Sleep training is a hot button issue with many of today's parents. Some people are for it, some people are against it and some people just don't need to do it!
So, how do you know if and when its right for you to sleep train?
When Evie was born, I knew sleep would be out the window, but I didn't think it would be THAT bad. She was a very difficult case. She never slept, was incredibly colicky, and she spit up all the time. I was at the end of my rope when she was sleeping five hours a day (including naps) when I called our pediatrician and BEGGED him to help us! He gave us the number for a sleep consultant. A sleep consultant? Really? Had I already failed so much as a parent that I needed someone to help me to get my child sleep? Well, the answer was yes and I'm so glad we called her.
The woman we now refer to as the "sleep Nazi" came into our home, told us we were doing everything wrong, and gave us a plan to help our child to sleep. It was a modified cry-it-out method (we only had to let her cry for 30 minutes) and after about a month, probably the hardest month of my life, Evie was sleeping 10-12 hours a night and taking two two-hour naps a day. To this day she is a great little sleeper!
Then came Milo, and while he was a much better sleeper than Evie, he was far from perfect. By five months we were ready to sleep train. Knowing that it worked so well for Evie, we had high hopes. We used the same plan we used before. However on the first night he slept through the night without waking, and the next day began taking two naps a day with no trouble. Really, I think he just wanted us to leave him alone and let him sleep! And again, we were thankful for our "sleep Nazi" and the ability to say: “It’s ok to let them cry for a bit.”
That being said, I understand cry-it-out doesn't work for everyone and I completely respect that. There are many ways to get your child to sleep and this plan happened to work best for us. I've heard the comments behind my back of "How could she DO that?? I could NEVER do that!" and what do I have to say to those people? Well, I guess I just have to say: Walk a mile in my shoes and maybe you'll understand.
As parents we have to do what's right for our family, and we did! We now have two very happy and healthy babies who sleep really well, which makes for a very happy mommy and daddy!
I didn’t do any formal “training” for my kids. They are both pretty good sleepers though, so I think we just got lucky in that respect. But that’s not to say that they sleep perfectly all the time (or even most of the time).
Some things I’ve done with both kids are to keep their beds a quiet place for sleep. They each have two to three small cuddly toys and a blanket, but nothing stimulating. (No mobile, no mirrors, no musical things, etc.). Their beds are not a place to play or hang out, only a place to sleep. They also each have a fan in their room for white noise, and I try to keep the house a little quieter during sleep time. I also try to put them in bed drowsy but awake as much as possible. Of course, if they are already asleep, that’s ok too.
If and when they cry, I first wait to see if they will settle themselves. If they don’t in about 10 minutes or so, I go in and try to soothe them. And if this still doesn’t work, then I pick them up. It’s a little easier with Claire now that she’s older. I can simply tell her to go back to sleep, and most times she does.
Claire has always gone to bed at night without a fuss, but nap time is more difficult. We had (and still do have) many a nap time spent with me going in to remind her that it was time to lie down and be quiet, only to have her pop back up the moment I left the room. Of course, now that she is 3, she has sadly dropped her nap for the most part.
Joey is a whole other story. He naps beautifully, but nighttime is tougher for him. Every night he still wakes at least once. He gets a diaper change and a bottle and then goes right back to sleep though. So, I guess it’s not too bad.
At 9 months, he’s now in the process of dropping his morning nap. In some respects that makes it more difficult to get some things done, but it also makes it easier to get out and about again. Plus, I can usually get a pretty sweet “car nap” out of him while we’re out running errands. (I only wish that we had a drive-through grocery store, Target, post office... liquor store maybe? Haha!)
Sleep is important for everyone, babies and parents alike. However, as parents, we have to do what we think is right for our family. There are many ways to get your child to sleep and if you and your baby are healthy and happy, that's all that matters!
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