H has never been a good sleeper. When he was a newborn, we found out he had a milk and soy protein intolerance and reflux. He literally screamed 20 hours a day. Every time I had him at the doctor they told me that I was a new mother and “babies cry”. Yeah. Babies cry, but they aren’t supposed to scream like someone’s killing them 2o hours a day! It finally got so unbearable that I took him into the office and told them that I wasn’t leaving until they figured out what was wrong with him. Two hours later the crazy ped said to me, “How have you handled this for 3 weeks?! If this was my kid, I would’ve thrown him out the window by now.” But, I’m a new mom and babies cry. We left the office with Zantac, Prevacid, and Alimentum.
Although the reflux meds and formula DID help, he still didn’t sleep well at all. DH worked all.the.time. and even though his parents only lived 10 minutes from us, they were no help. I had to do what I could to sleep so I could function, so we coslept with him on my chest all night. It got us through, and we were all much happier with some sleep! However, I now know this was the beginning of what would be YEARS of terrible sleeping patterns for him.
When he was around a year old, we tried getting him to sleep in his own crib. I’m horribly ashamed to say that we did try to let him cry it out. In my gut, I knew I wasn’t ok with it, but I was doing what everyone told me to do. Around that same time I found Diaper Swappers, and confirmed my belief that it WAS ok for him to sleep with us, contrary to everyone telling us that we were ruining him. And so, much to my family’s dismay, he continued to sleep with us until this summer. DH and I always laughed when people asked when the kids slept through the night. I always chuckled and said, “well…H is 6 now…”
We have a king size bed, and then DD’s toddler bed is on risers, sandwiched between our bed and the wall so it wasn’t really that we ran out of room, it just got to be too much. DS is a toucher. He always has to be up against DH or I, and he rubs my arm fat when he’s tired and in his sleep. I try to be the best mommy I can, but I HATE being touched. It absolutely drives me out of my mind for him to be doing it all night, so it was just wearing me out.
DH and I decided that we would push the idea that since he was turning 6 and going to kindergarten, that he was a big boy and needed to sleep in his own bed. Previously DH had been laying down with him until he fell asleep and then leaving. He’d only sleep in his bed for a few hours at the maximum and then crawl into bed with us. The new plan was that one of us would sit in the rocking chair or on the floor until he fell asleep instead of laying down with him. Also, we told him if he woke up and came in our room he would have to sleep in his sleeping bag on the floor, hoping that it would discourage him from coming into our room. He promptly informed us a few nights later that his sleeping bag was “soooo comfy and warm!” and that he loved sleeping in it. Plan backfired. We literally tried everything in the next few weeks; reading a few books, tucking him in, playing music until he fell asleep, playing music all night, letting him choose all his stuffed animals to sleep with, letting the dog sleep with him, bribing him that if he slept in his bed all night that we’d buy him whatever toy he wanted, and the list goes on and on. I even called his ped, who confirmed we were doing everything right, and we’d just have to be consistent.
Finally, we put the proverbial foot down, and laid down the proverbial law. He had bad behavior one day, and lost his sleeping bag privilege. Right or wrong, judge me if you must, it worked. He woke up once to go to the bathroom, and came into our room. DH walked him back to his bed and tucked him in, with promises of checking on him in a few minutes. When he returned 10 minutes later, H was sound asleep! The next day, he got his choice of a toy, and I broke down and spent the $30 on a Dream Lite. Best.$30.ever.spent. My thought was that if he had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, he could turn the Dream Lite on before he left the room, so it wouldn’t be dark when he came back and he wouldn’t be afraid. It worked!
I am SUCH a proud mama to say that he is now sleeping all night in his own room with no tears! I can honestly say that I never thought I’d see the day, er, night, that he’d sleep by himself without a fight. I’m not sure if it was the patience, persistence, or the $30 Dream Lite but some combination of the three was the winner! So, if you’re having sleep troubles with your little one, just know you’re not alone. Patience, persistence, and $30 might be the key!