Well, we have finally come to the realisation that our current routine is not helping Rebecca develop healthy sleeping habits at all. She is having such issues going to sleep at night and getting back to sleep on waking during the night. Because we have been rocking or patting her to sleep every night, she just can't seem to do it on her own and it is becoming more and more apparent with more night wakings. For the past year, we have been "on call" every night and leap up at the first cry to pacify her back to sleep in fear that she wakes up Finn, who is a really good sleeper but if he wakes up, two awake babies are hectic to deal with alone.
The penny dropped for me the other night when it took more than forty minutes for DH to pat her to sleep. Later that night she woke up at 2am so I rushed in to soothe her. She reached through the cot bars and patted my leg, and eventually went back to sleep, until I tried to leave the room when she started wailing again. this went on for an hour until. Finally I relented and took her to bed with me....mmmm not really conducive to teaching her how to fall asleep again!
The decision to start sleep training now rather than later is also because the Paed confirmed there is nothing physically wrong with her - no ear infection as I suspected and no reason why she shouldn't sleep well and also advised sleep training. This whole issue is rather controversial I know, with attachment parenting in one camp and Ferberization methods in the other and Sleep Sense somewhere in-between. So I started researching and came across the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book....so I ordered it on kindle and consumed it in one sitting. It details the basis of how good sleep patterns are established and how horribly wrong things can go if a child never develops this including learning problems etc later on, adult sleep issues etc. It resonated with us however his approach is hardcore. You literally let them cry it out from the beginning and make sure they have two good naps everyday and a bedtime between 6-7pm. If they have interrupted naps, you bring bedtime earlier.
So we started last night. We moved Becky's cot to the study and followed the usual bedtime routine, but instead of rocking her for half an hour, I placed her in her cot, patted her a while, said goodnight and left the room. She cried. And cried. And cried. And cried. And twenty minutes later she stopped and went to sleep. And she slept all the way through until 6:30 am. It was really hard not to rush in there, but once she had fallen asleep we went in to check and covered her with a blankie and made sure she was okay. She was in the same position when we rushed in to check on her this morning. And she was happy and smiling as usual.
I think all children are different, and some may find the Ferber or gradual process better, but for Becs, she is already very aware of "needing" our involvement to sleep and we believe she will learn quickly tha she really can do it for herself. I also think it is important to reconise the difference between an angry "why are you not rocking me" cry to a sad or hurt cry. Obviously if she is teething or unwell, this approach would not work...but for now while she is healthy we are going to persevere until she can fall asleep on her own at nights so we can move her back into the nursery with her brother!! She has no problem going to sleep for daytime naps, so we have no doubt she will pick it up fast! Now I just have to stay strong and resist rushing in there to scoop up my little treasure!!!!