Getting enough sleep as a parent can be a struggle, and when you don't get enough of it you kind of feel like you might die. I mean, lack of sleep can impact your mood, health, and ability to function. So if you're like me, and your baby hates sleep, you might decide to give sleep training a try. Letting your baby "cry it out" can seem scary and challenging, though, and it can be hard to know how to even start the process. I've learned there are a few things you should do before sleep training, too, that will not only set you up for success but will help you get through the not-so-pleasant parts of trying to teach your baby how to sleep on their own.
The first step? Well, in my humble opinion, you should consider consulting a professional to make sure your baby is ready for sleep training. You should also make sure there's not something else going on that's interrupting their sleep. Next, you've got to commit to a method and make sure your partner is on board. I am not gonna lie, sleep training is hard, and it'll be even harder when one of you, as parents, gives in. You will probably want to quit, too, and probably more than once. You have to accept the idea that your baby can learn to fall asleep on their own, though, which is easier said than done, especially if you're like me and hate to hear your baby cry. And before you start the entire process you should probably get some sleep first, because sleep training is not for the faint of heart and it's hard not to throw in the towel in the middle of the night when you're sleep deprived.
So, if you miss sleep as much as I do, and are ready to give sleep training a try, here are a few things you should do first:
Consult A Professional
So, here's the deal. Before you start sleep training your baby, you need to make sure your baby is old enough and healthy enough to start. It's worth a call to the doctor or a mention at their next appointment. Besides, they might also have some good ideas about how to go about teaching your baby to sleep, and you should take all the help you can get.
Make Sure Your Baby Is Ready
Once you make sure your baby is healthy, there are a few other things to think about before you get started. Do they still wake up to eat? Can you drop those feedings? Are they old enough? According to the Baby Sleep Site, there are a number of things you should consider to determine if your baby is ready to sleep train. Every baby is different and what's right for one is not right for others.
Get On The Same Page As Your Partner
I can not stress this enough. Get on the same page as your partner always, and agree to some ground rules before you take the next steps. Sleep training won't work if one of you can't stand to hear your baby cry, gives in, and brings them to bed in an exhausted stupor. Trust me, you need to make a plan and stick with it for sleep training to work.
Determine If Something Else Is Going On
Before you get started, you definitely want to make sure your baby's sleep troubles aren't due to not getting enough to eat during the day, teething, reflux, asthma, or any another health condition. Teaching your baby to sooth themselves is not going to work if something else is causing them to sleep like crap other than a general hatred for bedtime.
Get Some Damn Sleep
Everything is worse when you're tired. Everything. So, I highly recommend starting sleep training with a head-start on sleep, which can be seriously hard when the reason you're sleep training is because you haven't slept in months. There's a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture, my friends. Sleep deprivation, combined with hearing your baby cry, is pretty much one of the worst things ever. So trust me when I say you should try and get some damn sleep before you start training your baby to do the same.
Buy A Monitor
I have a love/hate relationship with our baby monitor, but unless you have a small living space or plan to sleep outside the nursery door, you kind of need one if you plan to sleep train.
Pick A Method To Try
Whether you are more of a "rip the band aid off" type of person, or prefer to gently ease into things, rest assured there's a sleep training method for you. The good news is that if you try one, and find that it's not for you or doesn't work for your baby, you can always give up and try something different.
Remind Yourself That It's Temporary
It hurts to hear my babies cry. Seriously. I know logically it won't hurt my son to learn to fall asleep on his own, and that a few nights of crying might mean many good nights of sleep ahead, but damn this is hard. My mantra is "it's only temporary and it will get better." Just repeat that over and over and over again.
Wait For The Weekend
If you need sleep to function tomorrow, don't start sleep training tonight. Don't sleep train the night before a big day at work or an early-morning yoga class or any other time when you want to feel well-rested. Just like potty training, it won't happen in one night, and there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. Wait for the weekend or a break from work or use a vacation day. Trust me.
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