(He got in by himself)
My son is a good sleeper. I am grateful for that. I might not have thought much about it, though, if people* didn't talk about that as much as they do. People are almost congratulatory when they find out Ender still naps (and usually around 2 hours), and that he sleeps a full, uninterrupted night of about 12 hours or so. That is good, yes.
I've been thinking about it a little, and I wonder if maybe I have some tips. I don't know if it's more a part of Ender's demeanor than it's from anything I do, but maybe I can help!
I set a few rules for myself.
Ender with Alio the Snow Tiger
FIRST: The baby should have a room of its own.
That doesn't mean I think you're dumb if you let your baby sleep with you. I'm a tiny bit jealous, actually.
Besides the fact that it never really worked for us (yes, I tried breaking that rule on desperate nights), it kept Ender from sleeping right.
But back to how it never really worked: I would nurse for who knows how long, I'd leak on the bed (yeah, ew, sorry), Michael would hardly sleep, Ender hated our bed, I worried we'd smother him with our bodies or the pillows or the blankets, he'd fall off the bed, and I simply wasn't very good at nursing like that anyway. And most importantly, Ender didn't really sleep much when he was in our bed.
Because Ender slept separately, he knew when I left he was supposed to fall asleep. He slept through the night starting just before 3 months. Before then, he got into a routine of finally only waking 1 - 2 times per night. A drastic change from the first week or so! To get a solid hour of sleep felt incredible for me, so I relished the long, sleeping nights when they finally came.
Ender is actually posing for this picture.
SECOND: Let the baby cry a little bit.
It's not fun, I know! I felt so cruel when he'd shriek every ounce of air from his lungs! But it didn't last that long, honestly. I'd wait 10 minutes (or go by judgment appropriate for the situation...things aren't usually black and white with babies) and distract myself with something so I wouldn't hear him too much. And I would not go back into the room.
We had a little apartment, by the way, no baby monitor. And I'm glad. I don't really like baby monitors, even though for some people they're necessary.
THIRD: Either put the baby to bed/nap with the first sign of sleepiness or don't wait for it.
When Ender seemed to be less interested in sleep and fought to stay awake, I'd put him down for a nap anyway because he needed it (I needed it, too). But I read somewhere that if your baby shows any sign of tiredness, you should put them down for their nap/bedtime right away or it will get harder because they've had to fight the sleepiness for a while. Have you ever done that? If you push past one point hard enough, you can pull an all-nighter, you know?
When it's naptime (and sometimes when it's a little past, oops), I tell Ender. Doesn't really matter whether he's upset about it or not, really. He's usually quite good-natured about it. We have a very simple routine. We change his diaper, grab his favorite stuffed animal (whose name is Alio, named by Ender) and "foff" blankets. We tickle and chase a tiny bit. He turns on the humidifier, I turn on the heater. I tuck him in, we blow kisses ("pahh!") and say "night-night" or "buh-bye" and I love you. He's so cute about it, I think it might be his favorite part besides the tickling. Then I close the door. That's it! He sometimes chatters/sings to himself a while, but he stays pretty still and falls asleep.
I guess I could say a lot of things, but I didn't want this to be all preachy. I just have some ideas, and this is what I do, and it works. Maybe some of it will be new or helpful to someone! :)
*PEOPLE: pretty much just women; the topic comes up often enough that it's obviously a big part of life for them.