Mingli’s sleep

Well, it has been a long journey, but I think we have finally done it.  For the last several months we have been working on transitioning Mingli from co-sleeping with us every night, and nursing/rocking to sleep every night and nap, and waking up every night to nurse (yes, at 15 months he still woke up every night to nurse), to sleeping in his own bed, all night, and falling asleep laying down in his bed by himself.  It has taken a long time because I refuse to leave Mingli in his room to cry it out, so we have had to move slowly and take lots of little baby steps.  There was some crying, but we helped him work through it.

First we started having him sleep in his crib beside our bed with the side off.  This was actually one of the hardest stages because I had to keep putting him back in his bed every time he crawled over to ours.  We actually eventually gave up on this and put the side up on his crib and made him sleep in it.  This involved quite a bit of crying, but he was still laying right next to me, and I would rub his back, hold his hand, sing to him, all that stuff.  We were weaning him at the same time, which actually went a lot better than I had expected it to.  Eventually he got to the point where he would sleep in his crib beside me all night without waking up and crying.  When he got good at this, we moved the crib to his room.  For the first week of him being in his own room I slept on an air mattress on the floor, but I was away from his crib.  After a week he was used to this and doing really well.  I was nervous about moving back to my room, I thought I’d be getting up a lot to calm him down when he woke up and I wasn’t there, but this was actually the easiest stage.  He didn’t even seem to notice that I wasn’t sleeping in the room with him and just kept sleeping through the night.  It was pretty great.  Once he was consistently sleeping through the night in his own room we started trying to get him to fall asleep in his crib.  First we rocked him until he was almost asleep, then laid him down in his crib to finish falling asleep.  He didn’t like this much at first, but got used to it.  Then we started laying him down with less and less rocking, until we were laying him down with no rocking at all.  This was actually pretty hard, because he would cry if we left the room, so we sat in a rocking chair in the corner until he fell asleep, which sometimes took 1 1/2 hours.  We realized that not having a bedtime routine was making this more difficult.  He didn’t have time to prepare for bed, or settle down, or anything.  One minute he was playing, and the next he was being put into bed.  Once we started using a bedtime routine the amount of time it took for him to fall asleep got a lot shorter.  Once he was falling asleep in his bed we started leaving to room for very short periods of time, then for longer and longer periods of time.  Then it got to the point where we were just coming in to check on him occasionally.  At this point we still hadn’t done anything with his naps, because it was harder for him to settle down during the day because it was still light outside.  We came up with a naptime routine, but then instead of just leaving Mingli in his crib to fall asleep we gave him some books to look at.  This worked perfectly, and he laid down quietly in his bed until he fell asleep.

Now at bedtime we clean his room, have a snack, go potty, take a bath, put lotion on his, read 3 stories, say good night to, I close the blinds and he gets to turn out the lights, then he goes into bed with his pillow, blanket, puppy, bear, and sippy cup.  We leave soft music playing and he is usually asleep in 10-30 minutes.  For naptime we have lunch, clean his room, go potty, read 3 stories, then he goes to bed with his pillow, blanket, puppy, bear, sippy cup, and the 3 stories he had me read to him.  We again leave soft music playing.  It takes him a little longer to fall asleep for his nap, usually about 1/2 an hour, but he lays quietly in his room by himself looking at his books until he falls asleep.

I know there will be set backs.  He was sleeping in our bed again just last week because he was sick and having trouble sleeping, and I expect there will be nights where he wants us to stay with him until he falls asleep, or times when he has nightmares, or whatever.  But I am excited that we have gotten to the point where he has developed this skill, it makes our life so much easier.  In fact, last night after I read him his stories he ran right to his crib and tried to climb in.  He knew it was time to lay down and he actually wanted to.  He is getting so big.

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