Grab a Bottle of Wine…it’s Going to be a Long Night
Did I say night? I meant a week…and a half. At least for us it was, when we sleep trained Will at four months old. I can laugh about it now, but I’m not going to lie-it was complete torture.
Let me break it down for you, Will was waking every 2-3 hours for three reasons: 1) he came un-swaddled, 2)his pacifier fell out, 3)he was hungry. Our goal was to wean him off the pacifier, and transition from swaddling his whole body to swaddle his lower-half, and eventually switching to a sleep sack. This was a double wammie-taking away the pacifier, and the full swaddle.
We decided to use the book, “Solve your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber. I looked at others, like “Baby Wise” and “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, but Ferber’s method seemed to be the most direct. It really is personal preference, and you can take bits and pieces from each book.
If you decide to go with the Ferber Method, here are my suggestions:
1) Don’t try to do it alone– After reading the book, I was feeling ready to take on this challenge head on. “I’ll start today, with his nap schedule,” I told my husband. Big mistake. He cried for an hour, and I gave up. It was too much to handle on my own.
2) Pick an open weekend- Make sure you have nothing going on the weekend you decide to sleep train. We ended up canceling a babysitter because we didn’t want to put her through the ringer.
3) Make your husband be the bad guy- Someone has to go in the room and check on the baby every ten minutes until they fall asleep, and that person was Billy. Billy had to look into his sad eyes, pat his little back, tell him it was ok, and then walk out. By the end of the weekend, Billy was convinced that Will hated him.
4) Use a timer-Ten minutes can feel like forever when your little one is crying for you. The timer will ensure you don’t rush in to soothe him. The goal is for him to learn to soothe himself back to sleep.
5) Take breaks – Rather than staring at your husband, while your child cries non-stop in the background, take turns leaving the house. During one of Will’s long crying spells, I took a walk and picked up some pizza for us.
6) Don’t give up – By day 4, we were ready to throw in the towel. We didn’t understand, it only took 1-3 days for the people in the book. Will’s sleep training took longer than most babies, but I’m glad we stuck it out for the ten days.
7) Nap training comes second– I was hoping his bedtime sleep training would transfer immediately to his nap schedule. My friend had to remind me that naps are harder and take longer to master. My main priority should be getting him to sleep through the night.
8) Be flexible – Traveling, visitors, sickness are just some of the things that can throw off your newly accomplished sleep schedule. Give it a couple of days, and your little one with adjust.
If you’re like most new mothers, you don’t have time to read a whole book. Focus on these chapters:
Chapter 3: “Helping your Child Develop Good Sleep Practices”
Chapter 4: “Sleep Associations: A Key Problem”
Chapter 6: Feedings during the Night: Another Major Cause of Trouble