If the concept of Montessori Beds are new to you, I suggest reading my post about them before proceeding.
From the day I learned about the different sleep training methods, I knew the Cry It Out method was off the table. I mean, you do what works for your family, but to me, letting Baby cry and cry until she fell asleep a sweaty, worked up mess just didn’t seem humane. As a proud bedsharing mama, I was perfectly content to let Baby fall asleep at the breast or with the husband bouncing her on our yoga ball. As she got older and bedtime became more of a fight, I will admit to putting her in the bed and letting her cry for up to five minutes to “just see what happens”. Every time, she would go from zero to sixty in no time flat. Her cries weren’t just whiny, they were full on distressed cries complete with full body shakes and whimpered breathing. I couldn’t in good conscience allow her to continue at that level of distress so I’d usually break down way before the five minute point.
The final straw that turned me away from the Cry It Out method for good was one night in particular when Baby just did not want to sleep. The husband and I were on day four or five of what ended up being a week-long sleep strike (read: little to no naps and multiple wakings throughout the night). I was stressed. The husband was stressed. Baby was stressed. No one was sleeping and everyone was fussy. That night I was determined to get Baby to sleep in her own bed so that she wouldn’t be waking up every 30-60 minutes to comfort nurse or kick one of her parents in the neck/stomach/back. I started out by nursing and although Baby started to get drowsy, she would fight it with every fiber of her being. After a while, I tagged out and handed Baby to the husband and he tried to get her to sleep by bouncing on the yoga ball. That didn’t work either. We sang. We bounced. We rocked. I even nursed her while she laid in the bed. NOTHING WORKED. Every time we thought we’d made progress, she’d wake up with a huge smile and act like it was time to play.
Fed up and beyond tired, I laid her down on the bed and walked out of her room, closing the door behind me. Immediately she started her distress cry. The husband wanted to go in immediately to her aid, but I stood in his way in an attempt to be the strong one. Well, in less than 10 seconds Baby was at the door pounding at it with all her little baby force. In less than 60 seconds she was crying hard enough to make herself cough and choke. Any by the 120 second mark, she had caused herself to vomit on the floor.
Doesn’t sound very nice does it?
So after that incident, I swore I would never attempt the cry it out method ever again.
Until a month or two later when another sleep strike occurred. But this time was different. Like before, the husband and I alternated our tricks for getting Baby to sleep and eventually we were successful. We got her down in her bed and left the room oh so quietly. We did a little happy dance and silent high five to congratulate ourselves for a job well done and then headed to another part of the house to do ummm … adult things that we weren’t able to do with Baby up … I don’t remember exactly … it was either play video games, browse Reddit or catch up on reading our ever-growing pile of magazines (I know, I know, real “adult”, but listen, it’s hard to play Dragon Age when a toddler’s sitting next to you trying to grab the remote). We even poured ourselves a glass of wine for me and some whiskey for the husband. No sooner did we get settled with our drinks did we hear what sounded like a baby cry. We looked at each other with wide eyes and then ran to turn on the baby monitor. Sure enough, Baby had roused and was crying in her bed. “What do we do?”, the husband asked, “do we go in and try to rock her?” “No, let’s just see what happens”, I said.
So we sat there watching the monitor ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. She cried and cried tossing in her bed, sitting up, falling back down, standing up, sitting down, crying some more. We watched her cry for a while and although I wanted to get her to comfort her, I kept telling myself (and the husband) that if she wanted to be near us, she knew how to get out of the bed and bang on her door. However, she wasn’t getting out of bed. After ten minutes of crying, she went quiet. We looked at the monitor again and she was lying down in her bed, asleep. We looked at each other cautiously and decided to count our blessings and call it a night. So we got ready for bed with the idea that we might only get twenty minutes of sleep before she woke again.
She slept through the night.
It’s been several weeks since that night and we’ve used that approach numerous times since then. As someone who is very much against the idea of Cry It Out (for my family, at least), I initially had a hard time justifying what I was doing. Then I realized, I’m not really doing Cry It Out. Cry It Out puts the control in the hands of the parent; the parent controls when he/she will return to the room to comfort the crying baby. However, with my set-up, Baby still had the control. She could come to the door at any time to get me to return to the room. Doing things in this manner have really taught me to distinguish her different cries. Previously when she was still in the crib, I would run in at every cry, but now that we’ve switched to a Montessori bed, I know that if she’s crying but still in her bed, that she’s not distressed, just restless.
Does this work 100% of the time? No. But on the nights it does work, I can go to sleep knowing that Baby is one step closer to learning how to put herself to sleep, and that she didn’t have to go through massive amounts of distress to do it. I do need to mention, though, that I only use this method when she’s woken up from night sleep. Unfortunately for me and the husband, we still have to nurse/rock/bounce her to sleep initially.
So there you go, another reason to switch to the Montessori bed.