The "cry it out" method of sleep training a baby definitely isn't right for every family, but many parents do find success with it, myself included. That's not to say that sleep training my babies wasn't hard, because (at times) it really, really was. However, having come out on the other side of sleep training with two great sleepers, I can honestly say that the struggle was more than worth it. If you're practicing the "cry it out" method, just know it won't be that easy. The thoughts you have and things you tell yourself while "crying it out" will, more often than not keep you awake at night, even after your baby is asleep.
The science behind "crying it out" has done wonders to debunk the idea that "crying it out," when practiced correctly, hurts children, but listening to your baby cry, even if just for a few minutes, isn't easy. Our first son began falling asleep on his own within just days of us sleep training him, but those days seemed more like months when he was crying and we were crying and we were in the thick of it all. I struggled with letting my son cry it out just a few minutes in, but stuck with it anyway. I'm glad that I didn't give up, because our sleeping baby ended up benefiting our entire family, but the decision to stick with something that many people consider controversial wasn't something that I took lightly.
I know that sleep training doesn't make me a bad mom, but that didn't stop me from thinking that, and the following 13 things, while I was doing it. The mind is a fickle, unforgiving thing, especially when you haven't been sleeping.
"I'm Going To Get So Much Sleep!"
When our son's pediatrician informed us that he had reached an appropriate age to begin sleep training him, I was doubtful. He told us that our son was capable of sleeping for 12 straight hours and completely through the night. Sounds amazing, right? I was hesitant to buy into the dream our son's pediatrician was describing, but the notion of such an idea fueled my optimism and had me daydreaming about, well, the actual dreams that I'd be having if I was allotted a solid night's rest.
"Okay, So How Long Has It Been Since They've Been In Bed Alone?"
The first night of sleep training was rough. I put my son into his crib and kissed him goodnight, and he seemed perfectly content, until he heard the door shut behind me. It was like the door had sounded an internal alarm, and my son just knew that something was up. I waited outside of his door, listening to him whine and cry for what seemed like an hour, but was actually only three minutes.
"Really? Just Three Minutes?"
It is a scientific fact that time stands still while listening to a baby cry. OK, I haven't read any scientific data to support my claim, but it's a thing, you guys. Time stops. It's science.
After I left my son's room, he would start crying and a chain reaction would occur. He would cry then I would cry and while we both cried I woulds stare at the clock, impatiently waiting for the allotted time to pass and I could go into his room. I could tell by the sound of his cry that he was just tired, not wet or hungry or in pain, but it still made me feel guilty for not immediately running to his side. His doctor had told us this would happen, though, so I patiently watched the clock and did my best to stay strong.
"This Is Going To Be Good For Everyone"
As I was sitting there watching the clock, I tried to remind myself that what we were doing was very necessary, not just for our son, but for our entire family. Running on just a few hours of sleep when you've got a full-time job, in addition to being a mom, has a way of aging us, and quickly. I could have carried a week's worth of groceries in the bags under my eyes. I knew that we all desperately needed sleep.
"This Doesn't Make Me A Bad Mom"
My husband and I were very careful while sleep training our son, and were well aware of the times when you shouldn't let your baby cry it out, yet we still both felt somewhat guilty for practicing that particular method. I can see how someone who hadn't tried it, or someone who didn't do it correctly, would be against letting a baby cry it out, but I can't understand why these people would equate it with being an unfit mother. There are people out there sitting behind their keyboards, telling parents who "cry it out" that they're torturing their babies. I guess their anonymity makes them brave, but I'm here to tell them that allowing a baby to cry it out definitely is not torturing them, so stop making parents who practice it feel like they're awful people.
"This Is A Lot Harder Than I Thought It Would Be"
I thought I was exhausted before we started sleep training, but I was much, much more exhausted during it. It takes patience and consistency to get through sleep training, and I just happen to be lacking a bit of both.
"Ugh, Listening To A Crying Baby Is Awful"
No one enjoys listening to a baby cry, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. That's why recordings of crying children are used to torture people. Yes, really.
"I'm Never Having Kids Again"
I swore, every day during sleep training our son, that we were never having kids again. Getting him to sleep through the night was far from easy, and I was positive that I could never complete the same mission for a second time. My kids are 15 months apart though, so obviously I wasn't scared enough to remember to take my birth control, but still.
"Wait, Are They Actually Falling Asleep?"
The third night of sleep training is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I checked on my son just a few minutes after putting him down for the night,and, to my surprise, didn't go into his room again. I didn't have to, because he was silent. I watched him roll to his side on the video monitor, and slowly but surely, his eyes began to close. He had fallen asleep on his own, and without a fight. That's the dream, you guys. That's the dream.
"Oh My God! That Worked?"
My husband and I stared at the monitor in complete shock. It had only taken three days, but it had definitely seemed like months. We couldn't believe that our son's doctor's advice had actually worked exactly like he said it would. I mean, that man can have all of my money for the rest of my life for the gift he gave us. Yes, sleep is that important.
"Sweet, Glorious Sleep!"
The first night our son slept through the night, we were so excited that we didn't really sleep much. Plus, we were so accustomed to getting up throughout the night to feed him that our bodies weren't even capable of sleeping more than a few hours at a time. However, after a few nights of having a baby who slept through the entire night, we were blissfully sawing logs, too.
"And Now I Miss My Kid"
Of course, getting a baby to sleep through the night is a major milestone in every parent's life, but not having our sin in our room with us made me a little sad. He never really slept in our bed, but he slept in a pack 'n play right next to our bed where we could see and hear him throughout the night. We had the video monitor, which was nice, but not being able to roll over just to watch him breathe broke my heart, for a few nights at least.