First of all, to think that someone would ask ME for advice on toddler sleep makes me both smile and roll my eyes. (to myself) If she ONLY knew.
Obviously she doesn't know me well and totally missed my first two babies' sleep issues. So what she sees is me, with my newborn in the moby wrap, my two well-rested sons playing on the playground, using good manners, etc. And then she hears my 3 year old come and ask to go home because he is tired. Then she hears me say that we have to go as soon as Lauren is done nursing so we can get home to have lunch and take naps.
She turns and says, "How on earth do you get them all to take naps?!"
So I gave her the short answer about the same routine every day. (We get up, eat, play, go out of the house for errands or to play, come home, eat lunch, have milk and tv time, go read a story in the bedroom and lay down for naps.) And that was not satisfactory.
She wanted the full Monty about how I got them to sleep while they were still toddlers that nursed. How did I get them to sleep all night? To go to sleep on their own? To let someone other than me put them to bed? To *gasp* have my husband attend to them at night.
And I had to admit that I had to sleep train them using the graduated extinction method of Cry It Out.
As usual, I was expecting a disgusted, annoyed look on her face. Why? Because even though most moms I know have had to let their babies cry about sleep, it still seems to have a bit of a stigma. I know, back in my just-Ian-days, I used to think moms who practiced CIO were torturing their children. ("Wasn't there another way?!")
Instead of the disgusted look, she smiled and said, "and it worked?"
I said, "And it worked. And continues to work. And now both of my young boys go to sleep on their own and sleep all night long. They both lay down in their beds for their naps and most always take a 2 hour nap."
Unsatisfied, she pressed me harder about HOW I did it.
And why I thought it worked...
So I told her that as my children get older and I get more seasoned as a mother, I've come to think that hardly any children just simply lay down and go to sleep without being taught how to do it. I waited so long with Ian because I didn't want him to cry about it that I regretted it when we finally did it...regretted that we didn't do it sooner. Remember? We tried EVERYTHING to get Ian to sleep without crying about it.
With Aaron I waited and waited because he was sick so much I didn't want another ounce of crying or hard times for him. (Read about Aaron's CIO here and here)
I'm sure I'll wait with Lauren for one reason or another.
But ultimately, I know it is coming this time and I've accepted that the graduated extinction method of crying it out is not torture. It doesn't mean you don't love your child. It doesn't mean their cries don't rip you to shreds when you hear them. It doesn't mean you have given up on tender love and care. It means you need sleep and you're willing to endure a few hard nights to get it. It means you have decided that sleeping better is better for everyone in the house and that you know there are better nights ahead.
She just looked at me as I was going on and on... justifying it. I don't know why I feel I have to justify it. I guess because I still know how I felt before I had experienced the sleepless nights and exhausted days and the process of sleep training and the success.
So why am I still justifying it? Just in case someone reads this who needs to hear it is ok to let your baby cry a little bit when the goal is better sleep for everyone.