Transitioning away from sleeping in a carrier

 

asleep in a woven wrap
asleep in a woven wrap

 

Since he was born Jack has been falling asleep for naps and bedtime in a baby carrier probably 90% of the time. I did it because it was easier to get him to sleep and stay asleep, and I enjoyed walking around with him because I could look at my kindle to pass the time or talk on the phone.

At 15 months, my husband had been wanting to transition him to falling asleep in bed, so my mom was visiting for a week and agreed to help me. I had tried several months ago but it took Jack hours to sleep and was too stressful for me to stick with it. This time though, I think he was developmentally ready and it was so much easier!

Our plan was to do our night time routine (book, diaper change, nurse in bed), play a lullaby on repeat in our room (he sleeps with us in a sidecared crib), keep the room dark, and not let him off the bed. If he cried I would hug him or breastfeed him but not let him leave the bed or carry him. I think this method is similar to the “crying in arms” technique. There is no way I would feel comfortable leaving my baby alone to cry, and even a few months ago I felt really upset about not picking him up if that’s what he wanted.

The first night we let him get really tired and put him to bed at 10pm. He was overtired and cried for a few minutes and then nursed. He alternated crying, nursing, and crawling around in the crib for about 45 minutes before he fell asleep. It was way better than the last time I tried which involved 2 hours of lots of crying (all with me hugging him). The next day we did bed time at 9 and it took about 30 minutes with just a little crying, and the days after that have been just a little crying and then nursing for 20-30 minutes. I’m glad Jack can go to bed without needing to be walked around now, and especially that it felt like he was ready for the change. The next step will be trying to get him to wake up less at night to nurse, but I’m worried that will be really hard!

Update at 15 months

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Jack is 15 months old now, and just within the past week started walking all the time. It’s really mind-boggling and amazing to watch a baby learn a whole new skill like that. It took several weeks of him walking a step here and there before it just seemed to click one day. It was probably the how to walk DVDs we play him… just kidding!

For several weeks now Jack has been switching off and on between mostly 2 naps a day but sometimes just 1. He’s always tired for his morning nap 2-3 hours after waking up, but sometimes he just doesn’t fall asleep for the afternoon one. Then we have a tricky situation where he gets exhausted by an early time like 5pm and I don’t know whether to let him sleep or not. The other day he took a 10 minute nap after breastfeeding at 5, but then stayed awake until 9pm! So I think from now on I’ll try to keep any really late naps to 5 minutes and see how it goes.

Today for example Jack woke up at 7am and napped from 10-11:30. I tried to get him to nap again between 2:45-3:15 and he wouldn’t fall asleep while I walked him around in the carrier, so we skipped the afternoon nap. I took him to the park at 5 to keep him busy and now he’s passed out after breastfeeding at 6:30. Hopefully he’ll stay asleep all night!

Jack’s also been crying more lately and putting his fingers in his mouth so I think he’s getting a canine tooth. We always have a hard time deciding about giving tylenol (all the chemicals and possible side effects vs. don’t want our child to be in pain or never sleep) so I’ve been trying to limit it to once a night. The ingredients list is frightening though- I don’t know why medicine for children needs artificial colors and flavors…

Jack has also started (finally!) eating some more solids, but still not a lot compared to other kids. The things he likes are either puff type textures like cheerio-type things or these baked pea snacks, or mushy stuff in a spoon like egg salad and refried beans. I need to think of some more things to offer him though, maybe that will help him sleep more…

Bedtime routine update

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I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve stuck with the bedtime routine since late December, so about a month now! Every night I read a book or two to Jack (while he tries to eat it or climb off the couch), put on his night time diaper and pants, and rub some coconut oil on him as well as some oil with lavender essential oil. Then I breastfeed if he seems hungry, and lastly walk around with him in the carrier until he falls asleep.

The routine definitely hasn’t hurt, but it hasn’t made bedtime magically super easy either. I try to start between 7 and 7:30, but he’s often not asleep in bed until 8:30. I don’t mind walking him around all that much because I look at my kindle while I walk and think of it as extra exercise, but I sometimes get frustrated if I keep walking and then take him out to feed him and then walk again and breastfeed again… But I’m sure as he gets older it will get easier. I keep hearing around 2 years old things get a lot easier with sleep.

Having the crib sidecared to our bed has been working great. I know my husband wants him to be in his own room, but I love the baby snuggles, being able to make sure he’s breathing whenever I want, and mostly not having to get up from bed to nurse! My friends who did cry it out still feed their babies once or twice a night, and the idea of walking to another room at night and back seems pretty horrible to me.

So while things are far from easy, I’m so glad I never let Jack cry all alone and I’ve taught him that I’m always there for him during the day or at night :) I want him to feel like he is loved all the time, and I’m sure when I’m old I won’t regret losing a few hours of sleep in order to have a great trusting relationship with my child and have gotten hours of extra snuggles at night.

New years and new bedtime routine

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Happy new years from me and Jack! I am not doing anything and hope to be asleep by midnight… oh life with a baby.

Poor Jack is getting 3 molars now, so his sleep has been majorly messed up. Over the last few weeks either he wouldn’t fall asleep until 9 or 10, or would wake up in the middle of the night for an hour or two.

I decided to try a bedtime routine (since I’m not letting him cry so there aren’t a lot of other options). I tried halfheartedly before but felt that when he was younger he didn’t really notice so I got lazy.

Here’s our new routine: (has worked pretty well for 2 days now)

-Read book(s)

-Change into night-time diaper (pocket diaper with extra stuffing)

-Put coconut oil on, and use some oil that has lavender essential oil (lavender may help sleep, or the scent could become an association with bedtime at least)

-Get in the tula carrier and get walked around with dim lights while mom sings

hopefully it helps!

Sleep update at 10 months

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We have been doing some form of co-sleeping with Jack since he was born, and using the “wait it out” alternative to “cry it out.”  At first we side-cared the crib to the bed, but he ended up always sleeping glued next to me and not in the crib. Eventually when he was a few months old we took off the crib and he slept between my husband and I. At that point we kept the crib in the bedroom as a playpen type area. Recently, now that he’s crawling we put the crib back as a sidecar (with the toddler rail up) so that it’s harder for Jack to crawl off the bed at night.

This has been working pretty well. I slide him over into the crib after he breastfeeds most of the time, and sometimes he sleeps next to me if I’m worried he’ll wake up if he’s moved. He has more space that way and doesn’t end up sideways and kicking someone in the face. I think it also might make him gradually eat a little less at night because it’s less easy to just breastfeed while I’m half asleep, but we’ll see.

When he was a few months old Jack was sleeping about a 5 hour stretch early in the night, but for the last several months he has been waking up every 2 to 3 hours (sometimes more). He often wakes up every hour towards morning. At least he sleeps from about 7pm to 7am and really easily falls back asleep after he eats unless he’s teething. I generally don’t feel that exhausted unless he’s teething and I need to walk around with him at night. That’s one reason I really didn’t want him in the crib with the sides up- I feel like if I have to get out of bed at all it wakes me up more and I really feel it the next day.

At this point I’m not trying to change his sleep since he keeps getting new teeth every week to every few weeks. We tried to stop using the carrier to put him to sleep, but that resulted in bedtime taking hours of lying there with him and then when he started teething I gave up and used the carrier so I wouldn’t go crazy, so all that stress was for no reason.

Maybe after he gets his molars and we have a break from teething for a while we’ll try to set up a better nighttime routine and gradually decrease the eating at night by cuddling him to sleep instead.  Facebook has been a great source of support with wait it out groups, since most people I know use cry it out. I’m really glad to have those groups and also that all our parents never did cry it out so that we have places to talk that are understanding.