What is Sleep Training?
Sleep training can be a taboo topic among parents. Sleep training is teaching your baby to fall asleep without your help. Some parents disagree with it while others desperately need it to maintain their mental health. I happen to fall into the latter category.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression since my early teenage years. When I’m not sleeping well these feelings are exacerbated and it’s really difficult for me to work through. I have three kids and have had 3 completely different sleep training experiences. It’s a privilege to share my experiences with you all to help you on your quest for a restful night’s sleep!
Method #1: Cry it Out
When most people think of sleep training, they instantly think of the cry it out method. In this scenario you don’t go in and check on your child. You just let them cry until they figure out how to calm down and get themselves back to sleep. Speaking from personal experience, this method is very difficult on the parent and child.
Let me start by saying I am not proud that we used this method. I will never do it again, but we were in a period of desperation, and it was what worked for us. I was working full time. Our son was 15 months old and had slept through the night twice in his life. There were a lot of factors that went into our decision to do the cry it out method that I won’t dive into, but the gist is that my mental health was at an all-time low and I desperately needed sleep.
Our cry it out experience was a really difficult two nights where our son cried for about 1.5-2 hours. It broke my heart. I’d never do it again, but he has been an amazing sleeper ever since!
Method #2: 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks
When we had our second child I knew I couldn’t go 15 months without sleeping again. I purchased the book 12 Hours Sleep in 12 Weeks and our sweet son was sleeping 12 hours a night at 9.5 weeks old. This book focuses on babies getting at least 24 ounces of formula/breastmilk during the day (around 8 weeks old). We focused on decreasing the night feedings a half ounce at a time and replacing those calories at one of the feedings during the day.
For us, once Henry was getting the amount of food he needed during the day he slept through the night so we didn’t even really need to do the “training” portion of the book. Once you eliminate night feedings this book recommends using intervals of letting your baby cry and reassuring them with positive words and NOT picking them up. This book was a total life saver and is available on Amazon!
Method #3: TBD
Our daughter is almost 10 months old and we haven’t implemented a sleep training method yet. The method we used with our second wasn’t working since I wasn’t bottle feeding. Current research says 6 months is about the age to start sleep training so we decided to wait until then. The last 5 months for us have been a never-ending string of illnesses starting with RSV which she got right around 5 months old. Needless to say, her health hasn’t been in a place where we feel comfortable implementing anything.
Whether you’re waiting for the right time to start sleep training or still finding the right method always know that you are an amazing parent and you alone know what’s best for you and your baby!
Some things you can work on before starting sleep training:
1) Lay baby down when they are drowsy, but not asleep. This way, if they wake up in the night they are not surprised to be in their bed and not in your arms.
2) Work on using an infant pacifier. Pacifiers help baby to relax and self-soothing with a pacifier is easier than ever before with the Ingy Bingy Band. This pacifier wristband velcros around baby’s wrist and attaches to every newborn pacifier on the market! Gone are the days of worrying about your baby’s pacifier falling out. This pacifier wristband makes it easy for baby to use their pacifier whenever and wherever they want to!