Monday, May 16, 2011

in which the experiences of a childcare professional are recounted.

I've been reading a lot of Dickens lately and he has such snappy chapter titles. I shall borrow from him.

So following in everyone else's footsteps, I've created fictional names for the family where I nanny. Aaron and Rebecca are the parents with the little guy (rather misleading, he's near 23 lbs...) Julian and their trusty neurotic pooch.....Kujo.

Julian is almost 13 months. He neither sleeps through the night, nor in his own bed when he is sleeping at night. At least not from 2am on when he wants to come snuggle with Rebecca.

I started here when Julian was 4 months old. At that time, Aaron's mother, Betsy, was pushing Rebecca and me to start using the "cry it out" method of getting him to sleep on his own. When he took naps with me, he would sleep on my chest, which was nice and snuggly, but I also couldn't do anything else. It also meant he got in several 2 or so hour long naps. Rebecca said Julian was too young to have him cry constantly without comforting him and he wouldn't understand what was going on, just that his needs weren't being met. Fine. (Unless you're Betsy) a few months back, rebecca started saying we should be trying to get Julian to sleep in his rather expensive crib before he outgrew it and they had to convert it into a bed. Fine. Here's the problem. When we put him in the crib, he cried and screamed. For a little while, I had decent luck with having him fall asleep on me and then I'd lay him in his crib, but then he got sick a few times and the rhythym of it got broken up. When I would go to put him down, even when he was asleep, he would wake up. Incredibly frustrating. Rebecca and Aaron weren't having much better luck during the night either. Julian also still wants to nurse at night, which the pediatrician is saying he should be done with by....15 months I think? I can't remember exactly, but soon.

Soon after Julian turned 1, Rebecca finally caved and said he needed to be sleeping in his own bed all the time, let's go for some tough lovin! The new idea is to let them cry for certain intervals of time which get progressively longer. At each interval, you go in the room and soothe the baby, but don't pick them up. Comfort but don't give in and then wait longer til eventually the baby passes out from exhaustion and crying like crazy. I have seen this method work. Problem. Julian has a stubborn streak. It includes but is not limited to how he falls asleep and such. It used to be I would try to sit while attempting to get him to sleep and he would start screaming if I sat down. I had to stand. (The havoc wreaked on my back? Not good....) I am thoroughly convinced that if I left Julian in his crib screaming for hours on end, he would never give up and go to sleep. It would take passing out from exhaustion first. He pulls himself up into a standing position on the side of the crib and cries. Sometimes he'll be quiet and lay there if you're in the room with him. Sometimes not. I'm also fairly convinced that during the day when Aaron or Rebecca go to check on him instead of me, he gets less likely to go to sleep. Its a special thing to see them during the day. Me not so much. I'm normal and routine. After they leave, I sometimes feel like I have to start the whole process over because he's been energized by seeing mommy or daddy. Don't get me wrong, I like them both, but even just seeing them gets him excited and understandably so. Julian also began to develop the habit of climbing on me and having me walk around carrying him when he got really tired and then passing out while I'm walking. I'd then put him in his bed, but it allowed him to avoid the unpleasant falling asleep in bed routine that he's not so fond of. He also wakes up perhaps half an hour later cranky and not ready to be awake. I would pick him up and he immediately fell back asleep. Then I try to put him down in bed and monkey grip and screaming ensued. The choices then are to let him sleep on me or start the crying screaming process again which Rebecca and Aaron aren't fond of especially since they work downstairs and sound travels... I don't like hearing it either and he loses good nap time. He usually then only sleeps another half hour or so. Its been a long process and we're still not at the end. I'm hoping for the day when he squawks for a few minutes and then is asleep. I know children are capable of this feat, I've seen it! Just apparently Julian isn't a fan.

I don't know if we had started this process when he was younger if it would have made a difference. I remember Rebecca saying she had tried it when he was younger and it didn't work. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. But was Betsy right? Just let him cry on end at 4 months and he would magically be sleeping through the night in his own bed? I don't know. She did it with Aaron she says. Four months seems so young, but now, Julian is standing there crying and I think if he lay down and screamed, he might fall asleep better. Standing and sleeping don't go well...been there done that.. I also don't think that just because something worked well for one child or many children, doesn't mean another child will respond the same way to it. I've enever taken much of a position on crying it out. I've seen kids that it worked fine with and some that went to sleep other ways. Julian is different than either set I've seen. But he's getting oolder. From a purely practical standpoint, I can't keep carrying him and rocking him all the time. He's a big boy as is and he's only going to get bigger. He's old enough now to be in his bed. And to kep himself awake by standing. I also wonder if going back in at all (barring obvious signs of distress) is maybe disruptive because it perhaps makes them think they're being picked up and held. Is not going in better or worse than a visible refusal to accede to their desire to be picked up?

The issue can be further complicated by dear Kujo. He likes to growl and bark at sometimes non-existent things outside. Julian wakes up and it makes everything a bit more difficult. He means well. I appreciate that he likes to protect us all from the invissible attackers, ups, fed-ex, mail carriers and such, not to mention those awful people who park in front of the house. Neurotic but loveable... I just happen to be less appreciative when it wakes up Julian. I may get to spend a week or so with the nut this summer if the family goes on vacation. Betsy and her husband could theoretically take him, but Rebecca said she would rather he stayed in the house instead. I like the idea personally. I enjoy Kujo. I may just have a thin for nuts, but he's my buddy. He also seems to behave better when I'm here. Weird.

In other news, I saw Julian's first steps. And then a few hours later, I watched him take his first steps that anyone will know about in their family. I decided it might be a jerk move to yell down the stairs, hey Rebecca! Julian just took his first steps!!!!! Thank goodness it was the same day, cuz I was pretty excited about it. He also was being held by Rebecca and as I was leaving Friday stretched out and wanted me to take him it was pretty sweet. He got a kiss. I bribe. He smiled at me when I came in this morning, which was a first too. Usually he just stares at me..

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