Parenting during the night looks nothing like I thought it would.
Before my son came my husband and I discussed at length what our sleeping arrangement would be. Like so many other parents we decided to keep B in a bassinet in our room. We speculated some kind of an end, but I see now it was really two non-parents just throwing out numbers. “Three months maybe… Maybe six months… Until he sleeps through the night…”
Yeah. We know. We know.
The first two months B slept dutifully in the bassinet. Though he was awake to nurse about every hour and a half or so, I considered that part of having a newborn. We moved him to his crib around three months, and it went just fine. But a cold he couldn’t shake had him sleeping in his bouncy seat in our room, next to the bed, tightly swaddled in a blanket for two weeks. The cold passed and we quickly realized he was getting too big for the seat (I rolled over to find him with his feet touching the floor one morning – and he’s was only 11 pounds!.) And aren’t babies not supposed to be sleeping in these for long stretches anyway?! Ack!
This set-up was as close to co-sleeping as we’ll get in our house. But, although we didn’t do bed-sharing with an infant, this sleeping arrangement gave me a good taste of why co-sleepers love it. B would fuss in the middle of the night, looking for his paci, a soft pat or needing to be re-swaddled. I could hear him, and get to him instantly. I could sooth him back to sleep in minutes, which meant more sleep for him and more sleep for me. I was learning to decipher the difference between the middle-of-the-night fussing and a cry for food.
There, I believe, is where the problem number one started.
I’m not going to get in to crying-it-out right now. The long and short of it is this: My son has needs, even in the middle of the night. I intend to meet those needs. That being said, I also believe it’s important that B is comfortable sleeping in his crib, by himself.
These weeks of sleeping in the seat got him used to a snug, comfy arrangement where I ran to him immediately as he woke through sleep cycles. Now he’s in the crib, and it’s flat and open and I don’t blame him one bit for thinking we pulled a fast one on him. I still go to him, only now my running to sooth him involves padding down the hall and standing at his crib side. Even though I would prefer it, we don’t have enough living space to move his crib in to our bedroom next to the bed. So for now it’s an adjustment phase.
But all that pales in comparison to problem number two.
He has become very attached to his soft fleece blanket, so it’s what I’ve used to swaddle him. Every time he’s fallen asleep out of the crib (carseat, swing, bouncy chair) he has pulled this blanket around his face. Yup. Around his whole face. He holds this blanket most of the day, and apparently loves sleeping with it touching his cheeks/chin/forehead.
So now I walk in to check on him and in the middle of the night I find him kicked out of the swaddle and holding the blanket to his chin. AND he’s starting to want to roll over, which means I can’t swaddle him with the blanket for much longer, but he’s still going to want the blanket in his crib to sleep.
Enter my no-rest-SIDS-panicked sleep mess.
So how do I fix it??
At the hospital we received a HALO SleepSack Swaddle, and it was glorious. However, B was growing out of it, so we stopped using it. With the blanket not working we got a bigger size and gave it another shot. They make cotton ones, and we found if we wrap the inside flap around both arms, so his hands don’t ever touch the velcro (a feeling he has loudly let us know he hates), it works better. Honestly, I like this one more than the SwaddleMe brand, because B tries to ninja kick his way out of the swaddle and almost always succeeds in the SwaddleMe. With the HALO he’s just in a sack until he falls asleep, then we swaddle the arms.
These swaddles are all fine and good, but it’s still not the same as blankie! And he very much wants to sleep with blankie.
I have, so far, been an overly cautious parent when it comes to B’s sleep. No bumpers, no stuffed animals or unsecured blankets, always sleeping on his back, etc. But I’m also trying to pay close attention to my son’s preferences for things, and MAN does he love that blanket. So for now, blankie stays (wrapped as snug as I can get it).