In defense of sleep training

For the last 6 weeks, blogging has been the farthest thing from my mind.  It is not that I couldn’t find the time to write a post, I simply couldn’t gather my thoughts long enough to type anything that made sense. After Thanksgiving, Jax was still waking up every hour. On the dot. Then he became difficult to get back to sleep. Long gone were the days of him nursing right back to sleep. When I did get him back to sleep he was starting to really resist being put down at all. Not only that but putting him down for naps required an elaborate song and dance that resulted in maybe 15 minutes of sleep outside of my arms. Also, Jax does not take a bottle so I became the only person who could really get up with him at night.

In a perfect world, I would love to hold my baby all day and night. But after four months that kind of sleep deprivation finally caught up to me resulting in me collapsing on his floor about a week after Thanksgiving due to pure exhaustion. I am not being my usual dramatic self, it was a very scary moment and I am incredibly lucky I was not holding him at the time. I knew that this was the breaking point for me. Not only was I incredibly frustrated (despite really trying to cut him some slack) but I was also becoming ill and depressed from sleep deprivation. Something had to give.

Enter sleep training.

I did not come to this decison lightly nor did I start immediately. But in the end I came to this decision because I knew that he could handle it. He stopped crying as soon as I picked him up. He was clearly tired but completely lacked the ability to put himself to sleep.

The day I decided to start sleep training, I used some basic guidelines sent to me by my friend E. The method she suggested felt right for Jax and for me. I would put him down drowsy and check on him at different intervals of 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, etc. until he fell asleep. Naturally, there would be some crying but I wasn’t leaving him in his room for an hour to cry until he exhausted himself to sleep.

The first day was awful. I spent most of my time outside of his door, crying and e-mailing E and bombarding her with questions. I fed and changed him at his normal intervals and he didn’t nap until late afternoon but somehow he feel asleep on his own. And each day got easier and easier for him to fall asleep on his own. He spent less time crying and so did I. Over the course of two weeks he regressed here and there but in the end he figured how to soothe himself without crying. He now puts himself to sleep for 3, sometimes 4 naps a day and is sleeping far better at night. Well, let’s be honest anything is better than up every hour. Some nights are better than others but I am not super concerned about him sleeping through the night at 6 months old.

Not to sound like an infomercial for sleep training but I haven’t even mentioned the best part. I have never seen Jax more happy and content than he is today. And I am not the only one who notices it. Just about everyone who knows Jax has mentioned to me that he is a different baby. I know sleep training isn’t for everyone but in our case it was the right decision for our family. My baby is the healthiest and happiest I have ever seen and so am I. I feel more connected to my son than ever. Life is good. Life is very, very good.

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8 thoughts on “In defense of sleep training

  1. Candis Jones says:

    Yes, it is a valuable thing to teach your babe to fall asleep on his own. A hard thing as a Mama because you get so many contrasting messages, but in the end you know when you baby actually NEEDS it and when you do too.

    You did the right thing for him. And you are right everyone is different, but in your case I’m really glad you helped him learn such a valuable, healthy skill!

    • Jenna (Hello, I Love You) says:

      Thanks Candis! I am happy I did too. At the time I swear every article on the Yahoo homepage was about how people who let their baby cry longer than 2 minutes were damaging them for life. I was a mess. But in the end, he really needed it. The poor thing was so unhappy from such little rest and now he is so happy. He laughs and smiles all the time—which is the opposite of what the so-called experts said would happen.

  2. Rhodeygirl says:

    Care to pay it forward? I am losing my mind here and getting sick too. R is now unswaddled and having a lot of trouble staying asleep when I put him down. The second I pick him up he falls right back to sleep. My eye is twitching, I have a sore throat and fever and I’m no longer a nice person! Please send me your guidelines and tips! He Can sleep all night if next to me in bed, but nothing at all like that in his crib. Last night it took me 2 hours to put him down and I had to do it ever so slowly and carefully. When he wakes up in the night I nurse him and then he never goes back to his crib bc he wakes up immediately and doesn’t know how to fall back asleep. He is becoming way overtired and we are all suffering. Please send me some tips!

  3. Elizabeth {e tells tales} says:

    So glad to hear that Jax is happier these days…and I bet you are too.

    Everett has even gotten to the point of picking up his own pacifier if it falls out and putting it back in. I never thought this day would come. I can put him down in his crib even not drowsy and he just knows it’s sleep time. You’ll get there too…it gets easier and easier.

    And it looks like it’s your turn to help out @rhodeygirl!

    Happy for you.

  4. souperbowl says:

    My mom did sleep training with my little brother (who is 16 years younger than me). I remember how hard it was at first but how fast it started working. My bro had a lot of ear infections when he was a baby, so we went through a few rounds of the sleep training, but as a now funny & active 13 year old, my small sample size proves he was not “damaged for life.” Glad to hear you’re feeling better and glad to see you’re blogging again. TTYS! – Roxan

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