a great sleeper because I was a great mom. Right?

Then he turned four months old, and suddenly my Sleep Prince was a Sleep Bandit.

I was a lost ship, set adrift in a sea of wakefusdfjsfj g

Sorry. That was my head hitting the keyboard as I fell asleep writing this.

Days without sleeping through the night turned into weeks turned into months. And I found myself with two options:

  • Option 1: Try to teach another human how to sleep.
  • Option 2: Hire a nice college student to pull all of her all-nighters in my son’s room.

I have never found a problem that can’t be solved by a trip to the library, and no tiny baby was going to prove me wrong. I armed myself with a stack of books, spent the a week speed-reading them, and came to the definitive conclusion that these “experts” were full of seemingly obvious advice. I read the books because I had trouble convincing my son to sleep through the night. I’m fairly certain that if “shushing” him from across the room were going to do the trick, it would have already happened. Standing next to the crib “shushing” a fussy baby at 3am seems to be as effective as that “focus picture” I was supposed to use to take my mind off the pain during labor.
[Insert hilarious and knowing laughter]

There were two great results of sleep training. The first is that it actually seemed to work. Cruz slept longer, and with less and less intervention. The second was that I got to do a big dramatic wake-up routine when it was actually time to get out of the crib. As soon as I heard those happy babbles over the monitor (after 6:30am!), I crept into his nursery, struck a pose, and jazz hands-ed the heck out of our good morning cheer. “You did it! It’s time to wake up! It’s time to play! Yay!”

It still seems strange that I needed to teach someone how to do such a basic thing. In the end, happy baby and happy mama are what matter most. No matter how much shushing or snuggling it takes to get us there.

September 5, 2014

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