Your comments on sleep regressions

You guys are smart, and very, very kind. I’m going to pull some of the comments and we can talk about them some more.

First, though, let me list the posts about sleep that people seem to think are helpful:
Quick and Dirty on Sleep
11-week-old and self-soothing (about using "props" and teaching your kid to soothe himself)
What are sleep regressions anyway?

If you don’t have time to go in and read, the developmental leaps (according to The Wonder Weeks) are at 5, 8, 11, 19, 26, 37, 46, and 55 weeks. (Remember to add or subtract weeks if your child didn’t gestate for 40 weeks.) It seems like the ones at 19 (4 months) and 37 weeks (8-9 months) are the worst, followed by the 26 (6 month) and 12 week ones.

Also, if you care, here’s the big post I wrote on CIO. I was a dedicated anti-CIOer (and still hate the idea of setting out to break your kid by letting them scream for as long as it takes). But after having my second child I came up with this theory that there are kids who release tension by crying (so they need to fuss or cry for a few minutes in order to release enough tension to fall asleep) and kids who gain tension by crying (so if you let them cry for more than a few seconds you’re screwed because then it takes forever to calm them down again). If you know which kind of kid you have (or how they are for nighttime sleep vs. naps, for example), your path with regards to crying vs. soothing becomes a little more clear.

J said: "That’s the problem with expectations. They always let you down." This made me laugh, because it’s so true about baby and toddler sleep. And Valentine’s Day.

Davida said: "But I do know that YOU are the one there with your daughter, not any of
the experts, and so they mustn’t be allowed to make you feel guilty." Seriously. And that’s my big beef with this culture of expert-worship. Everything’s great as long as your kid conforms to their set pattern, but if not, you feel like it’s your fault. Yes, there are some things that you might be doing that could hurt your kid’s sleep (like mainlining those caffeine or ginseng/guarana energy drinks, or not having a regular routine of some sort), but if you’ve got a decent structure and set the stage for sleep, it’s not your fault.

Shandra said: "I personally decided that I wouldn’t do anything at night that I wouldn’t do during the day." I did, too. It’s extremely hard, sometimes, although easier now that I’ve relaxed my daytime standards. (Ha! I’m my own best audience.) Anyway, it was important to me, and once I identified that as one of my core values (congruence in actions) I was able to release some of the anger at the nighttime egregiousness.

Marsha said: "our babies are not enjoying whatever sleep disruptions, tantrums, or
whatever else is making us parents want to pull our hair out in
frustration/fatigue either." Yeah. It’s so hard not to get all adversarial in the middle ofthe night, but you and your child really have a common enemy, which is baby insomnia. You and your baby can work together (OK, so you do most of the work) and you’ll stay in a better frame of mind than if you sink into that tempting-but-empty mindset of battling with your child.

Charisse said: "There are various things you can try, but no one of them is necessarily
right for you, and sometimes the idea that you "should be doing
something about this" is worse than just getting through it." Dude. Yes. Which is why I spend half my time here saying, "There’s probably nothing you can do about this now, so just try to split things up so neither you nor your partner are taking the full hit." And one day, yes, one day you will be annoyed because your child forgot to brush his teeth when he put himself to bed, and woke up at 7 instead of 7:30 in the morning.

Laury said: "It seemed to make a huge difference smiling (I know this sounds hypocritical) and telling him, knowing that he could do it." I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. Think about it–if you were supposed to be doing something you weren’t sure you could do and were a little scared of all by yourself, wouldn’t you feel much better about it (and maybe even be able to do it) if the person you most loved gave you a smile and encouraged you before leaving you to do the task? Contrast that with having her scowl and tell you to "Just do it!" and leaving angry. The pleasant way sets a person up for success.

What other sleep wisdom do you guys have? I don’t really mean techniques (because those are a dime a dozen and won’t work for everyone anyway), but ideas and concepts and attitudes that have helped you get through the long nights.

(Mollyball, if you’ve checked all the physical stuff–like silent reflux, etc.–I’d try either the Calms Forte 4 Kids homeopathic pellets, or finding a pediatric chiropractor or cranio-sacral practitioner.)

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