Montessori Baby

The author, trained as a Montessori primary teacher (AMI), documents and analyzes her efforts to raise a "Montessori" baby.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sleep: Age 2

Sleep is such a huge issue for parents of young children and has been a hotly contested issue in our household, so I feel compelled to begin a new wave of updates with an update on our sleep situation.

We have now graduated from a crib mattress on the floor to a full mattress, mainly because it is larger and more comfortable and accommodates both an adult and a child. Though the transition was not difficult at all, I wish we had done this from the beginning for our own sakes! Nursing would have been much more comfortable without my feet hanging off the end of the bed!

We have removed the gate from Alex's door. I guess we reached a point where we felt confident he would come find us at night rather than wander, so we decided this was an appropriate way to offer him independence to get what he needed at night (namely, snuggles).

We now have a consistent bedtime routine with a flexible start and "end" point. When Alex shows signs of tiredness, we put on pj's and watch two scenes from the Sound of Music. He brushes teeth, gives kisses, and reads one or two books with us before lights out. Jeff and I have different approaches to what happens from there...he usually sings until Alex is asleep, while I do a soft, guided imagery ("Let's think about when we were in the woods today. We parked the car in the parking lot...") leading to instructions about how to get to sleep ("Now we'll close our eyes and breath slowly..."). I try to guide him about 85% of the way to sleep and then say goodnight and leave the room. It usually works pretty well.

More often than not, Alex comes and finds us at around 2-3am. Usually I notice him climbing into our bed, but I hardly ever wake all the way up. Around 6:15am, he climbs out of bed, tells me "Mama wake up!" and goes out into the kitchen to pour his cereal. Since I still have to get the milk for him (he can't open the fridge), I stumble along a few minutes behind. Thank goodness for automatic coffee makers.

Alex still naps about 2 hours per day, and we don't worry to much about how he gets to sleep for nap. Yesterday, he fell asleep on Jeff's shoulder as Jeff was talking with a contractor about our bathroom! He sleeps in his bed and comes to find us when he wakes up.

What I love about our current system is that we are continuing to gently move toward sleep independence while still getting a full night's sleep. There are no tears and no late-night battles. What I don't love are cold toddler feet and the early morning squirm! But I imagine I'll even miss them when they're gone...


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

I have a question for all those of you out there in Montessori-mama land. We have a 12 month old, and, as I was a teacher in Children's House for 10 years before his advent, we thought that we would just leap into Montessori at home and all would be well, because anyone who has spent 10 minutes in a (good) Montessori class can see that it is, hands down, the best way to approach children, right?! Well... we hit obstacle after obstacle-- sleep being our primary obstacle. We bought a crib before he was born because we had 250 lb. of dog and were afraid that 10 lb. of baby would be no match... it made a really great elevated changing table for us. We tried to make him sleep in it some, but gave up very soon after he left the co-sleeper in our room and jut threw the mattress on the floor as per the Montessorians. That helped for getting him to sleep, although I still want to meet that baby who is so happy to spend hours alone in their room on the floor exploring their environment...
we ended up with a child who awoke every 45 minutes 24 hours a day and just crawled away and screamed at the baby gate. When he came to our bed when we couldn't take any more he just screamed there, too. Long story short, we abandoned the floor bed at 10 months and he is just now able to sleep for 3 hours in his own room. Then it is with us for the rest of the night b/c we cannot get him to fall asleep alone after 10 pm.

So... after that rant, here is the question. Has anyone ever abandoned the floor bed for baby #2after a lack of success with baby #1? I'm thinking that with the next one we will swaddle, get a really whippy swing, a crib vibrator, some blinky light-up toys... well, maybe not the toys. All of our other Montessori experiments have been an (eventual) resounding success, but I'm really starting to wonder if only really, really even tempered kids (mine is NOT!) do well without all the more traditional methods of infant care and comfort. Any thoughts?

At 11:13 AM, OpenID javamom said...

We took our first out of the crib and into a full mattress on the floor at about 18 months, mostly bec I figured if he MUST get up and have me near, let HIM do the walking and let ME stay in bed. Well, he did exactly that. He'd come for a snuggle at 3 am, sometimes he'd stay, sometimes I'd carry him back during a pee break, and then, one day out of the blue, he stayed the entire night in his own bed.. And again the following night. We put the mattress on a bed, and he's been in it since. He's turning 3 in March 2008.

It may be of interest that napping has been an issue here. He has NOT napped regularlly since about 18 months. It was hit and miss until he was 2, and then most of his 2s he didn't nap at all. He has, for about 4 or 5 months now, established his own bedtime at 7pm. It's his routine, he goes to sleep within 10 minutes or so, and he stays the entire night 99% of the time in his bed, asleep (unless he's sick or something like that).

So...will child 2 do the same? All I know is th at getting up every couple of hours to tend to a child in a crib without any intent of remaining asleep in his or her crib for the duration of the night is too tiring for me. I am not against cosleeping, and for us, having allowed it occasionally when there seemed a need has done the trick for us. I'm not exhausted, although I am tired...and the 4 month old is still mostly in bed with me at this point.

Sorry for the long comment. I enjoy this blog and will visit again!

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Carla said...

I just discovered your blog and am very grateful for it! I have a 7.5 month old and am always on the hunt for Montessori resources. Can you recommend any good reading for activities and philosophy for the birth to 1yr age group? I'm reading Montessori from the Start but want something with more examples of activities. I worry sometimes that I'm not doing enough to challenege her. Thanks!

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Brandy said...

Just had to comment. I thought it was so funny to hear that watching some of The Sound of Music is in your bedtime routine, because it's in ours too! Which two scenes? Ours was "So Long, Farewell" for a few months, but we have now moved to the puppet show (my son sings both these songs all day too...).


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