This week on my blog I wrote about letting my daughter, Annie, cry it out at night. It was a difficult decision for my husband and me. No one likes to hear their child cry, and since Annie is 20 months old, she can CRY. She can scream too. And she has endurance. Lots of it. But judging from some of the comments and emails I received, you’d think I’d left her in her crib with spiders and razor blades: “U H8 UR BAYBEE! U R A BAAAAAD PERSON!”
We have been a co-sleeping family for a long time. My oldest daughter, Madeline, slept with us for her whole life. With Annie, we brought her into our bed when she was eight weeks old. I’d like to say it was for her benefit, but Mike and I really needed to have her in bed with us to help with our grief over the loss of her older sister. Co-sleeping was a great arrangement – until it wasn’t.
Annie is a big kid. She’s twenty months old but taller than a lot of two year olds, and when she sleeps she spins, kicks, and flops around. This leads to her waking all of us up dozens of times a night with kicks to the face or somewhere else just as fun. It got so bad that I started to sleep on the couch while my husband and daughter slept in our king-size bed. It was the only way the three of us got any sleep.
Another reason we made this decision is because we would like to try for another baby next year. We don’t know if we’ll co-sleep with another baby, but if we do, we certainly can’t have Annie in bed with us, too – not the way she moves. Since we don’t want Annie to associate moving into her own room with the arrival of a new sibling, it is important that we move her now.
Co-sleeping also doesn’t work when my husband and I go out of town. A few weeks ago we left Annie home with Grandma while we attended a friend’s wedding, and my poor mom was a wreck sharing a bed with Annie. She couldn’t relax into a restorative sleep, and when she finally DID manage to fall asleep, she was kicked in the chest.
Crying it out was, for us, the last resort. The first night was rough – she cried for an hour and a half – but the next morning she woke up happy, playful, and loving. Since then Annie has cried less each night, and continued to wake up in a great mood. And, my husband and I are waking up feeling rested for the first time in, oh, twenty months or so!
Letting Annie cry it out was not easy at first, but it has given us all the rest we need. What works for your family?