My husband and I both love our sleep. I’m talking “sleep eight hours at night and still take a nap on the weekend” kind of sleepers. We were fortunate when our daughter, Elin, was born to find that she also loves sleep. She was an excellent sleeper from the beginning and was snoozing long stretches at night by eight weeks. Sure, we had to go in and replace her pacifier one or two times a night, but this was doable for us. When I went back to work at 12 weeks, I felt well rested and ready to conquer each day.
I had read about the dreaded four-month sleep regression, but I thought no way is that going to happen to us! We had a solid nighttime routine of bath, bottle, and a book, and we would be golden to get through any measly sleep regression. Four months zoomed by and she was still sleeping great. I thought we were out of the woods for sure, but then at six months she had her first ear infection and would not sleep in her crib. We tried rocking her to sleep and inclining the crib mattress, but nothing seemed to work. Rather than fight things, we decided to move her to the rock ‘n’ play, and we all got our full nights of sleep again.
When she was feeling better, I knew I had to move her back to her crib (due to her outgrowing the rock ‘n’ play), but she would cry the instant we laid her down and left the room. She would spit her pacifier out a second after we left, knowing we would be back quickly to replace it for her. Repeat pattern of pacifier being spit out, and us going back into her room for an hour and a half, and you can imagine that we were frustrated and she was exhausted. I think I remember counting one night that we replaced the pacifier 10 times in an hour. I knew we had a problem on our hands; she didn’t know how to soothe herself to sleep, and we needed to do something about it. So I did something I never thought I would have done as a mother—I sleep trained my child, and I don’t regret doing it for a minute.
Sleep training is essentially helping your child learn to fall asleep on his or her own. There are many different methods of sleep training, but the most common is by Dr. Richard Ferber, and is negatively coined the “cry it out” or Ferber method. The Ferber method has been given a bad rap, because many think it is leaving your child, shutting the door, and letting them cry for hours and hours until they fall asleep. I was a huge opponent of sleep training or letting my child cry for longer than a few seconds, but when my pediatrician told me at Elin’s 6 month appointment that she used the same method with her daughter, I began to do more research. I discovered that when using Ferber’s method, you check on your child in increased intervals until they fall asleep, and at each subsequent wake up, if there are any. For more information on Ferber’s method, check out his book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Habits.
Armed with wine and a magazine, I found myself on our porch the first night that we sleep trained so I wouldn’t hear her cries. My wonderful husband stayed strong for us and did the checks. The first night was awful, but she eventually fell asleep without her pacifier and she didn’t wake up until 6:30 the next morning! The next night she fussed for 10 minutes and slept through the night. Now, at eight months, we lay her down, kiss her goodnight, and she doesn’t make a peep and falls asleep for 11+ hours. I remember feeling so liberated after training, almost like it was magic. My pacifier dependent child no longer needed us to replace her pacifier, and she fell asleep on her own. Our evenings are back to enjoying quality time as a couple, and she is an overall happier baby because she sleeps.
I will say sleep training isn’t for everyone, and I don’t think any of us (my daughter included) would have been ready to sleep train any earlier than we did, but if you are frustrated with your child’s sleep habits (replacing pacifiers, etc.) like we were, I would recommend looking in to it.
Did you sleep train your child? If so, why did you choose to do it?