One of the best decisions my husband and I made was to sleep-train Julianna. I was waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to breastfeed because I thought she was hungry. I was exhausted! I couldn’t function throughout the day and my energy level was extremely low. After her six-month check-up, her pediatrician assured me that she was capable of sleeping through the whole night without eating. My daughter was simply waking up for comfort. I mentioned this issue to one of my good friends and she suggested me to join a Facebook sleep-training support group called Respectful Sleep Training/ Learning to get the tips and advice that we needed in order to get her on the best sleeping schedule.
1. We began by eliminating her swaddle (which she used until she was approximately 4 months) and by eliminating her pacifier to sleep. The pacifier was eliminated because she would wake up every time it fell out of her mouth. It was hard for her to go back to sleep, so eventually, I would run in there to “rescue” her.
2. Napping schedules were crucial as well. I had no idea that babies actually have “wake times”. Meaning, the amount of time they’re allowed to be awake in between naps according to their age. My ten-month old daughter’s current wake-time is now 2.5-3.5 hours in between naps, but it used to be even shorter periods of time when she was younger. These short time intervals obviously created a lot of stress and pressure for me because I was basically incarcerated in my own home. I couldn’t leave the house for long periods of time because she needed to nap. As she got older, her naps became more consistent and predictable, so I knew exactly what I could accomplish before seeing her rubbing her eyes. My advice: be on the lookout for your baby’s sleepy cues.
I can’t lie, but the first 3 days of sleep training were brutal; not only for her, but for me. I knew deep inside of me that I was doing what was best for her. I needed to help her get an uninterrupted good night sleep in order for her to rest and grow. The first night consisted of a long 1 hour of straight crying before she fell asleep. I probably cried the majority of the time too. My husband was trying to be reassuring, but I don’t think men understand the pain and guilt us moms get when you hear your child cry.
The second night consisted of 30 min of straight crying and then falling asleep. It gave me a bit more confidence that we were doing the right thing. She was definitely getting the hang of it, she just didn’t want to budge.
Finally, the 3rd night consisted of probably a short 10 min cry and she fell right asleep. I was amazed. I could not believe it! Not only did she cry for a short period of time, but she slept the WHOLE. ENTIRE. NIGHT! Yes! You read right. She slept for 12 hours straight! I was so happy that I didn’t know what to do with myself and with all the spare time I had. My body felt great, my mood, my soul… everything! It was the first time in over a year that I was able to finally get a good night sleep. And most importantly, do you know who was even happier? Julianna! She was like a completely different baby. Her mood was absolutely amazing and her face even looked different. She had a glow! That’s when I felt pretty proud of myself for sticking to my plan. It’s a cliché, I know, but “Moms know best”. We really do.
I wish I would have known about this sleep training deal when she was a lot younger than six months. I don’t think that as a first time mom, I would have had the guts to put my tiny baby through sleep boot-camp, but at least it would have been nice to have the tempting idea floating around.
The reason for this post is to guide you, inform you, and support you through this process. Sleep training DOES work! It requires A LOT of disciple, consistency, dedication, and PATIENCE! We established a routine that lets my daughter differentiate when it’s time for a nap and when it’s time to go to bed. And believe it or not, sleep time is actually her favorite part of the day. She now gets overly excited for baths and anxiously sips on her bottle so she’s finally able to lie in her crib.
There are several sleep training methods, so I’ll mention a few below. I suggest researching each individual method thoroughly and select the one that fits your household and parenting style the best. To help you feel a bit more confident about your decision, here’s an article from the New York Times that discusses this topic as well. I wish you the best of luck and keep in mind that there are millions of other moms that go through the same process and feel relieved after it’s done and over. “Rip the bandage off!” You won’t regret it.