This guest post is brought to you by Jeannette from The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug
When you have a baby, the transition to sleepless nights is one of the hardest adjustments. You feel like you are barely functioning yet you are expected to take care of this other little person. And often, when you do go to sleep, you wake suddenly wondering what is wrong - why isn't the baby crying this time? It's a very frustrating cycle that will leave you living in zombie land and barely able to function on a daily basis!
So, what is the solution to this sleep problem. As a mom of two, I have had my fair share of sleepless nights. I don't think that I have all the answers. I don't think that I even have most of them. But I have tried two very different methods with my two children and gotten very different results. Here is what I've learned from each experience and how I'm now getting the best sleep of my life (and so is my baby)!
With my older son, I felt that co-sleeping was the best option. I was a single mom and didn't mind sharing the bed with my baby. Each night I would tuck him into the crook of my arm and fall asleep. Yes, he would sleep through the night as long as I was holding him. Yes, I did get 8 hours of sleep a night. But I was always tired! And so was he. Neither of us were able to rest peacefully because of the close proximity of the other. He was a wiggly, light sleeper and even though he would go back to sleep quickly, I was unable to move or turn for fear of walking him up. It was not the ideal situation but I didn't know how to break it once it had started. He ended up sleeping with me till he was 4 and I was too exhausted to function anymore!
|Notice how tired both mom and baby look!|
So, when I had my second baby I decided things were going to be different. First of all, my hubby was not wild about sharing the bed with a little one and I was not wild about 4 years without a good night of sleep again! I researched. I asked questions. I listened to recommendations. And then I took all that I had read and heard and found a plan that worked well for us. Yes, I let our baby cry it out. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but so worth it in the end. I gave up 4 nights of sleep (and some of my sanity) but I now have a baby who goes down to bed and naps without complaint and sleeps peacefully through the night! This is not an easy method to use and is by no means for everyone. If you are not comfortable with your baby crying it out, don't do it. However, this is how I did it and it worked amazingly well for me!
I began sleep training when my little man was 4 months old (yes, I know this is earlier than Ferber recommends but I had done other research that indicated that he was ready at this age). We started slowly. I would let him cry for two minutes and then go in and pat his back and comfort him (never picking him up). The next time I would wait three minutes, then four minutes and so on. The first night, there was a lot of crying - both from me and him. I questioned myself and thought I was the worst parent ever. I had decided to give it one more night and if it was as bad as the first night was, I would quit. Well, the second night wasn't great. But it wasn't as bad as the first. And each night from that point progressively got better. By the fifth night, he was sleeping peacefully for 8 hour stretches! It was more than I could have ever dreamed. He now goes to bed at 8 and sleeps peacefully till 7 the next morning (at 9 months old).
|My awesome little sleeper!|
Now, I know there are some out there who will say this is a cruel thing to do to a baby. Let me assure you, my son is the most loving, well adjusted baby around. People constantly comment on the fact that he is so happy and never cries. Well, this is because he is well rested! I have found that a baby that sleeps well will also interact well, eat well and function well. Many people say that this method of letting a baby cry it out keeps them from bonding with the parent. I can't speak for any situation but my own but my bond to my baby is very strong!
Crying it out is the method that saved my sanity and helped my family resume normalcy after adding a new member. This method is not for everyone. It takes nerves of still and lots of determination. It also takes the support of the other parent. However, if you have the will to do it, you will be amazed at the results!
|A baby that sleeps well wakes up happy!|