Friday, July 17, 2009

When Crying is Good

I have written a few times about trying to sleep and trying to get Braden to sleep. Click here for all my previous posts on the topic. Why do I keep coming back to this over discussed area of baby rearing time and again? Simply put, this has been the hardest part about becoming a new parent for me. Every time I think we have it whooped something new comes along.

I wrote long ago about the first time Braden fell asleep on his own. It turns out that was just an anomaly. It was certainly not the start of something great. We have still been rocking him to sleep every night. This is harder than it seems with him being a 22 lb monster child. He has already outgrown his mother's lap. I am constantly begging him to learn to walk in order to save our backs.

Last week Braden started a bad habit. We would work hard to get him to sleep every night. Sometimes it took longer than others. A few nights he never slept in his bed. On the nights that he did sleep it was not through the night. He woke up at 3:30 about four nights in a row. After this he refused to go back to sleep in his crib. Either Arica or myself would end up holding him the rest of the night. Since we are both adamant about keeping him out of our bed we would sleep the rest of the night on some piece of furniture in the living room.

In case you haven't tried it, this is no way to live your life. Working and parenting are hard enough with adequate sleep. Sleeping on the couch with a 22 lb weight on your chest is not relaxing. Cuddling with a baby is fun. Waking up on your couch covered in sweat while struggling to breathe is not fun. Seeing your son's smiling face in the crib each morning is fun. Seeing a red, teary eyed, screaming child in the crib at 3:30 am is not fun. Staying up past your bed time to sneak in the Cardinals game is fun. Staying up all night serenaded by crying is not fun. I think you get the point.

Arica and I knew what we had to do in order to stop this madness. We had to let Braden cry himself to sleep. We have done that a few times when we were at our wits end, but it is never any fun. Hearing your child scream is bad enough based solely on how bad you feel for them. It is extra difficult to sign off on the plan when you add the fact that it takes away from your own sleeping time. Wanting to avoid these issues we kept putting off our date with a night of crying.

Finally on Monday Arica and I decided that enough was enough. We were not getting up at 3:30 in the morning any more. Braden would have to cry himself to sleep. That night we put him to bed and he slept for about an hour. Then he woke up screaming. We left him in the crib despite all our parenting instincts to rescue him. After half an hour he was asleep. He slept all night. Since then every night has been silent. I have not been awakened by screaming one time. The last two nights we even put him to bed awake. It took less than five minutes for him to go to sleep on his own both nights.

I know that there are no guarantees that this will last, but it feels like a natural progression. It seems like something that might stick. Next we can start getting him to bed earlier. Maybe then we can dream of reclaiming some time for ourselves. Arica and I both love holding our son more than anything, but neither of us will cry about the absence of the nightly sleep deprived wrestling matches with our baby boy.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs


PJ Mullen said...

We had to do the same thing. My wife wasn't a fan of the whole 'crying it out' thing. I'll admit, neither was I. But you reach a point where you just can't go in there anymore. Other than obvious teething situations, if he starts crying in the middle of the night we've strategically placed the mobile music box just inside his bedroom door. He has't used the mobile in months, but the classic music soothes him and he goes back down after a few minutes. I also took to playing music on CDs throughout the night. Sucked to hear that over the monitor, but it kept him sleeping.

Baby News said...

I feel your pain. We had to do the same thing because Ethan was waking every 20 to 30 minutes for about 3 or 4 hours STRAIGHT at night. We were zombies. Finally, I fell asleep on the way to work and realized that risking my life due to sleep deprivation wasn't going to cut it. So we let him cry. It was hard and it took a few nights, but he got the hint. He still woke up to eat 1x a night until recently, but I was fine with that. And, now, when he can't sleep, I know it's because he's teething or something...which is easily remedied by a paci and teething tablets.

It probably won't guarantee sleepful nights forever because of all the things they go through, but it sounds like he's figured out how to soothe himself to sleep...a huge step to eliminating sleep deprivation!

Brandy said...

i still haven't done the whole crying thing. it breaks my heart and i know it's really to help them as much as you. but our little brat sleeps in our bed and we are so screwed.

BellaDaddy said...

I will never, ever forget those nights...and the daze...ever! Kudos to you both, for figuring out what works for you...Congrats are in order too LOL

seashore subjects said...

Letting babies cry themselves to sleep is very hard, but it sounds like it has helped. Hopefully you and Arica will be enjoying quieter evenings!

surprised mom said...

I remember letting the oldest cry herself to sleep like it was yesterday. She did not sleep through the night until she was eight months old. The bags under our eyes were down to our knees. Finally, one night, we let her cry herself to sleep. I was outside her door crying with her. I don't know how I did it, but it had to be done. It was hard and I hated it.
The youngest? Well after eight weeks she decided enough was enough and she slept through the night all on her own. God bless her. No trauma there.
Congrats and good luck!

Andrew's Daddies said...

It's hard and there are so many techniques out there. I'm glad you found something that works for you and your family.

Tom said...

Ferber, Ferber, Ferber.

We used this technique and it worked like a champ. forgive me if I'm repeating myself; I'm too lazy to go check my previous comments.

The idea is this: you do the bedtime routine, rocking, stories, then a kiss goodnight and tuck into bed and you turn out the light and leave.

Crying begins. Wait five minutes.
Come in to soothe, without touching, and say "it's okay, goodnight."


Crying begins. Wait ten minutes, come back in, say nothing but lay child back down.


Wait fifteen minutes this time.


The child isn't "crying himself to sleep" exactly, but at the same time, he's not making you responsible for his soothing.

We tried this on all of the kids, and it works. There are some hiccups now and again, but for the most part, it works. It gives your child the ability to soothe himself, which is VERY IMPORTANT later on in life.

Look for info on the Ferber Technique.

MileHighDad said...

You, my man need a vacation! I am going to the At Home Dad Convention in Oct and can't wait.

Gabriel said...

Nice work. We've just started doing it and were really lucky, he went to sleep with just a few whimpers, which he would never do if we were in there, fussing over him. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing

Scott said...

Good for you. I know some people aren't so fond of the method, but like some of the other commenters, it was the only way we were able to get some sleep.

Steely Dad said...

Brother, we've all been there and it sucks. For us, the crying-it-out strategy never worked for us. Both kids had incredible lungs and a persistence gene. Bad combo. We never minded, in fact we enjoyed, co-sleeping. That worked for my son but not my daughter. For her, we had to simply be in the room with her and she felt better. Both kids now sleep in their own, respective beds and they generally sleep through the night. I miss having them near me. If you think about it, it's only for a short time that it will be like that and then it's gone. I thought co-sleeping would wimp them out but it's had the exact opposite effect; both kids are very confident and independent.

Daddy Files said...

We did the exact same thing and it worked too. No co-sleeping for us, but we did have to let him cry it out a bit. It's heart-wrenching at first but it's the best thing for him. I wasn't about to do Ferber because I think all the going in, leaving, wait five minutes, going back in stuff makes it worse.

Now Will goes to bed around 8:30 and usually sleeps until 6:30 or 7.

Keep up the good work.

Smallprint said...


Sounds like a breakthrough. Love your comments about waking up sweaty attached to a sweaty baby! I thought it was a genetic trait of our family!

Congrats on the sleep!


Mike said...

Good for you guys to stick with it. After two kids you learn quickly that they won't die from the crying and that in the long run it's best for all concerned. Keep up the good work, sounds like you and your wife have the right ideas about raising your child...

Jason said...

I must be really mean because when our first was born I knew that we'd just have to let him cry it out. We were determined not to go in his room every time he cried out. Once he got into a feeding routine we knew when he was hungry. Otherwise we'd just let him cry. It didn't seem hard at all. Both of our boys were sleeping through the night by 1 month.