I'm a firm believer in sleep training, though I know it's not the right solution for every family. I also know there are a ton of different strategies for sleep training. For my partner and I, sleep training meant teaching our daughter to soothe herself to sleep and, for a short period of time, that meant crying it out. It was not my favorite time, but because my partner did the things every grown-ass man does when you're crying it out, we got through it together.
Crying it out isn't the best plan for every child, but my husband and I learned very quickly (and when our daughter was very tiny) that very little was going to soothe her if she was ready for a nap or overtired. Instead, our soothing often wound her up even more, getting her frenzied and overtired instead of sleepy. She had serious FOMO and the idea that anyone else was going to be awake meant she was not going down without a fight.
Rocking, shushing, going for a walk; all the typical soothing things were overstimulating for her. So instead, we chose to let her cry it out. In the process of doing so, we realized we could facilitate little tricks for helping her soothe herself, like rubbing a blanket on her cheek and having the room totally dark.
I was grateful for my partner in sleep training, and his steady, calm presence throughout the entire process. Sometimes (read: always) the thing you need to do, isn't always the easiest thing, which is why a steady and supportive partnership is so important when your goal sit to finally sleep. With that in mind, and if you're gearing up to try sleep training yourself, make sure your partner does the following things:
He Helps With The Plan
I'm the researcher in our family (if by "researcher" you mean "3 a.m. Google searcher") and my husband typically goes along with what I've discovered. But with crying it out, however, it was especially important that he be part of the plan. The last thing I wanted was for us to get into the thick of sleep training and him look at me with a, "Why on earth are you making us do this?" face. No, thank you. Together, we came up with a plan that we thought would work best for our daughter, and that made all the difference.
He Provides Back-Up
While I'm the queen of coming up with why we should do something, I'm a total wimp when it comes to some of the execution. My rational brain knows we should do something, but my mama brain doesn't really like to do anything other than cuddle my daughter and give her chocolate. I needed my partner to be the enforcer of our plan, to a point. When we both knew I just needed to buck up a little and wait more than 15 seconds to see if our daughter could work it out on her own, he was the one who mentioned that's what we needed and I was ever so grateful when we did.
He Gives Pep Talks
In the midst of our (very brief and successful sleep training), I admit I needed a lot of pep talks.
During the few short days we did cry it out with our daughter, my partner saved up all of his best distracting conversation topics to make the time go by just a little quicker. I was so very grateful for this tactic, as sometimes it's nearly impossible to focus on anything other than your baby crying.
He Sends You Away
I was sent for a walk around the block a few times in during the week we were crying it out and it was helpful for all involved.
He Allows You To Change Course
Even though my husband had to be a little tougher than me in the crying it out department, he wasn't so rigid as to insist on sticking to the plan if it needed adjusting. Every grown-ass-man knows you can adjust your course mid-stream if you need to, especially when it comes to the unpredictability of parenthood.
He Provides Comfort To Baby
It was important for me that my husband was sort of the enforcer of the crying it out plan we concocted together, but we both knew it was important for him not to be the enforcer in our daughter's eyes. He needed to be the one to comfort her as often as I did, so that she would continue to respond to him when she needed soothing as well.
He Mans The Timer
I was in no condition to keep track of the time. I mean, I know I would have totally lied and said we had made it to the two minute mark when we'd only been at it for 15 seconds. A slightly calmer person was needed for that job, which just so happened to be my partner.