Infant sleep is hot topic among parents of babies and was one of my biggest stresses and concerns when our first was born. The biggest question I got, as a new mom, was how my baby was sleeping and whether he was sleeping through the night.
I was worried that if we did not handle his sleeping routines the “right” way from the beginning, we would be dealing with a monster later.
The monster became the infant sleep theories, both scientific theories and theories passed to us from well meaning family and friends. Combine that with wanting what was best for our baby and there was a lot of worry and stress.
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I’m sharing our experience with infant sleep and infant sleep theories to let you know:
- That you are not alone.
- That there is no one “right” or “perfect” way to approach to infant sleep. Every child and every family is different.
- That you can do everything the “right” way and you still may have a child that has difficulty falling asleep.
You have likely heard of the crying it out method. We did the it twice with our firstborn. I sat outside his door and cried while he cried for 90 minutes the first time and even called my mom crying.
The next time we let him cry it out, we found him with spit up all over him and his bedding.
After these cry it out phases, he did good for awhile and then he would get a new tooth (or several new ones) or we would travel and we would be back where we started.
We removed his crib from his room at 15 months and bought him a toddler bed. This lasted for a very short time before we set up a futon in his room that was very low to the ground. This gave us the ability to lay down with him at night while he fell asleep. This was actually a time we enjoyed. We both worked outside the home at that time and enjoyed this special cuddle time we got with him at night. This worked so well, because he was the only child we had at that time.
Fast forward a few years and he is our best sleeper and falls asleep within a few minutes of going to bed at night.
When we had the next one, we said we were going to do it “right” from the beginning. We put him in his crib to sleep many nights and let him put himself to sleep. We thought it was so cute how he played in his crib before eventually falling asleep. He used the crib the most out of all our children. We fussed at him the first time he climbed out and bought ourselves a couple more months before he did it again.
Fast forward a few years with him and many nights it takes him forever to settle himself and fall asleep. He bounces around, sings, recites whatever he is learning at that moment, and destroys is bed.
By the time the third child came, we had given up on all the sleep theories and did what worked for us. There’s nothing significant to share here, because we did what worked for us and her and that has varied slightly. She likely was put in her crib to cry for a short period of time, but we never repeated the 90 minute cry it out method. She still sleeps some in her room and some with us. She often ends up in our bed at some point in the night.
This is not to discount how important the early months and years are to a child’s development. It’s less about how and where they sleep and more about them getting enough sleep and nurturance.
Once we let go of pleasing others and doing it the “right” way, bedtime became a much better experience.
*Our kids are 9, 6, and 4 at the time of writing.