Babies are not always easy sleepers. Some wake up one time while others wake up ten times. For the the lucky people who have babies that sleep through the night at the bat, I hate you. Ok, I do not really hate you, but definitely jealous. Yes, thats the right word. Jealous.
I had to sleep train my son. He was the worst sleeper on the planet. I do not blame it on the breastfeeding. Yes, he wanted to nurse every 2 to 3 hours at any given time and when he was going through a growth spurt, he wanted to nurse every 1.5 hours. Try doing that during the night and sleeping in between. They say that if a baby eats enough, they would probably sleep a lot. Well, I call bull because I at times, overfed him, and yet he chose not to sleep at all.
That is because I became his crutch. His bad habit. I gave him everything he wanted. Every cry, every little whimper, I was there to console him. He could make one tiny little noise, and I would jump at the chance to make sure he was fine. To snuggle and cuddle with him. It was my favorite.
I did this from the very beginning. So when it was time for me to let go of my favorite past time due to my lack of sleep and the fact I was no longer a functioning human being, my little man would not let go. He refused to let me go. He refused to sleep. He knew I was pulling myself away. It did not mean I loved him any less, but I needed him to be independent and to be an amazing sleeper all on his own.
This is where sleep training came in. Sleeping is a skill. Being able to sooth oneself to sleep is a skill the body has to learn. It does not come naturally. Babies are born with a clean slate. They learn as they go and as parents we have to be there to help them and guide them. That is our job.
I read up about every kind of sleep training out there and I tried practically all of them. I refused and I mean REFUSED to let my son “cry it out.” I thought the Ferber method was drastic and psychologically damaging. That was before I did any real research on the method. After some reading and coming up with a plan, I gave it a go and put everything in motion. Now. like any sleep training, everyone in the house has to be on board. One parent does not sleep train alone. One parent does not do all the work. Unless, of course, that parent is a single parent which is another conversation for another time.
The first few days are hard. I am not going to say it is easy. Listening to your pride and joy cry because they refused to sleep is hard. What took me a few days to figure out were the different cries my son would give me. He had his pain cries, his tantrum cries, his hunger cries. Each had their own distinct sounds. I needed to be able to distinguish from all of them. I never took the time before because I took every chance I got to jump up and save my son from ever crying. The first few nights he gave me the pain cries. Change is hard. He was use to me nursing him and rocking him until he fell asleep. That would take anywhere between 45 minutes to 1.5 hrs. I would then lay him down and he would be awake again within 3 hours. Who could live like that? I did that for 6 months.
Enough was enough. I needed my sanity and I needed me back. I was selfish but I needed him to let go too and so it began.
The first few nights, I would nurse him until he was drowsy but awake. I gave him a kiss and laid him down in his crib. Gave him his pacifier and turned on his crib soother. He was fine until I headed for the door then he started to cry. Bawling. I let him cry for about 5 minutes then checked on him again. I however had to fight the urge to pick him up. He gave me as many sad faces he could come up with. I would give him his pacifier and turn on his crib soother if it had turned off and walked away. It was hard. It was not like I was abandoning him. He just needed to know that I was still there just not the way he was use too for 6 months.
We kept up this method. We stucked it out with our plan and it worked. After about a week, he would nurse and I would lay him down and he did not cry, not even when I left the room. I offered him his pacifier and turned on his crib soother. He would look at me and knew it was bed time. He would just fall right to sleep. It was glorious. And not only did he go to sleep, he would sleep for 12 hours without waking up. The first few nights, he did wake up a few times, but less than what he use to wake up too. And as each night progressed, he woke up less and less.
Now I have this amazing little sleeper who goes to bed on his own. Who knows when it is bedtime at night. After bath time, lotion and some snuggling, he knows what will happen next and he does not even fight it. He welcomes it. He knows that after a full night of sleep, he wakes up a happy smiley child. He is ready to play and I am full of energy to give into every little mischievous little adventures we get ourselves into.
So parents who say this is psychologically damaging, its not. I make sure that I give him enough attention to let him know that I will always be there for him. Day time is learning time and play time and night time is sleeping time. It worked for us and even though I started trying this CIO method for selfish reasons, I am raising an independent person. One who is learning how to do things for himself and not relying on mommy to do everything for him.
I feel like I did something right and only time will tell how independent he becomes. But for now, needing my help to get to sleep isnt something he needs.
Of course, I do not want him to grow up too fast. After all, he is just getting ready to turn one. Thats another milestone, I am getting ready to freak out about.