Sleep, Part II
Since I last posted on sleep, quite a bit of time has passed and much has changed. It's hard for me to clearly delineate the sources of these changes - I'm certain that weaning, maturity, and changes in our parenting techniques surrounding sleep have all brought us to where we are today.
Where are we? Alex is nearly seventeen months now. He still sleeps in a bed - now once a day for a nap (usually 2 hours) and at night for about 9 hours. We are often able to lie down with him in bed, chat or read a story, get up and leave while he's still awake but drowsy, and expect that he'll go to sleep. He still wakes once or twice at night, sometimes getting out of bed and sometimes not, and needs to be patted for a minute or two before going back to sleep.
Throughout the second half of his first year, I struggled with the troubles users of a low bed face. Alex would crawl out unless we stayed in there with him. We tried many things - leaving the room and coming back to put him to bed, staying in the room quietly by his side until he fell asleep, and finally, waiting until he was really tired to put him to sleep. This final option felt the most in harmony with the few things I've read on Montessori and sleep. And perhaps it's because of maturity and weaning, but I feel as though Alex is fairly good at going to sleep on his own if I give him the opportunity when I notice that he's tired.
There are definitely times when I jump the gun. I carry him to bed, lie down for a story, and realize that he's just not there yet. Now perhaps more humble, I simply admit my mistake - "Oh, I guess you weren't ready yet. Would you like to do something else?" Though I used to worry that Alex would "pass the tired point" and spill over into something else, I find that this typically only happens when I attempt to manipulate his sleep patterns - keep him up longer so he'll go to bed at a "normal" time or take him to a stimulating environment when he's due for a nap.
My thanks to Burton White (who recommends this technique in "Raising a Happy, Unspoiled Child") for reinforcing this "follow the child" method.