Disclaimer: Before you read the article, please take into consideration that every parent and every baby is different, and there is no right or wrong method in raising your kids or teaching them how to sleep. I am not an advocate for the sleep training method, and I am not suggesting any method of sleep training that is better than the other, I am just sharing my experience…
Parents of newborns are so easy to spot: dark circles under the eyes, messy hair, pajama attire all day all night…you name it! Regardless of the happiness and joy your baby brings to the world, there is no doubt you are feeling as exhausted as if a truck just ran over your restless body during the first few months baby is born, and you start wondering what it feels like to be able to sleep more than a 3 hour stretch. It is completely normal to feel devoted to all of your baby’s needs, but parents have needs too, especially when it comes to sleep!
My Experience with Sleep after having my baby
Now before you judge, hear me out.
My son was the worst sleeper ever. If he slept for 3 hours straight, it would be a miracle that we would celebrate the next day!! He used to wake up after every sleep cycle for me to come to his room, put the pacifier in his mouth and rock him back to sleep! Imagine doing that at least 5 times a night!
I always thought he woke up that much because he was in pain and he needed me, so why wouldn’t I go in and soothe him back to sleep? And the fact that he’s a happy baby and was waking up that much at night didn’t seem to affect him the next day, it took me some time to realize that I was falling into a black hole and no one was able to get me out of it! When Samy hit 10 months, I decided it was time to do something about it or else I would have fallen into a depression from sleep deprivation. It was starting to affect my partner, my family, my social life, and I really couldn’t do it anymore!
After doing a lot of research on baby sleep habits, I started reading more and more about a technique called Sleep Training that apparently worked wonders with some parents but were a nightmare for others. I was very skeptical about it, and a lot of people around me were against it.
Since I was a hopeless case anyways, I decided to post a question about sleep training on a Lebanese Mothers’ forum on Facebook to see if somebody would be able to help me. Not to my surprise, I got so many mamas hating on me, attacking me, and commenting negatively on my post. However, you’d be surprised by how many private messages I received from mamas who were going through the same problem, and who have personally tried the “sleep training” method, and couldn’t be happier!
What is sleep training?
Sleep training is the method of helping your infant learn to fall asleep by himself so that he can stay asleep through the night. Now some babies learn faster than others, and would become better sleepers eventually as they grow, but many others don’t know how to get back to sleep when they wake up at night, and they need their parents’ help every time they wake up.
There are three main approaches to Sleep Training: The Cry-it-out method, the No-Tears method, and the Fading method. Most experts recommend to start sleep-training your baby between 4 and 6 months generally, but it really depends on how ready you & your baby are for sleep training.
Sleep Training Samy after 10 months of extremely sleepless nights…was honestly far easier than I expected! I thought we were both going to spend our first night crying in separate rooms, but turns out Samy was ready to be sleep trained, and I wasn’t helping him learn how to! After studying the three methods closely, I basically developed my own way of getting my baby into better sleep habits: My husband and I decided to stick to a day-time & night-time routine and then put him in bed and leave the room. If he started crying (which he obviously did), we would go in every 10 minutes to pat him on the back and tell him that “we are here and everything is alright”, and see how it goes from there. I added extra pacifiers all around in his bed to make sure that he could find one whenever he wakes up. He literally cried for 30 minutes, and that was it for the whole night! The second day he cried for 20, the third night for 10 and that was the end of it! I was amazed at how quick of a learner he was, and how happy he woke up the next morning!
I am not going to go through all the methods and which is the best one: every baby is different, and every parent is different. I was lucky, and the process wasn’t too hard for me, because I believe that Samy was ready at that time to learn how to fall asleep by himself, he just needed some structure in his sleeping habits. But I do have few suggestions on how to prepare for it even if you are not sleep training:
- Learn how to read your child’s sleeping cues before he becomes over exhausted: rubbing the eyes, yawning, becoming clingy, frowning…
- Choose a consistent bedtime and try to stick to it as much as you can
- Set a Bedtime routine. Whether it includes showering your baby every night at the same time, reading a story, or singing a lullaby. You decide your routine and you stick to the same timing!
- Try to also follow the same Daytime routine daily. Like waking up in the morning around the same time, eating, and napping each day at the same time. A lot of babies thrive on routine!
Piece of Advice
- You need a lot of support during this time (spouse, family, friends) because you might decide to stop everything and go back to square one. Remember, consistency is key in sleep training
- Feel free to create your own customized sleep training method. You are the parent, and you know better!
- Expect your child’s sleep to regress every now and then (when he’s sick, when he’s going through a developmental leap, when you’re travelling…). Rules are going to be broken, but try to be consistent and get back to your routine as soon as you can.
- Sometimes a plan doesn’t work. Listen to your baby – they will tell you what you need to know
- Always remember, Happy Mama = Happy Baby!
Whether your baby has a medical condition that might affect her/his sleep or not, make sure you consult your pediatrician before you use any kind of sleep training technique on your baby.
Have you read about the Wonder Weeks that might affect your baby’s sleep?