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Monday, April 14, 2008

What Worked for Us

Here is my best attempt at explaining Lucy's sleep habits and a few of our parenting methods. I want to begin by saying that I truly believe every child is different and what works for one is not the right formula for the next. I believe in taking cues from the child and listening to their needs. I do not believe in the methods that are currently very popular among many parents. We used Attachment Parenting by Dr. Sears as a guide to go by, but I again want to say that we did not follow this book or any other word for word. I do not think that any book can tell you how to parent your specific child and I have actually steered clear of most parenting books. Why? Because you could read 100 parenting books and every single one of them would tell you to do something completely different - so how in the world are we as parents supposed to know what is the right one to follow? So, I have used Lucy as my guidebook. I have dictated our decisions based on her needs.

Let's start at the beginning. Lucy was 5 months old when we adopted her. For the first several months, she woke up at least 2 times a night for a bottle. That was perfectly fine with us. Tiring, but she was so small and definitely needed the nutrition. Some nights she was up three times, others only once. There was no apparent rhyme or reason to it. Since she generally only woke up the 2 or 3 times, we ALWAYS fed her for the several months. She would always eat and go right back down. The whole awake process usually lasted for around 15 minutes, which was not bad to deal with. At this point, she was pretty easy to get to bed and we put her down around 8 every night. She has always slept for a minimum of 12 hours a night. If for some reason she doesn't get at least 12 hours, she is very tired and grouchy. We have been very lucky in this sense.

Lucy did not stop taking a middle of the night bottle until she was probably around 10 or 11 months. She was the one that dictated she no longer needed this by sleeping through the night on her own. We never pushed this on her. She decided she was ready. Most people's babies were sleeping through the night WAY earlier than this, but again, she was not ready to do that. Once she slept through the night for a couple of weeks, we were done with that bottle. If she woke up in the night, we went to her and comforted her by rocking or bouncing her without the bottle.

After her first birthday, she started becoming more and more difficult to put down to bed. We would rock her for very long periods of time and have her dead asleep and once we put her in her crib, we would have to pat her back for another long period of time. It took a long time to get her to bed most nights. If she heard us leaving the room, she was back up and it started all over again. After a while, it became pretty frustrating because it would take close to an hour to get her to bed.

Let me step back for a moment. We have dabbled in co-sleeping. She did sleep with us for part of the time in VN. She had to have one of our hands on her at all times for the first week. Once she got more comfortable with us, she moved to the crib and we all slept better. She slept much more soundly in the crib and so did I. She moved to her room with no problem at all. I have a lot of sleeping issues, so it works better for me if she is not in our bed. But again, had she needed to be in our bed, we were not at all opposed to it. It is not at all uncommon for her to wake up in the middle of the night and move to our bed. This has gone on since Christmas. We actually broke her of this last week because she has become such a CRAZY sleeper and was kicking us in the head all night long. So now when she wakes up, we just go and calm her down and put her back in her bed. She is fine with it.

Back to the story. As it became more and more difficult to put her to bed (by this time she had been with us for over a year), we started talking about how to handle it. We decided to continue to rock her for a while, pat her back for a few minutes, and then leave her. It took one night of her crying for a while to break the habit. One night where I would go in every few minutes to let her know we were still here and comfort her, and then leave her again. After that, she loved getting in her bed and the whole bedtime routine now takes us all of about 3 minutes. Had she struggled night after night, we would have reevaluated our approach, but she took to it immediately.

I can honestly say that we have let Lucy cry in her crib very few times. If she wakes up in the night, we go in EVERY SINGLE TIME and comfort her. The times she has cried have been going to bed and a few times where she woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to play. The last thing in the world that I would want to do is make bed time or night time stressful for Lucy. I know how awful sleep problems are and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. She NEVER cried until we had had her with us for a very long time and I actually started to feel comfortable with her attachment.

Lucy currently goes to bed around 8 and sleeps until around 9 am without waking up most nights. She takes one nap a day after lunch and it is between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours most days. At night, we brush her teeth, read her a few books, rock her until she says "Bed!" and then lay her down with her blankees. That is it. She got to this point on her own with one night of being upset that we were leaving her room. We can totally tell when she is ready for a nap and simply ask her if she wants to find her blankees and rock and she says yes and that is it. She never puts up a fight. She is really flexible with her sleep schedule, which is awesome for us and not so constricting. She can easily stay up and happy way past 8 or will willingly go to bed closer to 7:30 if she needs to. She loves to sleep in late in the mornings.

My biggest piece of advice is to listen to your child. Don't force them into a sleep pattern that they are not ready for. If Lucy had not been ready for us to leave her in her room, she would have cried every night that we left her, which was not the case. We didn't make her sleep through the night without our comfort because everyone else's kids were sleeping through the night. My other piece of advice is to be there for your child when they wake up in the night. Let them know that you are there. Attachment parenting is exhausting and hard at times, but so worth it to me. I am so glad that we did not take the easy way out and Lucy's knows that we will always be there for her when we need her. Rock your child as long as you can because very soon they will not want you to. I can't believe how much I miss rocking Lucy and I feel so priviledged when she lets me. Also, don't believe everything that you read. You are not turning your child into a little monster by meeting their needs at night. Look at Lucy - she sleeps 13 hours a night and naps around 2 hours a day. Not bad at all if you ask me. She LOVES to sleep. It took us a while to get there, but we did it. And finally, every child is different. I feel really lucky to have sleeper and I am so sorry to anyone who has a child who does truly struggle with sleep. It is so hard to function with little sleep. Who knows how we will have to handle the next child's sleep. I pray it is this easy!

I don't know how helpful this is, but I have had several questions about sleep, so I thought I would at least share our methods.

And because you know I hate a post without pictures, here are pics of Lucy with Nana, Grandy, and Cayce and then from today at the zoo.

Here is a picture of how lovely our yard looks!














22 comments:

Andreza & Teru said...

Congratulations, Lucy is beautiful, cute!!

Kate said...

Great advice, Kelly! I completely agree that you have to listen to your child's needs. All my children were COMPLETELY different in their sleep habits, so following one particular book would not have worked. Compiling advice and being in tune with your child is the the key to succesful parenting. Oh..and consistency. I completely believe in trying to be consisent and keeping everything routine as much as possibe, particularly at night-time. My Luci is almost 3 1/2 and we still rock. We've had the same routine since we brought her home. Bath, Snack, Brush Teeth, Books, Rock to music. She absolutely loves to rock and loves her face rubbed. It's our most favorite time! Also, if you love good "rockin" music, we have a few CDs from a company called ROCKABYE BABY. They do lullabye music to modern music. We have Coldplay, Radiohead and U2...Love them!

Anyway, great job! Lucy's got one good momma!

Jenny said...

Yeah pretty much exactly what we did but we had to let them cry more since it was 2 and they were getting pretty demanding, without needing it. We just were consistent and consistent and it stuck!

Everyone is amazed at 7, when we sing the brush your teeth song, brush their teeth, kiss and then lay them down and leave....we worked at it for 6 months! Now it is old hat!

I do wish we were a bit more flexible with sleep though, not soo much but that is ok, at least they sleep!

the yard looks wonderful!

Susan said...

Thank you for posting this. You are indeed very blessed with a child who loves to sleep. Like you, I believe in responding to my child each time she needs me, regardless of how tiring it is for me. I know Petunia's sleeplessness has got to be hard on her sometimes, but I swear she gets by on so little sleep. I'm the one who really suffers, but then I just remember my plan for her when she becomes a teenager and wants to sleep until noon. Uh, I don't think so! LOL

Mer (Lulu's Mommy) said...

I love what you are sharing. Thank you so much.

M

steppingonlegos.com said...

Great post and great pics!!!! I love the b&W-ish one, especially!! Your yard looks wonderful! Can they come over here and work on mine?! :)

Stacy said...

Hi Kelly,

Just want to say I love reading your blog about Lucy!!! She is such a cutie!! I am a prospective adoptive parent and I just enjoy reading your journey to Lucy. I enjoy the videos you post, they make me laugh everytime. Also wanted to comment on your beautiful photos, you do such a NICE job with photography, may I ask what kind of camera you have?? Thanks for such an inspirational and uplifting blog...I love it...

LaLa said...

Like you, we too listened to Annslee and she is a great sleeper. She stayed in a port a crib in our room the first two months (she was 13 months old when we got home) and then moved happily to her crib. We have co slept some and I personally LOVE it but none of us sleep well : )She moved to her big girl bed easily as well.
Just last night she woke up twice during the night (unusual for her) but I went both times and the second time she came back to our bed b/c she seemed to be really upset. Like you said the most important thing to us is that she KNOWS we will respond to her needs and so she only really cries out at night when she really needs us.
Oh, and on the rocking....she was always a standing rocker and she got really heavy but I do miss it now!

mam said...

The house and yard looks beautiful; I love that second level balcony. Nice!

dwayne and melanie said...

She's a great kid! Photogenic as usual! You are blessed with such a great sleeper!

Mom said...

Kelly, all this sleep talk, I need a nap!! You all look wonderful--so does the yard! You're a good Momma, pumpkin. Keep up the good work. Love ya tons, LeeLee

Ryan and Heather said...

This is helpful!
Right now Elia is doing pretty well sleeping but she still sleeps in our room and does occasionally still have a bottle in the middle of the night (She's 14 months and still has a bottle..and I don't plan on taking it away anytime soon!) She spent 12 months crying in her crib in the orphanage I won't leave her to cry at night ever.

ourvalentinesdaytreat said...

My goodness, you are blessed with a good sleeper! Thanks for sharing this. I couldn't agree with you more on two things - that every book will tell you something different, so you have to "read" your child, and that attachment parenting is often exhausting but very, very worth it. Great pics as always.

Sarah & Seth said...

Sienna has always slept well. However, since she would sometimes wake up early and whine a little in her crib, we converted it into a toddler bed so she could just crawl out and come into ours. Well...she refuses to get out of bed unless one of us is in sight (great at night, but the complete opposite of why we converted her bed). Sienna does sleep with us on occasion...especially if she is sick or if she wakes up early, but it is hard on me since she has to be on my pillow (as close to the edge of the bed as she can push me in her sleep) and I always wake up with a sore back. She lets us know when she is ready to sleep (she asks for her "pass") and lets us know if she needs to be in our bed or not (more often she wants her own). We have always had a Leap Frog Tad that we push the "night-night" hand so that it plays classical music and has soft lights for six minutes and she is ready to sleep.
PS~Love the pics!

craftymommy said...

Your sepia toned pic of Lucy on her daddy's shoulders is absolutely stunning!!

Kate said...

kel--i love the sepia pic!!!! awesome!
i agree that reading your child is the most important thing! i do loooove reading all the books though! i actually think they are more alike than different. i try to research as much as i can and then take things from each that pertain to liza! :) she is my first cue..than i go from there! it's kinda like going on a diet..everyone knows how to lose weight, work out more, eat less (just like the fundamental basics of parenting..lovin on your baby, going to her when she needs you, being there for her emotional development) but it is still fun to read books or magazine articles to get new ideas or new menus to help along the way!
ha! jason hates it when i make comparisons like these!
anywho--you are a good mama kel,,keep the great pics comin! love and miss ya'll!!!!

Heather said...

I am so behind on your blog! You are capturing the best pictures of Lucy. Of course, you have a great subject to capture.

Jen said...

Thank you for this post, Kelly. I hope to try some of these methods when we bring Morgan home.

Also, you are becoming an amazing photographer! Granted...you have a beautiful subject...but the lighting and the composition of your shots has become really sophisticated.

StaceyF said...

The house looks great and I wish I would have gotten to go to the zoo! Kisses to Miss Lucy.

Brian and Melissa said...

I SO agree that every child is different and that it is best to use your child as a guidebook--well said. :-)

rachel said...

I agree completely that the best thing a parent can do when it comes to sleeping is to take cues from their child. I hope many people read your post and really take it to heart. I hate the idea of books or doctors telling parents that only one philosphy (letting them always cry it out, always co-sleeping, etc) is the correct one.

We co-slept with Ava for a couple of weeks, but no one was getting any sleep. So, we moved her to into a crib near our bed and eventually into her own room. I've felt heat from both directions...those who can't believe we didn't just shove her into her own room ASAP, and those who question why we didn't keep co-sleeping. We just did what was right for everyone, she adjusted well and slept fine...and to this day is still an excellent sleeper.

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