I can still remember the doctor’s words at The Kid’s three-month visit like it was yesterday: “Your child is old enough to sleep through the night. You will just have to let him cry it out. If you don’t do it now, it will just be more difficult once he gets older.” My wife and I looked at each other and smiled. We were ready even if The Kid wasn’t. He wasn’t much of a sleeper and we weren’t getting too many ZZZs at that point in time.
That night we let The Kid cry it out. It only took 23 minutes (yes, we were timing it). Then we had six hours of uninterrupted peace. That was the first time he had ever slept that many hours in a row. The next night he cried it out for 21 minutes and slept another six hours. We were well on our way to getting a good nights sleep or so I thought. On the third night after about five minutes The Wife said she couldn’t take it anymore, grabbed The Kid and said he was sleeping with her. I made up the couch
She told me the next day not to worry, “they had gotten into a good rhythm together. She was sleeping and so was he.” I was still being handed The Kid around 5 am – so I wasn’t sure I was getting the whole truth. But that was our life for the next 9 months. We were practicing our own version of attachment parenting. The Kid never left our side. Not during the day and not when he slept. We were caught in between the two choices of Ferberizing or nursing The Kid through the night until he went off to college – or so it seemed to me.
By the time The Kid was a year old he was only sleeping maybe two hours at a time before he looked for a breast or a bottle. The Wife and I were a wreck and The Kid probably wasn’t getting enough sleep. Nevertheless, we were still torn. Even though the pressures of modern life push us towards getting our kid on a schedule there is something very natural about having your child by your side at all times. That’s certainly how it was done for millennia before the alarm clock and the 40 hour work week were invented.
We were caught in a sleep trap and couldn’t figure out what to do. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t get on the same page on how to manage The Kid. So we called a child sleep therapist, who practiced Kim West’s non “cry it out” strategy.
Is the approach a miracle and a true third way? Well, there is definitely some crying, just not for minutes on end. I’ll let you read the literature to see how it is done. But more importantly for us, what our therapist was able to do was get us both on the same page on how we were going to manage The Kid’s sleeping. She was a sleep therapist and consensus builder wrapped up in one.
It only took a few days to get The Kid sleeping more or less through the night. It wasn’t that difficult. We just needed a too both be on board with what we were doing. There have of course been setbacks with his sleeping, but we now have the tools to get him back in the crib and loving it (more or less). Now if we could only get him off the bottle. I think the doctor said something about that too when The Kid turned one.