I never thought I would be one that has to sleep train their child. What does that even mean anyways? To be incredibly cruel and force your child to cry themselves to sleep? I always thought that would never be me. All of that changed with our second baby.
Our second was never a great sleeper from the start. He would nap in small increments throughout the day and never slept longer than 2 to 3 hours at night. At first, I was willing to attribute this to him simply being a baby. After all, babies aren’t supposed to sleep; nevermind the fact that our firstborn started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old and never looked back.It also didn’t help that I had a tendency to nurse him to sleep. Nursing him to sleep started as an accident, then quickly turned into a routine once we realized the whole pacifier thing wasn’t working out. It worked for about 45 minutes, until he would jolt himself awake and realize that he was in his bed and no longer nursing. Wails ensued shortly after.
After trying the nursing, rocking and trying to get him to keep every single type of pacifier available in his mouth for prolonged periods of time, I then purchased a sound machine that had 4000 plus 5 star reviews on Amazon, swearing that it helped everyone from newborns to grandmothers become better sleepers. That may be true, but it did not help our baby. No matter what, he still woke up every couple of hours every night and took 30 minute naps during the day. Needless to say, he was a big time grump.
After going back to work after 12 weeks and enduring months with a minimum of four wake ups/ feedings a night, I knew something had to give. Our baby boy was topping the charts in weight so that clearly wasn’t the issue. I approached the topic of sleep training after a conversation with our pediatrician. She assured me that it wasn’t cruel; in fact, it was what was best for him and for our family. So naturally when I returned home, I proceeded to google sleep training methods for the next week before deciding that the Ferber “Cry it Out” sleep training method was it. The Ferber method included putting your baby to bed awake instead of asleep. The idea is that they will then learn to put themselves to sleep and get comfortable at doing so. When or if your child started to cry, you then let them cry for 5 minutes, then go back into their room. You can rub their stomach and try to comfort them, but the idea is not to pick them up. After 5 minutes, you can then go back in at 10, then 15 minutes, and so on.
After deciding to do it, I then had to act on it. I poured myself a big glass of wine, put my big girl pants on, and told my husband that tonight was the night. He looked skeptical at first, but agreed. After all, we were going on almost 8 months with no sleep. Tonight was the night. I even warned my oldest of what was to come.
I nursed the baby and then laid him down awake in his crib. Before I could even leave the room, the crying started. I won’t lie. It was heartbreaking. I made my husband go back in the first time, alternating after that. Around the 45 minute mark, he was finally quiet. Our baby had put himself to sleep for the first time and in all honesty, it wasn’t that bad. Sure the crying was terrible, but it did end just like everyone said it would.
After three days and nights using the cry it out method, the crying suddenly stopped. I laid our baby in his crib and instead of crying, he gave me a half smile, clutched his lovey and went to sleep. His half smile made me smile. It let me know that crying it out was okay. He was okay and our family was even more than okay now that our sleep had greatly improved.
Crying it out and sleep training may not be for everyone and that’s okay. It worked for all family simply because we had no other choice, but to sleep train our youngest. And it worked. That baby smile told me so.