My son did not sleep for more than 4 hours at a time until he was 10 months old.
Why? Because I co-slept, rocked him to sleep and breastfed him.
I did try to put him in his crib at 7 months but the truth was, I couldn’t hear him cry. He is my first baby and I’m so insanely dedicated to him being happy all the time. I just could not bear it. Aside of being painfully exhausted, here’s when I knew it had to change.
While I was talking to the pediatrician at Richie’s 10-month well visit to the doctor, he kept throwing his pacifier on the ground to get my attention. The doctor noticed it. A little while later the conversation of sleep came up. The doctor asked me how he was doing and my answer was, “Well, he doesn’t sleep much because he is teething so when he wakes up crying, I just bring him into bed with me.” The doctor looked at me and said, “Teething isn’t going to wake them in the middle of the night. He isn’t sleeping through the night because he is playing you. He knows you will come in and get him. I see what he was doing here a few minutes ago, throwing the pacifier to get your attention. He is very smart. He can and should be sleeping through the night at this point. You need to let him cry it out.”
I was annoyed. Why is he telling me to do this? How can I let him cry? My mother had told me to do the same thing. Why was everyone telling me this? It seemed totally inhumane but the more I evaluated the situation and thought about it; the more I realized that the doctor was right. I would rock Richie to sleep when he woke up in the middle of the night and if that didn’t work I’d just quit and bring him to bed with me. I was doing all the wrong things. But I still couldn’t understand how in the world I could let him cry it out.
So, I called my Mom and she said that being a mother isn’t just about the sweet, loving and easy moments but also about the hard, challenging and tough ones. Which was exactly what this was. It was going to be harder for me than it was for him. It was my job to do this even though I didn’t like it.
I had to understand that Richie was very aware of what was going on. He was crying because he knew I would come in to get him, not because something was wrong. He was fed, his diaper was dry and he was healthy. He was crying because he was mad that I was leaving him in the crib to go back to sleep on his own. It was important that he learn to put himself back to sleep and although hearing him cry was SO super hard for me, I had to realize that part of my job as a mother is to be uncomfortable sometimes and to teach him to do things on his own so he can be independent in ways that are important. Like, SLEEP. We all wake up throughout the night but we learn how to put ourselves back and that’s exactly what he needed to learn. By letting him cry, I was teaching him that he needed to learn to self soothe. It was the HARDEST thing in the world to hear my baby cry but I also knew he was physically and emotionally ready for it. It wasn’t something I could have done at just four months.
I started with his nap and on the first day, he cried for three hours straight. I cried with him – kid you not. As I watched him on the monitor, my heart broke, I felt terrible but I knew he was exhausted. He was going to do this! I couldn’t give up! He stood up in crib, cried, sat down, stopped crying, cried again and did this over and over until he eventually feel asleep on his own. That night, he cried for an hour and each day, it got easier and easier. It took a solid week for him to just lay in the crib quietly until he fell asleep alone. And guess what? He now sleeps 12 hours straight. We do our nightly routine, lay him in the crib and he falls asleep on his own.
The hardest thing I had to do ended being the best thing because my husband and I have the bed to our selves, have time to spend with one another before we get real rest – finally.
natalie ferro aurigema
Sharing all the things that make me happy through this blog.
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