To say that sleep training saved my life might be a bit of an exaggeration. Of course, I spent a few months so tired that I could have crashed my pick -up in a fiery accident while driving down the road so maybe sleep training did save my life?
Between months five and six of Teddy’s life, he decided he didn’t want to sleep alone in his crib anymore. It was rough. Teddy and I slept in our king sized bed while Colby slept in the guest room most nights. I was up, on average, hourly for a two minute long nursing session or to pat Teddy on the back. He couldn’t really transition between sleep cycles and needed me to help him fall back to sleep. I was miserable.
Not only that, but Teddy was miserable. He is typically a happy baby who doesn’t cry during the day. At night, he would scream and whine and sometimes even throw little fits. It was obvious that he was tired and wanted to sleep, but couldn’t manage it in bed with me.
Harvest is looming on the horizon and Colby and I realized that something had to change. Teddy was perfectly capable of sleeping longer stretches- he had done it before and was old enough to sooth himself back to sleep and connect sleep cycles. A little over three weeks ago, we decided one night to commit to sleep training. We went with the Ferber method- which involves graduated checks. On the first night, we did our bedtime routine and put Teddy in his crib awake and left the room. He quickly became very angry and started screaming. Colby went in after three minutes, then five minute and then every seven minutes. I hid in the living room staring at the baby monitor begging my child to fall asleep.
He cried off and on for a miserable hour. But then he stopped crying and fell asleep on his own. He stayed asleep until 4AM when I woke up engorged and uncomfortable and did a “dream feed” where I basically picked him up and nursed him while he was still mostly asleep. I put him back in his crib where he rolled over and slept until 8AM.
He cried a little less each night and by night five, he went to sleep with zero crying. Sometime he plays with his hands or talks a bit before falling asleep, but he rarely cries at night. He typically wakes up around 3-4AM and I nurse him for a few minutes before he goes back to sleep. All in all, he is sleeping twelve hours a night with one short wake up. He is old enough to be night weaned at this point, but I’m in no rush. He’s a very distracted nurser during the day and I love rocking him and holding him in the early morning hours. It is perfect!
We went to the lake over Labor Day weekend and tried to sleep with Teddy in our room in his pack ‘n play. It was awful! He was up every thirty minutes and was so restless. At 3AM, Colby and I were both exhausted and decided to move him into the living room and divide up the night in shifts. I really thought the poor kiddo was sick and needed us. Imagine my surprise when he drifted off the sleep and stayed asleep the rest of the night! Apparently we were waking him up! The next two nights, he slept like a little pro in the living room by himself and we were all well rested.
I know sleep training is quite the hot topic these days. As a new mother, it can be easy to question your judgement and choices. I obviously want the best for my child and am absolutely devoted to Teddy. I did a lot of serious research and reading before we decided to sleep train. In my research I found evidence that stressed the importance of sleep for growth, brain development and parents’ sanity. I know for my family sleep training has resulted in less bedtime struggles, fewer night wakings, and twelve hours of sleep a night for Teddy. Colby and I have downtime at night together to reconnect and relax and I am slowly figuring out how to sleep after seven months of crazy nights. Furthermore, my sweet baby boy wakes up happy and smiling every single morning.
Of course, sleep training may not be the best choice for every family, but I believe it’s one of the best parenting decisions Colby and I have made in Teddy’s seven months of life.