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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Sleep or Not to Sleep.. that is the question?

This one is prompted by a post about a sleepless night by Forever Mother :). Like I mentioned in a comment there, I realized I had too much to say about it so thought might as well make a post of it ;).

Enter May 31st 2005: After hours of futile labour pains and finally a c-section my darling baby comes into this world. From the moment she is born, she is the loudest baby in the entire hospital. I was expecting people to come to our room to enquire what we were doing to torture this little bundle to make her scream like that ;).
In a few days, we are back at home, and I am faced with the reality of a baby who NEEDS to sleep but doesn't WANT to or doesn't know HOW to!

Somewhere in early 2006: Finally after a lot of trial and error and sleepless or sleep interrupted nights, I have figured out a way to rock/sing/comfort her to sleep and to my wonder at about 7-8 months she starts sleeping through the night !! By now I have also perfected a mechanism of making her sleep on my outstretched legs (her feet facing my stomach, head on a pillow on my knees) by which I can seamlessly put her down after she's slept without waking her up.

May-June 2006: D is a little more than a year old. Suddenly one day she comes down from her usual position on the pillow on my legs and says she wants to sleep near me (of course there was no actual saying involved, but we understood each other :)! ). She instead compromised by lying down on my arm so I have to actually lie down with her to put her to sleep. Enter many nights when I dozed off at 9 :), but finally this was also perfected with lifting her head off my hand and onto the pillow after she was fast asleep. This phase continued for a long time.

All through 07,08,09: D graduated from not needing to sleep on my hand anymore to just wanting me to sit near her and hold her hand --- to finally being such a trooper and going to sleep all on her own since the time she was about 4 years old!! She still needed the comfort of knowing that amma was going to join her later and so we were nowhere closer to her sleeping on her own bed. But around this time, like Forever Mother mentioned in the above mentioned post, whoever slept with her used to have really disturbed nights because of her arms and legs and knees being on our face and other soft parts through most of the night :(.
Two big deterrents to our trying to make her sleep on her own were
  • She moved around so much when she slept I was really worried she would fall off the single bed.
  • Somewhere along the way probably because of something we said, she started thinking of sleeping on her own as a sort of "punishment" so started being afraid of it!
First we set about tackling point 2. Started telling her "big girl" stories, and how only big girls could sleep on their own beds. There was a Barbie book about a little girl starting to sleep on her own bed with a big teddy bear(thanks Deepa for that gift - you couldn't have known what a difference that made in our lives!!) and  the bear to sleep with was the ice-breaker on this one :). Also picking out bedsheets with her favourite characters !!
For point 1, we first tried out with her sleeping on a double bed on her own.

May-June 2010: D is about 5 years old, and the double bed experiment went off fine. So we finally ordered her a bed !! She was also quite excited about it by then, and the transition went pretty smoothly. She picks out which stuffed toy she wants to sleep with each night, and reassures herself by asking me if she's tired enough to go to sleep immediately and then she's all set! I keep a couple of pillows on either side, and weirdly (and thankfully) enough, while i find the pillows on the floor, and her feet off the bed when I check on her in the morning, she has never fallen off :).
Couple of points here:
  • If she has had an afternoon nap, she'll take a much longer time to go to sleep and gets fidgety if she's lying on the bed for ages. So we usually avoid naps, or delay bedtime accordingly. 
  • Also anyday she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to join amma or appa on the big bed, she is welcome to do so - this is a big comfort factor for her and has helped the process a lot :). Though she hardly does so anymore, just the fact that she's allowed to do it is such a big deal for her!
Love you so much my dear baby girl - you have moved through all the phases so easily and smoothly that I cannot believe that my "loudest in the hospital" infant is now this independent darling child :).


  1. a cooperative child + a mom who has put in a lot of thought and effort into the whole process seem to have worked beautifully!! i'm going to take some tips from this post for my 5 yo!! thanks for sharing, aparna :)

  2. You're welcome Aparna :)
    And thanks so much for reading! Was just thinking today that my blog posts seem to be getting longer and longer ;). Nice to hear if it's a teensy weensy bit of help!

  3. Nice...You haev captured the transition so well. Its good to know that the phase of nedding parents in the night, holding finger just one more night and asking in the middle of night is a "phase"! Fingers crossed.. and hugs to the little girl who is not that little anymore!

  4. Thanks a lot Garima :) I have to pinch myself sometimes to convince myself it is the same child ;). Will pass on the hugs for sure!