Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sleep happens ... eventually

No subject is more controversial in mommy world than how you get your child to go to sleep, I'm finding. There are the cry-it-out, bedtime routine nazi sleep trainers, and then there's ... uh, well, I don't know. This method is so ingrained in mommy world that no one will openly admit to doing anything else.

Whether you're baby is sleeping through the night is almost a measure of your parenting skills. Years ago, someone told me to put away the measuring stick. When I try to achieve "the norm," it causes stress. Achieving some arbitrary number of consecutive sleep hours for our son seems ridiculous to me. I took stock ... my son is getting enough sleep, I'm getting enough sleep and enough done around the house and my husband doesn't mind that Danny hangs out with us late into the evening. Of course, as he gets older, all of this is subject to change.

But if mommy world knew how sleep happened in my house these days, they'd be horrified.

Tonight, I put Danny in bed around 8 p.m. after his bath and massage. I went down to get dinner on the table. Halfway through our meal, he started shrieking. Jim went up to get him after a few minutes. He stopped crying immediately and was pleasant the rest of the evening. We put him on his play mat in the darkened family room. He just hung out, talking and playing. He started getting a little fussy around 10 p.m.

The "experts" suggest soft, soothing music or relaxing sounds for baby's sleep routine. Our son settles himself down and drifts off to sleep when we put on the Electronica music channel. Right now, he's asleep on his play mat with two fingers in his mouth and the Electronica channel blaring. I'm actually starting to like the music.

I can probably get him up into his crib in the next half hour. He'll sleep until about 12:30 or 1:00, which is when I get home from work and when I go to sleep when I'm not working. He nurses around 1:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. At 4:30 a.m., I get him from his crib and put him in bed with us just before Jim gets up to go to work. This allows Jim and I to sleep without baby, me to get enough sleep and Danny to get what he needs at night.

Danny's already mastered the art of falling asleep without having to be rocked or nursed to sleep. If he can put himself to sleep when he's tired, he'll have good sleep habits for the rest of his life. The most important lesson for him to learn is to trust and respond appropriately to the signals his body is giving him -- sleep when you're tired, eat when you're hungry, seek companionsip when you're lonely being the most basic and probably the most crucial for health and happiness.

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