the truth | about sleep training

As I have mentioned before, there are few things that prepare you to be a mother.  One day you are pregnant and then one day you have an actual, real-life baby in your arms that physically needs you... not just your body.  The nurses help in the hospital and there are certain rules you have to follow - no taking the baby out of the room, keep your wrist tags on at all times, and you can't leave the hospital without a nurse walking you to your car.  And then, you are in your car, with a baby and without the nurses, without a manual.  I remember wondering how the hospital could trust me with this little baby... I mean, they are the ones that know everything, not me!  

For the most part you figure things out.  I relied heavily on friends and family when I was clueless about what to use for fevers and teething or the best product to buy for this or that.  There are some mothers that rely even more heavily on parenting, sleep training, teething, and discipline books.  Truth be told, I rarely have time to read... so I've never picked up any "baby how-to" books and guess what?  At almost 17 months, our baby toddler is still here.  Incredible right?  She has survived through all of the trial runs and mistakes along the way.

One of the hardest things for me to learn was the process of sleep training.  Many people tell you that your baby should be sleeping through the night {aka 5 consecutive hours} by 6 weeks old.  When the babe reaches 6 weeks old, you feel like a failure of a parent since your babe is STILL waking up!  You've read all the books, you know exactly what you're supposed to do... still not working.  For us, Sadee was a wonderful sleeper in the beginning.  I figured that she was going to continue being a champion sleeper forever and boy was I wrong.  While all my friends struggled getting their newborns to sleep, we sailed right through.  And then, BAM!  All of those babies started sleeping great, and Sadee decided that she didn't like to sleep anymore.  It wasn't horrible, but we were getting up at least 2 times each night and that becomes exhausting over time.  At about 12 months, we buckled down and decided to officially "sleep train" her.  Whatever the heck that even means!  It worked... all my Pinterest reading paid off - 3 days of crying for about an hour and she was a solid sleeper.  Until about a week later when we decided to switch her from formula to milk.  Then we were back to square one, maybe even negative one.

We had to start all over.  We did.  And again, after 3 days of crying she was sleeping through the night.  One week later those beloved molars decided to make an appearance.  Square one... again.  At this point I was ready to give up.  We did.  I put on my "big-girl-momma-pants" and decided that we would just get up with her until... well, sometime in the future.  There were good nights and bad nights mingled with teething, colds, and diapers that just didn't make it until morning.  We survived, but I couldn't help but wonder where we had gone wrong.  Because it had to be our fault - the parents.  We weren't strong enough or knowledgeable enough or flat out not good enough.

I guess as a new mom, I assumed that you only had to sleep train once.  Boy was I wrong-o!  Unfortunately I do not have any answers as to easy tricks or what not to do, because we are still in the thick of it.  But, let me tell you this - sleep training is a constant battle and you will most likely have to do it multiple times before it actually "works."  Our tiny toddler does a fairly decent job, which she has done all on her own.  She still wakes up about 6 am for a bottle {after 10 hours of sleeping, who could blame her}, but she snuggles right back down until 8 or 9 am.  We still have good nights and bad nights, but that is okay.  I think it became easier once I gave up on the whole concept of "sleep training."  It's more like sleep practice.  If there is anything I have learned as a first time mother, it is this:  there are way too many misconceptions out there to blame yourself for anything that goes wrong.  Misconception #1 being - sleep training consists of a one-time step-by-step list, which leaves you with a perfectly sleeping child for the rest of your life.  False!  Sleep training must take place several times over the course of your baby/toddler's first few years and sometimes, "sleep training" won't work for your baby.  Guess what?  I'm here to tell you that it is 100% okay!  That is the best part about being a mom - the fact that you get to decide what it right for your child and your family.

Here's to sleepless nights ahead and the joy of being a mother!
Seriously... it truly is a joyful journey!

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