Sleep Training, Was It Worth It?
I don't think I've ever met anyone who said sleep training wasn't worth it. Most people say that it sucks and you have to suffer the first week, but then it gets better and it is so worth it. Still, for some reason, I tried avoiding it. I just didn't want to let my baby cry at all and feel any kind of abandonment. However, probably due to our co-sleeping situation, we hit a point at 8 months where I was going to lose my sanity, because he seemed to have regressed so badly that he was up every hour, some times less. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. So, I did a bunch of research, talked to friends, asked other mommies in Facebook groups, and here's what we ended up doing...
To try to avoid sleep training, I had researched gentle sleep training techniques, and tried to casually introduce them. I created a quiet environment for my baby to sleep in, set up a bedtime routine, attempted but mostly failed at putting him down "drowsy but awake." Around 4-5 months, there was a period he seemed to be improving in sleep. I think because of our co-sleeping situation, he was a frequent waker, waking every 2-3 hours, which was doable at the time.
I had always said that at 6 months, we'd move him to his room to sleep in his own crib, but interestingly, at that time my husband actually said to me that he kind of liked baby sleeping with us. I guess the baby grew on him and I wasn't going to force baby out of our bed. So, we let baby sleep in our bed a little longer, but then he started taking up too much room, so we started to try to get him to sleep in his own bed. Before we did that though, he hit a bunch of milestones at the same time when he was six months, including crawling and cruising at the same time, followed by his first tooth. Naturally, his sleep was not great at this time. There was some improvement in his sleep for day after his first tooth finally broke through the gum, but then his sleep seemed to get worse and worse.
At 8 months was when I decided we have to do some kind of sleep training, though I wasn't willing to let him cry it out. I looked into the Sleep Lady Shuffle and Taking Cara Babies. The latter was oft recommended in Mommy Facebook groups, and my best friend was also following her method. Generally, I found them quite similar. The difference is that the Sleep Lady Shuffle has you start off sitting by the crib, and then slowly moving further and further away until you are finally out the door and baby can finally fall asleep or back to sleep without you there. Taking Cara Babies has you check in on baby after the first 5 minutes of crying, then 10 minutes, then every 15 minutes if baby keeps crying. When it came to Sleep Lady Shuffle, sitting next to baby's crib to comfort him was doable, but sitting at a distance in his room and saying "there, there baby," felt really awkward and torturous to me. So, I ended up preferring the Taking Cara Babies method and found it to work best.
The very first night we tried it we had a relatively and surprisingly successful night. I never had to go in after 15 minutes, and only once had to go in after 10 minutes. Some babies take a few days before they sleep through the night, but our baby did well after the first night. It was torturous that first night, but it did the trick.
It has been a couple months now, and we went through a recent regression, likely due to teething and as a result, me going into cuddle him too much, so I reimplemented the Taking Cara Babies method, and for the most part it worked again.
With sleep training, it probably works best if you're consistent and stick "strictly" to the method, but I've always been one to do things at least a little bit my way and go with my gut. For example, I believe both The Sleep Lady Shuffle and Taking Cara Babies teaches you to wean from night feedings. However, there are times that my mama instincts tell me he just needs to be nursed, so I do. Or sometimes, he just wants to cuddle (or maybe I just want to cuddle), so I bring him into bed with us. Also, everyone tells you that for naps to create a dark, "perfect" sleep environment and we've never done that. Our neighbor recently told me that, because of that "perfect" environment, her son now won't sleep at day care and she has to pick him up at nap time to bring him home to nap, otherwise he's hysterical. I'm not saying don't create that "perfect" environment, maybe that's why we still don't have perfect sleep, I'm just saying, you do you.
In the end, you've always got to do what works best for you and baby. Still, as much as I initially resisted it, I'm so glad and grateful that we ended up following one of the gentle sleep training methods.
Did you sleep train? What method did you use and how did you like it?
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