Tuesday, November 15, 2016

15 Truths About Sleep Training

Little One is a terrible sleeper. Sleep training was a nightmare and she still isn't sleeping through the night at seven months. Sleep training can be a controversial topic, some parents don't believe in it and others are strongly believe in one method or another.

As a first time parent, learning about your baby's sleep needs, patterns and signs is tricky. Babies are not like adults or even older children. They don't sleep when they're tired and their needs are totally different. There's a lot of room for error and mistakes are almost unavoidable.

We've learned a lot, read a lot and have come to a better place than ever before. A few months ago, if you had been at our house during bedtime, you would have sat with us while Little One screamed her head off for what seemed like an eternity. This happened to us every night for about six weeks. We actually had to kick our sleep training into high gear and power through a lot difficult times to get her to sleep.

But now, at bedtime, it is a totally different story. We go through our routine - bath time, diaper, 10 minutes of nursing, burping and into bed. I talk to her about how she's going to get all snug and have a great night sleep. A kiss on the forehead followed by, "We love you, sleep well, we'll see you in the morning." And she is off to sleep.

I know she doesn't fall asleep right away but she generally doesn't make a single noise. She puts herself to sleep every night. It has made nighttime feedings and nap times better too. We've even noticed that she can wake up at night or during a nap and put herself back to sleep without us.

For those of us who are firm believers (or those of you who are curious), there are some definite truths that are universal.

1. It's necessary - It's important. It changed our lives and made Little One's relationship with sleep so much better.

2. It's heartbreaking - While it is super important, as a mom your heart totally breaks as you sit there with the monitor crying at you. You just want to scoop her up but you know you shouldn't.

3. Sleep training takes time - It doesn't happen overnight. And actually, it usually doesn't happen in the four days that the Ferber Method describes. It's a process, some times you have to start all over again and some times you're interrupted by teething or a growth spurt.

4. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution - We did a little bit of Ferber and a little bit of the Rapid Extinction method.  We needed both options. Mix and match, as long as it is working for your family.

5. Baby will still love you in the morning - When I read this some where, I really need to hear it. It is so true. Your baby won't stop loving you because they cry the night before. Little One was and still is so happy to see us every time she wakes up.

6. You can do it - I really didn't think I could do it but if I can, you can too.

7. Your routine can be a lifesaver - I described ours above and it was the same all throughout sleep training. Now when she's tired and we start the routine, she is so happy.

8. Consistency is key - If you sleep train one night and not the next, your making a battle into a war.

9. You will make mistakes - Hindsight is 20/20. There were a number of times when we said, "Crap, we probably shouldn't have gone in to comfort her." But try to remember them and learn from them. You'll be able to get back on track after any mistake.

10. Every baby is different - So important to remember while you're sleep training.

11. The internet can help but use it with caution and common sense.

12. It's an accomplishment - When your baby is finally sleeping well and going down without a fight, take a minute to think about what you've accomplished.

13. Because it is totally worth it.

14. Don't let the good sleepers get you down. I have several friends who have excellent little sleepers. Try not to compare yourself to them.

15. Wine, ice cream, coffee, chocolate, trashy TV. Whatever your comfort object is, make sure you rely on it during sleep training. Having that comfort while you wait out a crying baby really helps.


  1. sleep training is SOOO hard!! You are right... it is necessary.... and heartbreaking all at the same time!

    1. It is, especially with your first. I don't think you really understand it until you do it!

  2. My toddler is 17 months and she STILL doesn't sleep through the night consistently. We gave up on sleep training because every time we got into a groove with her, something would happen, like she would get sick and then we'd be back to square 1. I totally feel you on this. Sleep training is so rough! And #15 - SO TRUE!

    1. We're going through some serious teething right now and it's really disrupting things but the bedtime routine helps!

  3. OMG. Love these awesome practical tips. My girl is a light and late sleeper too. This is right on the dot for me! :)

    1. Thanks so much, light sleepers are difficult!

  4. I love these tips! I've recently started sleep training with my son and have been worried about the process as well.

    1. It's difficult but totally worth it, at least in my opinion!

  5. Great post. I 100% agree that routine is so important!