Lesson #4: Sleep Training

Over the course of me blogging about being a mum, I will share my experiences as part of ‘my lessons learnt’ series.

When you get pregnant or become a mum/parent, you feel like you are the only one in the world who has just had a baby until the day you look for reassurance that you are doing the right thing. Be it advise from family, friends, the net, your health advisors…..you name it. That is when you realize that being a parent is NO JOKE! and you are not alone.

What have I learnt when it came to teaching my DS to sleep?

TREMENDOUS PATIENCE

When it came to training DS to self sooth himself to sleep, I knew the only method that would work for me was the ‘CRY IT OUT’ method. The other being the ‘NO TEARS’ method.

Why I chose the ‘cry it out’ method is because it was quicker and as soon as you got sleep training out of the way, as a parent you had other things to concentrate on, like weaning, teething, baby movements associated with baby proofing the house and most importantly…..going back to work.

I read a comment left by fellow mother, Mrembo on Green Calabash’s blog with regards to this sleep method and I knew I had to say something about it.

“Oh and that cry it out shit.. yeah I said it.. To me it is simply inhumane and wrong. I think if one must try it after 10 months or there about. If you really must. Follow your instinct when your baby cries.”

I agree, that is her opinion, but what got to me the most is that if this method was thought to be inhumane and wrong, it wouldn’t be suggested by baby experts and also, your health supervisor/midwife would also be frowning about it.

It is a know fact from the moment babies are born…….THEY CRY AS A WAY OF COMMUNICATION. Until they learn to speak, this is the only way they can address their grievances to us parents. Of course with time, you come to learn the different cries your baby makes. The my diaper is wet/full of poo cry, I am hungry cry, I am tired cry, I hate strangers cry, the I don’t want to play cry, I want to sleep cry…..you all know where I am going with this.

Also, trying it after 10mths (in my opinion) is just PURE STRESS. At this age, your child is more aware of his/her surroundings compared to the first 6mths of their delicate lives. This it when the child is starting to learn how to push boundaries and teaching them how to sleep is just going to be a drawn out process for both of you.

When it comes to sleeping, with time you learn that babies will fight ‘tooth and nail’ not to go to bed/sleep. This is one thing I have never understood. Looking at myself as an adult, I too fight sleep, but sometimes you just give up and go to sleep. Only difference is that with time, I have learnt not to cry myself to sleep and just sleep. And with that analogy, I have come to agree (to a certain degree) with the experts, the ‘cry it out’ method works.

Yes, I cannot deny the facts that people have come out and said that this method will cause brain damage to the baby, etc. If this was the case, what happens to all those babies who cry hours on end when they are suffering from colic, etc? Or those who just cry for no apparent reason and nothing will console them?

DS has been know to cry for nothing and even I, his mother cannot do anything to soothe him. I just let him cry it out. Eventually, he will tire out and settle. My rule has always been, if he has had enough to eat, has a dry diaper, no fever and his is in a safe and comfortable environment…….then let him cry. Nothing will harm him.

I knew from the moment I would start sleep training my child, I would do it with hubby not being around. Men, for some reason, don’t like hearing babies cry. Thank God, he works nights, so I was in a good position to sleep train DS. I started sleep training DS at 3mths and it was the worst week of my life. So, I prepared myself mentally for a long week ahead and soildered on. Day one was the hardest as this was the time he cried the longest for an hour. Eventually, he just settled and slept. As the days went by the crying time dropped by 30mins on day two and then 15mins on day three. It stuck to 15mins on and off, but eventually DS learnt to soothe himself to sleep. It go to a certain extent he would sleep while having his bedtime bootle which made the whole process of putting him in his cot much easier.

THEN……I had this bright I idea that we should visit the motherland when DS was 4months and all my hard work was undone. Due to a new environment from what he is used to and the heat, I was back to basics when it came to bedtime. I was back to rocking him to sleep as I walked up and down the room, which I absolutely hate as a method. Reason being, your baby is getting heavier with time and if that is the only way to soothe him during bedtime….then you are in trouble.

Anyway, my time in the motherland was not long and soon I was back to the sleep training. Due to teething/holiday illness for a week, as soon as DS was back to his old-self, the sleep training began. At 5mths, the process was worse than before. On day one, DS cried for two hours NONE STOP. I stayed in room, but out of sight. Checking him every ten minutes just to let him know I was close. By the second hour, I extended the time to 15mins as I could tell he was getting tired. Towards the end, I prepared a bottle as I assumed he would be hungry after all that spent energy and like a sick joke, DS literally sipped his milk and BLACKED OUT till his next feed. Day two fared a bit better with the crying lasting just less than an hour. Day three, 30mins……day four 15mins……by day five between 5-10mins and by the time the week was over, DS was either sleeping whilst having his feed or would just gurgled away in his cot after a feed and just nod off.

Yes…….another stressful week of sleep training and it paid off.

During both processes, I would stay in the room, out of sight with the night light on, until DS slept. Once we established a bedtime routine and all was well, I started leaving the room just after settling him down for the night. This was also a bit stressful as baby monitors amplify the crying, but it was not as drawn out as teaching DS how to soothe himself to sleep. Eventually the night bedtime routine was pretty much in the bag and I knew he as ready to move to his own room.  I can proudly say, that by the time DS was 6mths, his bedtime routine was sorted and he had moved to his own bedroom. A few weeks later, the monitor was switched off and DS also learnt to sleep without a nightlight.

When the weaning started, bedtimes just got easier as the night feed was eventually dropped and I was back to getting a full night sleep. Of course sleeping like a log is out of the question as I soon discovered (story for another day), but it surely beats waking up every two to three hours.

As a parent, you get to learn every step of the way. And if there is one thing I have learnt through this whole process is that BABIES ARE DEFINATELY UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT. You might be going through the same problems as any other parent, but one this is for sure…….YOU KNOW YOUR BABY BEST. What might work for you may not necessarily work for someone else. You are welcome to try though.

What has been your experience when it came to sleep training your child?

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2 thoughts on “Lesson #4: Sleep Training”

  1. Sleep training never worked for me. Be happy, at 1 year, my DD can wake up, get out bed and you will meet her down the stairs:). I never had problems before but these days, getting her to sleep involve a screaming toddler.

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