Cry it Out. Shush/Pat. Sleep Lady Shuffle. Timers. Oh My!
I won’t lie and pretend that I enjoyed sleep training my kiddos, or that it was an easy process. Before I found sleep training, I fell into the pattern of a lot of first-time moms. The moment my precious babe made a peep, I knocked furniture over to get to him and shove a boob in his mouth.
If this is you and it is working for you, go for it. This method, however, did not serve me or my family. We were miserable. Sleep training was our solution. I know it’s not the right choice for every kid or every family (I may have cried in my closet with wine the first night), but it has worked well for us.
Controversial or not, here are four reasons we are a sleep training household:
1. Apparently, people need to sleep.
And we were not sleeping. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is used to torture prisoners. It is STRAIGHT UP AWFUL. When my oldest was about four months old, he hit the dreaded sleep regression so, so hard. He woke up screaming every 45 minutes. All night. Every night. Not getting enough sleep at night was making him cranky and lethargic during the day, rather than his previously happy self.
I was afraid I was going to get into a head-on collision from exhaustion. After wearing out Google and Amazon Prime for sleep ideas, we finally landed on an approach that worked for us.
2. We function better with routine.
One of the few consistencies I read in my plethora of research stated that a strong routine should help everything fall into place in the sleep department.
Naps that used to be inconsistent started to even out as his night time sleep improved. Maybe it was my routine, maybe it was because we were all calmer knowing what to expect at bedtime. Either way, over two years later I am not willing to rock the boat.
3. Maybe I am selfish.
I have friends that have not slept more than two consecutive hours since they became parents. They are super heroes. I simply could not function without sleep. With my pediatricians urging, and staying within my own parenting comfort level, we were able to stretch 45-minute increments into a five-hour stretch within a few days.
Most of the tears actually came from me, funnily enough. I am a MUCH better mother when I have had at least four hours of uninterrupted sleep. #twoundertwo made that into a bit of a challenge, but many of the “mistakes” I made with my son, I was able to do differently with my daughter. Her sleep has been better from the get go.
4. It worked for us.
My little nightmare sleeper now sleeps 11 hours most nights and is a happy bright little kid. It is entirely possible that this transition could have occurred without my intervention, but the thought of seeing him six to eleven times a night at this point terrifies me. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
I don’t think every kid needs sleep training, or that it is even appropriate for every child. I would encourage parents who are struggling with the Sandman to meet with their pediatrician and come up with a game plan. There are literally hundreds of options to get the family’s sleep needs met. I am just so glad we have found what works for us.
What works for you?