Sleep Training Success


The number one question you get asked as a new parent is, “Is the baby sleeping through the night?” With our first kid, the answer was “Oh yes, we are killing this parenting thing.” But with our second, it was, “What is sleep? We are slowly dying. Two free kids to a good home.” I expected to be on team “No Sleep” with a newborn, but I would have never thought we would still be there with a nine-month-old. 

Every night, I would walk up the stairs to start our nightly bedtime routine, and the anxiety of what that night would bring consumed me. An all-out nightly panic attack over whether or not we would be getting any sleep that night. 

The last step of our nighttime routine consisted of giving our party all-night child a bottle and having a nightly come-to Jesus chat with him about why sleep is important. He would usually fall asleep while being held right after his bottle and then we would lay him in his crib. We would then anxiously await the glaring screams on the baby monitor. Would he stay asleep for 30 minutes? For an hour? Or maybe this would be the night we get a full 8 hours? (Spoiler alert, it would not).

We got in a bad habit of bringing the baby into our bed to calm him down. He would then fall back asleep and would only sleep while being held or next to us in our bed. We knew this was against everything we had been told about safe sleep, but it was the only thing that gave us the smallest bit of sleep. We knew we had to make a change but honestly didn’t have the brain space due to lack of sleep and life with two children. We knew this little baby of ours just didn’t have the tools to put himself to sleep and we had to give those to him. 

One Sunday night into a Monday, little party man was up every 30 minutes, even while being held and sleeping with either me or my husband. We couldn’t function the next day. I could barely take care of myself, let alone the two kids or my daily job. Something had to be done and we had to figure this out. 

I mustered up what energy I had and went to the place I knew I could find all of the answers, the internet. If you didn’t know, the internet is full of a lot of thoughts and feelings about baby sleep (who knew?) I started reading everything I could about sleep training and came to two conclusions: 1- this is overwhelming and 2- I’ve been a terrible mom and I’m the reason he isn’t sleeping. Ok, I know the second one isn’t true, but the sleep gurus would lead you to believe this about yourself.

I ultimately had to block out the noise and figure out what would work best for our family. 

We went upstairs that Monday night, I didn’t even have a conversation with my husband about my plan, and I just decided it was time. We gave the baby his bottle and when he finished, while he was still awake, I promptly kissed him on his forehead and put him in his crib. The baby looked at me like, “what have you done woman?” And my husband, after knowing me for 10 years, didn’t say a word and just let me move forward with my plan. 

I decided to go with a modified version of the Ferber method in which we would allow the baby to cry for a minute or two before going back in his room, comforting him, and laying him back down. 

The first night, I let him cry for one minute before going back into his room. I laid him down, patted his back, and told him it was time for bed. He, of course, started crying again and this time I gave him two minutes, then the next time gave him three minutes before going back in. To my surprise, after that third interval, he had put himself to sleep! It was a sleep miracle! That same night, he only woke up once and when he did, my husband laid him back down in his crib and he put himself back to sleep after a minute or so of crying. I honestly didn’t expect it to work this quickly! We followed this pattern for a few nights and he eventually got to the point where he would go to sleep the first time we laid him down. Do we have setbacks, of course we do, he’s a baby, but for the most part, he puts himself to sleep and sleeps through the night. 

Tired mamas, I see you. We were stuck in a terrible pattern of sleepless nights for about nine months and I honestly don’t know how we functioned. Do what’s best for you and your family. Block out the noise and do what works for you.