Sleep Training

Edith is four months old now, and I was debating sleep training her. On the one hand, she was sleeping pretty well at night most of the time — she only tended to wake up once for milk and she usually went back to sleep within 30 minutes. I did have to aggressively rock her to sleep every time she went down, but at night, this wasn’t too difficult. During the day, her naps were a completely different story, but when I go back to work, that’s going to be the nanny’s problem anyhow. So on the one hand, I thought, why risk messing up a good thing?

But on the other hand, sometimes she would be very difficult to get to sleep, and every so often, she’d have a night where she’d wake up multiple times and not be able to put herself back to sleep, or she’d get up about 90 minutes before any decent human would be awake and after I got her back to sleep and then managed to fall asleep myself, it was time to get up for real. So I considered it.

In the end, I decided to just continue letting her do her thing, mostly because sleep training seems so damn complicated (there are very specific timetables and mathematical formulae, and do’s and don’ts, and much caution about how once you start you absolutely cannot stop or your child will be awake until they are 30), and I can’t get my head around it when I’m already so tired. Plus, once we bought a house, there was too much going on.

While I was making my mind up about all this, Edith started doing a new thing where she’d wake up about an hour after her one night feeding and cry until I soothed her back to sleep.

This was annoying.

Then, she started doing it several times in a row. Even worse.

At some point in all this, I fell asleep with her in my bed, holding her against my side, and she immediately went into a sound sleep and slept until morning. This was fine, except that my arm went to sleep and my shoulder cramped all night. I thought I slept well, but I was very tired the next day.

Still, the following night, when Edith woke up randomly an hour after eating, I didn’t even try to put her back into her own bed; I just cuddled up with her and she went to sleep right away.

Edith has never liked to work herself up to crying at night; it seems like it’s too much work for her. She prefers to persistently whine and then gradually crescendo into a yodel. She will only escalate to full wailing if her earlier efforts are unsuccessful. Being in my bed seemed to work better for her, because when she was ready to get up in the morning, she did not have to cry at all. She could just kick me and smack me in the face relentlessly until I bowed to the inevitable.

Interestingly, during the day, Edith is not very mobile. She hasn’t figured out crawling or even creeping yet, and she does not like being on her stomach. If she wants a toy that is a very short distance from her, she whines at me until I give it to her.

And yet.

I’ve noticed that when she is in my bed and she is pummeling me, if I put her all the way across the mattress, she is immediately back in my face with her fingers up my nose or twisted into my hair. So, I am beginning to smell a rat.

Anyway, we did this late night switcheroo for a few nights. And then the other night, Edith woke up a couple of hours after she went to sleep to begin with — that is, she woke up at 9:00 p.m. This had never happened before and since I was just falling asleep myself and really didn’t want to get back up, I put her in bed next to me.

Well, long story short, Edith now sleeps next to me all night every night, with her head cushioned on my dead arm, and when she wants some milk or to get up for the day, she kicks me violently until I accede to her whims.

Last night, it finally dawned on me: while I was waffling on whether or not to sleep train her, she just went ahead and sleep trained me.

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