Sleep-training – that scary phrase! I know there are a lot of moms that are very negative about this, but I wanted to write a post to tell you what my experience was like and maybe it will give you some insight as to how it all works.
When you become a parent the second time, you think you know a thing or two about babies. WRONG! You know a thing or two about that baby… The second baby is a new person with a whole new set of rules.
I found that out the hard way. My firstborn loved sleeping as a newborn. I hear some of you saying “doesn’t every newborn baby sleep all the time”? That’s what I thought, but with my second that was not the case. He was a bad sleeper from the beginning. When we brought him home from hospital, he already started to fight sleep.
With my oldest, we used The Contented Little Baby Book by Gina ford to guide us and it worked wonders! I love routines, I work from home, so having the baby in a routine from very young made my life so much easier. The book made me feel very confident as a parent – I knew what to expect!
I obviously tried to use the same guidelines with my youngest, but there was no hope. Because he only slept for 30-45minutes at a time, it was impossible to follow that routine. As my baby grew older, it got more difficult to get him to sleep, I had to carry him 24/7 because he would only sleep in my arms, and when he was awake, he was actually still tired so then he also wanted to be in my arms. I was exhausted!! He just got older and heavier and I got almost no sleep. I remember how I would walk for hours at a time, through a dark house up and down the hallway, rocking him to sleep. It’s torture to have to stand/walk/rock when you are like a zombie, needing sleep yourself. And the worst part is, he would not settle with anyone but me.
I contacted Carmen from ‘Good Night’ and at 4months my baby was ready to sleep-train. Now I know it sounds terrible, I think the word ‘training’ makes the whole process sound more scary then it actually is, but Carmen said something to me that really made me feel at ease with my decision, she said I have to remember that I am doing this to help my baby and guide him to become an independent sleeper.
Firstly she helped me identify the problems & crutches. One of the most important factors in helping children sleep well is to teach them to fall asleep without using “sleep props” or “sleep crutches”. Then she worked out a routine that will work for me and my baby.
Then we began with the sleep training. It starts very gentle, so you don’t have to worry that you are just abandoning your child. I had to try and get my baby to sleep in the cot, not in my arms – in my mind this was never going to happen. The Sleep plan that she gave to me was supposed to work within 10 days. It didn’t – it worked in 4! It’s crazy – my mind is still blown. I started as I was supposed to, first night I stood next to him, soothing him with my voice and patting him to get him to sleep. He cried and it was loud! He wanted me to rock him. Carmen prepared me for the different crying stages, there are 4 and they all sound different. So I knew every time it changed we were in the next phase which convinced me it was working. Eventually my baby got to the “mantra cry” this is a cry they have when they are not in distress, but actually trying to work things out for himself. When I heard this cry I was still patting him, gave him his dummy and he was quiet, he then just went to sleep. What?? It was 10minutes! I have been carrying him for months, walking hours rocking him to sleep, but here he was, crying for 10 minutes (which is a lot less than the amount of crying he did when I was using all the different ‘sleep crutches’ to get him to sleep.) The process is supposed to have you slowly create more distance (there are 4 different phases) and by day 10 you leave the room. My son was really adjusting well and by night 4 he just went to sleep after his bed-time routine, so I left the room. FREEDOM!
This really opened my eyes. It was really like my son just wanted me to teach him how to sleep, and then once he figured it out he finally got some sleep and of course, I finally got some sleep! He was even starting to stretch his naps (Good Night also gives great advice on how to help the baby connect his sleep cycles), so things were looking up.
So as you know a baby is not a robot, there are a lot of elements completely out of your control. My baby was teething, getting sick etc, and this made it difficult to stay in routine and for him to continue his new good sleeping habits. But Carmen really helped me through this phase too. Having me comfort him, but without falling to the same sleep crutches as before. It wasn’t long and my son was back on track. The most important thing to remember is that consistency is key. If you are not consistent, you are making it really hard for your baby, as they then don’t know what to expect, and the wonder of sleep training is that you create an environment with routine so he knows exactly what to expect and feels safe going to sleep.
My son was doing really well, he dropped all his night feeds and slept well for most of the time. He was still waking at night, but I just had to give him the dummy then he would go back to sleep. Then, 2 months in it finally happened. He slept through the night! Whoohoo! It has now been a week since then and he has slept through 4 times. I am holding thumbs that it just continues this way.
Well, that is my story. Hope it can help you, or give you some insight. There are a lot of tips on the internet, but I must say it’s worth using a company as they work out a plan specifically for your baby. Also, the support you get is amazing!
I used Good Night: www.goodnightbaby.co.za | firstname.lastname@example.org