Last week, I wrote a post about putting Violet to bed, about how I broke one of our cardinal rules of bedtime by going in and picking her up to comfort her. I received several comments from readers about that post, and every one of them assured me that I made the right decision. Several went on to share their personal philosophies on bedtime and none of them is a believer in the “cry it out” method. A friend even sent along a link from Dr. Sears – a pediatrician and author of numerous books on baby/child rearing (Linda and I relied heavily on his vaccine book when deciding which shots to give Violet) – about the 31 dos and don’ts of bedtime.
The ironic part is that, despite my touchy-feely vegan ways, I’m a “cry it out” guy. It just feels right to me that by now, a baby should be able to fall asleep independently. Now, hold off on the “Dear idiot…” comments. I’m not saying that there aren’t certain nights and certain situations that call for some soothing, nor do I think that a newborn should be tucking themselves in, but after 256 days, Violet knows what bedtime is about, and some nights, she doesn’t feel like going to bed. So, she cries. Those are the nights when “crying it out” feels like the right call.
But I couldn’t help wondering if I was being too hard on out little girl. Would crying it out scar her. Dr. Sears says it could possibly lead to trust issues. So, I called our pediatrician. Because Linda and I love our pediatrician. Seriously. I don’t know what either or both of us did in a previous life to deserve finding her, but somehow, we did. She’s a mom. She is compassionate and respectful of our views, but she’s also not afraid to give us a conflicting opinion. She’s someone who, upon meeting her and talking to her for a few minutes, you wouldn’t hesitate to ask, “Hey, could you watch my kids? I have to go to Spain for a week?”
I explained where we were at – that bedtime was not a huge issue, but we had concerns. That is one thing I should point out. It’s not as though Violet was crying for hours at bedtime, but we were still relying on the dustbuster on some nights to get her to finally settle down after ten to twenty minutes of crying, and the fact that she had started standing up in the crib, seemingly unable to get herself back down, was worrisome.
“By this age, she should be able to self soothe.” So, that meant crying it out. “How long is too long to let her cry?” I had to ask.
“There is no too long.” She suggested going in one time to soothe without picking up. “After about three nights, the bedtime routine should be set.”
Ever since that conversation with our doctor, however, Violet has gone down relatively easy each and every night. I don’t know how or why, but we haven’t had to let her cry it out. She’ll whimper and whine for a few minutes, maybe even cry a little. Once or twice we’ve gone in to lay her back down and rub her back, remind her that we love her, and then boom – she’s out.
I’m not sure what we're doing, but I hope we keep doing it.