Elliott has recently nestled into a very comfortable sleep habit. He can be relied on to close his eyes for the evening around 8PM. Somewhere between the hour of midnight and 3AM, he is equally reliable to wake up and summon his mom to escort him to his comfortable middle of the night accomodations at "motel mama's side."
We came to realize recently that this sleep pattern was only working for Elliott. Something had to change. So on a recent mother and son visit to the library, Katie got a book on sleep training. After reading the book, she purchased the necessary items to create the proper sleep environment for Elliott (room darkening blinds), created the necessary sleep habit tracking charts, and finally, we agreed to tweak some of the techniques in our bag of parenting skills. Let the sleep training begin.
Monday night was the kickoff of our drive to double digit sleep hours (at least for Elliott). The event lacked the fanfare of a Monday Night Football kickoff, but the house was nonetheless filled with pre-game jitters. Elliott didn't seem to notice the extra commotion involved in preparing the playing field; I'm not sure he realized he was about to be introduced to a new game, or at least a new version of an old game.
The bedtime routine proceeded as normal. According to the book, this part of operation get your child to sleep through the night we do well. Hey, we aren't total sleep deprived losers. Elliott got his bath, got dressed, sipped on a little milk while he read his book (or maybe it was mom's turn to read), brushed his teeth and then slipped off to lala land right on schedule. He continued to honor his schedule at 3AM. With his half asleep voice of innocence he requested his transport to the motel with "maaa..ma" There was no reply (one of the parenting skill adjustments). This didn't sit well. His voice became loaded with anxiety. It sounded an awful lot like the lady who streaked by me in panic yesterday afternoon in downtown Richmond just sure she had missed her bus.
It was time for step 3 (or 4, I didn't memorize the step numbers). Mom went to Elliott's room to reassure him that we were still here and to calmly request that he lay down and go back to sleep. I don't know if the book actually prepared you for the response to expect from this request, or if any other baby has ever responded the way Elliott did, but his answer was not one of compliance. His voice of plea suddenly shifted to one of protest. From "mama please come get me" to "mama get me now or I'll wake the whole stinkin neighborhood." My vote was mama go get him because I'm sure I saw at least 3 porch lights come on.
No need for distress, it was time for sleep training's big gun. Mama bear. Seems the child needs a substitute for the security and reassurance of his mama, so Katie offered Elliott mama bear. She took the stuffed companion to him and promised that mama bear would take care of him through the night. She left and allowed the bear to do its magic. At first it sounded like the bear joined in the screaming. The volume reached decibel levels that drowned the whistle of the train that was roaring through town.
The outburst was brief. Silence came almost as suddenly as the original cries. The entire protest was a half an hour and then he was back to sleep until shortly after 5AM, which is a huge step in the right direction.
As a side note. When mama went to greet him at 5, mama bear was lying sprawled out in the middle of Elliott's bedroom floor. I can't help but wonder what that child was thinking the second before he launched that bear over the side of his crib. Go hibernate you imposter!?
Last night Elliott skipped the fit. He slept straight through until a few minutes after 5 this morning. I would say the sleep training is going well. I'm just wondering though, who is really being trained here?
Don't forget to voice your opinion on a name for Elliott's brother in our poll on the side of this page.