If you are reading this, chances are you are sleep deprived. I am sleep deprived as I write this. I’ve been sleep deprived since January 2017. So that is about 2 years of sleep deprivation. Are you tired, mama? If I could, I’d make you cup of a strong coffee and offer my couch to take a nap on. You probably wouldn’t get much sleep though, considering I have two really loud babies in my house who can easily bring the noise to deafening levels.
Sleep. I often think about what I would tell my former self before I had children, had I the chance to travel back in time and have a chat with her. I would tell her to prepare her final goodbyes to her good friend Sleep. Cut your losses, girl and get good at making some really strong coffee! Also-invest in some solid under eye concealer because the dark circles are FOR REAL.
But let’s chat about sleep training!
Most Paediatricians recommend sleep training beginning around 4 months of age. I have found this age to be the best time to start with my babies. Did you know you can give your baby comfort AND still sleep train them? It’s possible, YAAAS!
If you get the jump on helping them learn to sleep earlier in life then you will have to do LESS work to do down the road. *Talk to your child’s doctor before beginning.
If you are doing something that works for you, keep doing it. I’m not here to tell you that you are wrong so please keep doing what works for you. Maybe skip this blog post if sleep training aint’ yoh thing, ok? If you aren’t happy with what you are doing and find yourself struggling, consider sleep training. Getting my babies on a schedule and sleep training them has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as mom. If your baby is close to a year old (or older) and really struggling to fall asleep independently (if that is what you want them to do), consider hiring a sleep consultant. Sleep Consultants have a variety of amazing methods to help families in all situations! They are worth the money!
You decide how to help your baby learn things like sleeping, even if that means baby sleeps on you or with you-you are still teaching them how to sleep. How you do that is up to you!
Here are 3 things consider if you wonder if sleep training is for you!
- Are You Willing To Be Consistent (and slightly boring)?
If you are serious about helping your baby establish sleeping independantly , it’s important that you are consistent. It’s contradictory to the whole process if you are constantly leaving your home all the time. Your baby has to learn that their room and crib is where they sleep. (if that is where you want them to sleep). If they are falling asleep in their carseat all the time, then that is where they will associate sleep with. Babies will do what they are consistently given the opportunity to do.
You won’t always be stuck at home but from experience (and talking to other moms who sleep train) I was (and am) pretty boring the first 6 months of my babies’ lives. That might sound unreasonable but it’s all about what you are willing to invest into helping your baby sleep. How important is it to you? It doesn’t mean you can’t EVER leave your house while sleep training. But it does mean sacrificing some of your time.
I believe that if you stick to a loose routine and follow some simple sleep training tips-you will have a baby who forms some sort of predictable schedule within a month or two. Don’t believe me? TRY IT! Once your baby starts getting into a routine of sorts and is able to stay awake longer, you can start planning outings around them. While it’s hard work, it’s not so bad. I promise. It’s all about how you approach the situation. It’s just a short season of being home, in light of all the years to come when I can do whatever I want. I get to be home with my babies, take care of their needs, be in comfy clothes, eat snacks and chill. EAT ALL THE SNACKS!
My second point is something that often discourages most parents from this whole sleep training deal.
- Are You Ok With Crying?
I believe one of the reasons that sleep training has such a dirty reputation has to do with a misunderstanding of the crying aspect. What I don’t understand is why people do not do their own research but instead come to strange and negative conclusions about all forms of sleep training. Sleep training does NOT have to involve leaving your baby alone for hours to cry themselves to sleep without being offered any comfort. I have never intentionally just shut the door and left either of my babies to cry indefinitely for hours.
A common scenario I see in parenting forums or on social media often goes like this: “Hi everyone! My baby is x months old and a terrible sleeper. I nurse (or bottle-feed), rock or hold her to get her to sleep. She’s been sleeping on me or with me since she was born. She wakes up multiple times a night and refuses to nap during the day unless I’m holding her. I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight. Help me! What do I do?”
Then I see other mamas offering simple, straight forward sleep solutions that typically fall into the category of sleep training. The original poster will immediately reply, “Oh and I won’t do anything that involves listening to my baby cry! I refuse to let her cry!” And this is the face I’m making while I read the thread——————————————->
If you absolutely can not handle your baby EVER crying then buckle up my friend. It’s going to be a long ride in parenthood because babies (as well as children) CRY all the dang time. My 18 month old cried (screamed at me) today when I wouldn’t let him touch the cat’s butthole. I wish I was joking but phrases such as, “Please don’t dip your toothbrush in the toilet,” are a regular part of my day. I digress. You might be surprised if you let little Bobby fuss or cry for a few minutes only to find that he’s put himself back to sleep. We are biologically wired to respond to the distress of our children. Again, if this isn’t something you feel comfortable with when it comes to sleep then stick to what makes your family thrive!
There are extreme methods of sleep training that leave babies to cry until they’ve exhausted themselves, which I personally find to be stressful and counterproductive for all involved. In the first few months of sleep training, I employ timed checks which you can read about here. I love timed checks and it’s what I’m currently doing with my 4 month old right now. I would also like to talk about the whole “put baby down awake” thing. Sometimes that has worked with my boys but the majority of the time, I’ve fed/rocked them until they are almost asleep, up until they were a year old. I only do timed checks if they aren’t settling after I put them down. So, yes-you can feed/rock your baby to sleep, still teach them to fall asleep on their own and not form “bad” habits! AMAZING! Bad habits. (I’m rolling my eyes). Your baby needing you isn’t a bad habit, FYI.
My last point is pretty straight forward.
- How Hard Are You Willing To Work?
This is my most important point for you to consider. Seeing the bigger picture is important to achieving success in this process. My husband has said more than once that its worth it to slug it out and blitz this whole thing now. I completely agree! You have to know that it gets hard before it becomes easier. Just like working out, it will take time to see progress. It will feel like you do the same thing for months with little to no progress. And then it will get better. Don’t be discouraged when you face disruptions with your baby’s sleep habits. It’s normal. I said I don’t believe in regressions when it comes to babies. I do believe that developmental leaps, teething, and sickness can cause a baby to have disrupted sleep. Comfort your baby however, in these times and make adjustments. But these things are just a few reasons why I believe establishing good sleep habits from the beginning is so important. If you can help your baby establish good sleep habits, it can make disruptions and changes a little bit easier to navigate, for all of you.
My children do not sleep perfectly. Like all children, they go through seasons of great sleep and poor sleep but overall their good sleep outweighs the poor. We combined our boys into one room a few weeks ago. Yup-a 4.5 month old and an 18 month old sharing a room! It’s been almost a month of some amazing nights and some really difficult ones. I’m so tired some days, I can barely see straight. But I’m not going to quit just because it’s hard. Like all learned things, it takes time and my boys will learn to sleep through each other’s crying, wake ups and commotion.
Consider that you are giving your baby (and your whole family) the gift of sleep. It’s a wonderful thing!
Whether you are just considering sleep training, in the beginning stages or deep in the trenches, I wish you all the sweet sleep in the world. May your coffee be strong and your concealer be thick.
Do you sleep train? What has or hasn’t worked for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.