Whew..... Now that all "the facts" are out of the way, we can get on to the more common question: "If you don't sleep train, how do you get your babies to sleep?" (whether its sleeping through the night or just going to sleep easily at bed time.) Again, my PSA has to make an appearance. I AM IN NO WAY SAYING THAT ONE METHOD IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER, NOR DO I JUDGE ANYONE FOR THEIR PARENTING CHOICES! These are simply the things that work best for US. After doing my digging for part 1, and finding several negative psychological effects of Crying for babies and discrepancies with MY ideas and goals of being a mother (and as you'll see, Daddy's too...) when it comes to enforcing the "rules" of CIO, we just decided it wasn't for us. Ok.... So, the mommy in me wanted the chance to share and discuss our experiences with bedtime...now that the nerd in me had a chance to get my "books smarts" out in part 1. (There are few mommies that I dedicate this part to! Ms. Sandra and Lori especially!!! <3) We have been doing a bedtime routine since we were about 6 or 8 weeks (here's a recap of all our routines from day 1- somewhat current). It has always consisted of a bottle (usually 1-2 oz more than daytime feeds) and a bedtime story. In the early days we would cluster feed starting at 6pm, and have a routine play, change, and feed/story time. Once we started solids (and switched from AM baths to PM before bed baths), we would wake around 5:30-6 pm, nurse then play, dinner at 7-7:30 (depending on the way the day has run; on days we follow sched well its 7:30, on days we don't nap well it's 7..), bath after dinner (dinner can last 15-30 min depending on how the day went AND what we are eating that night), we bathe and bottle/story, sleep. Until recently somewhere between bottle and the end of story/ chapter they are anywhere from 75%-100% asleep.
Before we had the discussion about "sleep training", I asked Daddy a few questions (he was unfamiliar with CIO and the whole concept of sleep training FYI). I asked him "would you be ok with letting the girls cry for a little while if they didn't go straight to sleep after we put them down?"/ "how long would you try to put them to sleep if they don't fall asleep during their bedtime story? what would you do if they don't go straight to sleep" type questions. He looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested letting them cry at all. This is how I feel also.... that it's just against our common sense and instinct to let a baby (let alone 2) cry while we actively do nothing about it. One CIO advice blog suggested playing music and cards while waiting for baby to go to sleep. Or even having mom (who is usually the most likely to "cave in" and respond to baby) LEAVE THE HOUSE so CIO can be executed effectively. SERIOUSLY?? If I have to leave my house because my baby's distress is going to cause me distress, we have a BIG ISSUE!!!!! (just blows my mind.... crying is the only way an infant can communicate with us) AGAIN: NO JUDGEMENT. EVERYONE DOES WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM, these are just my opinions as a mother, and it just isn't something that is for us.
One thing I did after discovering this newly found evening energy, at 8 months, was try to adjust the girls schedules a little here and there to see if there were getting too much or not enough sleep during the day. (Finally a WHOLE MONTH LATER, it fell better into place; I never did check to see if it was a wonder week..) After several adjustments nothing really seemed to work except for pushing back bedtime by about 30 minutes. What HAS helped them tire out faster is giving them their push and standing toys during their last playtime (6-7:30) so they can REALLY wear themselves out. And we used to get a little jumping time in too before we eat (when they were still into that, maybe ended around 7.5-8 mo). They do play with these through the day, but only when the girls initiate play with them; in the evening, ALL of these toys come to the middle of the playroom. (This is probably the longest part of our waking day that we have a diaper on. We are more focused on them burning through whatever energy they have left in em that we don't want coming into bedtime.) They have dinner around 7:30 (an hour after they have nursed... this is always our rule of thumb for milk and food... we space the feedings 1.5 hours apart) and as soon as they let us know they are done eating (getting restless, lack of interest in food, want "up," and/or want water), they go straight up for a bath.
When we do bath time (the start of our bedtime), we are pretty flexible. Yes we have a "set routine" (bath, lotion, nose drops, brush teeth and hair), but how that all gets accomplished is not so set in stone. Sometimes we would each take a baby to be responsible for, other times we split duties. One is not more harder than the other... trust. When we split up, one of us makes the bottles AND gets the stuff to get babes ready for after they finish their bath (lotion, nose drops, hairbrush, butt paste if needed, aquaphor (for the drool ridden dry faces), tooth "brushes" (little finger topper brushes)) Lately daddy has been doing the bathing, while I dry and dress them. (He likes getting a little one on one time with each of the girls at the end of the day before bedtime!) After all is said and done, we make sure, the white noise machine is on, the reading lamp is on, and the big light is off. We read a chapter or 2 and drink our bottles.
They used to fall asleep before I finished reading. Lately, (thanks in part to those pesky teeth poking through) with their new found mobility, they are not so eager to call it quits when story time comes. They just wanna crawl and climb. We have been trying to tackle this from different directions to see what works best for the girls. One of the ways we tried bedtime was to let them play in their cribs after bath until they got tired (after attempting and failing miserably at our usual bottle and bedtime story). This method wasn't too bad. It was nice being able to watch the girls tire themselves and having some quiet and quality "family time." Once they start to get fussy, we feed the girls their bottles and put them down to sleep (usually at this point they will be fast asleep before they finish their milk) This way can take around 30-45 minutes to get them completely settled in their cribs and asleep. (One thing that really helps put the girls to sleep (when they are almost there, but want to be held when we put them down) is patting their butts.... dk what it is about the "butt tap," but it puts them right out! I understand that some people think that is "too long" to take trying to put them down to sleep, however it is my opinion that it is my job to make sure that my babies are full and content when they go to sleep. Sure, it gets in my way of "getting my stuff" done (or my "me time" even), but if I follow my schedule/routine (and with the help of a food prep day) this whole situation takes more patience than time.
What has proved to work a little better (and what will more than likely be our new routine) is offering their bottles during story time, and trading babies if either starts to get "rambunctious." Especially with the change in their schedule at 9 mo (lost one hour of nap time; second nap time is now referred to as "quiet time" and it usually ends with all 3 of us asleep lol) we are finding that they are more likely to cooperate and drink and listen to the story. They DO NOT, however, fall asleep until after the light goes off. For example, tonight Nadia had finished her bottle before I finished my story, and she was kind of toss and turn-y, so we turned of the light and she cuddled right up on me (sitting in that "wrapped" position as if i was wearing her) and rubs her lovey on her face and is out in about a minute or less. MiMi was with daddy and was a little more "antsy pantsy" during the story, but after given her lovey she would calm down and regroup. After the light went out, and I put Nadi in her crib, I had to of course wake daddy who had MiMi on his chest; they were cuddled up and out for the count.
This way seems to take about 5 minutes extra past the bedtime story (which is WAY better than the extra 30-45 it was taking to let them play it out). The hardest part about this way is not falling (and staying) asleep with them. Now this is totally an option if we get our meals in during their meal time and take care of the dogs b4 bedtime, but that only happens in a perfect world. (Nothing wrong with falling asleep with them for a few on a friday night though.. those random 2 am nights can be fun! middle of the night "snack" and some movies while cuddled with the babies (im usually nursing one or both around that time; you know, living life on the edge lol). Point is, it takes LESS time this way to "cuddle" them to sleep than if they had to cry or even just put themselves to sleep. They feel secure and safe when they go to sleep also. Leaving them to cry prevents ANY of the fun and special stuff from happening: The bonding, the security they find in us, etc.
They used to both fit on our chests together (both at once), and ever since they both stopped fitting I savor every chance I get to snuggle. I know the day will come, before I even realize, when they won't want anything to do with snuggles or mommy. SO, like I said, SAVOR. I look back and even though as each day ended I know I did my best, there are times I wish I had worn them more, or just dug for more patience that one day. THOSE thoughts keep me calm and eager to snuggle my bunnies to sleep. <3 Now it does get hard, and maybe one night out of the week someone will end up in their swing. (The thing I have learned while trying to drop the swings completely, is that with the cribs they want to play and explore all the openness around them. Rest is the last thing on their mind.) It's not so much the motion they need, as the "containment."
Our "quiet time" is them in their cribs when their afternoon nap time is and letting them have the chance to explore their space. They do end up in the swing when they get fussy (or by 5 so they can get at least ONE hour of sleep in for that nap time). I use this time (now) to read. I may occasionally blog, but I LOVE to read and trying to make at least 30 min -1 hour of time each day for me to do something for ME. (9 times out of 10 I end up taking a quick nap too. and sometimes the day calls for cup of coffee #2...)
Did you know that a baby's cry is designed to increase it's likelihood of survival. HERE is some pretty cool info about that!
I leave you with one last great READ. (I agree with everything except the no "control over bowels." part. That CLEARLY is false; we don't ALWAYS use our potties, but they still know whats up with them. Dad is actually better at catching poops now then me! We've done EC since 7 months) Remember, at the end of the day we are only human and we do our best. Being a parent is not an easy job and there is no "short cut" way to do many things. They won't be babies forever, so enjoy it while you can........
There is a part 3 coming up so be sure to click that little follow button if you want it (and other new posts) sent directly to your email! And also be sure to like our FB pg so you can get in on even more action and all the stuff "that make our twin life go 'round" <3