Category Archives: WIO

Older Child Resisting Bedtime But Finds Parent In Bedroom to be More Stimulating Than Calming

I’ve had a lot of people ask what to do if an older child is having a hard time with bedtime because the parent being in the room seems to keep them awake instead of helping them sleep.

When my oldest was around three I started needing to leave the room because my being there was more stimulating than calming.

What I would do is I would do the bedtime routine outside of his room, then we would go into his room and lay in his bed and read some books. I’d step him through the steps to relax his body and his mind.

“It is bedtime. It is time to sleep. When I am sleepy I lay down and let my thoughts get… sloowwwwww. Goodnight feet. Relax your feet and let them sinkkkk into your warm and comfy bed. Goodnight legs.. relax your legs and let them sink into your warm and comfy bed. Goodnight knees… Relax your knees and let them sink into your warm and comfy bed…. I like to breathe sloowwww and deeeeep, it feels calm. ::breathes slowwww and deep:: Then we relaaaaax our bums and let them sink into your warm and comfy bed. And we relaaaax our belly and our chest. Breathing slow… Our hands are sleepy too. And our arms are relaxed. Let your shoulders melt into your pillow. Now your body is calm and sleepy and your head is heavy and sinking into your pillow, too. ::stroke child’s face:: You are so beautiful and I love you so much. You have big beautiful sleepy eyes. ::stroke child’s face near the side of one eye, bumping gently into their eyelashes. Mmm.. Let’s snuggle down and be sleepy together.” at which point I snuggle down and close my eyes and continue to gently stroke my child’s face.

After a week or so of that I would let my oldest know that he didn’t seem to be falling asleep just yet, and that I had to feed the dog and I would be back in a couple of minutes and that if he stays in bed I can snuggle him some more. I’d go feed the dog really quickly and then come back upstairs and snuggle until he fell asleep.

I gradually increased the number of chores that I would do each night, each one brief with a check-in and a quick snuggle after. Eventually he started falling asleep within fifteen minutes with one check-in instead of taking 1-2 hours to finally wind down.

He never cried, he was never upset, and I always came back. I still check in on him to make sure he’s sleeping, to tuck him in and to tell him I love him. He’s older now and doesn’t really need it anymore, but it’s a sweet tradition that I enjoy and will continue unless he tells me it’s time to stop.

NapSnuggles

Your Eyes Look Sleepy – Naptime WIO at 29 Months

NapSnugglesUpset because papa changed her bandaids without asking her, tearstained. Daddy brings her to me and she asks to nurse. So we lay down to nurse.

Huge blue eyes twinkle at the corners as I tell her funny things. Then I fall silent and she just looks at me. Her eyes open wide as she tries to keep them open.

Are you sleepy? I ask. She grunts protest in lieu of a no.

Do you want to take a nap? She grunts again, shaking her head slightly and kicking her feet in protest, her eyes annoyed.

She doesn’t really nap anymore.

I say okay.

I run my finger down her nose, along the outside of her cheek. I have missed her this morning as she has been playing with her daddy, her gramma and her grandpa, drinking in this time with them as they are at work most of the week.

Her eyes blink.

“Your eyes look sleepy, ” I say. “Doesnt it feel good to let them close?” And I trace my finger across the corner of her eyelashes, her eyes flutter closed at the touch. Then open again.

“Your body looks tired, too. Doesnt it feel good to snuggle near?”

Her eyes flutter closed again and she curls herself into my body.

Still awake, but relaxed and still.

Soon her body is heavy with sleep and her little mouth hangs open. Her hands and feet twitch away in some kind of peaceful dream.

Twenty nine months. This is what naptime looks like now, when she takes a nap that is.

Sleep Crutch

Restless. She cries and sits up, reaching over for me. Alex rolls her over his body into my arms. She melts onto my chest, her head in the dip of my collarbone, her little face turned towards mine. The heat of her arms around my shoulders, the heat of her face against my skin, and /that/ smell on her breath. Fever. I need no thermometer to know it is high enough but not too high. She coughs, squirms, tries to be comfortable. Rolls onto the bed beside me, then climbs back to the place where she spent so many hours as a young baby. One leg falling to either side of me, her head against my right shoulder, her heart fluttering away opposite my own.

Sleep crutch. A child that sleeps through the night every night, now. That falls asleep in her own space after nursing and snuggles have filled her with peace that she carries with her to her sidecarred crib and to a pillow of her own.

But here she is, needing those old familiar ‘sleep crutches’ from her smallest days.

The feeling that sleep trainers hope to impart with the term “crutch” is that a baby relies on a crutch in order to do something that they are perfectly able to do on their own. Like alcoholism being a social crutch.

It is a crutch, I guess. Like crutches for a person that cannot walk. Inconvenient things that a person uses out of necessity until they no longer need them.

She grew out of her need for closeness at night. She grew out of her need to nurse at night. Like a person with a sprained ankle, the crutches stopped helping her once she no longer needed them. And she left them behind because they slowed her down.

She has picked them up again tonight. These old familiar things. These things left behind as her ability to self regulate at night kicked in and made them inconvenient for her rather than comforting. Now? The need for them is here again and instead of sleeping fitfully and crying she has found peace in my arms for the night.

Fever hot and fitful. Peace does not come easy, I know this. But peace is what she has found.

We don’t scoff at crutches used when they are used for a need. Yes. All the holding and all the nursing and the bouncing.. They were crutches that were outgrown.

What am I supposed to do when I hear that phrase? Look upon them with scorn and toss my child’s crutches away while there is a need?

It is easy to see, now. Now that she sleeps at night on her own and independently. When she was tiny, though? Oh did the phrase “sleep crutch” sow all kinds of seeds of doubt.

Bad Track Records, Those People and Their Advice

Alex, in bed next to me, tapped me on the arm. “I just can’t sleep.” I said. I had a weird dream, the type of dream that gets my brain revved up to a million miles a minute about random things. Not a bad dream. But a dream that wakes me up. Usually for the day.

He points behind his back. I grab my cell phone to use as a light, and I look to where he’s pointing. She’s curled up against him, sound asleep.

She stirred awake, tried to go back to sleep, and started to crawl over him to get to me. She does that still, sometimes. About once every week or two. She’ll climb over him and tap me on the shoulder and I’ll roll onto my back and she’ll curl into the curve of my body and fall back asleep.

Last night, as she started to climb over him, Alex whispered to her that she could just go back to sleep. So she laid her head down on his pillow and did just that. She went back to sleep.

This child. This two year old child. Messy pigtailed little creature in outer-space pajama pants and a purple t-shirt. She used to be that baby that could never be put down for naps. She used to be that baby that woke every hour, every 90 minutes. That threw baby parties in the middle of the night and that had to be held and bounced and nursed endlessly.

She still co-sleeps. Still nurses on demand. We’re taking things at her pace, and her pace still says that she feels most secure in the room with us.

Some people say “SHE WILL SLEEP WITH YOU UNTIL SHE’S IN COLLEGE!” and that we have to get her out of our room right now.

Those were the people that said she would never learn to self soothe if I didn’t leave her to cry.

Those were the people that said she would never walk if I didn’t put her down.

Those were the people that said she’d never crawl if I didn’t leave her on her belly even if it made her unhappy.

Those were the people that said I would never be able to leave her if I didn’t start when she was small.

Those people haven’t made too many accurate predictions, now, have they?

I didn’t listen to them then, I won’t listen to them now.

She’s the one who has my ear, this child. She’s the one who takes each new opportunity for independence as she is able and comfortable.

He let her sleep there for a few minutes until she was deeply asleep again, then moved her back to the sidecarred crib where she spends the night.

And me? I woke up for the day. My body just wasn’t sleepy anymore.

I’m Not Against CIO, I’m For WIO

I’m often asked “So you’re against CIO?” No. I’m not “against” CIO. I don’t use CIO. I have reasons why CIO isn’t a tool that I choose. And I don’t spend much time thinking about those reasons anymore.

Being “against” something doesn’t give me TOOLS. It just makes me focus on what other parents have chosen to do. It takes me out of my here and my now and puts my head and heart in another place with another baby and another set of parents.

No. I’m not “against CIO”.

I’m for Wait it Out. I’m for waiting while my child learns to sleep. I’m for teaching her about sleep. I’m for comforting her when she’s upset because she doesn’t yet understand how to sleep. I’m for looking at her, seeing what she is able to do and what she still struggles with. I’m for watching her behavior and trying to figure out what I can do to support her at each stage based on her abilities.

That’s not “against CIO”. CIO is just a tool that I’ve decided I’m not going to use. Not because I’m “against” it, but because there are other tools that I am for. Not because I’m “against” CIO, but because it’s just a tool that doesn’t fit into my relationship with my child.

I don’t want to waste my emotional energy on someone else’s child when I need all the energy that I have for my own.

I can spend time coming up with the tools that fit my life without having to create demons out of the tools that other parents find useful.

Haha Just Kidding on the Sleep Thing

Dear Daughter,

Haha apparently you were just kidding with the sleep thing. After I wrote the letter that you were sleeping through the night at 23 months old? Daylight savings time happened. And a cold happened. And your two year molars decided that they had not been happening enough, and they upped their ante. The end result? You’ve become a screaming thrashing neck warmer that makes it more than a little bit hard to breathe.

I understand.

Once I got a new pair of rollerblades after my old ones became too well-used to use. And the first thing I did was hurt my ankle. And my knee. And my butt. And my pride. So those shiny new blades went into the closet for a few weeks while I recovered.

You know how to sleep now. You’ve done it. And now you’re sick and unhappy that you can’t do this thing that you learned and mastered and appreciated.

You’ll sleep again. This I know. You’ve figured it out.

Before I was waiting it out with you. Now we’re waiting it out together until your nose is no longer stuffy and your body has adjusted to the craziness of time changes.

I’ll take it as a reprieve. A last chance to enjoy those snuggles. I’m just hoping that I can convince you of a less oxygen-depriving type of snuggles because the scarf thing? It doesn’t work too well for me.

<3 Mama

A Letter to Those Still Waiting

Dear Mama Who is Still Waiting It Out,

I can’t tell you to enjoy your time. I won’t. I just spent the last Very Hard Six Months not really enjoying the wait on top of the other months that I only sporadically enjoyed in moments of bliss that were sought out.

You might not enjoy it while you’re waiting.

I waited six hundred and eighty six nights with my daughter.  With my oldest I waited nine hundred and twenty nine nights.

I know it’s hard to read about a child sleeping through the night when yours won’t sleep. I spent the last six months avoiding reading about any of that, as I had a toddler that would rather practice speed crawling and standing on my flibbery belly while trying to jump. A toddler that would be ALMOST asleep and that would then pop off, yell “MOMMY! DANCE!” and dance around the bed in the dark doing jazz hands while I wanted to both laugh and cry.

Just a week before she slept I was Very Very Unhappy and didn’t know if it would be another six months before sleep came. In fact I was battening down the hatches for just that. In fact, when she randomly slept through the night for the first time I was preparing myself mentally for a very bad “regression” to hit because that’s what always happens. A random night of good sleep before a lot of bad.

So the second night that she slept through? I woke up repeatedly waiting for her to wake up. I woke up 6-8 times that second night that she slept through.

I don’t know if her two year molars (which are still shifting under her gums) will wreak havoc on her sleep for a bit. What I do know now is that she is able to sleep through the night and that the things that come after now are truly “regressions”. Temporary periods of worse sleep for a child that knows how to sleep.

Looking BACK at the past 686 days they seem minscule and tiny. Looking at my oldest’s 929 nights also seems tiny in the face of the seven year old that he has become. But no, those nights didn’t seem tiny while I was waiting. The first 60 nights didn’t seem tiny.

It’s a thing that only gains context when it’s past.

So don’t feel guilty about struggling, about not enjoying every minute. If you sometimes wonder if you NEED TO MAKE CHANGES NOW.. I understand. I sometimes bounced with a toddler in the dark of the night and wondered if I should possibly ditch the whole WIO thing and just go straight to extinction training because I was exhausted.

I can tell you now, at the end of it, that I am so very happy that I waited it out. That I got to witness that transition in my daughter. That I trusted her enough to wait. Of course I can. She’s sleeping now. I can probably also solve the question of World Peace and do other impossible things just because the impossible has already happened.

Was I happy two weeks ago? Not so much. Should you be happy in your now? Nah. I won’t tell you to be happy. If you can find happiness it makes it easier. But that is something that has to be found. It’s not a thing that anyone can hand you.

Just like this sleep thing. It’s a thing that your child is looking for. Not something that you’re failing to give or to teach.

You’ll get there, mama. And yes. It’s hard running blind.

<3 – Sarah

Sleeping Through the Night at 23 Months

Dear Daughter,

In just 39 days you will be two years old. You have just started sleeping through the night. I remember just two weeks ago I COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE because YOU WERE NOT SLEEPING AND I WAS TIRED AND I COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE BECAUSE TIRED. And I remember when you were eighteen months old and I really couldn’t do it. And when you were 13 or 14 months and I knew I couldn’t do it. And when you were 9 months and 6 months and three months. And I was tired.

Now you sleep. Not every night, but approaching most nights. More often than not. Eleven at night to five AM without waking. I wake up still, sometimes, and sit up and look across the bed to where you’re curled up in the side-carred crib. You’re a big little tiny thing. Tiny tight curls have grown down to the middle of your back, and your mouth has filled itself with teeth that kept you sleepless for months while they came in. You talk in your sleep, sometimes. Sometimes you let out an angry squawk and roll over and thump your arm down against your bed and fall back to sleep again. Easy peasy pudding and pie for you, little one. I guess this is the “self soothing” nirvana that they speak of. And I don’t doubt that it is what it is, because I saw you learn your way here.

So how did we get here?

It’s been a journey. Just like it was a journey with each of your brothers.

In the end you started making choices. I’d ask you if you wanted to pop off and put your head on my shoulder or have your daddy bounce you. You’d pop off and put your head on my shoulder or sometimes you’d crawl over to your daddy and he’d try to bounce you and you’d get angry because that wasn’t what you wanted. So he’d lay down and you’d fall asleep with your head on his shoulder instead of mine.

Sometimes you’d want to nurse. And I’d say that you could. And sometimes you would. But sometimes your latch was terrible and I’d offer you a drink of water instead. Sometimes you’d cry and I’d say “I’m sorry but you’re biting me.” and then you’d be more careful. Or other times you’d keep on biting me and daddy would try to get you back to sleep and then I’d try to get you back to sleep. And you were upset that you couldn’t nurse back to sleep, but I couldn’t let you chew the skin off of my nipple the way you were every time you tried to nurse. Sometimes you’d want to be with daddy. Other times you’d want to snuggle up to me even if nursing wasn’t possible. Sometimes you’d fall back to sleep. Other times you’d wake all the way up because you did need to nurse. And once you were awake you would nurse and then you’d fall back to sleep and I would stay awake in the wee hours of the morning knowing that my alarm would go off too soon for me to crawl back into bed beside you.

The last stretch wasn’t a “method” or a “process” or something that can be quantified or outlined or made simple. It wasn’t consistent because it was based on your needs and on my ability to meet them, it was based on your latch, your ability to nurse without hurting me. It was my willingness to offer comfort, and ultimately it was your willingness to accept comfort in the different ways that it was offered. It was three people seeking balance in a dark room.

That’s what the “Wait it Out” method is for me. Seeking a balance together rather than forcing a balance apart.

You’re not “Sleeping independently” just yet. You still prefer contact while you sleep for part of the night (although you roll over into your own space more and more). You still nurse to sleep and will probably nurse to sleep for a long while. You still sleep in a sidecarred crib. You still wake up early in the night and then again towards morning.

But this is the part that I’ve been “waiting” for. The part where progress becomes tangible. Where I have proof that you can self soothe. That you are moving forwards. Where I am starting to get the sleep that I want and need.

Now it’s here. And the bad nights still happen sometimes. But that’s okay.

Things are how I said they would be from the beginning. You’d pass through the different stages where you could do different things. You’d master mobility. You’d cut your teeth. You’d learn to speak. You’d be able to listen. We’d talk about sleep. And you’d learn to do it on your own.

You have.

I don’t know if you are my last child or if we will have another child in the future. I know that if you have a little brother or sister we’ll wait it out with them, too. And that passing through it a fourth time won’t be any easier than the first, the second, or the third. I know that I will pass through the same periods of questioning if I could do it, of knowing that I could not. And I know that when it’s all said and done it’s so easy to look BACK and see and understand the progress that you made to this point. But that it’s never something you can see looking forwards.

From here on out we talk. I tell you about sleep. How soft and warm and snuggly it is. How it’s safe and delicious. How you’ll have your own bed in your own room just like your brothers do. And how you’ll move there when you’re ready, and how I might move there too just for a bit as you’re getting comfortable. Then you’ll stretch out and push me away and I’ll know you’re ready for me to leave your room behind.

For now, though, we sleep together still. Sometimes you sleep in your sidecarred crib. Sometimes you sleep snuggled up to your daddy. And other times you sleep with your head on my shoulder and I breathe you in. Your long soft hair tickling my  nose and your breath still smelling milky like a newborn.

All of these things will fade over time all on their own without me rushing it.

<3 Mama

Parenting Like a Marathon

Does anyone else find later stages more difficult than the newborn one?“- A question asked in the WIO group.

It varies. I find that I struggle at different points in time. I compare it to a marathon. At different points along the marathon you’ll struggle. You’ll have a harder time running up hills. You’ll have a harder time when you need water. You’ll have a harder time when you’ve run 2/3rds of the marathon and know you’ve got 1/3rd left to go. You’ll have a hard time if you lose sight of the race you’re running. You’ll have a hard time if you mistakenly think you’re running a 5K race instead of a marathon. You’ll have an easier time in weather that you favor than in weather that you don’t.. All of this applies to WIO as well.

If you think your baby should be STTN by 6 weeks or by 6 months it will be harder if they don’t.

If you are not taking care of yourself it will be harder than if you are.

When you’re part of the way there but not close enough to see the finish line it will be harder.

When you’re “going up hill” with a growth spurt or teething it will be harder.

But like a marathon this “race” has an end. And like a marathon you can’t see the ending from the beginning. You have to run the race and be approaching the finish line before you will see the finish line.

Just like a marathon you’re not “running backwards” when you are running up a hill. And your baby isn’t “unlearning” or “regressing” or “moving backwards” when they’re having a harder time. You’ve run what you’ve run. That isn’t taken away from you or from your baby any more than you’re losing miles when you have to run more slowly up a hill.

Above is an unedited comment that I left in response to someone who asked if anyone else found it “harder” at a certain point than it was with a newborn. I am posting it here on request of a few WIO group members that want to have it easy to reference. <3

The Shifting of Naps in Toddlerhood

Nurshable-ShiftingNaps

Dear Daughter,

You’re twenty months old today! You’ve been working on trying to figure out what new napping pattern makes sense for you, and you’re hovering between those two places at the tail end of your journey to independent sleep. “I CAN’T” has been followed by “I WON’T” and now you’re slowly moving into “I DO IT MYSELF!”

Lately I’ve stopped trying to push the nap at “nap time” and have been letting you lead the way and figure out what your new napping schedule looks like. Allowing you this independence is what bridges that gap between “I WON’T” and “I DO IT MYSELF”, just like being very firm about schedule helped you bridge the gap between “I CAN’T” and “I WON’T”.

Today it was naptime so I took you up to our bed in our room and nursed you.

You were not ready yet. So you popped off and sat up and started to play with the clean cloth diapers that I had been stuffing earlier in the day. (And you sat on my head.)

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You decided after a bit to point at your diaper and exclaim “poo poos!” which you have learned will instantly teleport you to the room where we keep all the fun paper (We’re using the Wait it Out Method of Potty Training too.)

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After a little while you stomped your feet and pointed at the potty and wanted to sit on it with your diaper still on. That’s okay too. It’s progress. (You sang “nyah nyah nyah nyah-NYAH!” while sitting, by the way.)

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We then flushed all the fun paper down the toilet. You giggled and ran to the safety of the door and waved “bye bye” as the toilet flushed.
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Then you wanted to read books. But as soon as we snuggled down to read them you decided that you did not want to read books and practiced speed crawling instead.
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So we went back downstairs and you wanted to tuck the doggy in. “NAP!” you declared as you covered him up.
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Feeling the need for some order in your life you decided to reorganize the cabinets.
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Then you stood up and took my hand and we went back up to your brothers room. You climbed onto the floor mattress where we tried to read books earlier. And you asked to nurse. (Yesterday you fell asleep there watching the fish across the room but today was too exciting so you wanted to wind down a bit.) You knew just what you wanted to do, and squinted your eyes closed as soon as you were latched on and comfy.

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Within a minute you were asleep.
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An hour past your usual “naptime”, two PM is where your naps are more and more often. Soon it will be the new naptime for you. Not just yet, though. You’re still finding your pattern.

I’m okay with waiting while you figure out your needs so that you can dtell me “I DO IT MYSELF!”

<3 Mama