Why Won’t You Go To Sleep!?!

Liam won’t go to sleep. Up until this month, it’s been a sort of laughable problem. We’d put him down, he’d get upset, so we’d put him in the swing and tiptoe around for half an hour, and he’d fall asleep. But now, now it’s no longer funny. The kid won’t go to sleep! The swing doesn’t work. Bouncing him no longer works. Singing to him no longer works. Sometimes, nursing him works. But not regularly.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. All of those things do work. However, the moment you stop doing whatever it is your doing, and his body touches the surface of his crib mattress, he wakes up, thrashing about and often crying. It’s terrible. It’s far more stressful that he goes to sleep and wakes up when we put him down than it is if he doesn’t go to sleep in the first place. And when he does go to sleep? Still not restful because he’s guaranteed to wake up 45 minutes after he first goes down, and then the whole process has to start all over again. It quite often takes us an hour or 2 to get him back to sleep, and that is stressful time, my friends. He’s overtired and cranky – screaming, moaning, etc. Eventually, we’ll wrangle him back to sleep through some mysterious equation of bouncing + nursing + swinging + walking him around town. He’ll then, once he’s asleep this 2nd time, sleep for a few hours. If he wakes up before 4, he apparently goes back to sleep alright – it still takes far longer than Leah would like it to. However, if his wake-up is after 4, he thinks it’s morning, and takes forever to go back to sleep. It’s these nights, which have been more frequent of late, that have Leah waking me up because she’s so upset and angry and overtired and sleep-deprived, which, well, causes the same in me.

Now, there’s various techniques to get your baby to sleep. We, before we even really discussed with each other, were opposed to the “cry it out” technique. It just strikes me as cruel, leaving your baby to scream helplessly, wondering why no one will comfort him. Just the thought of it makes me sad. It’s like that MADD anti-drunk-driving ad, where the baby’s just crying in the crib, the mother having been killed by a drunk driver. Except that with the cry it out method, you’re not dead, you’re just ignoring your baby’s cries.

On the other hand, having read various mum & dad blogs, and talking to people with babies, those who used the cry it out method? their babies all seem to sleep through the night. Those who don’t? Their babies wake up. So clearly, the cry it out method does what it’s supposed to do – help your baby sleep through the night. But I just don’t think I have the emotional constitution to do it. Of course, I’m not sure I have the emotional constitution to put up with this current impasse that we find ourselves at either.

Currently, the only thing that seems to always work is to take Liam out in the Baby Bjorn and walk him to sleep. Of course, it might be that it always works because we usually reserve it as a “last resort” kind of activity, and the poor little dude’s just totally exhausted. On the other hand, no matter how upset he is when I start to walk him, he calms down within minutes every time. And it generally takes, once he’s calm, 30 or so minutes for him to go to sleep. I think tonight, and for the next little while, maybe we should try walking him as our second action (if the post-bath nursing doesn’t put him to sleep). It’s good exercise for me, even if walking the Vancouver Winter Rain really, really sucks. I’d rather be wet, but have a sleeping baby and a calm wife, than stay dry and have a screaming baby and an angry, stressed-out wife.

I can’t believe that I’m actually asking this, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to get Liam to sleep, without the crying?

4 Replies to “Why Won’t You Go To Sleep!?!”

  1. Well, without kids you can take or leave my advice but I suggest not letting him cry to sleep. Everything that I’ve read and been told suggests that children cannot learn at that age to cry to get you to cradle them, they’re doing it because they need you to.
    I know that one thing that worked for my youngest sister was to put her in a cradle that rocked itself. Back in those days you had to wind it up (not electric) and I know that my parents still have nightmares about the sound of that thing slowing down.

  2. Well, without kids you can take or leave my advice but I suggest not letting him cry to sleep. Everything that I’ve read and been told suggests that children cannot learn at that age to cry to get you to cradle them, they’re doing it because they need you to.
    I know that one thing that worked for my youngest sister was to put her in a cradle that rocked itself. Back in those days you had to wind it up (not electric) and I know that my parents still have nightmares about the sound of that thing slowing down.

  3. Well Steve, you are bringing back memories…of the many days and nights with Brishen! Merle and I didn’t believe in the “let ’em cry” technique either, after all a new born isn’t just having a cry for fun.

    So what did we do? Luckily we had a buggy and a gravel driveway. I (and Merle) found that a steady walk on gravel made the buggy shake and the baby (Brishen) sleep. Stopping too quickly after he went to sleep would definitely earn one a “you chose poorly” comment. I even found a spot in the house where two carpets joined forming a slight ridge. Pushing the buggy back and forth over that ridge seemed to simulate the gravel walk and let me stay inside.

    Now I’m not saying that a half hour or more led to a sleeping baby who STAYED asleep, but a calm kid is better than a bawling brat so I would walk or push the buggy longer than necessary. Another thing I found useful, especially when the crying had stopped, was to put Brishen high on my chest so that his head was on or over my shoulder and rock in a chair. Easier than walking or standing! And I got to watch lots of movies (at least parts of movies) at weird times of the day/night.

    The fastest way I found to stop the crying when the obvious feeding and diaper changing was not needed was to put Brishen so high up that his stomach was on top of my shoulder. I would then walk and gently bounce him. It worked within 2 or 3 minutes most of the time. Reason, his stomach was in pain.

    Hey, after 5 or 5.5 months there was a sudden decrease in the crying. and my sleep pattern reverted to normal.

    One thing to think about while you are rocking/bouncing/walking Liam–he’s only going to get older. Enjoy this time and smile. Cause you’re a dad and you love him.

  4. Well Steve, you are bringing back memories…of the many days and nights with Brishen! Merle and I didn’t believe in the “let ’em cry” technique either, after all a new born isn’t just having a cry for fun.

    So what did we do? Luckily we had a buggy and a gravel driveway. I (and Merle) found that a steady walk on gravel made the buggy shake and the baby (Brishen) sleep. Stopping too quickly after he went to sleep would definitely earn one a “you chose poorly” comment. I even found a spot in the house where two carpets joined forming a slight ridge. Pushing the buggy back and forth over that ridge seemed to simulate the gravel walk and let me stay inside.

    Now I’m not saying that a half hour or more led to a sleeping baby who STAYED asleep, but a calm kid is better than a bawling brat so I would walk or push the buggy longer than necessary. Another thing I found useful, especially when the crying had stopped, was to put Brishen high on my chest so that his head was on or over my shoulder and rock in a chair. Easier than walking or standing! And I got to watch lots of movies (at least parts of movies) at weird times of the day/night.

    The fastest way I found to stop the crying when the obvious feeding and diaper changing was not needed was to put Brishen so high up that his stomach was on top of my shoulder. I would then walk and gently bounce him. It worked within 2 or 3 minutes most of the time. Reason, his stomach was in pain.

    Hey, after 5 or 5.5 months there was a sudden decrease in the crying. and my sleep pattern reverted to normal.

    One thing to think about while you are rocking/bouncing/walking Liam–he’s only going to get older. Enjoy this time and smile. Cause you’re a dad and you love him.

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