Tina has a new trick! She's been demonstrating it almost exclusively for the last 2 days.
Yes, K has taught her how to blow raspberries. She's hardly cooing now, just blowing spit all over the place. Hmmmm, do I warn my parents when they come over to babysit or let them discover the spewing spittle all on their own?
I can see you wondering, what does this have to do with sleep training? Well, it demonstrates that Tina is really capable of learning. That means that whatever habits we are setting now are habits that are being learned. So if we have bad habits, we're going to have to unteach them later and that's just difficult.
Tina is also demonstrating that she's learned to cry for manipulation, not just for needs. Some nights, she'll cry in her crib, then almost the moment we pick her up, she falls to sleep, only to squinch up and start crying again the moment she touches the mattress. But if we leave her there to fuss, it only takes a few minutes for her to fall asleep (usually). So she's crying to make us pick her up when she needs to be learning how to fall asleep in the crib.
Tina pretty much just has one cry. Her face squinches up, she twists from side to side, and then the crying starts. There's no telling if she's just unhappy, hungry, in some sort of pain, it all sounds pretty much the same. Charlotte is more, um, honest about how she's feeling. She'll kind of grunt and make little unhappy noises for things like waking up and wanting attention, or when she loses the pacifier but she won't really cry for those things. I've heard her lightly cooing happily at the mobile for a while after waking up if she's content to sit in the crib for a little bit. She'll express excitement with loud, urgent coos, and other times she'll just kind of talk when she has important things to tell us. So when she screetches, and good lord is it a god awful screetch, I believe her to be in real pain.
When Charlotte doesn't want to go to sleep and just sits there grunting, it's not very difficult to leave her be to fall asleep. But Tina, ugh. She screams and gets worked up and it's really, really hard to let her deal with it on her own.
But two nights ago, we decided that it's time to let them cry it out. We need to stop allowing them to manipulate us into endless rocking and snuggle cycles that go on for hours until everyone is exhausted and I'm crying and K is frustrated because I've lost my patience and it's now up to him to get them to sleep. At this point, if we continue to endlessly attempt to soothe them, they're going to learn that all they have to do is cry to put off going to sleep. I've read the books, I've heard tips from a sleep consultant, and yup, it's time to cry it out.
So we do bedtime routine. This is still a little hit or miss, but this is how it went down tonight after their evening nap (K is working the late shift so I was on my own).
Gentle interaction until Charlotte started getting tired eyes.
Give Charlotte a bath.
Put her in the crib in just a diaper and give her a little massage with bedtime lotion. Turn off main light so it's just the night light and mobile lights.
Get Tina and put her in the crib to watch the lights on the mobile.
Get Charlotte dressed in a onesie and jammies.
Snuggle with Charlotte and sing the lullaby twice.
Put her back in the crib, swaddle her, give her the pacifier. Turn the mobile on again so she can watch the lights.
Give Tina a bath.
Put her in the crib in just a diaper and give her a little massage with bedtime lotion.
Get Tina dressed in a onesie and jammies.
Snuggle with Tina and sing the lullaby twice.
Put her back in the crib, swaddle, fix Charlotte's pacifier.
Sing the lullaby once more and tell them I'll see them in the morning.
Turn the mobile on one last time (it's on about a 10 minute timer) and the white noise machine and turn off the night light.
Leave the room.
The plan was to let them cry until they fell asleep, but they beat me to the punch and fell asleep on their own! Awesome!
And just as I'm typing this, 2 hours after that success, Tina is waking up and crying. I'm sitting here wondering if I should feed her (it's been about 3 hours since her last bottle), let her cry, go in and pick her up, try to soothe her with belly rubs and gentle words in the crib? I just don't know. I think I'm going to warm a bottle and feed her in the crib, quick burp, then back to bed. By then, K should be home so we can figure out what to do from there.
In theory, cry it out. In reality, unlikely to happen. We'll see how this goes.