Saturday, January 14, 2006

Evening Update

Well, six nights into our bedtime experiment, it appears we can
declare it a success. Jada has fallen asleep on her own each night
(something she never did before) and slept all the way through the
night (something she was already in the habit of doing almost every
night).

It hasn't been easy. After dinner, she's pretty much tired and cranky
from a long day of physical exertion and cognitive stimulation. Odds
are on a given evening that her wobbliness will lead to a spill, which
causes more fussiness. And it can be hard at times to leave your baby
in the crib, kiss her goodnight, and then listen to her cry for
anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes until she falls asleep.

But fall asleep – all alone in her crib, without our help – is exactly
what she has done eventually. Six nights in a row. The pediatrician
said this pattern will be particularly good to have been established
once she gets to around 1 ½ or 2 and she starts having nightmares.
She might still scamper into our bedroom for security, but at least
she'll have some category for getting herself back to sleep on her
own.

Best of all for us is that we don't have to stress as much about her
bedtime routine being just right. Before, the only way we got her to
fall asleep was to feed her a bottle while we rocked her to sleep.
And there were so many variables that could throw this delicate
routine off: bottle too soon, bottle too late, too much feeding, not
enough feeding, too cold, too hot, gas, etc.

Most frustrating was doing everything "right" and then having her have
trouble getting from being asleep in our arms to being asleep in the
crib: as we would ease her out of our arms and into the crib, she'd
wake up and fuss. All the more important, then, for her to learn how
to go from being awake to being asleep by herself, in the crib,
without Mommy or Daddy. No matter how long she had to cry to get
there.

Again, 15 to 45 minutes of crying is fine with us. We still get the
preciousness of reading her bedtime stories, and of feeding her one
last bottle before bed. We do miss her falling asleep in our arms,
since now we lay her in the crib before she gets there. I guess we
still have the naps.

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