REAL TALK – bedtime tonight was a disaster. I want to be truthful about the struggles as much as I share the big wins.
My son is 19 months and he is our third. By the time you get around to your third child, a few things happen: you get REALLY clear on what works best for your family, and you simultaneously lose interest in trying to perfect the imperfectible.
So because we are really clear on what works best for our family, at 19 months I hold my son to sleep for about 90% of his naps and bedtimes. It’s quick and easy for him and for me, and it gives us some really great connection time.
But, he’s getting big. I mean, 97th percentile, almost as tall as my 4 year old BIG. And in the last number of weeks, he’s been asking more frequently to be put in his crib for sleep because sometimes it’s just not comfortable for him to be held, and so I follow his lead. At the same time though, he loves the closeness of falling asleep in arms.
Tonight he was struggling SO hard. I think I put him in the crib (at his request) and took him out again (also, his request) probably 6 times. In the end, I put a boundary in place and said that we weren’t coming out of the crib. He cried, as he was understandably frustrated and, at that point, really tired. I stayed with him, and using some of the many other sleep associations he has, helped him to sleep in his sleep space while supporting both his emotions and his need for connection.
And that’s really the beauty of taking an attachment focused perspective on sleep. I’m sure a traditional sleep trainer would be horrified by tonight’s bedtime. I “should” have left him after the first attempt to get in the crib. I “shouldn’t” have supported him to sleep by leaning over the crib close to him, by rubbing his back, and by reciting his favourite book. But had I followed any sleep training advice, my child would have gone to bed upset. Alone. And I don’t care what the “rules” say, no one should ever have to go to sleep that way.
Trust your gut. Listen to your child. Put boundaries in place when you need them but know nothing needs to be set in stone. And end the day in a way that feels positive for both you and your child. ❤️