Every mother longs for two things: that they will be a good mother and that their baby will be happy. The one issue is that, as a new mother, every website, friend and doctor out there gives you differing views on how to achieve those two simple goals. Sleep training is one of the most controversial topics in the mothering field.
From day one I determined I would let go of all preconceived ideas and do whatever research told us was best for our child.
We all enter situations with a certain bias and I would say my bias was against the general idea of “attachment-parenting”. Simply put, I’d heard that “attachment-parents” allowed the baby to nurse on demand, sleep on demand (usually co-sleeping with the parents) and be worn by their mothers wherever they went.
But as I did my research, the “attachment” side seemed to be the selfless and loving point of view. The “non-attachment” side seemed to be more selfish and just thinking of the parents.
So I decided that since I was going to be a stay-at-home mom and had a very flexible schedule, I would go wholeheartedly into it and see what happened…
The website that changed everything
For the next two weeks I made myself available to nurse every time our little Heidi seemed to indicate a desire to eat and let her sleep whenever she decided to.
But life was not the fairy tale that all the websites had promised…for me OR Heidi. My sweet baby never seemed to eat a full meal and usually started rooting every 15-20 minutes (24 hours a day!). On top of that, she was unable to sleep for more then 30 minutes unless she was on my chest which made it next to impossible for me to sleep.
Both mommy and baby were frustrated and VERY tired!
Then one day, after much research, thought and prayer, I came across THE website!
It is called Practically Perfect Baby and it has changed everything!
I will elaborate more into the sleep training aspect but that website is FULL of great ideas on not only sleeping but eating schedules, soothing ideas etc. Go check it out!
The sleep training system
I have said that, as a new mom, I wanted to be open to anything. But the method of sleep training that advocates letting your baby cry it out for as long as it takes (whether 15 minutes or 4 hours) was not something I was comfortable with.
Practically Perfect Baby offered a happy medium. Any type of sleep training is still not going to be easy at the beginning but I am now completely convinced it was best for Heidi (and us) in the long run.
So this is how it works:
- Lay your baby down in her own crib while still awake, swaddle her (we used SwaddleMe) and lean over her reassuring her for a couple minutes.
- Turn on a soother (we used Baby Einstein) or sound maker, turn off the light, close the door and leave the room.
- As soon as your baby starts crying, set a timer for 15 minutes and distract yourself.
- If your baby is still crying when the timer goes off, go back into the nursery. Eliminate any other causes of her crying (dirty diaper, gas etc). Set her back in her crib, soothe her for a couple minutes, leave the room and reset the timer.
- Do the process no more then three time (total of 45 minutes). If your baby has still not fallen to sleep, get her up and try again at the next scheduled sleep time.
Training Heidi took just over a week. There was only three or four times that we had to go through the entire 45 minute process. Every baby is different but I believe if there is consistency, this process shouldn’t take more then a couple weeks.
The results have been extraordinary! From the time she was one month old, she has been able to soothe herself. 95% of the time I lay her down she just smiles at me, turns over and goes to sleep. Outside of the occasional nightmare or teething pain, she has never woken up in the middle of the night and needed our help getting back to sleep.
The best part is that she was always tired, frustrated and usually crying through the night before we started training. Now she is the happiest, most rested and contented baby I’ve ever had the blessing to know!
Follow your “mommy instincts”
I am a very black and white person and feel most comfortable when there is a plan laid out for me to follow. But the most important aspect of this plan is that you have to be flexible and follow your instincts.
It is true that no one knows your baby better then you do. Heidi has a whiny “I don’t want to go to sleep cry” and she has a terrified “I just had a nightmare” cry. Sleep training or not, there is obviously no time I would ignore the nightmare cry.
Teething also was a learning opportunity. By that time, I knew that she had thoroughly learned to soothe herself. So when she randomly started having a tough time sleeping I knew it was related to teething. For about a month we threw the rules out the window and followed mommy’s gut.
Listen to your baby. Think about what she is going through. Remember your goals.
My goal with sleep training was to teach my daughter to soothe herself so that she could get a better nights sleep and develop a good habit.
My goal is not to discourage my child from asking for help when she is in pain or scared. So being flexible and listening to what your baby is trying to communicate is very important.
The biggest thing I kept reminding myself during that week of training was that I am teaching my daughter a habit that will benefit her for the rest of her life.
When babies learn to walk, they fall down. When a child learns to ride a bike, they will probably skin their knee. Sometimes learning is hard but if it benefits our child, as her parent, that is what I am here for.
So tell me your thoughts? Any positive or negative experiences with either attachment parenting or sleep training?