Yes I said it, I sleep trained my kids. I did, and frankly I am proud of it! I should say “we” did, because my husband and I made the choice together. Here’s why we made that choice and why I know it was a good one.
Today I was looking at some photos of our first child when he was an infant. I noticed that most of the photos that I chose to print, or perhaps maybe even chose to take was of him sleeping. Maybe I was just in awe that he was sleeping? I had a little internal chuckle because looking back on those days, he hardly ever slept. In turn, I hardly ever slept.
I had such great intentions when preparing for his arrival. I read books on how to help your baby sleep. I even printed out logs so I could track his sleep. Ha-ha, I’m not Type-A or anything! I was very prepared. Then he came into our world and I worked hard to implement what I had learned. I tried to feed after waking. I tried to lay him down when I saw tired signs. I tried it all, and then I failed. At some point, I gave up following the books, I gave up trying to do it the right way – because it wasn’t working. He didn’t want to stick to that plan and I was so very tired. So, we did what we needed to do to get by and get some sleep.
By the time he was five months old, he would only nurse to sleep. He was waking every two hours at night to nurse. He was only taking two, 30 min naps a day. To top it all off, he would only sleep if I was lying next to him. So, we were co-sleeping despite the safety risks. At that moment, in my sleep-deprived and potentially depressed brain, getting sleep became more important than most anything else. I could see that lack of sleep was having a negative impact on me, my son and my marriage. I lived in a desperate world of trying to get my son to sleep.
Feeling fearful for my son’s safety and for the impact of the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, I turned to Google: “How to get my baby to sleep without nursing?”, “How to transition my baby to a crib?” and the most important question, “How to get my baby to sleep through the night?” I didn’t find the answers to those questions, because honestly there are too many opinions out there on how to accomplish those goals. What I did find was a Sleep Consultant. Who knew they existed? I needed someone to tell me what to do, to guide me through the process. I was too tired to decipher the opinions on the internet and at that time, I didn’t have the knowledge of what my baby really needed with sleep.
Before continuing on – I need you to know that who I was at the time was a mom that jumped to my baby’s every cry. I don’t think I had ever let him cry for more than five seconds. I didn’t believe in Cry It Out at the time and certainly was not going down that road.
We made the choice to work with a Sleep Consultant. What I loved from the beginning is that she worked with us to create a customized plan, that we were comfortable with to help our little guy (and us) get the rest that we needed. We chose a method that was very hand holding for him and got started. We worked with her for two weeks and she guided us through the process and supported us daily. The results were outstanding. On night 4, he slept for 13 hours through the night. I intended to feed him, but he slept right through it – and each night thereafter was the same. By the end of the two weeks, he was taking 3 solid naps, that I could count on and shortly thereafter those naps began to lengthen. His sleep amounted to 3.75 – 4.75 hours of daytime sleep and 12-13 hours of nighttime sleep. What?!?!? Our Sleep Consultant had a life lasting positive impact on our family.
She changed our lives. He was a happier baby. I was now a well-rested mom. I enjoyed spending time with him. My husband and I were no longer “snippy” with each other. We gave our son a gift that will last for his whole lifetime. Our lives were changed so much that I knew I needed to help other families reach the “well-rested family unit” status. I became certified to do so. Three years later, I have been doing just that, helping other families reach their sleep goals with babies, toddlers and children of all ages.
I could go on to tell you about how healthy sleep improves a child’s cognitive ability, mood, coordination and all the other awesome benefits that go with it. You will also see all those benefits, plus some when your child starts getting the rest that they need. I am proud to say that; both of our boys walk happily to naps and nighttime. I enjoy our morning cuddles and our special bedtime routines. They even tell me when they get tired. (Here’s a little secret: they don’t hate me for sleep training them, in fact they trust that I will always be there for them). They each still get 14 total hours of sleep a day, best of all they LOVE to sleep. I am grateful for the gift of sleep that we chose to give our kids. I am proud to say that I sleep trained my kids.
What would your world look like if you and your family were getting the rest that you need?