I mentioned in my last post that Emmy’s sleep has improved a ton, but it wasn’t by chance. I decided after Thanksgiving that the best gift I could give myself (and Emmy, too) for Christmas was the gift of sleep, so in early December, right after Emmy turned six months old, I decided to sleep train her. This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo since I wound up eventually sleep training Jackson as well (you can read about that here), but it didn’t make it any easier emotionally. Listening to your baby cry sucks, plain and simple. There’s no sugar coating it. That said, I would do it again in a heartbeat because it has done wonders for Emmy’s quality of sleep, and my sanity. I know sleep training is a very polarizing topic and many people are firmly against it. I never thought I would resort to it myself before I had Jackson, to be honest. Having gone through it twice now though, I’ve seen firsthand how it can be beneficial to both babies and parents (assuming a baby is ready). I’m certainly no expert on this, but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps someone else struggling with infant sleep issues.
So what did I do exactly? First, I moved Emmy out of the bassinet in our room to a crib in the guest room (We’re still planning on eventually having Emmy share a room with Jackson, but until sleep is a bit more coordinated, we’re going to keep them separate). I think having more space to stretch out and less noise helped a lot. Second, I let Emmy learn to soothe herself. There are lots of different sleep training approaches, but I opted to use one of the gentler ones called The Ferber Method. If you’re not familiar, it involves putting babies down to sleep and letting them cry for various intervals before going in to provide comfort. I just don’t have it in me to do straight cry it out. I think I started by going in after three minutes, then five, then ten, etc. This is the method I used with Jackson and it was very effective with him, so I was hoping it would work equally well with Emmy. Emmy was definitely tougher, but overall she adapted much better and more quickly than I expected. I went into it with the mindset that I’d try things out, but if Emmy was overly resistant (i.e. didn’t go to sleep after an hour), I would stop and try at a later time. I don’t believe in letting babies cry for hours on end. The first night she cried off and on for forty minutes before falling asleep initially. The next night was about twenty. The third was ten. And now she cries minimally every night, usually not more than a minute or two, although it can be up to ten minutes.
Emmy still typically wakes up crying once overnight and I choose to nurse her when she does. She usually goes right back to sleep without crying. To me this is totally manageable and beats waking up every two hours! Doing this is against most sleep training recommendations, but I’m more comfortable continuing to nurse once overnight at this age, and I think it’s totally normal for young babies to still need some comforting. If you provide it, I don’t think it means you’re creating terrible sleepers! Emmy overall sleeps great at night now, so so much better than she had been, and she’s a happier baby come the morning as a result. That’s really all I can ask for.
If you’re desperate for sleep and considering sleep training but you’re not sure if you can go through with it, I hope this offers some encouragement. It may not be as difficult as you think. I was dreading it both times, but was pleasantly surprised in each case. You may actually wind up wishing you’d done it sooner!