This past weekend we watched my incredibly adorable nephew, Declan. We had him for four nights and four days and I was reminded of how much work an 8 1/2 month old baby can be. And what a joy, as well.
As I soothed him to sleep the first night, I couldn't stop calling my husband in to see the sweet baby faces he made. The sleepy smile, the sucking motion of the lips, his two little fists covering his eyes. It vividly brought back those many months we spent holding any one of our three kids, waiting for them to go to sleep, hoping once they were in their crib they would stay asleep.
Declan slept pretty well the first night, not waking up until 5:30 the next morning. His naps were pretty much what his mom told me they would be. But on night two he woke up at 2:15 and the pacifier in the mouth only worked for about five minutes. I eventually picked him up out of his pack-n-play and took him downstairs where I sat with him held tight to my chest until he fell soundly back to sleep. I awoke at about 4:00AM and decided to put him back in the crib. He slept until about 6:30 and was up for the day after that. Night three was a little worse, with another nighttime rendezvous and stint on the couch. He slept for awhile after I re-deposited him into the crib, but at 5:30 when he stirred again, I nudged Brendan and told him it was his turn. I then slept until about 6:15, when I heard Declan's cries on the baby monitor again as Brendan tried to lay him back down to sleep. Night four turned magical, with the boy sleeping from 9:00PM until 7:15AM and never once needing to be gotten out of bed.
All these sleepless nights made me remember all the crazy things we would try to get our kids to sleep before they were old enough to "cry it out." (Yes we used the cry it out method on all three of our kids and they are all fantastic sleepers now!) We sometimes used the bouncy seat at night, especially with the vibrate button until the baby was sound asleep, then we'd turn it off and thank God that something worked!
One of our rituals was the walk-pat. You know, walk slowly around the room with baby's head on your shoulder while you pat his/ her bottom rhythmically. If we stopped walking we risked waking baby up. And don't even think about sitting down - HE WILL KNOW!
We attached toys to the side of the crib that played music and had little fishies swimming soothingly along the water filled fishbowl.
We begged and pleaded with our kids that if they would just sleep we would most certainly buy them a pony.
But one of my favorite methods to get them to stay asleep when transferred to the crib was to preheat the bed. Yes, preheat it! I would hold the baby, walk-patting him to sleep, and my husband would throw the heating pad in the microwave. He would then place the heating pad into the crib and place a receiving blanket over it. About a minute before I would put the baby down to bed, we'd remove the heating pad and lay the baby on the warm spot, then cover him up with the warm receiving blanket. It did seem to help.
But what we found worked the best was making the baby go to sleep on his/her own. It was excruciating and something I always hated. But after two weeks, we'd have a baby that happily laid down to bed, went to sleep on his/ her own, and usually didn't wake up in the middle of the night. It really was what worked for us.