Oh, sleep training. I can practically envision everyone's shoulders tensing as they think about it. It's controversial, wonderful, "mean," and about a million other things depending on who you ask. Just like every other decision we make as parents, though, it's ultimately our business. We can have a polite conversation about it, yes, but wait until you're educated before you squeeze in your questions. After all, there are things you don't get to ask me when I'm sleep training.
Sleep training my daughter probably took the better part of a month when she was a few months old. Why? Well, I was watching and observing her every move so I could sufficiently learn when and how to put her to sleep as best and easily as possible. You see, my partner and I were actively trying to actually avoid crying it out. When our daughter was around 6 months old, we ended up doing cry it out after all, and within a week she went from crying for 10 minutes at a time, to babbling in her crib before she fell asleep clutching her lovey.
I think about sleep training our daughter and subsequent foster babies, and to me, it's all about consistency and detective work. If you really want it to be successful, you have to constantly watch for their cues before they get too overtired to put themselves to sleep. No, it's not cruel. No, it's not going to damage my child forever and ever. Actually, let's just go ahead and say "no" to all the other questions I don't feel like answering when I'm in the thick of sleep training, thank you very much.
"How's It Going?"
At any given point, if you had asked me how the sleep training was going, I would have told you to shove it. Well, I probably wouldn't have, because I'm polite most of the time, but I would have thought it. I was thinking about sleep training so darn much that I didn't want to talk about it
"Who's Idea Was It?"
Mine if it works, my partner's if it doesn't. Ha! Just kidding, it was our decision that we made together.
Honestly, if there's one thing I believe about sleep training it's that you can't go it alone. Your partner is your best ally in helping your child learn to soothe themselves to sleep.
"Won't Your Kid Hate You Forever?"
I don't believe my daughter will hate me forever, no. Since the time she was 6 months old my daughter has been falling asleep babbling to herself in her crib. A solid 19 times out of 20, she falls asleep without a single grump. We have a bedtime routine, a schedule that works with her sleep patterns, and a lovey that she knows signals sleep. Moreover, my mom sleep trained me and I have never, ever, not even once thought about disliking her for it.
Face, meet my palm. You think what I want to talk about right now is why we made the decision to sleep train? With a person who wants me to defend what I'm doing? No, thanks.
"Don't You Think It's Mean To Let Your Baby Cry?"
I think it's mean to not help a baby or child learn how to soothe themselves to sleep. I'm not talking about a newborn, or even a young baby. I'm talking about the 3 year old who you have to lay with in order for her to fall asleep, only to have him or her wake up panicked in the middle of the night because you're not still laying right there next to them. I know one of those kids and I think that's more mean than teaching my baby to fall asleep on her own.
"What If It Doesn't Work?"
Then we'll readjust and make a new plan for our baby and for our family. For now, however, we're going with it's going to work. We're in the middle of it, remember?
"Don't You Hate To Hear Your Baby Cry?"
Well, duh. I mean, of course I hate hearing my daughter cry. In fact, teaching her how to put herself to sleep is going to help both of us cry much, much less. Contrary to popular belief, not all sleep training even involves crying. For us, it involved picking up on her cues so that we eventually could help avoid the crying altogether.
"Can't Your Kid Just Nap In The Car?"
One of the best pieces of advice I read deep on the internet when we were beginning to sleep train, was the fact that sleep training should happen at home in the baby's usual sleeping environment. That means that for a period of a few weeks, you can only venture out of the house when the baby is supposed to be awake. It's a sacrifice, yes, but it also makes sense. The more consistent you are, the faster your baby will take to sleep training. So no, she can't nap in the car right now; for her sanity and mine.