My friend Laurette had a two month old daughter and called me on the carpet with “you bitch (smile in voice)! How could you not tell me what to do with my screaming daughter when you knew the answer?“ The answer is more sleep. Now, what is the question?
Laurette’s daughter was screaming when she was put down. She thought she was putting the baby down too early and she didn’t want to go to sleep. It’s a logical, adult conclusion. And completely wrong.
We learned early on that sleep begets sleep. To have (relatively) happy children, a good bet is more sleep starting as young as possible. For Laurette this meant putting her daughter down every night 15 minutes earlier and earlier until she found the hour where her daughter went to sleep with a few whimpers. Of course, her daughter slept through the night at 10 weeks or so. My kids needed to be forced to sleep through the night at 4 ½ months after I was ridiculed by the more seasoned moms in my first office.
After my first child was born and I returned to work, I was dragging because I had a nursing baby waking up at 2:00am to nosh. The other office moms laughed at me and I asked to know the joke.
- First child, you jump out of bed when they whimper to check if they are okay. You nurse and comfort them as needed until you are utterly exhausted.
- Second child, you jump out of bed when they are really screaming and might wake up the first child. You nurse them if there is no other option to get them to sleep.
- Third child, you throw out the monitor.
All three children grow up just fine.
That night, I kissed my son goodnight, told him I would see him at 6:30 am and turned off the monitor. I slept soundly and at 6:30 am, he was happy to see me. I don’t actually know how many nights he cried at 2:00am, but I don’t think it lasted very long. We were both a lot happier on a full night’s sleep.