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A week ago, I started trying to teach Owen how to fall asleep in his crib.

Ok, that isn't quite true, Owen nearly always falls asleep in his crib. I am trying to teach him how to do it without Mama being in there with him. Why yes, I have been as a matter of routine climbing into Owen's crib with him, staying there until he falls asleep, and then heaving myself back over the rail as quietly as possible. And when he wakes up, as he does often, I just climb back in. Lather, rinse, repeat until I give up and bring him to bed with me, where he wakes me up every 90 minutes all night long if I'm lucky.

And I know, ok, I KNOW. This is a ridiculous parenting strategy. And if any of you haven't gotten three consecutive hours of sleep in the past fifteen months, and I mean not even once, then you go right ahead and mock me and judge me. But if you have had three consecutive hours of sleep at any point in the past fifteen months, then you will have to just mock and judge me silently in your own head. Because I am tired. I am so, so tired, and climbing into his crib works and then I get to go to sleep. Briefly.

But it finally dawned on me that maybe this short-term solution was not the best way to meet my long-term goals. (Duh, right? But please see above re: I never sleep at all ever for more than a year now.) So I haven't been in that crib in a week. Well, ok, once I did, to get him back to sleep when he woke up 30 minutes into a nap that needed to be much longer, but otherwise, no. I started putting him in his crib and standing next to it on a stool so that I could get my entire upper body down to his level and basically lie on top of him while he fell asleep. And then I put him down and stayed there rubbing his back. And then I rubbed his back and head through the crib bars, and then his foot, and now he will go to sleep as long as I am there holding his hand.

And twice he has slept nine hours straight, and once he slept eight hours straight, and that is more than double his usual longest stretch, so I suppose we are making some progress here somewhere. And I take back everything I ever said about sleep training. (Except not really.)

Then, three days ago, I weaned him. I don't think he even noticed, which I suppose means it was past time to do it. Mama's Dairy Bar is officially closed. And while weaning Mia caused me to randomly dissolve into tears for about a week, all you're getting out of me this time is a heart-felt Hallelujah. (Tinged ever so slightly at the corners with a mild shade of regret, of course.)

Comments (32)

I love that he wants you to hold his hand while he falls asleep. You may be completely exhausted but the way I see it is this is such a small little bleep on their scale of life so savor each moment! At least that is what I tell myself rather then breaking down from complete exhaustion! We call it the milk bar in our house too...Whenever the baby fusses the girls will proclaim that the baby needs the milk bar. At least I am good for something!

Hi Beth, I just wanted to tell you what a great Mom I think you are. You're so dedicated, patient, loving, calm and capable. Alright, beneath the surface you're probably paddling like crazy, but you still do what you gotta do and, well, you manage it in the best way you can. Your kids and Chris are damned blessed to have you love and take care of them. Keep on keeping on!

Woo woo- you ROCK with the sleep training!
I will share a cautionary tale about the milk bar may think its closed. He may think its closed. But that is no guarantee that he won't, in 2,3,6,30 days ask for the milk bar to be re-opened. And unless he is literally too ill to eat (which would be something), keep that bar closed. I speak as a humble mommy of a three year old who may, just finally, be weaned.

This conjures images of Robert Munsch's _Love you Forever_ in my mind. So sweet, yet so weird. Trust me, no criticism coming from me, whose 7 year old daughter still manages to sleep in my bed 3 nights a week....but only because she doesn't want me sleeping alone when Daddy is out of town, yeah right.

And you say you're not interesting enough for memes? Right.

I've had SOME sleep lately, but not nearly enough. So I'm not going to judge, because "(S)he who is without sin" yada yada yada. Mostly I'm going to pray he gets to the point where you only have to hold his hand for a few minutes before you crawl through the hallway to your own bed.

And that he doesn't insist on joining you there at 3 in the morning for the next two years.


I have the opposite problem. My 1 year old sleeps all night most of the time. My 4 year old however will not stay in her bed.

Anyway, glad he's sleeping better, and maybe now you'll get some sleep. :-)

Congrats on moving out of the crib. Getting kids to sleep is hard. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be so many damn books about the subject.

It has been ten years since I had to deal with a non-sleeper, but I would NEVER, EVER judge you. I think I still have PTSD from the experience! Glad you've at least had some decent sleep in the last week or so.

No judgment here- I have one AWESOME sleeper and one not-so-awesome sleeper and I think it is about 85% personality because my younger one didn't WANT to be cuddled to sleep--he squirmed and cried until I PUT him in his crib. His older brother regularly squawks still and there is high drama surrounding bedtime (approaching age 3). "Sleep training" can work but it's all about timing--so I think it's GREAT that you have made so much progress and I commend you!! Here's to longer stretches of sleep that become a consistent part of your life :)

I think you're a great mom, too, but I will say that it sucks we sometimes have to learn things the hard way. Congrats on the progress!

Holy crap woman - how do you string words together with so little sleep? So thankful here that my children both sleep well from a pretty early age because the wheels come off the bus fast when momma doesn't get sleep.

awww.. good for you for nursing this long. I nursed my son for 2 years and it was such a wonderful experience for me. He learned to sleep in his own bed when he was like 3, though. We did the family bed until one day my husband and I had had ENOUGH! lol so we decided to gently transition him into his room. It was a nightmare, so good for you for doing it sooner.

Hooray for sleep! Hope it just keeps getting better and better :)

I'm not judgey, just amazed that you can get yourself into and out of a crib. I would not be able to physically accomplish that task without a lot of heaving and grunting and swearing which would undo any good that lying down with the child would do....

I have to 2nd Donna...I'm certain that I'm not even capable of climbing in the crib, and even if I could, I'd most likely exceed the maximum weight.

But 'grats on the stretches of sleep. And don't think we don't remember what happened as soon as Mia started sleeping in her own bed. ;-)

Oh, and as long as we're divulging sleep secrets, our youngest (16 mos) still sleeps in our room. In a playpen, but still in our room. His real crib is in the room with his big bro, and he makes too much noise settling down at night, so the little one goes in our room and we move him to his crib once both boys are asleep.

Ok, I kinda wanna mock you about the getting into the crib thing, although part of me knows that if I had realized that thing would hold an adult's weight, I would have done it myself to get a little more sleep. Instead, I will YAY! you for getting him sleeping now, because that's what really matters, right? My son still isn't sleeping through the night, and worse, I still feed him once a night, occasionally more. At 13 months, I'm fairly sure I'm the fool on that one.

So 9 hours of sleep....what is that LIKE?

Could we have a picture of you in the crib? :) Thank goodness my baby did not require this technique b/c she sleeps in a mini-crib. It would have been a tight squeeze!

Could we have a picture of you in the crib? :) Thank goodness my baby did not require this technique b/c she sleeps in a mini-crib. It would have been a tight squeeze!

I'm in sheer awe that you can get in and out of the crib and that you weigh so little. We ended up converting our crib to the toddler bed at 17 months (far earlier than we ever planned) to deal with our poor sleeper, so I totally get the urge. And she's 19 months now, and we're still rocking her to sleep and I want to throw things at people who tell me how they just "put the toddler in the bed and return in the morning."

And yes, keep that milk bar closed if that's your goal! After two months of not nursing, my DD has suddenly decided to start asking for it again, and I'm playing selectively deaf :)

Congrats Beth, that is AWESOME! We have a non sleeper on our hands too, but he's only 10 months old and I don't fit in his crib so he mostly sleeps in our bed. We started sleep learning this week too and while we're still light-years away from eight and nine hours we've seen two, three and four hour stretches which beat the pants off the previous 40 - 60 min routine and needing to be latched all night long.

I'm so glad for you. People who judge sleep issues make me stabby.

Kudos on the sleep training! Could a toddler bed be just around the corner? Times certainly flies, doesn't it?

Wow! My kids are grown...but when you described standing on a stool and virtually laying down with him over the crib and GETTING IN THE CRIB...well been there done that! Ah the memories, I'm glad to know all these years later that I'm not the only one to use such sleeping techniques! Thanks and I feel your sleep deprivation! Good Luck!

Wow. Congratulations! You are a rock star, because we STILL do not have sleeping for eight hours through at this house. Probably because the Milk Bar is still wide open, and closing time? Pfft. Just a mere suggestion.

"and now he will go to sleep as long as I am there holding his hand."

That is just the sweetest thing EVER EVER EVER!

Absolutely no judgement here. I've got two kids a little older than yours (boy 8, girl 4) and I've done things that're just as crazy all in the name of getting some damn SLEEP.

You gotta do what you gotta do, to get through that night, huh. Even if you know it's something that you'll have to stop doing at some point.


So I just got out of my 21 month old daughter's crib, ahem. I really thought I was the only person who did that!! Thank you for sharing your methodology for getting out of the crib, I really need to do it yesterday.

Awww...seriously, no tears on weaning him? it bought tears to my eyes, just reading it. And I just am not getting ur sleep strategies...cannot even imagine heaving myself in and out of a crib!! You must be real petite....well, whatever works/worked!

oh my gosh - can you please give me more details on the sleep training and weaning. my little guy is also 15 months and my plan to begin the weaning process AND getting him to sleep IN his crib was to start this week. I'm super stressed about it is appreciated.

It's so nice to hear that I wasn't the only one holding onto old habits to get their children to sleep. Kara will be 17 months old soon, and up until two weeks ago Luke and I were still rocking her to sleep. There was a time around nine months where she was going down in the crib after a few minutes with minimal fussing, but then we moved and there was teething and a time change and suddenly she couldn't go to sleep unassisted anymore. I was pregnant with my son and feeling nostalgic about our time together so Luke and I just said "Screw it" and started rocking her again.

Once we decided that it was time for a change, we took it step by step, starting with middle-of-the-night wakings. If Kara cried out for us, we still went to her, but instead of taking her out of the crib and rocking her back down, we sat next to the crib, rubbed her hand/forehead/leg/whatever, and said soothing things until she went back to sleep--kind of what you're already right now. The first night was hard, but it didn't take long for her to stop reaching out with her arms to be taken to the rocking chair. Once we were good on that, then we made the change in our bedtime routine. Before that first night, we spoke about it on and off all day about how bedtime was going to be a little different, Kara will go to sleep all by herself, blah blah blah. And holy crap, it worked! It's been almost three weeks now, and while sometimes she'll fuss a little, it's never full-blown crying, and it never lasts very long, if it even happens. And now I am so glad that we rocked as a long as we did because I already miss that time with my baby.

Good luck with Owen! I never tried climbing into the crib with Kara. You should get Chris to take a picture for his baby book! That would be a sight to see.

5 months in all I can say is woohoo for sleep - however one might get it!

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So the Fish Said...

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