You guys, I'm having MAJOR bedtime issues and I was wondering if you could help. Getting L to fall asleep is such a struggle. Daytime naps are difficult, but nighttime takes some serious effort. Let me break it down for you.
At around 4 weeks, I could see that she was trying to establish her own, natural bedtime. I have enough trouble keeping myself on a schedule, so I'm definitely not going to force one on her. Anyway, at around 8pm, she'd start showing signs of being tired (rubbing her eyes, fussing, etc.). I'd give her a baby massage, put her pajamas on, swaddle her, turn on some white noise, feed her and put her in her infant lounger in our bed . The lights would be out and she'd peacefully sleep for a few hours, waking up just two times a night. No struggle at all.
After a couple weeks of that routine, I noticed that she was getting tired a little earlier; around 7pm. I'd try to put her down using the same steps, but it would not work. The second I left the bedroom, she'd start screaming. I have neighbors [and a heart], so letting her scream was not an option. For a few days, I tried laying in bed with her and waiting until she was in a deep sleep before I left the room. The first night, I waited 20 minutes, got up, and she woke up crying. The second night, I tried 1 hour. The third night, I tried 2 hours. The 4th night, I just ended up falling asleep. I know what you're thinking... "Just go to bed when she goes to bed". Yeeaaahhh, that's not very realistic. For one, it's still SUNNY at 7pm, and second, nighttime is my time to get things done around the house, and RELAX. I cherish that time, so that no work.
I had to come up with a better solution. One night, feeling completely defeated, I put her in her swing in the living room, and she passed out INSTANTLY. Not only that, but she only woke up once that night, and has continued to do so ever since. Things were looking up. Dr. Karp actually suggests putting babies down in their swings if it's the only thing that will get them to sleep and I live by that book, so I wasn't feeling too bad about it. Joe would come home from work at around midnight, pick her up from the swing and put her in our bed. It's an easy transition, and if she does wake up, she only wants to briefly be fed before she falls back asleep.
Alright, so here's where it started to get problematic. After about a week of successful swing sleeping, she started throwing fits every night when I'd put her down. And no matter what I tried, she'd fuss for about two hours before finally exhausting herself and passing out. She'd still only fall asleep in her swing, though. Joe suggested that maybe she just wasn't that tired at 7 anymore. So I tried pushing her bedtime back to 8pm again, but she'd just fuss that whole hour because she was tired, and fuss for another hour because she wouldn't/couldn't fall asleep. It's almost as if she's fighting it. I wouldn't think that a baby this young could or would want to fight sleep, but maybe that really is the case? I can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to spend every night between 7 and 9 (tonight, it was 10) just trying to get her to close her eyes and fall asleep. And she spends that whole time so pissy because she's refusing to do what her little body wants her to do. She won't fall asleep in my arms, and I kind of feel that it's because I'm distracting her. If anything, she'll continue to fuss when I hold her because it's almost as if she knows that I'm trying to get her to fall asleep. It's difficult and draining, and I'm beginning to wonder if I should have just stuck to using the crib instead of co-sleeping from the very beginning. I don't know, though. The crib is also in our room, so would I have still come across the same problem? There's got to be a better way, right? I've tried not doing the whole nighttime routine, thinking that maybe she really wasn't trying to establish a schedule, but she seemed to get even fussier when I'd skip it. I don't know, maybe this is just a stage? Whatever the case, I'm starting to feel completely helpless.
Photo, Mila's Daydreams