Sleep Training Confessions

Sleep seems to be the theme in blog land these past few weeks. I’m going to share our sleep training method that takes the cake for inducing the guilty mom complex. 

Like most folks without kids who eventually plan to have kids, I had a laundry list of parenting goals -cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding, baby wearing, and absolutely no crying it out (to name a few). 

When Henry was born, he was an okay sleeper in his bassinet, but things started going downhill when he grew out of the bassinet at around five months. He refused to sleep in his crib, so we brought him into bed with us. He would wake up every two hours or so, and even when he was sleeping it was so fitful that Erin and I couldn’t sleep. At his six month check up, we asked his pediatrician for advice (or rather, pleaded desperately for help). She was really blunt with us and told us that we probably wouldn’t like what she had to say, but she recommended crying it out. And not the kind of crying it out where you go in and check on your baby in gradually increasing intervals, but the kind where you let them cry for up to two hours before going in to comfort them (and if they stop crying for more than 10 seconds, the clock restarts). 

We weren’t ready for something so drastic at that point, so we gave the kinder, gentler CIO method a try for a few weeks. But, our boy was stubborn, and continued to refuse to sleep. Finally, we decided to give the two-hour cry fest a try.

It was the worst one and a half weeks ever. Henry cried for just about an hour every night; one night he cried for exactly one hour and 57 minutes. I kept expecting to find him in a catatonic state each morning, but he was still our sweet Henry, just a more well-rested version. And then, just like flipping a switch, Henry was going to sleep calmly in his crib and staying asleep.

Occassionally, I wonder whether we did the right thing, and whether we’ve caused irreparable emotional trauma (for some reason, I love to torture myself and read articles about the damage caused by CIO). But, for the most part, I feel like those one and a half weeks of hell were worth it.

So, if you’re at your wits’ end and choose to let your kid cry it out, you’re not alone, and you’re not a bad parent.   

Morning snuggles in the big bed (after the moms got edged out) – proof that we’re not complete tyrants.


6 thoughts on “Sleep Training Confessions

  1. We opted for this but it wasn’t as harsh as our boys both adapted very well to sleep training. The first week we put Leo in his room he maybe cried five minutes a few times in the night before he started self soothing. Since 6 months he sleeps 10plus hours a night!! The key is to really get them to start self soothing. I think your pediatrician was right in a way. I’m not sure I could do two hours. That seems harsh. I do think a lot of moms could benefit from allowing a few tiny cries in the middle of the night without jumping the gun and going in. Your not a horrible mother, sleeping sets the stage for their entire lives. There’s children that have never went trough sleep training and still have issues well into grade school. This wasn’t something I wanted or could mentally wrap myself around.

  2. How old is he? Does he still nurse? Those are all important details for crib sleeping. I unfortunately quit nursing at the 6/7 month mark for both boys so it made it easier that I didn’t have to nurse all night and have them in our room. It was actually a life saver quitting nursing when we did. For us it was night and day when the nursing quit. They would wake up literally 7-8 times a night to nurse, when I began bottle feeding and put them in their owns rooms the 10 hour sleeping stretches started. Each family is so different but with our next baby due this April I plan on nursing until the same mark and sleep training right at that time again. I figure it’s worked the first two times, it has to work again 🙂 as beautiful as co-sleeping sounds it just wouldn’t work for me. I have insomnia and wake up for every peep that was made.

    • He’s 4 months, so we have a little while before he grows out of the bassinet. He’s still nursing a couple times during the night, so hopefully the stars will align and he’ll drop at least one nighttime feeding by the time he’s ready for the crib.

  3. I did CIO, it set the stage for my girl being a champion sleeper. I firmly believe it’s more detrimental to a kid to be constantly sleep deprived for months/years on end than to cry a few hours of their life.

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