Sleep Training: To Do or Not to Do?

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Ah, sleep training. My friend, my nemesis. Oh how I hate you.

When Evie hit the 4-month sleep regression, I started looking at sleep training. I hoped that she would go back to her blissful once-a-night awakenings instead of this horrendous 3 to 4 (I know, still not that bad. I was spoiled, okay!). I figured I should have an arsenal in my pocket if (when) that did not occur.

I looked at some posts by fellow moms on my mommy Facebook group and researched some of their suggestions. I settled on starting with The Sleep Lady’s book as it seemed like a way to have a less guilt-ridden experience. (You can get some sleep training books from your local library and there are free resources online.)

baby asleep in crib with chair

One frustrated afternoon, when E wasn’t going down for her nap, I put her in her crib and let her cry. It broke my heart while simultaneously making me furious. WHY WON’T YOU JUST GO TO SLEEP?! I’m sure every mom has thought this, at some point. And so began sleep training.

The method I used has you stay in the room with your little one and slowly move closer to the door and freedom. It allows you to feel slightly less like an awful mother while still letting your child cry themselves to sleep. It takes just under two weeks and should create a perfectly sleeping baby when done, with 0-1 night feedings depending on age. Hah.

baby sleeping in crib through slats

We started a bedtime routine and began. The first few nights weren’t terrible. E would cry. I would soothe her. She fell asleep in around 40 minutes. She fell asleep faster and faster, but would still cry herself to sleep. It became less of a cry and more of a grumble as she went to sleep. The struggle was during the night when she would want to eat more than the recommended once. I would feed her the first time she woke up and then sit in her room with her until she went back to sleep. It took her an hour. Every. Single. Night. So we compromised and fed her twice. And that was all she was getting up for by the end of the sleep training. Success!!

Fast forward a few months, teething began, and E started waking up more often. I would let her try to fall asleep on her own, but eventually I caved and just started nursing her every time she woke up. Because it worked in 5-10 minutes, and I got way more sleep. I couldn’t handle the fight to get her to go back to sleep, even though the cardinal rule of sleep training is NO NURSING TO SLEEP since it’s a sleep crutch. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion she’s just a hungry baby!

baby sleeping in crib from above

A few weeks later I was invited to a birth healing summit where a lady named Pinky McKay was interviewed. If you aren’t a fan of any crying when putting your kiddos to sleep then read her book! As part of the summit, she gave us the first chapter of her book free. After reading that, I no longer felt guilty for going in to get my sobbing baby and comfort her any way that worked for me. Her advice is if it’s safe, if it’s respectful and if it feels right for you then do it. Right now nursing E to sleep is what works for me because I don’t feel guilty and I get the most sleep. I had also developed some pretty hardcore anxiety around her sleep because I was always on edge waiting for her to wake up so I could not go to her and just listen to her cry. Super fun. I still have some anxiety around it because, let’s be honest, it always feels like a win when your kid sleeps. However, I can now deal with it no problem.

baby smiling in crib

My advice to new mommas or moms looking for reassurance is to do what works for you! Trust your instincts, and if you’re worried about what you’re doing, ask your doctor or your mom or a friend. Don’t let people judge your decision either. They aren’t in the trenches with you every night, so do you and *eff* them (as politely as the amount of sleep you got will allow 🙂 ).

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