Everyone’s favorite topic..
I remember Zach and I were so annoyed when every single human on the planet repeatedly said, “enjoy your sleep now” before Hendrix was born. And the first few weeks, heck, even month, were pretty smooth! We were like, PSH people are crazy. And then sleep regressions started.. I had NO idea what those were until other fellow moms told me about them. For a good four months or so, we had many sleepless nights and short nap days. We had arguments during the middle of the night that sounded like two drunk chicks fighting because we were THAT sleep deprived. On top of that, working full time was not realistic. We were desperate.. But before I get started, I am not promising these tips will fix all of your sleep issues and I’m also NOT saying this is the right way to parent. For Zach and I, we need routine and structure because of our full time jobs and we truly value alone time once Hendrix is asleep. If you’re in the same boat, read along but please take no offense if your family isn’t structured this way ;)
WHAT IT IS: We had no idea what sleep training was/ what the process was like. I had talked to so many moms who had successfully sleep trained to fully understand what it is and how to do it. Here we go: You teach your baby to successfully fall asleep on his/her own instead of relying on sleep aids (aka nursing, rocking, cosleeping, etc) When Hendrix was three months old, he would wake up EXACTLY after one hour of sleep once it was bedtime. I couldn’t figure out what it was but after doing research, his deep sleep cycle had ended and he needed mom’s help getting back to sleep. After that, I probably had a good four hour streak of sleep before he would wake up again for more nursing. I honestly didn’t mind it at first because he would fall back asleep after nursing for 10 minutes but after a few months, I was growing weary of the constant wake ups. He was also sleeping in his own room so I had to keep getting up instead of just whipping it out in the comfort of our own bed.
**sidenote** We only coslept until he was two months old because I am a super light sleeper and couldn’t sleep with him in our room. Zach and I also like cuddling in our bed after-hours and couldn’t do that without Hendrix, so again, take no offense if you cosleep but your journey might be easier if the little one is used to their crib already!
PROCESS: A lot of people think sleep training is mean because you let your baby scream and leave them for the wolves… NOT true.. I was a bit skeptical at first but after talking to others and his pediatrician, they had recommended 6 months old is best to teach them since they are on solids and can physically last the full night without needing to nurse. One of the first steps is simply reminding yourself of this! Us mamas can easily feel guilty and can’t shake that physical sick feeling you get when your little one is crying which is NORMAL but remind yourself that the experts say it's totally okay. Next is recognizing sleeping aids and taking them away one at a time (this was almost a two week process for us) Our bedtime ritual started with a bath, bedtime story, and ended with nursing until he was out. When we decided to start training, I had only nursed him right before he was about to fall asleep and then handed him off to Zach to rock him until he was dead asleep. After a few screams, he fell asleep in his daddy’s arms and just like that, was already adjusted with a new aid. We stuck with that for a few days and then Zach went from rocking to just staying still and putting him in his crib while he was still drowsy. After 5 minutes of crying, I went in there, rubbed his back and left. We repeated this step for the next half hour (and yes, I had to set timers on my phone AND turn the volume down on the monitor because one minute of a crying baby sounds like one HOUR) Zach also reminded me to stay put and NOT pick him up or else I would ruin, I repeat, RUIN all the hard work we had just done. You have to have to have to be consistent when you do this!!! After half an hour of crying, boom, he was out. HE woke up again four hours later so I had braced myself for more screaming. While fighting the urge to check on him, he only cried for 10 minutes (again, thank you phone timer) and he was out. After that first night, HE DID IT!!! I cannot express how proud I am to see him put himself back to sleep without me checking on him!
In conclusion, I would strongly suggest giving it a try! If you feel that your baby is ready but you’re not, it’s totally okay! But remember the sooner they learn, the more independent they’ll be as they get older. If you decide to try, make sure you and your spouse/partner are on the SAME page and can hold each other accountable. I probably wouldn’t have successfully sleep trained if it wasn’t for my awesome hubby’s help. One last thing: recognize your baby’s different types of cries! After sleep training him, I now understand which cry needs attention. I can differentiate between his “I kinda woke up but I’ll put myself back to sleep” vs “I am super hungry mom, please get me!” cries. Even during sleep regressions and teething, he is capable of putting himself back to sleep and can nap twice a day for two hours without any assistance. (WE CAN ALSO LEAVE HIM WITH A SITTER AND SUCCESSFULLY GO OUT WITHOUT THE FEAR OF HIM WAKING UP AND ENDING OUR DATE EARLY!) Let me know if you fellow mamas decide to give it a try and how it goes for you!