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The Lion Sleeps Tonight…

June 20, 2009

Our biggest challenge with Nolan has always been sleep.

Things started out alright when he was a baby. All we had to do was plop him in his Ambi-baby sleep hammock, and he’d pass out, waking up occasionally, as babies do, but otherwise sleeping soundly.

Then he outgrew the hammock.

We tried the crib, but the challenges of getting him to fall asleep – turning on his little fish aquarium thing, and gently “jackhammering” the mattress to lull him to dreamland – left us exhausted. And all too soon, it stopped working. Then, out of the blue, he began to hate his crib. He would scream, and scream, and scream.

Jamie, of course, read everything she could get her hands on regarding babies and sleep. We tried putting a mattress on the floor, so we could lay with him as he went down, give him comfort and all that.

It worked, kind of. But there was a catch…he couldn’t fall asleep without us there, and the moment he woke up and realized we were gone, he’d be up and searching for us in a panic. That, and, especially at night, we (okay, I) had a tendency of falling asleep with him. Never good for getting to all the housework. And, invariably, he’d wake up around 11-something. Being too lazy and too tired to go through the whole exercise again, we would just let him sleep in the bed with us.

Then, this past week, something snapped.

The sleep issue sort of came to a head, and we decided that nothing else was working, and it was time to try the “cry it out” method, but with a twist. Compromising between sitting with Nolan on his mattress and flat-out locking him in his room to scream his little head off, we’ve opted to sit in his room with him. We’re there, but not on the mattress. He didn’t take too well to this at first, and basically stood at the very edge of his mattress (he learned very quickly to stay on said mattress) and screamed for an hour, hour and a half. But he finally passed out.

Over the past few days, it’s gotten easier. He doesn’t cry as long. And at night, he stays asleep longer. Last night Jamie and I were both kind of shocked when he stayed asleep until about 5 AM.

Napping Nolan

Hopefully he’ll begin falling asleep even faster in the days ahead. Once he does, our plan is to start sitting in the doorway, then just outside the doorway, until we can sit him down, tell him goodnight, and leave him to fall asleep on his own.

Four days ago, that seemed an impossible dream. Now, it still seems like something from the distant future…but it does seem possible.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kay permalink
    June 20, 2009 10:26 am

    Does that mean you’ll eventually try to get him in the crib?

  2. Natanya Anderson permalink
    June 20, 2009 10:31 am

    Teaching your little one to sleep on their own, and to go back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night, is one of the most painful and difficult thing I think any parent goes through. I promise you’ll reap the rewards later so keep working through it. You have a systematic approach and you’ll eventually get him to sleep in his own room without you.

  3. Matt permalink*
    June 20, 2009 6:25 pm

    I think we’re probably past trying to get him in the crib, but it can be converted to a toddler bed (I’m not even really sure what that is…guess I’ll find out) and we’re going to do that. Hopefully it’ll make a nice compromise between the wide-open mattress and Nolan’s personal Alcatraz.

  4. June 23, 2009 6:07 am

    It is tough and really pulls at your heart strings – but so well worth it in the long run, both for you guys and for Nolan. Stay strong – you are doing the right thing. Nolan won’t hate you for it, if anything, after he gets used to it – you will all benefit from the sleep.

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