November 28th, 2005

A Pocket Full of Murder

If I had a thought balloon, it would be blank

Or at best, it would be doing the classic manga thing: "..."

As you might have guessed, things are still mighty busy around here, and getting more so as Christmas approaches. My husband is entitled to parental leave from work, but since his job is agriculture-based it has a definite busy season, and we're only just coming to the end of that. So he's decided to take a couple of weeks' holidays in December and then do the parental leave in February/March. That'll be nice.

Paul is nearly three months old now, and as always with a young baby, his habits are constantly changing. I used to be able to nurse him off to sleep and then, ever so carefully, transport him to his crib for the night. Sometimes he'd wake en route and I'd have to nurse him a bit more to get him to nod off properly, but in the end it usually worked. In the last few days, however, he's been fighting sleep, and after one miserable day of virtually no naps and a very late bedtime, I decided it might be time to try letting him fuss a bit.

Now if you read the online debates, you'd think there were only two possibilities: either you let your child cry until he vomits up his vocal chords and his entire breathing apparatus, which is known as "Crying It Out" (CIO), or else you bring him into your bed with you and nurse him all night long until he is approximately twenty-eight years old, which is known as "Attachment Parenting" (AP).

In the real world, however, every baby is different and every family is different, and techniques that work well for some are completely useless for others. I would never let my baby cry himself to sleep until I had tried everything else I could think of, and I would certainly never do it with a newborn. But when you have a manifestly exhausted and miserable baby who for whatever reason just can't be lulled into slumber... then maybe a bit of vocal and physical exercise is in order.

Ten minutes, I said to myself. By the end of ten minutes, if he isn't asleep or very obviously on the way there, I'll go in and pick him up. After all, no mother likes to hear her baby crying, and I figured that if he wasn't winding down after ten minutes he probably wasn't as ready to sleep as I'd thought he was anyway.

And you know what? It worked. And he slept soundly that night, and again the next day at naptime. It takes him ten minutes at most to fuss himself to sleep -- more often it's only five or six minutes -- so I've never had to go in.

I very much doubt this would have worked with either of my earlier two, but it's a pleasant surprise to find it working so well (for the moment) with Paul. No doubt some people will think me horribly heartless for letting him cry even for those few moments, but I'd rather have him fuss for ten minutes and then get a good restful sleep out of it, than have him sleep poorly and be crabby all day.

Huh. I guess I had some thoughts after all, though they weren't very exciting. Sorry, it's pretty much Mommy Central around here at the moment...