As someone who has sleep trained not just one, but two children, I know a thing or two about the ups and downs of teaching a baby how to get some sleep. I understand the sacrifices you make when you cry it out, but I also get that those sacrifices are totally worth it in the long run. After all, a sleeping family is a happy family.
When practiced correctly, sleep training can be extremely beneficial for an entire family. However, sleep training takes some serious commitment, otherwise it likely won't be effective. With our first son, getting him to sleep through the night was pretty seamless, but our second son had a different plan in mind and I'm convinced getting him to go to bed easily or peacefully was such a struggle that it caused my hair to prematurely gray.
Struggling with the "cry it out" method with our second son tested both my partner and I but, eventually, we got through it and we're now the proud parents of two amazing sleepers. If you're trying to get your baby to sleep through the night for the first time, and have found it to be both difficult and disheartening, understand that the following seven things are sacrifices you make when you cry it out, yes, but those extra hours of peace and sleep are totally worth the struggle.
You Sacrifice A Little Bit Of Your Sanity
Like I said, our first son's sleep training journey was seamless. That success admittedly went to my head and made me assume that sleep training our second son would be just as easy. It wasn't. Not by a long shot. We started "crying it out" when he was six months old, and stopped just two weeks later. Being able to tell when a baby is ready for sleep training isn't always as easy as one would assume. We learned this the frustrating way with our second son, and the amount of sanity that began to evade us was a clear indication that our methods weren't working, so we took a break and he continued to sleep in our room.
Sleep training can definitely drive a person "crazy," but if losing a little bit of sanity means that you're gaining it back in the form of extra sleep (eventually), it's worth it.
You Sacrifice A Few Extra Cuddles
Some of my friends talk about rocking their kids to sleep and, sadly, that's not something that I've experienced very much of. While my kids were very young, too young to sleep on their own, I would rock them to sleep or let them fall asleep in my arms or next to me in bed, but once it came time to start sleep training, I had to let go of a few of those extra snuggles. Sleep training requires consistency and routine. Not remaining fully committed to a routine will only confuse your baby even more, so once we started letting our babies "cry it out" for a few minutes at a time, we had to stick with it.
I'm not going to lie. This was one of the hardest parts of sleep training, and I have a feeling it's why so many people are against it. Not snuggling your baby in their sweet little pajamas is kind of heartbreaking. Thankfully, it's also temporary.
You Definitely Sacrifice Some Sleep
Part of committing to sleep training means losing a little sleep yourself. The good (and bad) news is that most new parents are completely sleep deprived any way, so losing a few extra moments of blissful unconsciousness is something that most of us are quite accustom to. It seems contradictory to lose sleep for the sake of getting more sleep, but it's sort of like investments. You have to pay money up front in order to watch it pay off in the long run. When you're an utterly exhausted parent, sacrificing a few more hours of sleep in the name of an eventual full night's rest is a small price to pay.
You're No Longer Able To Watch Your Baby Sleep
There is no better sight than a sleeping baby. They're so peaceful and innocent, and seeing their sweet little faces and their fuzzy little heads snoozing the night away is priceless. I would pay good money if my kids would sleep in bed with me every now and then, or if they would actually fall asleep in front of us for a change. I see my friend's posting pictures of their kids sleeping in car seats and it both melts and breaks my heart. My kids know that when they're tired, they can go to their own beds for some rest, instead of sleeping in ours. Our bed means play time, but theirs means rest, so when they're legitimately tired, they retreat to their own corners to sleep, rather than hanging out with my partner and I. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't miss seeing a sleeping baby every night.
You Can't Go Out (On A Date, Or Otherwise)
As I've already mentioned multiple times, sleep training a child requires commitment. That means that parents have to stick to a routine until their child is consistently falling asleep on their own, and that can sometimes take a while.
So, taking a child to their grandparents' house or leaving them with a babysitter during their bedtime is going to completely throw them off of their routine. Unfortunately for parents, this means date nights and alone time might have to be prolonged until a child is a consistent sleeper. However, once they are sleeping well on their own consistently, leaving them with a sitter or a family member at bed time will be quite easy.
You'll Inevitably Start Questioning Your Judgment
After we took a break from sleep training our second son, I questioned whether or not it was the right move for him. Sleep training isn't right for every parent or kid, and having tried and failed at it with him once, we considered dropping the concept all together.
As parents, we all want what's best for our kids, but figuring out exactly what that is can be quite challenging. Questioning your own judgment and wondering whether or not you might possibly be causing your child unnecessary stress is incredibly disheartening. Sleep training worked for our first son, but our second is a completely different and unique person, so we had to weigh our options a bit more with him.
You're Going To Be Judged
Then, of course, there's the judgment of other parents, or even people who don't have kids but feel inclined to offer up their expert opinions nonetheless. You should never tell a mother practicing the "cry it out" method that she's torturing her child. Seriously, don't. It's hurtful and judgmental, not to mention incredibly inaccurate. I seriously doubt that parents would willfully and intentionally "torture" their children, and insinuating that allowing a child to cry for just a few minutes while their parents monitor them close by is a torture mechanism is absolutely absurd, and offensive.
Parents get judged enough already, so fueling this fire by making such bold accusations is incredibly counter productive.
You'll Have To Tell People That It's All Totally Worth It
I get that sleep training isn't right for every family. I even questioned whether or not it was right for mine at one point, so I understand a person's hesitancy to sleep train their child. However, my partner and I have two amazing sleepers. Our oldest son sometimes asks if he can go to bed early, and if we ever try to get him to watch a movie with us or nap with us in our own bed, he's not interested. That sort of stings, sure, but that extra alone time is a godsend on the days when I feel like I want to quit being a parent, which definitely happens from time to time. Having some time to ourselves so that we can unwind or relax or get extra work done or, you know, sleep has made a huge difference in our lives, and I'm convinced that our sleeping babies are a huge part of that.
I love my babies to no end, but when they don't get enough sleep, they're kind of jerks (just like adults). When we all get some much needed rest, our family feels completely in sync. For that reason (and many others, honestly) I believe that the struggle of sleep training and the sacrifices involved are 100 percent worth it.