A triumphant post about sleeping through the night

Well, well, well. Greetings from the promised land.

As I write, I am basking in the warm, fuzzy glow of several weeks rest and the luminescence of my skin as those deep-set dark circles created by 15 – yes 15 whole months – of sleepless nights slowly fade.

We believed from the very beginning. We had an unquestioning faith that came from deep within us that our son would learn to sleep through the night all by himself without interference or unnecessary, oppressive discipline.

A triumphant post about sleeping through the night www.mindthebaby.ie Mind The Baby blogOur faith was tested many times and these tests came in many shapes and forms. The shape of others scolding us and criticising us, telling us that we’d have to leave him cry sooner or later or that he was making fools of us by making us run to his beck and call and we were making a rod to beat ourselves with.  It came in the form of what felt like endless weeks of hourly night time wakings where our bodies ached and our heads hurt with the tiredness.

But we still believed.

And our faith was rewarded.

Somewhere in the midst of getting older, really finding his feet, moving up to an older more active age group in the crèche and stopping breastfeeding, Pip has started to sleep for extended periods at night. I don’t think it’s any one of those things that caused it, I think everything has just happened naturally together.

And it is bliss!

Regularly, depending on how much time I spend foostering around before bedtime, I get eight to seven hours uninterrupted sleep a night. Can you imagine? My body has obviously cottoned on because it seems to have adopted some kind of emergency mode and when I fall asleep it is a limp, heavy, unconsciousness. A healing sleep so deep that waking up feels like I’m being pulled from a grave and being born again.

Now, just to be clear because I will NOT be misleading any other believers seeking the promised land, this long sleeping doesn’t happen every single night. There are nights were he might wake once or twice even and he has had a few nights of illness but it does happen most nights. A broken night’s sleep is unusual now, rather than the norm. He’s also started taking lovely one and a half to two hour naps in the middle of the day. All in all, a corner has very much been turned and restfulness is a part of our lives now. That all sounds pretty healthy to me. If you try to tell me it isn’t, I won’t believe you so don’t be wasting your time telling me that your child sleeps solidly seven to seven every night without fail. I’ll call you a liar, I will.

I wouldn’t be one for verbally exclaiming “I told you so” but by God here it comes:

I. told. you. so.

I did not have to train my child to sleep. I did not have to leave him crying alone and upset so that he could “learn” to self soothe. I did not have to go against what my heart was telling me to follow the instructions of public health nurses and parenting books that insisted I was being a bad and neglectful parent by “indulging” the whims of my child. Yes, he was breastfed to sleep. Yes, he was rocked to sleep, Yes, he slept in the loving arms of his parents. Yes, he was comforted and soothed when he woke.

He started to sleep through the night when his body and his mind were ready to, in a healthy, calm, stress-free way. For all concerned.

I’m feeling triumphant.

Believer, it’ll work for you too.  Just keep the faith…

Related posts:

Chasing the sandman

…and the little one said “roll over”

Things I learned #5: the secret world of co-sleeping

19 thoughts on “A triumphant post about sleeping through the night”

  1. Lovely blog, well done for trusting your instincts and ignoring all the naysayers! With my eldest I listened to all those people telling you not to breastfeed them or not to rock or back rub them to sleep and we had a hellish time of it. With numbers 2&3 we listened to our babies and were rewarded with lovely long sleeps when they were ready. And I know you will say I’m telling porkies but number 2 used to sleep for 14 hours! But he does take after his dad…

    1. Thanks Jane! No I do believe you! 14 hours – what a pleasure. It’s the people who tell me that their babies always always sleep through the night and never, ever wake during the night for teeth, illness, nothing. They’re the ones I don’t believe 🙂

  2. Congratulations! It is a wonderful feeling. Our little guy was around the same age when he started sleeping consistently through the night as well. It was a couple of weeks after he learned to walk, so I’d say it started happening when he was around 13-14 months. Now we had had a few weeks of good sleep here and there before that, but this change had a more permanent feel to it.

    Other than one period of regression when he caught swine flu at 15/16 months, (following which he regressed in many areas, not just sleep, until he fully recovered), and some teething nights, we’ve been enjoying sleep since. No sleep training here either. We did try letting him cry one night, but we knew straight away that it wasn’t for us and it wasn’t for him. So I guess we ended up breaking all the rules too – milk if he woke at night hungry, even when he was over a year old, cuddles if he seemed to need them, and staying in the room with him until he fell asleep, even if it took an hour or two.

    And now he’s three – and none of the dire warnings have come true. He goes to bed at 8, without grumbling or complaining usually. After his stories and a kiss and a cuddle, we say goodnight and leave the room. He is usually asleep within 15-20 minutes, often sooner. And he doesn’t wake at night unless something is wrong. So I hear you when you say you are glad you followed your gut on this one. Me too! And when we have the next one, we’ll do it again, only this time with the confidence to tell people they are talking nonsense when they annoy me with threats of a “rod for my back”!!

  3. Well done you. Personally I don’t understand the crying to sleep thing. I have never left T cry, she has a bottle going to bed, will go to sleep by herself. She still wakes, usually if cold or sick. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Going to sleep is supposed to be a nice thing to do.

  4. triumph! my littlest son had a difficult time going to sleep without our help, and we heard all the same things. we were spoiling him. we’d be sorry when he was a petulant brat. he was only learning to the HE controlled US when we answered his cries. i was willing to make that mistake, though. completely, utterly willing. the trust that comes when a child understands that one cry is a valid one is really not a lesson they learn a schedule of your convenience. no doubt there is no glory in it some nights. i tried to remember on those nights, though, that one day he’d grow away from this. this crying through the night thing… it wouldn’t last forever. someday he wouldn’t want to sleep beside me. some night would be the last night he’d need me in the middle of the night. it is frustrating some nights… but you know… my son is almost 4 now. he doesn’t cry out much in the night anymore. he chooses to sleep in his own crib most of the time. but when he does wake up and call for me… and want to curl up next to me in the dark like he did all those long nights of his infancy… it makes me a little sad it’s over now. best to you, and good for you. you’ve given your child a sweet gift. reassurance.

    1. Ah, that’s a lovely comment – thanks puddingthedamageon!

      I know what you mean about them getting older. I can see myself, when he’s a sulky teen breaking my heart, looking at him and thinking “I used to rock you to sleep in the still of the night once”.

      1. ah, our oldest son is 17 and our middle is 15. our baby is 4. amazing child planning, right? i can personally tell you from this vantage — not all teens break your heart! i honestly love being a mother to two teen boys. if someone could promise me they’d all be lovers like these two, i’d have a dozen. 🙂 i really do believe that if you honor them when they are small, they will honor you when they are not.

  5. I’ve been meaning to comment on this since I read it, but it kept getting away from me. So happy to hear he’s sleeping through (long may it last; don’t want to jinx anything for you). What is this “rod for your back” thing? Never heard of it. (Mind you, I think maybe Miss Mabel has one, since she’s nearly four and still not sleeping through the night most of the time. I don’t think letting her yell, at any point, would have helped, though. It would just make her angrier.)

    Have you read Moxie’s take on tension increasers and decreasers? (http://www.askmoxie.org/2011/01/tension-increasers.html) I think it explains really well why some people swear by cry-it-out while others can’t imagine using it. I used to let my son cry for a few minutes (like, 5 or 10, max) when he was so wriggly he just couldn’t even stop to nurse to sleep. Once he’d got out the tension, he was like a different child and would nurse to sleep in no time. But that’s not CIO – I always went back in to him.

    1. No I haven’t read that. Thanks for the link – one to read with a cuppa this evening.

      “You’re making a rod to beat yourself with” basically means that you are making trouble for yourself. As in, if you indulge your child by responding to their every whim, it’s just going to make things harder for you when they’re a crazed, undisciplined, unruly child/teenager. Obviously I don’t believe this but many’s the CIO supporter that does

  6. Such a lovely post to read. Well done for keeping the faith. I was you with my son – he didn’t sleep till he was 18 months and it was hard to stay positive and hang on to our ideals, but the feeling of pride when he finally did manage to sleep through by himself was worth it. And the best thing is, he still has such a lovely relationship with us and sleep. He happily skips to bed and sleeps alone or cuddled up next to us anywhere and everywhere. Way more flexible than a lot of my ‘stricter’ friends. Yay, you!

  7. I bookmarked this post ages ago and I reread it every so often, especially if I’m struggling with little man’s sleep. It makes me feel so much better, reaffirms my gentle approach to sleep. Thanks x (12 months of broken sleep, but sure who’s counting??!!)

What do you think?