Sleeping like an angel... Finlay at 6 weeks old
I have been promising a floor-bed update for a long time! I was amazed at the response from my post back in december when Finlay finally started falling asleep in his room without feeding to sleep. It seems that most parents experience some level of anxiety over their children's sleep (or lack of!) and I have received many emails and questions regarding this topic. Recently, Neptune from the lovely blog Montessori Ici, asked:
'Do you keep the door shut after leaving your baby for nap or sleep time?'
The short answer:
Yes, I close the door until he falls asleep. After a while I quietly open the door so that he can come out independently when he wakes up.
The long answer:
We have been through so many phases since December that sometimes this works, other times it doesn't. If parenting has taught me anything, it is that nothing stays the same...
A few months ago Finlay suddenly went through a phase where he didn't want to be left in his room at bed-time. He would scream and cry when I left and I would be in, out, in, out, for what seemed like hours every night. In desperation, I started bringing him into our bed to go to sleep, which he LOVED, and since this worked so well, we kept doing it until it became his routine. Even his daytime naps were in our bed. He also started feeding to sleep once again. (I think this started again while he was sick and we never quite dropped the habit!)
I had known for a long time that Fin's cot-sized floor bed was not big enough but it wasn't until about six weeks ago that we finally got him a single (US twin) sized mattress. This has made all the difference and now, finally (again!), Finlay is sleeping in his own bed during day-time naps and for the first part of each night. We leave his door open so that when he wakes at night he can come down the hall into our bedroom independently.
Another factor that has complicated our sleeping scenario has been the presence of other children napping in Finlay's bedroom during the day. When we first started our home-daycare business Finlay was so excited to see another child in his room, that he would call out and try to crawl over to them (he was 10 months old at the time). That's when I started putting him into my bed to sleep during the day - it just made it all so much easier! Only recently has Fin been able to fall asleep in his room when other children are here, and only when I distract him by feeding him to sleep. He has also learned to come out of his room upon waking, without waking up the other children... a huge breakthrough!
So, would I say that my bed-time parenting choices have been led entirely by the Montessori philosophy?.... Well, no. Most of my parenting in this area has been led by instinct, necessity, and Finlay's strong personal choice. For a long time I wondered if I was doing the 'right' thing. I worried that I wasn't supporting Fin's independence by bringing him into bed with us and feeding him to sleep. Was I lazy? Was I trying hard enough?
One wonderful conversation set my mind at ease. I was fortunate enough to meet a visiting US AMI trainer who listened to my concerns and reminded me that if Finlay was showing signs of independence during the day (and my goodness, is this boy independent!) then by allowing him to choose where he sleeps at night I was, in fact, 'following the child'.
Meg over at 'At Home With Montessori' also speaks eloquently on this subject in her blog post, Montessori and Attachment Parenting. I love her quote: 'My opinion is that if the child is given the freedom of movement provided by a floor bed, and then chooses to leave that bed to sleep in a shared bed, that this is in fact reinforcing the autonomy and freedom of choice that we wish to cultivate in him through the provision of the floor bed.'
Thank you, Meg. You articulated this message so well and eased my conscience after many months of uncertainty.
Our next challenge will be to wean Finlay off night-time feeding. I'm really hoping that this will encourage him to sleep through the night because he still wakes at least 2-3 times each night wanting to feed back to sleep..... and I'm afraid I'm getting deliriously sleep deprived!
Ahhhhhh the joys!
The cheeky monkey keeping us awake at night...!