i think like most moms, i LOVE watching him sleep
biting Bun Bunz
top 3 decisions of my life:
1. marrying Ted
2. birthing Cameron
3. SLEEP TRAINING!!!!!!!!
no joke! sleep training has drastically changed our little family's lives!
but let's not get ahead of ourselves. all the moms know exactly what i'm talking about but for everybody else you probably have no clue what the hell i'm talking about. no worries. i had no idea anything like sleep training even existed or was necessary. i thought that when babies are sleepy they went the f*ck to sleep. news to me, that is not the case, my friends. when someone told us that buying a yoga ball to bounce our baby to sleep would be a godsend, we didn't understand what the hell he meant. i mean i knew babies used pacifiers but i thought that was used to stop them from annoyingly crying in the middle of a restaurant. and i'd heard that you never want to wake a sleeping baby but i didn't realize that sometimes it takes an hour to get them to sleep in the first place. i guess 'rockabye baby' was a literal instruction on how to get your baby to sleep. i didn't know you had to do that! people always said that all babies do is eat, sleep and poop. you would think that if they are only capable of three things in life, that those things would come naturally to them. but nope! how messed up is that? humans are so weird.
a lot of people spend hours and hours of the first couple years of their children's lives trying to get them to sleep. rocking, singing, pacifying, bouncing, driving, swinging, white noising, swaddling, holding, wearing and feeding them to sleep. or a combination of those things. sometimes it takes an hour to get them to sleep and then they wake up after twenty minutes and you have to start all over. and babies require a shit ton of sleep! so let's say your baby takes three naps a day and then goes down for bedtime sleep and it takes an hour to get them down each time, that's FOUR HOURS of your day. then plenty of babies wake up multiple times in the middle of the night and the parents have to rock, sing, swing, feed, blah blah yet again. everybody is wasting time trying to get some sleep and peace. because if a baby doesn't sleep, they are cranky as hell and are zero fun to be around.
that's what our problem was. Cam didn't really respond to rocking, singing, pacifying, bouncing, driving, swinging, white noising, swaddling, holding or feeding to sleep for naps. the only thing that would work was wearing him in the ergo and continuously walking for half an hour before he would even start to doze off. and if he didn't get naps (which for the first few months of his life, he didn't really at all) he was a crazy mess of a baby. he was always unhappy and crying, which would make me unhappy and crying (i'll delve into that more in another post). we were a couple of buzz kills at all times of the day. and at the end of the day he would cry his head off until we shoved a bottle into his mouth that he'd fall asleep to. Ted and i thought we had a broken baby and couldn't see an end to his crying. we had a baby who was overtired 100% of the time until we sleep trained.
oh..i realize i never really stated what sleep training actually is. it's getting your baby to sleep on their own with no crutches or soothing. no rocking. no pacifier. no driving. no swaddling. no singing. etc. i guess the process of getting yourself to sleep is a learned skill. there are plenty of methods to sleep training your baby and some methods involve weaning their crutches and 'no crying,' but those methods take longer and there's never no crying involved so it's all bullshit anyway.
SO. at exactly 20 weeks (4.5 months old), we decided to sleep train. we went with the cry-it-out method. the short of it all is that you do a bedtime routine (ours is bottle, lotion, clean diaper and pjs, book, song, lovey) put your baby in his/her crib, turn off the lights and leave the room. the kid will be like "uhh how come i'm not being soothed to sleep" and will for sure cry. and they will cry bloody murder. but you just let them. eventually they'll fall asleep. and if they wake in the middle of the night crying? you let them. you repeat this process every night until one night you put them down and they don't cry. they just go to sleep. each night following the first night should require less crying. i've heard that for some babies it took two hours on the first night and for some it took fifteen minutes. i've heard that for some babies it takes two weeks and for some it took three days. but just like everything else, each baby is different and will respond differently.
it sounds really really harsh and inhumane to some people but upon houuuurrrrrrrssss of reading on sleep training and grilling friends about how they sleep trained, it seemed to be the best method for us. i read that letting your baby cry-it-out versus some other more 'gentle' approaches actually involves less overall crying. for example, another method called Pick Up Put Down is putting your baby down and letting them cry for a little. then you pick them up to soothe them and put them back down. they'll cry again and you repeat this until they finally fall asleep. but to me, that just seems like a lot of back and fourth and the baby might be like "yo, if i cry she picks me up so lemme just keep doing this." some parents will do the cry-it-out method but will check in on the baby every few minutes with increasing intervals of crying. each time they go in they just let the baby know they're there with a pat on the back or a "go to sleep. we love you." we decided that checking in on Cam would probably only rile him up more and we didn't want to restart his crying clock. so we decided we'd let him cry it out and no matter how long it took we'd bear it because then he'd learn to put himself to sleep. that would help him take naps during the day as well, which meant a happier baby, which then means a happier mommy.
so here's how it went down for us. but mostly i'm documenting this for myself because it was a huge decision to let our baby cry to sleep and i may want to look back at this one day for whatever reason. the day we decided to 'rip the bandaid' so to speak, we messed up. we were supposed to change to new pjs and diaper, feed him, read a book, sing a song, give him his lovey, put him down, leave the room and prepare for all the cries. but upon feeding him, he fell asleep and wouldn't wake up. so we decided to put him down and if he woke up crying, we'd start there and let him cry. this was also the first time he'd sleep at night without a swaddle too. we figured he needed to be able to access his hands to soothe himself as well as not rely on the swaddle to soothe him so we took that from him on the same night. after the first night we changed his routine to feed, lotion, change pjs/diaper, book, song, lovey.
friday- 7:15 pm asleep at the bottle
7:50 pm woke up. realized he wasn't swaddled and didn't know what to do.
7:50 pm crying
8:15 pm asleep
*25 minutes crying
saturday- 7:22 pm down but not crying. tossed and turned.
7:35 pm started crying
7:37 pm calm and still
7:40 pm asleep
*2 minutes crying
sunday- 7:12 pm down but not crying.
7:20 pm asleep
we are incredibly fortunate that Cam responded so well to the cry-it-out method of sleep training. he literally cried a total of 27 minutes over two days and since then he hasn't cried to sleep. those 25 minutes on the first day were brutal though. he got pretty hysterical but never got to the point where he would choke or throw up (i've read that some babies have done that during sleep training). now he'll occasionally fuss a little bit but that's it! every day we put him down wide awake, give him his lovey and leave. it takes him anywhere from 2-20 minutes to fall asleep. he usually takes his lovey (his bunny, we call Bun Bunz) and rubs it on his face or bites it, rubs his eyes with his hands, rocks back and forth or shakes his head until he's in a comfortable position and falls asleep. sometimes he'll wake up in the middle of the night but he puts himself back to sleep. occasionally he'll flip on to his tummy and we'll go in to flip him back because he hasn't learned to do that on his own. and when he's home or at my brother's house he puts himself to sleep for naps as well. not to say we never help him though. we'll give him the pacifier if we're in a foreign place (the park, beach or a friend's house) or for whatever reason he's having a particularly hard time getting to sleep and needs the extra push to get to dreamland.
seriously though, sleep training Cam has been one of theeeee best things we've ever done. a friggin miracle if there ever was one! i am back to my old self now that i know my kiddo isn't going to be a wreck every day from lack of sleep. my sanity has been restored and i am a much better mom now that i can focus on Cam outside of obsessing over his sleep. he is such a happy and easy baby now that he's getting the rest he needs.
**i'm not saying that sleep training is for everybody though. some moms love to rock their kids to sleep for that bonding time. Cam just wasn't one of those kids that liked to be rocked to sleep. he'd arch his back and roll around like an alligator. some can't bear to let their kid cry and let me tell you, you really feel like a piece of shit mom when you know you're deciding to let your kid cry. for some people a different method of sleep training works best. this was just the right decision for us. do whatever is best for you and your family.