The Change Up
Like most parents, I’m learning as I go. I learned a new lesson today, and I think it’s a good one. It comes down to this:
If you don’t like the way something is working, change it!
Are you tired of your cranky baby getting overtired? Put them to bed earlier. Let the kid nap in a carrier or the car seat. Take the baby for a drive to your favorite froyo place and relax while they snooze in the car seat.
Is your kid fighting sleep like a maniac? Mix it up. Plug in a nightlight. Turn it off. Turn on the hall light. Take away a toy. Add one. (Within safety limits of course.) This was a big one for me. Each night lately I’ve been struggling to get this baby down to sleep. She thrashes, screams, cries, whines, moans and basically does everything except go to sleep. Each night, I’d do the same thing. Sing a soft song, change her, brush her teeth, sing some more, gently lay her down in the crib, turn off all the lights, then sneak out of the room. 13 seconds later, cue crying and thrashing and nightmarish wailing that will make your butt-cheeks clench. This would go on for at least an hour, me rubbing her back and singing and humming and crying a little myself. Eventually her thrashes and cries would wind down and she’d drop off, only to jerk her head back up and inevitably bonk it on a crib bar.
Tonight, I tried something new. Instead of singing before changing, I changed her quietly and then began to sing. Instead of a soothing song, it was a bouncy, fun one. I bounced her around and rubbed her back while swinging around. Then, instead of turning off the lights, I left the hall light on, and set her in the crib. I said good night, and left the room. She didn’t cry at first…she crawled around a bit (more a slither than a crawl at this point,) and then explored the crib. She peeked through the bars (I spied this on the video monitor,) and played with her feet.
A few minutes later, she seemed more restless, so I put a toy in the crib. This was a round toy elephant. She poked at it idly for a little while, still quiet and restful, not thrashing and screaming. What a difference. It wasn’t just her quietness, it was the soft and soothing process. Instead of me biting my nails and hovering over a thrashing baby, worried that there’s something very wrong with her, I’m listening to her make happy little noises as she feels the nose on this elephant.
Finally, after a minor puke session and just a little crying, she slipped quietly into restful sleep. No crying or whining herself to sleep, just blissful slumber. My takeaway from this? There’s no reason to torture yourself with the same routine. Try something new, and it just might work.
Don’t fear change!