The Lowdown on Sleep Training: Is it for you?

We spent 5 months using a co-sleeper cot. It was working, but I had been putting up with an entire month of 1.5hourly wakings to nurse. I woke up annoyed and tired every morning, and finally we decided that the little one was ready to learn to sleep in the cot on her own, and through the night. So some mums who know I’ve been trying to do this were keen to find out more about sleep training – here’s my honest review. I’m not done with the sleep training, but I figured let’s get this written out before I succeed, forget the pain, and dance about how wonderful my sleep is after the sleep training.

I’ve read some articles on sleep training. (ok I’m not the sort to read actual journal articles about them because limited time) The problem, I felt, is that either they were (1) written factually, and based on “general consensus”; (2) written by sleep consultants, (3) reviews (possibly paid) by people who had hired sleep consultants. They were definitely useful… but I suppose you get my drift. 

What method to use?

There are a few sorts – cry it out (CIO), Ferbers, and the ones that are categorised as “gentle” like the chair method, pick up put down, fade-out. No wrong, no right, it’s just what suits you.

We tried the pick up put down once or twice some months back, and it didn’t work at all. The more i picked her up, the angrier she got. She cried for a whole 3 hours and even nursing eventually (when I wanted to give in) didn’t work. The night ended at 2am with me and her both on our bellies, staring at each other. Yeah, I guess brutal as it was that moment was quite sweet.

So we chose the chair method because my husband felt that CIO and Ferbers was too brutal. And contrary to how they say the chair method is the gentler sort, it actually feels like CIO but with me watching it all unfold. If you think about it, isn’t that worse? It’s like I know you’re in distress, but I watch you suffer (rather than I don’t know). Now, when the sites say “no cry”, I highly think all that is untrue…

Know why you’re sleep training

I think you’ve got to have very strong reasons to want to sleep train a baby – sometimes it’s for the caregivers, or you’re just plain desperate. In any case, if you’re not desperate enough you’d probably bail.

Let’s get the personality bit out of the way. I’m a fairly head over heart person most of the time. Sometimes pretty stubborn, can be fairly determined. Often, I usually try not let feelings get in the way of goals I want to hit. I actually generally feel more annoyed (than heartbroken) when the child is perpetually inconsolable, so I did not expect to feel too bad about sleep training. WRONG. On day 1 after B wailed an entire hour, I cried. And then I started to dread bedtimes, possibly more than her.

What happened then?

Day 1 was just over 1 hour of wailing. We patted her, sang, turned on music, nothing helped. So she just cried and we watched. We waited 10 minutes before going to her each time she cried in the middle of the night, and most of the time she resettled within 8 minutes. Not too shabby I guess.

Day 2 was 45minutes, with 6 minute resettles. Her cries started looking less sad, and more angry/tantrum-type.

Day 3 was unusually easy – no cry! and 2 minute resettles. Fluke? Maybe. Because…

Day 4 she cried for 20 minutes, fell asleep for 45minutes and did a false wake which resulted in her crying another 20 minutes. 

Day 5 was also unusually easy – no cry, and 2 minute resettles.

Day 6 – 30 minutes to fall asleep, a false wake, and another 35 minutes of crying. I think at the end of it all, I was so exhausted, I don’t remember how long she took to resettle.  But by then I’d figured out any wake from 5am was usually a hunger-wake. I was legit stressed, because I had to do work, so I actually left my husband to sit in the room and listen to her cry. 

Day 7 (today) – it took her 20-25? minutes to go down, she woke up 20minutes later with renewed energy to wail another 25 minutes. I think I’ve stopped counting minute by minute. Anyway she did an entire hour of sleep, and we’re currently battling her third wave of crying almost 20 minutes and counting… She’s getting softer just because she’s exhausted. My heart says to pick her up, but my head knows picking her up just means peace for a short while. The moment I put her down she’ll wail again. 

Many sleep sites say babies start to get it and the crying goes down between 4-7 days. Lies.

We’re on day 7 and nothing seems to be getting better, in fact it feels like it’s getting way worse. Right now I’m questioning myself why I’m doing this. At this point, I’m no longer sure how long this is going to last, why I’m doing this anymore, and whether it’s worth it. I think the only reason I’m persisting is because if I bail now I waste all those hours of crying and it’ll amount to nothing, but this feels a little like a stock market crash where I’m not sure how much more I’m going to lose. The only thing about the stock market crash is that I know statistically the market goes up – I’m not sure how long it’ll take this sleep training thing to go back up. If anything, I’ve steeled myself into thinking that this is what it is and this is what I have to do. Also, i think B is probably as stubborn as I am, which maybe is why this is taking much longer than it should.

Will I do this for my future kids?

At this point I don’t see the gains, so no? But let’s see what the results are in another week? Bottom line – Thank God for baby amnesia.

Also P.S., things you should not say to someone who is facing sleep difficulties include advocating how sleep training has changed your life, how they’re doing it wrong, or how another child is (surprisingly) sleeping through the night. We sleep trained parents are already desperate as it is, and rubbing salt into the wound won’t help 😉

Leave a Reply