inventing our way through sleep training, part 3

Part 1

My boy is a champion fighter when it comes to combating the Sandman. Some days I am reduced to tears by his ability to avoid sleeping. Those are not my best days. So I started making up my own way to sleep train him. 

If it is clearly time for baby to nap, or it is bedtime, I lay him down and encourage him to sleep. Usually I try to get away with not nursing him, but usually he wants to nurse. I say "it's time for sleeping" and I lie down next to him, demonstrating sleepiness (because everyone knows I'm exhausted and ready for a nap 24/7). He usually humors me and plays along, unless I break The Rules.

He will then begin a series of fake-outs. There is no way to predict how many fake-outs he is planning. A fake-out is when he is, by all appearances, about to pass the heck out. His eyes roll back, his cheeks get chubby, and he lays his head down on the mattress and gets still. Then, FAKE OUT! He rolls over and pushes himself into sitting, usually with eyes so heavy they won't open at first. He bobs his head while he "comes to" and gets his bearing (this is simultaneously the most adorable and most exasperating thing I see all day) and then takes off toward nearest interesting thing.

After fake-out #1, I say "it's time for sleeping" again and lay him back down. Sometimes he plays along again ("oh, right, I guess I'm a little sleepy, maybe I'll have a nap") and sometimes he immediately pushes up. Most of the time, I will then say "Gabriel, if you're going to play right now, you may play in your playpen" and I plunk him in the playpen, which is loaded with his favorite toys. Sometimes he is thrilled by this, and sometimes not. I then go about my business - picking up the room, checking email, whatever.

He plays contentedly (or not) and then, when he's tired again, he starts fussing. I usually wait until he's single-mindedly, determinedly fussing (release some of that energy, boy!!), and then I pick him up and start the whole "it's time for sleep" thing again. 

Eventually, I end up winning. 

I am planning to read the No Cry Sleep Solution once I get my hands on a library copy, to see some other suggestions. In the meantime, this is what we're doing. 

I don't really know if it's making any difference in his sleep associations or the amount of sleep he's getting or the time it takes to get him there, but I feel much less helpless in the the not-sleeping situation, and I'm able to start getting some things done. That said, I worry a lot that I'm "doing it wrong." I fear I'm training him to see the playpen as somewhere we DON'T sleep, and I'm a little worried about how that will translate if and when I move him to a crib. I also haven't come up with a solution for getting him to sleep past my alarm, but my hope is that maybe, as he gets more and better sleep, he will start to sleep longer in the mornings- one of those "the more he sleeps, the more he sleeps" notions. I'm also hoping that the later sunrises might work in my favor. 

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