Cry it Out: My Sleep Training Experience

Parenting is not about what is convenient for us, but what is best for our children.

Okay, so the last time I checked in I had attempted sleep training and failed hard. After a night of no sleep, again, and failed naptimes during the day, again, I decided it was time to try again!

I read something about sleep training that changed my perception. Babies are not born knowing how to sleep correctly (sounds weird when thinking about the fact that they are born sleeping almost 20 hours a day at first). But seriously, they do not know how to sleep CORRECTLY. They need to learn sleep cycles, falling asleep, staying asleep, all of the above.

And as with everything else in your child’s life, it is your job to teach them and parent them on how to sleep. So sleep training is not cruelty or putting a distance between you and your baby, it is simply the next step in parenting: teaching your sweet angel how to sleep.

Sleep is a wonderful thing! It is when our bodies store memories, reenergize, and heal! So it is extremely important that your baby learns how to sleep well for their best benefit (and lets be real, it can help you get a bit more sleep too).

So now that my perception changed, I tried sleep training this week. There are many different ways to sleep train: cry it out method, Ferber method (going in at different time intervals to soothe baby back to sleep), the chair method, etc. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to sleep train your baby. As with all parental things, you know your child the best so you know what will work best for them.

My son is a hyper little boy who loves to be with his mama at all times. So as soon as I attempted the chair method, he went from deep sleep to hyped up at the fact that mom was sitting next to his crib (which must mean play time)! So knowing my son, I knew what was the best method of sleep training: cry it out.

Now you may think that I am a horrible mother for this and trust me I told myself that too. But after some serious thinking I realized this was the only way he would ever learn to sleep on his own. From birth I went from breastfeeding him to sleep to rocking him to sleep. He had never known how to fall asleep without me present and would never learn unless I was out of the picture for a time.

So the first night, I fed him his bottle, rocked him to drowsiness, and laid him in his crib with his lovey pooh. I told him I loved him, kissed him goodnight, and walked out of the room. Immediately, he cried. And then he cried for 50 minutes straight. And then I cried for 50 minutes straight too. It was the hardest night of my life and many times I almost quit. But my husband encouraged me with the statement that helped me through the rest of the sleep training: “Parenting is not about what is convenient for us, but what is best for our children.”

So he finally fell asleep. And that night it took him only 30 minutes to fall back asleep. And the next day he napped in 10 minutes. That next night he fell asleep in 16 minutes. And so on and so forth. It is now day four of sleep training and he fell asleep in about 15 minutes for his nap. A little crying, some cooing, and some rest.

Now I started sleep training at a hard time. Teething. His top two teeth have popped through this week. You may think that makes me double horrible, but honestly besides Tylenol there is not much I can do for teething. And he will need to learn that sleep is good for times of not feeling well. So when he is older he can sleep when he has a cold, or a nightmare, or is sad. The point is when he wakes up, mama and daddy are still there. But he is able to do something without us.

And essentially, that is the whole point of raising children. Teaching them that they can do stuff without us; raising them to be independent and strong. So, my way of sleep training has worked with him. He still loves me, he is not traumatized, and he is sleeping so much better.

So if you are attempting sleep training, this is not to tell you to do cry it out method. It’s sharing my story and encouraging you in the midst of a hard step in parenting. Research the different methods and try what works best for your baby! And make sure you are ready to start before doing it. The first time I tried I wasn’t quite ready to commit. The second time I was, and it has been successful.

Parenting is such a journey and full of ups and downs. But our goal is to raise strong children who are capable of doing things without us, but always reminding them that mama and daddy are there if they need us. Through many tears, much mommy guilt, and consistency, John is sleep trained and I am realizing that I did what was best for him, even if it was hard for me.

So, be encouraged! Do what needs to be done, because essentially making a home is full of tasks that we don’t want to do but needs to be done. So, good luck and Happy homemaking!

The Never-Ending Cycle of Cycles: What to do when Baby goes through a New Cycle

If you have had a little one for any amount of time, you know what I am talking about. Cycles. They go from cluster feeding all night long, to sleeping a little longer. Right when you get used to that they start teething and sleep regressions. When you finally start sleeping again, separation anxiety starts. When they finally sleep again, teething happens, AGAIN.

It feels like a never ending cycle of well… cycles. Little man is going through two cycles right now… separation anxiety and teething. Right when I had him sleeping through the night and I thought I was getting my sanity back, hour wake ups, tears, and out right screaming begin again. It can really get exhausting!

What we are facing right now is mainly separation anxiety. It feels like I can’t leave the room to even pee sometimes and he’s crying. We attempted Santa pictures last night and well…. just see for yourself.

Sometimes it is precious to know that someone loves you so much and needs you as a comforter… sometimes it is smothering and you just crave a moment of silence, fresh air, a HOT cup of coffee, and uninterrupted bathroom breaks. I’m just being real.

So if you’re going through a new cycle, I am sorry and hang in there! I’ve heard it gets better! But last night, after FOUR times of trying to get John to sleep (me and the hubby took turns in between games of Farkle), I finally amidst the frustration thought about cycles. What was going through little man’s mind? What was he feeling to make him need some hugs? Was it because he was emotionally scarred from seeing Santa???!? (okay this one really did go through my mind).

Finally, I reached down and grabbed a small fuzzy rabbit and let him hug around it as I rocked him to sleep. And he took the ear and began rubbing it against his face as his eyes finally bounced, FINALLY drifting to sleep. I rocked him a little longer, and laid him down. He slept through the night, after about two weeks of waking up multiple times, he finally slept through the night.

Now I’m not going to say that a rabbit will fix every problem. But sometimes as mamas and daddy’s we get so fixated on sleep that we don’t really think about the Why’s behind the cycles. Maybe baby’s teeth are hurting bad, maybe they’re afraid when they wake up and find themselves alone because they’re still learning object permanence, maybe their tummy feels crampy because they tried a new food today that didn’t sit right. Babies are not just little dolls that go to sleep, they are humans with emotions and brains learning lots of new things. Baby John just needed some extra comfort, and to feel as though he was not alone.

Maybe if we remembered a time we felt anxious, we could extend a little grace and hug them a little longer. Maybe if we remembered how bad a tooth ache hurts or how bad it aches to grow wisdom teeth, we can cuddle them a little longer and give them some help with the pain. Maybe we can empathize with our little ones, when they wake because their tummies hurt by remembering that one time after a Mexican restaurant (we’ve all been there).

I say all of this because last night, I had to remind myself some things.

1. Babies are human; and that little human depends on me. So be there for them, and let the frustration go. I signed up for this.

2. It’s scary to grow and learn; there are new things every day that are broadening their minds. So empathize with them, and reassure them that you’re not leaving and you will be there as they explore new things.

3. We truly only have such a short time with them as little ones. Time goes by so fast. So let’s stop thinking about sleep and think about those precious times when baby can still curl up on your chest and you can still fit them in your arms.

So, if you’re going through a new cycle with baby, grab you another cup of coffee, suit up with your mom bun, and love that baby with everything in you. We are their safety nets, so let’s catch them, cradle them, and set them free. I want to start now as he is still little, letting him know it’s okay to ask for extra cuddles when insecure, to come to me and his daddy for comfort when he’s hurting, and that we will both be there for him, even if we lose sleep.

Love y’all and happy homemaking!