Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rock-it-Out.

Something I didn't realize before becoming a mother was just how passionate many other mommy's are about the way they do things.  I quickly learned that if I would blog or facebook a question concerning a parenting topic, my feed would EXPLODE.  And, there were just so many "experts" out there.  It made me laugh that of all the things going on in the world, formula vs. breast feeding got people more on fire than any political debate!  And not just that topic, but all of them.  I do understand why mommy's are so passionate about the way they do things because these are our little people that we are bringing up.  And there is no thing more important than the precious little souls that God entrusted us each with.  Amen?  But, when innocently posting a picture of Levi's infant car seat sparked WW3 on my blog, I decided then and there to stay quiet on our choices for our boys : parenting style, discipline, what they eat, etc.  All of it was going to cause a ruckus, and I didn't want to hear it.

But today I do want to talk about something that a lot of people are passionate about - Rocking Vs. Crying it Out.  The only reason I want to bring it up is because we have two boys and we used both methods.  One for each.  And here are my extremely scientific findings on the matter.  :)

First up: Rocking.

Oh, my baby Levi.  I remember the first night that we put Levi in another room to fall asleep on his own.  The only way I can describe it was ... well ... imagine a knife in your heart and then it plummeting into the pit of your stomach.  Yes, that's what it was.  It. Killed. Me.  There laid this tiny little newborn, wide eyed and checking out his surroundings - not knowing where on earth he was and why mommy wasn't there.  He didn't understand.  He was scared.  He NEEDED me.

And so I ran in and swooped him up with every whimper, every cry, every groan.  And I rocked him.

I held him safely, tightly, securely in my arms and we rocked.

I sang to him, prayed over him, stared at him.  And we rocked.

I don't think the kid ever cried over 1 minute by himself until I was in there saving him, "here I am, baby! Mommy's right here."  He was attached to me all of the time.  His nap time consisted of me laying on the couch and him in my arms.  There wasn't another care in my little world other than my Levi.

And, I loved it.

I figured that as he grew, he would reach a point where he didn't need me to fall asleep.  I thought he would figure it out on his own.  And he did, eventually.  But guys, I HAD to rock him until he was two years old.  Every nap time and every night time, I would have to cut out at least 30 minutes to sit and rock him until he fell asleep, and then I would tip toe around his room trying to not step on a toy, gently lay him down in his crib and tip toe back out.  It was a task, but I had it down to an art.

I love love love that time I had with my firstborn, and if I could go back and change how I did things back then, I (selfishly) wouldn't.  But at the same time, I truly think I did a disservice to him.  If someone didn't rock him, he freaked and would NOT sleep.  He took so long to fall asleep, and it wasn't until he was three and Ezra was already born that he could fall asleep on his own without someone beside him.  If he's away from home, he will not sleep alone and he worries about his sleeping arrangements.  For two solid years I rocked him and then for another year I laid with him (in his big boy bed) and so he really only knew sleep time to mean mommy time.  And he had a hard time doing it without me.  Bless his little heart.

When he was probably 18 months or so we tried letting him "cry it out", but by that time so many bad habits were already formed that he literally screamed and cried so hard that he vomited.  It was a circus.  And it was even harder then for me because at this time he was crying, "mommy! mommy!" and my heart was crushed into a billion pieces.

So, we rocked.

:)

Oh, the memories and the bonding that we had as we rocked are truly priceless.  With my firstborn, I honestly can't imagine doing it any other way.

Crying-It-Out:

And then, we had Ezra.

I knew from the beginning that I was going to have to do things differently with my precious little Ezra because there was not going to be enough time in my day to rock Ezra for a total of hours when I had another little boy to take care of.  It just wasn't going to work.

{Let me just say this.  I don't like the term "cry it out".  I would never let my child wail and flail until they fell asleep - scared and alone.  My interpretation of "crying it out", is letting them self soothe until they fall asleep, going in every few minutes to assure I am there and then leaving to let them do it alone.  Whimpering and crying a bit is fine, but freak out terror screams is not okay with me. It's important to let your baby know you are there.  There is so much security in that.}

In his newborn days (months), I held him all the time, just like I did with Levi.  I savored those moments, and most of his naps took place in my arms.  Having been through it before, I knew how fast it was going to go and I wanted to cherish and savor every single breath of his precious new life. Holding your newborn is a slice of Heaven.  It really and truly is.  So I held him and rocked him and loved on him and relished in him as much as I could.

And when we moved him into his nursery at around 4 months, I knew THAT was the time to establish a good sleeping routine.  I felt like I had this little window and if I missed it, he was going to have the same sleeping troubles as his big brother.  So, we went with it.

Ezra is a chill little guy.  Always has been.  So, when I laid him in his crib to go to sleep, he did just that.  No crying, no whimpering, no screaming ... he just looked around and then went to sleep.  And so, we just kept doing that ... for naps and for night time.  And he never gave us a fight!

Oh, my Ezra!  You made that so easy on your mommy's heart!

I don't know if it's the difference in their personalities or what, but Ezra never really even had to "cry-it-out".  It's like he just understood what to do.  There were times that he fussed a bit before falling asleep, but never anything hard to take.  (Or maybe it just wasn't hard to take the second go-round because I was used to baby cries and with my firstborn I had never experienced them?)  I feel like we started his routine at the perfect time - he was still so little he didn't really know I was gone, and by being consistent on letting him put himself to sleep for both naps and nighttime really helped, too.

All I know is that Ezra is our champion sleeper.  You put him in his crib, he cuddles up with his Boo Boo Bear, grabs his "Pack" (pacifier), and he's out like a light, never to be heard from again until morning.  Same thing with his nap and he sleeps for almost 3 hours.

Now, would he be like that if I had rocked him as much as I did Levi?  Is it just his personality to sleep well?  Or was it learned behavior?  I guess I'll never really know for sure, but from having experienced both ends of the spectrum, I'd probably say it has to do with a little of both personality and learned behavior.  Because even at the age that we started with Ezra, when we tried it with Levi he absolutely freaked out.  Maybe because he was the only child?  Because he knew ALL of the attention was his?

(I was the second child and I slept like a champ, too.  My brother, on the other hand, did not.  And even today he struggles with insomnia!  Hmmm... Maybe first borns just don't sleep well.  Haha! Maybe I'm on to something!)

Like I said, I DONT KNOW!  But I do know that we have lived through both and I don't think there is a "right way".  I feel like I soaked up every last ounce of Levi as a baby.  And with Ezra, I knew going into it that I was now a mom to two and that it was going to be a different experience with him.  And so even though I didn't get to rock him every single day for hours, I have found different ways to get my one-on-one bonding in with him, and those times are every bit as special to my heart.  He's a big cuddler when he's awake, (and a HUGE Mommy's Boy), so I get those cuddles in every day. :)

So.  All this to say that my scientific findings are bogus and that I don't have any.  GOT'CHA!  You read all this for nothing! HA! Two different kids, two different methods, two different experiences.  That's all I got.

And I think that's the key.  There IS no right answer because not every child is the same.  You just need to go with your heart, keep your babies best interest in mind no matter what, and love on your baby.

Despite what the books, blogs, and expert mommy's say .... only YOU know best!


16 comments:

  1. You got it Whitney! Each kid is different and go with what works for you

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  2. So true!!! I just had my third. Let me just say my firstborn is my champion sleeper. I let her self soothe. My second I didn't (so opposite of what you did). I absolutely believe personality has a lot to do with it. My first is very easy going and laid back so my self soothing experience w her was like Ezra. My second is very strong willed. But I remember around 10 months with my second she wouldn't cry when I laid her down as much. So I knew she was becoming ready. Every child really is so different and so is the season of life you're in. I'm a firm believer in doing what works best for each momma. But I do encourage mommas to hold their newborns as often as possible! That stage passes so quickly!! I held my second a lot more than my first. I'll likely hold my third more, or try to. As far as having the ability I think baby in Ergo around the house counts as holding. :)

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  3. I've read a lot of books on my journey to deciding whether should I leave my child to cry-it-out or should I rock her to sleep. Letting her cry it out will encourage independence at an early age according to some people. On the other hand, I find rocking her to sleep or to comfort her much more appealing. In the end, I used a combination of both. Assessing when she needs to be cuddled or when she needs to be left alone. Personal experience beats the books, I would say!

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  4. Yep every child is difference. My kids are older & I'm constantly being taught or learning differences in my babies. Loved it. I love seeing their personalities. My first was more chill with sleeping than his sisters. But moms gut know what is best for each one. I hate the tern cry it out too. It sounds like a torture technique!

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  5. Amen, Whitney! There is not just one "right" way!

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  6. i am the firstborn and a terrible sleeper (always have been!). my younger brother is amazing (always has been!). i think it is more nature than nurture - but then as parents, we can reinforce what works for each child! i don't think cry it out would have worked with levi, and ezra definitely made it easier for you to do it with him because of his already laid back personality. what perfect timing and personalities for the right combination for your family :) (and for the record, my baby - my first - is a perfect baby, but a terrible sleeper, and i adore rocking her to sleep! here's hoping a future sibling is a chill, relaxed, happy little sleeper!)

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  7. I'm a first born and I didn't sleep when I was a baby my mom put me in the swing and wound it up then would fall asleep until it stopped and I started screaming, what she would have given to have a swing that you could plug in! And I still have trouble sleeping, the conditions have to be perfect for me to fall asleep and even then I struggle.

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  8. The blog world is such a tough thing. I use mine to keep our families (near and far) updated on our lives and so that I don't have to send a million emails of pictures. And yet, they open up so much criticism. Just this morning I posted that I fed my baby waffles and applesauce for breakfast because it's his first day of school and that's what he chose. Yea! And then my husband's aunt sent me a condescending email telling me I shouldn't feed them things like that and they need more fat and protein in their diets. Obviously, she's right because clearly she knows everything just by reading about a slice of my day. Arghhhh.

    I have the same type sleepers as you. Even now, our 18 month old sleeps through the night but the almost-four-year-old doesn't. Everyone is different!

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  9. Both of mine, I rocked until they didn't want me to anymore. It's about the time I got rid of the binky...they would start squirming and didn't seem content in my arms and just seemed more comfortable if I laid them down in the crib. It was sad, but I let them go. :-( I think God did that part for me, because I'd probably still rock them at 3 and almost 5, HAHA!

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  10. This is a fantastic post, Whitney, and I couldn't agree with you more. All three of mine were different sleepers with different personalities and different needs. Caleb liked to fall asleep alone from the time he was itty-bitty, so he "cried" (fussed/whimpered/etc.) it out from an early age. Naomi loved to be "worn" and snuggled and rocked, and, even though she falls asleep fine on her own, she's still our snuggliest kid. And Lydia has just always sort of adapted to different situations and kind of sleeps anywhere ... our third-born!

    Great post. :)

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  11. This is so interesting! My first was a great sleeper and self soothed well (we did crying it out, but it was always an okay cry and never for more than 5 minutes usually), so I'm a bit nervous about what baby #2 will do!

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  12. Great post! I treated both of my boys a lot like you did Ezra (I like to call it "fuss it out!"). What was weird with mine was that they both fell asleep easily; it was when they would wake up too early from a nap or in the middle of the night that we struggled. Riggins quickly learned to put himself back to sleep after a few nights of crying it out a bit. Rhett, on the other hand, is the most chill sweet baby ever during the day, but at night he was the most stubborn little bugger I have ever seen. He would scream like he was possessed to the point that I couldn't even let him cry it out. So I just kind of let it go and kept up the night feedings/reassurings for a bit longer than I did with Riggins. And at around a year old he finally found his groove and really started sleeping through the night well. All that to say, I think it is so great to have a general strategy that you're shooting for (i.e. "fuss it out") but to be willing to adapt that to each child/personality type/life situation. (That was my other problem with letting Rhett CIO: living in an 800 sq ft house with another kid who needed to stay asleep!)

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  13. We have done an abbreviated cry it out method but waited til both babies were around 5 months to start. By then they could find their thumb or try to keep their paci in as a way to help soothe. I started it at nap time and then did night time....I forget what the Ferber method says you should do (maybe go in at 9, 7 and 5 minute increments??) but I didnt wait that long. If they were fussing, I would let them. If they were wailing, I would go in and hold them. Both of mine learned to self soothe and are great sleepers! I am SO thankful because I am a grump if I don't get sleep!! In the end, I dont think it matters - they wont be 15 and being still rocked to sleep and all that matters is everyone is healthy and happy! :)

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  14. Each kid IS so unique and so different. So I guess you really did have scientific findings: to do what is right for each individual child.

    My second baby was also a champion sleeper! My other four babies were/are cosleepers (slept in bed with us). But my secondborn did NOT want to sleep with anyone. I put her in her crib in her pitch black room and she'd just sleep. I would check on her a million times to be sure she was okay because she was so quiet. I can't say she's a champion sleeper anymore at age 6 but I have to tell you - so much easier on parents when little babies sleep so easily.

    And I laugh as I type that because my newest little guy is almost 3-months-old and sleeping right next to me in bed after having a very hard time going to sleep.

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  15. I have done so much research on sleep training and I am firmly against it, for all children. It is cruel and inappropriate for a small child to 'self soothe'. There is no such thing as self soothing as a baby. I could go on and on about it, but I really just wanted to say that what you did with Ezra is not CIO or really any form of sleep training. It sounds to me like you read each child's personality and needs and met them. Levi needed his Mommy's help and Ezra didn't. It's not about 'Mommy's knowing best", its about babies knowing what they need and their Mommy meeting those needs. My 16 month old is not a sleeper, and I am exhausted from the last 16 months of sleep struggle. I am hoping and praying that our next baby is more like Ezra!

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  16. I don't even have kids yet but from talking to friends with multiple children and my own parents, they have all said the same thing you did: there is NO right answer. Just what you feel is best for each child, and that it is usually (very) different for each child! Thanks for sharing :)

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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