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News + Baby Post-Vacation Sleep Help?

One of my pet peeves is when people say how much cuter little girl clothes are than little boy clothes.  Having a (rather adorable) little guy obviously sways my opinion a bit, but I think little boy clothes are every bit as adorable as little girl clothes.  I mean, seersucker and bow ties and tiny vests?  I die.

Still, I can't deny that items like this are pretty dang cute:



And it's a good thing I think so because it turns out we're having a baby GIRL!  I'm still a little in shock; I can't quite believe it.  I think Dan and I both assumed we'd have another boy, but we're couldn't be more excited for her.  I can't wait to see those two little ones teaching and loving one another.  Yay!

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On another subject, I need help.  I also posted this on our personal blog, but I'm desperate, so I'm posting it again here (I know 3 days doesn't really qualify as desperate, but whatever).  Since we returned from our trip late Monday night, Nat's sleep has been, frankly, miserable.  Well, it's not even really the sleep.  It's the refusal to be by himself.

You see, we were spoiled.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that he was sleeping 8 hours at night by a month old, and 12+ by 2 months.  Ever since dropping his morning nap around 13 months, he's slept, with just a couple of little hiccups, 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day.  For his naps, I would turn on his sound machine, hold him for a minute or two while singing one song, and put him down in his crib completely awake.  He'd drift off to sleep all on his own.  In the rare instance when he really wasn't tired (or after he awoke from his nap), he'd play happily in his crib, chatting or singing to himself.  In addition to this, he'd regularly play for upwards of an hour by himself, just reading books or playing with toys or doing whatever.

I fully acknowledge that we got totally lucky and that this was through NO amazing parenting feat.  I'm even more convinced of that now, because all of that has gone down the tubes the last few days.  Now, when we're with him, he's still perfectly happy and giggly and playful, but insists on being held for much of the time.  He falls asleep fine when we're with him, but wakes up when we leave the room, or freaks out and screams bloody murder if we leave him awake in his crib.  I put him down about 45 minutes ago (when he was clearly really tired) and he's been crying since (I went in once for about a minute to comfort him and explain that I would be in the living room and he could come out after he'd had his nap).

I'm fairly certain this has to do with some sort of post-vacation separation anxiety.  He was with both of us pretty much 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks, and slept in the same room as us.  If he woke up at night, we would immediately pick him up and bring him to bed with us for fear of waking up any hosts or neighbors.  And now, he's clearly used to that and is terrified of being by himself in his room.

So, HELP!  All you experienced moms, please tell me what to do!  Do I just let him cry for forever and hope he figures it out?  Do I rock him to sleep for a few more days to let him adjust?  Do I just pray like crazy that he remembers his good sleeping habits (I think that one's a definite)?


5 comments

  1. Congratulations on the little girl! That pink dress is about the cutest thing I've ever seen . . . I am really hoping for a girl next time!

    This might make me sound cold and mean, but I'm a huge believer in letting kids fall asleep on their own (even if that means crying themselves to sleep). We were not blessed with a good sleeper like you, but we did the whole 'cry it out' method at 4 months (I was POSITIVE it wouldn't work), and he's been an amazing champion sleeper ever since. Some kids (like yours!) learn how to sleep on their own, but some (mine!) needed a little push to figure out how to soothe themselves and get to/stay asleep. But whenever we do hit a hiccup (skipped naps, vacations, moving, etc.), we just go ahead and let him cry it out again. So far, he's had a few bumps in the road that took only a day or two for him to figure out and get back into his normal routine. Some moms are really against that and will try to make me feel guilty about it, but I'm a firm believer that a few days of tears are a necessary evil to help them learn the independence and skills to sleep on their own. It doesn't make you a bad mom to let him cry--it just means you trust him enough to be able to handle this on his own and learn what he needs to learn to be able to sleep. If I were in your shoes, I'd keep doing exactly what you're doing now . . . I bet he just needs a few days of being on his own for bedtime and naps to get back into his normal rhythm. Good luck! I hope you get your champion sleeper back before too long!

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  2. Love that Nat is using a sound machine. Soooo Harbuck! ;-)

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  3. I second the cry it out!! Only thing that has cured my two bad sleepers.

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  4. We are so excited about your little girl! Hooray! She's tying up the numbers in your family. That'll be fun to have one of each.

    The same exact sleeping thing happened to Benson a year and a half ago after our Christmas vacation in Arizona. We were in a strange new house, there were tons of cousins and extended family members everywhere, and he got kind of nervous by all the sudden changes. The 4 of us were assigned to the same room, and Benson loved it. When we flew back to Milwaukee, he wanted to sleep in the same room with us still, and we got the screaming bloody murder, sobbing bit too. It was horrible! He had suddenly switched from angel to monster at bedtime.

    We looked up what other random strangers had done online (real scientific, I know), and a common theme was to approach this by degrees. The first night, we'd sit by him for 5 minutes (not touching him or interacting at all) in the silent dark. Then we'd leave, let him scream for a while, and after 20 minutes, we'd come back in and repeat it, but we'd be a step closer to the door. Each night, we got a little closer to the door and further from his bed. We'd never touch him or talk to him in the dark, but I think we'd give him warning shots at the beginning of the process (e.g., "in 2 minutes, I need to leave your room"). Then we eventually could leave the room completely, but keep the door open for a bit with the hallway light on until he fell asleep. And then after about 10 days (maybe less), he was totally back to normal where we would just put him to bed, leave him alone, and shut the door behind us.

    I heard predictable bedtime routines and night lights help with this separation anxiety about sleeping. Good luck! Hope it gets back to normal soon.

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  5. I'd encourage you to listen to your baby, and listen to your instincts - you have them for a reason. You know more than you think you do, and you know your baby better than anyone else. If you think he's terrified to be by himself, and you have a sense for what he needs, then you can choose to honor that. All of these phases pass and even "bad sleepers" eventually sleep on their own, in their own beds, just maybe not in the timeframe that we'd wish. Whether leaving your baby to scream alone in his crib is teaching him something positive is highly debatable - but your gut will tell you how to go. Whatever path you do choose, though, you can rest assured that you can always change course if it's not working for you or your family.

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