Dreaming about Sleeping? A Sleep Training Tale by Beatrix James
This is our family’s sleep training story. I want to share it to empower other parents to feel okay about needing sleep, and if you feel like sleep training is the remedy, to go about it confidently. If you’re not into sleep training that is TOTALLY OKAY! Feel free to skip over this one—we are all different and if we weren’t it would be a much less vibrant world.
When we started to think about sleep training, our daughter was 6 months old. I asked her pediatrician about it and he said, “you can choose for the next two years to be great or difficult [when it comes to sleep], it’s up to you.” I thought, "mmmm, let’s go with great.”
The bottom line is, we are better parents and better people when we sleep (and we don’t function well when we are short on it). Also, our child is happiest and best behaved when she is well rested. For us, good sleep lends to a greater potential for familial harmony. This method won’t work for everyone, and every child is different. However, I really believe (from my experience, and from what I have read and heard from other parents) that if you make a plan you can stick to, and you stick to it, you can easily teach your child to sleep on their own and help teach them an invaluable life skill. If you don’t have the constitution to go through with this on your own, GET HELP. Ask around and find a friend or sleep consultant to help you through this process. Also, get your husband, partner, your mom, everyone who is around you and your baby, on board with your plan. It takes a fucking village, so treat it accordingly.
All the methods that I looked at for sleep training started with the basic set up: getting your baby’s room right. A sound machine is essential, and not a PEEP of light. Put black trash bags over the windows, whatever you need to do. Keep the room and their sleeping arrangements super cozy. Put all of these controllable elements on your side to help this little one learn how to sleep on their own. Also, your baby needs a consistent routine every night. Bath, bottle/boob, massage, pajamas, sleep sack, etc. Whatever you want to do, and keep it the SAME every night.
I was fortunate enough to be in a baby class taught by sleep wizard, Jill Spivak. She bolstered my confidence with her confidence, it was infectious. She told us that you can fix most sleep issues in 48 hours. I thought that sounded insane. Until I sleep trained our daughter. In 48 hours.
Jill’s approach scared me a little bit so I read a book about sleeping training without crying. I tried that method for 4 nights until I was so tired I said fuck this, we are trying Jill’s method. Two nights later (and for most night since), my daughter slept for 12 hours. She is now 3, and still sleeps and naps like a champion. She also loves her crib. She doesn’t sleep as long now, but she will relax in her crib so she is still in there for 12 hours on average every night.
Now, you ask, when you travel isn’t this a total pain in the ass? Yes, it is. But is it worth the glorious sleep we get the rest of the year? YES. Also, when you travel you can bring, 1. sound machine 2. black trash bags 3. tape. Voila. That’s not so bad, right?
Good luck and cheers to sleep!