As I'm writing this blog, my son Gavin, who just turned 1, is laying next to me. This is his first time waking up since being put to bed tonight, and he'll probably wake up at least two more times.
Gavin was one of those babies who slept through the night around 4 weeks old, then we traveled to Omaha for my sisters wedding when he was 12 weeks old and he never slept though the night again.
He usually wakes to nurse, then falls right back to sleep. Have we tried to sleep train? No, and we're not planning on it. We definitely aren't interested in letting him cry it out. He'll sleep through the night when he's ready.
I'm completely used to waking up with kids throughout the night. My oldest son, Ethan, is 3 years old. He didn't start consistently sleeping though the night until after he turned 2.
Because Ethan is my firstborn, I listened when people said babies should start sleeping through the night around 2 months old, and if they aren't, you should teach them how to put themselves to sleep. But you can't let them sleep train before 4 months, because they're too young. Don't wait too long though, because after 9 months, it's hard to break habits. If they are teething, don't sleep train until two weeks after the tooth has cut through….
Although this information was overwhelming, I decided to sleep train Ethan anyway. I purchased the Sleep Easy Solution book, read the parts that applied to me and was ready to go! I decided that five months of sleep deprivation was enough for me, so that's when we'd sleep train.
Night one: I laid Ethan in his crib, drowsy but awake. He must've cried for two hours before falling asleep. Of course I checked on him like I was supposed to, but it was extremely hard. He essentially cried himself to sleep. It immediately made me question whether this was ethical. Should I comfort my baby? Does he feel like I abandoned him?
Reading the reviews of the book, many people boasted about the results and how their kids were sleeping through the night. So I tried for a second night.
Night two: He cried a little less, but I still felt guilty. After a week of sleep training, I could put Ethan down drowsy and he would go to sleep. Success!
That lasted all of two weeks, when he caught his first cold. It was as if we never sleep trained at all.
So I tried again at 7 months, then again at 10 months and 13 months. All attempts to get him sleep trained failed because of teething, sickness or travel. Why did I put my son through that? It wasn't worth it.
Today, Ethan still needs to be close to me or my husband to fall asleep at night. I think cry it out gave him major anxiety, and he doesn't like to sleep by himself at night. But he's fine sleeping by himself during nap time, so that's a step forward.
So with Gavin, I'm not interested in intervening with what comes naturally to him at his age. If he wants to wake 10 times during the night, so be it. I'll be there to cuddle him until he falls back to sleep.
What about you? Are you a fan of sleep training or not? Tell us in the comment section below.
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Naeemah Ford Goldson is a mother of two boys who lives in Atlanta but is originally from Omaha. She’s the owner of Restore Order Professional Organizing, LLC. Read more posts from Naeemah »