I used the cry it out method for my first child, adopted from Ethiopia. There I said it. As a social worker I know it is rather taboo to admit that., I was young, he was my first child. It was what I, thought I was supposed to do, after having been given a few books on the subject of children and sleep. Frankly, the crying it out ended after just four days and then I had a child that slept beautifully from then on. No more screaming when I put him in his crib for naps and nighttime, all which I attributed to letting him cry it out., Three additional children have taught me a lot. And, opened wide the doors of compassion in my own heart. Yes, my first child did sleep rather independently very quickly after coming home., Yet I would do it differently in, a heartbeat if I could.
Sleep is incredibly important. I know this for my children and as the mother of a ten week old infant, I know this for myself too. We need sleep. It is a healthy, wonderful, nurturing, restorative time in our days and night. Sleep is important., But, maybe we should take a little of the pressure off our shoulders about the details of the how’s and lengths and such of sleep.
His first few weeks in my care my Ethiopian born son, fourteen months old, slept in my arms. He would wake at night right next to me and grab onto me, tight, and I held him close telling him that “Mommy was here”. He would go right back to sleep as long as he was latched onto me someway., , It was not long after he had been home, certainly he was not secure in his new environment yet, that I was handed a book about children and sleep.
“Oh Girl”, someone had said, “He should be sleeping through the night by now and you cant hold him to sleep or else he will never fall asleep on his own!”
It was after that (from more than one person) that I started doubting myself and read the book that led to the crying it out.
That was years ago. My son and I are attached, our lives woven together with the fiber of days and years of love, humor, dedication, care., He is evidence that a parent can make mistakes and Grace will cover it.
Maybe what is more important than “our children sleeping through the night” and toting that they can “fall asleep on their own” is that we can know with confidence that however they go to sleep they do so knowing they are wrapped in the love of their parents., For my family that means no more crying it out, rather a sleep time routine for little ones of rocking, reading,, holding, singing, and sweet smiles and heavy eyelids., It means we stop what we as, adults may be doing and take the time to make entering into sleep a moment to bind together.
They were not right either, those that said if I rocked and cuddled the kids would never sleep on their own. I have evidence of that before me in three out of the four of them, (the, baby doesn’t count yet!), who run off to bed happily, sleep deeply, and wake come morning chatty and ready for the day.
Somehow this whole issue of sleep can create a lot of pressure for parents from outsiders., We let our first cry it out. We had so much anxiety about what we were doing “right” and “wrong”, which come to think of it is exactly the opposite of what sleep is all about~ peace.
Children need sleep. They need parents who will provide consistent rests, naps, and slumber. They must have good sleep to thrive in every area of their lives., , Children that have been recently adopted, just as much as they need sleep, have a deep need to know that you are present and that you will hold them through the night if that is what it takes for peace.
A child needs to sleep in your bed, wrapped up in your arms for security? Ok.
A child needs to sleep on the floor in your room so they don’t fear the dark? Ok.
A child needs rocked into order to quiet their body and welcome rest? Ok.
A child wakes in the night and wants reassurance you are, indeed still there?, Ok.
It wont last forever. It wont. It wont. It wont.
And, it may not be a sign that they have “sleep problems”. It may just be the most normal of all things~ a child reaching out for the love of their caretakers.
If you don’t know this already believe me that it is true. They grow so very fast and the days of night waking and sleep deprivation quickly become long ago memories. And, there, is most definitely sleep deprivation after adopting regardless of the ages of your child. It shall pass though, and , I hope that your, memories, can be of , affection and bonding and growing amid the weary eyes.
Talk with your spouse, search your heart and wisdom, know your child and provide them what they need,, peaceful sleep., However you do it in your family, I hope you make the choice of how to “get your kids to sleep” because of confidence it is the very best thing for the child and not because of outside pressure.
There are many good books on the subject and a lot of websites. Read up. Think hard. Pray. Worry less. Hold more. Sleep is about peace. Do the method that brings peace to your home and the heart of your child.