Weeks ago my neighbour loans me a book. Being in possession of a 4 year old herself, she gives me “The Sleep Book” after I tell her how many times the kids are up during the nights. There is a post it inside that says “happy to talk”. “That’s odd” I think, what will I need to talk about? I was, you see, deluded into thinking there was really nothing wrong about all the night time waking. After all, I have 3 babes under 3, so the ratio for night waking is just higher, right? So I live in that delusion for awhile, until I realise I have a sleep problem with the kids as well as a milk problem. Oh brother.
But I remember the book. I hunt it down and skim read it. CIO, ok, what else, what else (flipping rapidly through). Ok. This is the CIO method, I have heard about this, it stands for “Cry It Out” and involves not attending to your crying child as long as you know nothing is wrong. Ok, got it. I did the Controlled Crying method by Richard Ferber (via Gina Ford) with Sabina before the kids were born and it worked well, but I had never done the Cry it Out before.
We together decide we are up to doing CIO. In fact, the book deals with a lot of pre and post method preparation, it is all key. There is also a hopeful reference to the method potentially causing major changes in the kids within 3 nights. We believe in it, hoping for a full nights sleep in 3 nights time.
As I said, we have to knock out the bottles. Bedtime usually involves 1-3 bottles (per child), so that not happening anymore is conveyed to the kids. After their bathtime I give them each one sipper cup (having rounded up and hidden the baby bottles) of formula. In fact I give Sabina’s first in a cup which in itself causes a massive tantrum. So sipper cups, the Avent Magic bottle for Miss 2 and the Nuk sippers for the twins (16 months). The sipper cups also hold less than the bottles did. We announce that this is their only bottle, then it will be time for books, and then it will be bedtime.
We tell Sabina that Thomasin and Lido will go to bed first, and then she can have some more books, then it will be her bedtime too. And no more bottles. We prepare the kids for bed and remind them how it is all going to go down, we tell them all how proud and happy we will be tomorrow after a nice long sleep.
So what happens? They cry. Predictably. And cry. And cry. Sabina gets up and sits in her doorway (behind the security gate) and cries. And screams. And shouts. And wimpers. We leave her. Justin walks past her once and acts like he is surprised to see her there. “You should be in bed” he says, then returns to the lounge. She goes to bed, and wakes at 7.30am.
Lido has a dummy (pacifier). After reading The Sleep Book together with other articles from thesleepstore, we select the strategy that is to allow him to keep the dummy at bedtime, but not to replace it for him if he loses it, or throws it out of the cot (which had been happening quite regularly, I would search for it with a flashlight then return it to him). That first night this dummy hit the floor at about 2am. “Mama” he calls. “Mama…Mama…Mama” … then crying, for an hour and half. Thomi is woken up and starts to cry too. They overlap for half an hour and she continues. Justin dons headphones. I come downstairs to sleep on the sofa. There is of course no sleep to be had while listening to that. Te reinforce my decision and distract myself from the crying I start reading more articles on the sleep store.
And then they sleep, all waking at 7:30am. Night one over.
THE FOLLOWING NIGHTS
Over the following 2 nights the bedtime routine is repeated with a careful eye on the clock. We stick to the routine and their bedtime for each of them involves less or no crying. Lido and Thomi sleep all night. Sabina has some upset spells in the night which cause remarks from my mother-in-law who lives downstairs.
But, as the book predicts, by night 3 they are all largely settled and sleep all night. Sabina starts eating breakfast again, her appetite returning with the reduction in milk intake. She requests Weetbix “the way Papa makes it” and eats his, then asks for more.
On Thursday night I am out at Te Ara Reo, and Justin maintains the routine. By then Sabina knows what bedtime is about. There is no crying, she goes to bed happily, and stays there.
“I want to have Cinderalla and then bed”.
ONE WEEK LATER
The children are by and large sleeping all night. So are we. Justin is going away for a week so I am keen to see if they keep it up. Bedtimes are much easier and there is less crying, if any. The kids are well prepared for bedtime and don’t protest so much when we turn out the lights. Our reading is more dedicated to each child, as we pay them particular attention during their bedtime routines. This is better for us all and bedtimes are a more positive experience all around.
TWO WEEKS LATER – MY CONCLUSIONS – THE RESULTS
I describe most of the second week in my flying solo post.
In general the kids are all sleeping better, eating more food during the day, and kohanga told me today that the have kids seemed happier in the mornings. That must be to do with the improvement in eating and sleeping, and getting to kohanga, so the kids arrive when it is quiet and calm.
It was not perfect after 3 days, but the improvements are noticeable and worthwhile. I have had more quality time in the evening with the kids as I give them individual attention (it said to try especially hard to do that when you have twins, to try to give them more dedicated one-on-one time, including during the day). The first few nights were indeed rough, but the follow through seems so far to be worth it.
Sabina still gets upset sometimes at bedtime, resisting it. But she mainly stays in her bed now even if she is crying out. And most nights this week she has gone to bed happily, snuggled in my blanket, her head filled with Cinderella or Pungawerewere or We’re Going on a Bearhunt. Night time wakings are rare now, though Sabina has had one night terror style last night. Which is not many in two weeks, for her.
So all in all I have to say this has worked for us. The kids are going to bed earlier (7pm for the twins 18 months old and 7.30pm for Sabina nearly 3 years old) and still rising at about the same time each morning around 7am. They are sleeping more and so are we. So if you are contemplating doing this then you really need to ask yourself, to sleep or not to sleep? That is the question. I know my answer.