Diaries Magazine

Teaching Isabelle to Self Soothe

By Sjay235 @naturalmommainm
Teaching Isabelle to self sootheWhilst clicking about on my blog one evening, making sure all the links were working, I came across this post from September 2013 all about my views on cry it out. At the time, Isabelle was only 5 months old, and I stated firmly that both Simon and I were against cry it out, and that it wasn't.
Well, there is a lot of difference between having a 5 month old baby and a 19 month old toddler, of course, so I thought it was time to revisit the topic and see if we managed to stick to our ideals of not ever following cry it out, or controlled crying.
A little bit of history: Isabelle is a breastfed baby (and toddler), and for the first 7 months of her life she was breastfed to sleep every single night. Yes, sometimes it was a lot for me as I was feeding her to sleep and up with her during the night, but never once did we consider letting her cry it out. At 7 months, however, we did decide that we would like to see if she would be able to settle herself to sleep so that Simon could take part in her evening routine as well. On the recommendation of a friend, I bought the 'Sleep Lady Shuffle' book and after a thorough read we gave it a shot. Isabelle was obviously at a great point as, with very little input from us, she started to settle herself at night perfectly. I would feed her, pop her into her cot and leave, and she would fall asleep by self soothing. Perfection!
Then, the dreaded 9 month sleep regression arrived. It messed everything up, and after 2 months of dropping off to sleep peacefully, that was no longer an option. Of course, I could have fed Isabelle to sleep again, but we decided to stick to not doing that, and instead we worked out a new bed time routine to suit her needs. She was fed, then Simon took her and put her to bed and patted her to sleep, or patted her for a little while before sitting with her while she fell asleep. That worked just fine, although it was a bit more labor intensive.
That's how we continued for a long time. Sometimes, it was hard. Sometimes, it would take half an hour of sitting with an arm through the bars of her cot patting her to get Isabelle to go to sleep. We tried the sleep lady shuffle again and, just as we were almost there, something happened and we went back to sitting on the floor beside her cot patting and patting. It wasn't what we would have wanted - ideally she would pop into her cot and go to sleep alone - but at the same time, it worked. We didn't mind sitting next to her for 10 or 15 minutes, and she fell asleep without any tears (normally!).
Teaching Isabelle to self soothe
I did have people tell me we were making a rod for our own backs, and how she would never learn to self settle if we continued to pander to her whims. Sometimes, on a bad night, it felt like that to me too, and it felt like I would be sitting patting this girl to sleep at 18 years old. However, we felt it was right for us and right for Isabelle, so we ploughed on.
One evening a few months ago, that all changed. Isabelle went to bed, cuddled down with her babies, and went to sleep. Not a pat anywhere. Simon (who was in doing bedtime that night) couldn't believe it. We assumed it was a one off, but she has continued. At night she has her milk, and a cuddle, then she gets into her cot with her babies (currently numbering 5) and she cuddles them until she goes to sleep. All by herself.
Isabelle self soothes. She can put herself to sleep without tears, and without adult input. It's strange the things you hold dear when you become a parent, but Isabelle learning to self soothe is something I am amazed at, and very proud of her for learning to do.
The most important thing to me is that she did it in her own time. Yes, maybe she would have been self soothing a year ago if we had followed cry it out, and maybe we wouldn't have had to spent 9 months patting her to sleep every night. But, it would have been done via a method that wasn't a comfortable thing for us. It would have been forced onto Isabelle rather than letting her find it in her own time.
Instead, we stuck to our guns about what was best for her and let her find her own way. We tried to support her as best we could and I am so proud of the fact that she has done this all on her own. She made the transition when she was ready - not when we were ready. To me, that's what natural, attachment parenting is all about - supporting your child to reach their potential in their own time.
To any parents out there who feel that cry it out is the only option, it really isn't. It's tough now to do whatever it is your little one needs, but it won't be forever. They will learn to do it in their own time and when they do you will be so glad that you didn't try to force them to do it earlier on.
So really, we didn't teach Isabelle to self soothe at all. Instead, she taught us to trust our instincts and have a little of patience because she will always get there in the end......but only if we give her the chance.
Teaching Isabelle to self soothe

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