Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sleep Training

Yes, that's right I said it. Today I'm talking about sleep training. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on while I was pregnant with Emma. The thought of sleep training seemed ridiculous. I just decided to parent the way that felt right. The decisions we made fall in line with attachment parenting. As an AP parent, I shouldn't agree with or practice sleep training. I didn't give myself the AP title. Others call me this because of the choices we made.

At one time Emma was sleeping pretty well. She would sleep for 3 or 4 hours be awake for a few more and go back to sleep. This worked for us. This changed when she was labeled failure to thrive and we were told to start waking her to feed her every 2 hours. Now that she doesn't need to eat every 2 hours she still wakes every 1 1/2 to 3 hours. This is no longer working for me.

I'm exhausted. I'm miserable. I'm not a good mom and I'm not a good wife. We had to do something. We moved Emma out of her small bed in our room and into her crib in her room. We have a twin bed in her room also, so she isn't sleeping there alone, at least not yet. We put her to bed when she falls asleep, if she falls asleep, then when I'm ready to go to bed I go to sleep in our room and when she wakes middle of the night I go and finish my night in hers.

It still wasn't enough because she still wasn't going to sleep until midnight or 1 o'clock in the morning. So earlier this week we decided to try sleep training. It was the last resort. I was so tired all the time, I was on the verge of tears. Emma was my main concern. She was so exhausted at the end of her night when she finally would fall asleep, she'd thrash around. She couldn't be held; didn't want to be touched; and would cry uncontrollably.  She'd finally lay on the floor in the living room and move from side to side and thrash from one position to the next. I couldn't rock her. I couldn't hold her. The thrashing, the screaming and the crying had to stop. We used to cuddle in bed until she fell asleep, but now she tries to crawl off the bed, so cuddling on the floor is safer.

I reread the sleep training books and asked friends who had experience what they have done. Everyone had different answers. Everyone had different things that worked for them. Once again we decided to follow our guts and do what felt right for us.

Monday night we put Emma in her bed and I sat on the bed next to hers. We decided that we would let her cry no more than how she would in the car on trips when she was fighting sleep. That wasn't too much crying at least not my opinion. Monday night was awful. She stared at me with tears in her eyes crying and she went straight from a little fuss to a high pitch squeal. We realized this was not going to work. If she could see me, she would want me but as soon as I picked her up, she would push away. She was so tired Robert took her outside to look at flowers and he was able to put her to sleep.

Tuesday and Wednesday we did things a little differently. After her nighttime routine and her last bottle we rocked her until she was drowsy just like we had done on Monday, and we put her in her bed. As soon as she was in her bed she started to fuss. We gave her a kiss and walked out of the room. We stood in the doorway where she couldn't see us but we could see her and she sat and she fussed and whined for 3 minutes then we went in to rub her back and gave her a kiss. We spent a minute with her and went back to our spot. The next time we went in, we had waited 5 minutes, then 7, then 10. On Tuesday, after 35 minutes she was asleep. On Wednesday night it only took 25. At no point did she have tears streaming down her face or use a high pitch squeal. Instead it was the fuss we sometimes heard in the middle of the night when she was comforting herself back to sleep if she had woken up. To us, this is okay.

Someone asked me if we will continue with this and after the first night I would have said no. Now that it's worked, I think we will. All three of us are getting better sleep and longer sleep. Emma is sleeping for 10 to 12 hours.

Is sleep training for everyone? No. But nothing works for every parent; nothing works for every child. Every parent and every child have to find what works for them and then when things stop working, you have to find something that works.

Well I sleep train future children? That depends on the child.

Do I still consider myself an attachment parenting? I guess so. But again, I didn't give myself that label. I've never planned to parent by labels. I parent from my heart and make decision that work best for us at that time.


  1. I had a similar experience, and ultimately was very glad to do "sleep training!" One thing is, you don't say how old Emma is, but with my younger two, I didn't "sleep train" until after a year of age, and I was very cognitive with them. I spoke to them about what I was doing and why--and also left a bottle of water in their crib with them, so if they were thirsty they would have something to drink.

    1. She will be 1 in 3 weeks. I tell her it's night night time and mommy will see her in the morning. She gets cuddles, kisses and hugs. Then when we go back in, we rub her back for a minute before leaving the room.

  2. Good job. She is big enough to understand. It's a way of showing your love to her, the way I see it. children needs to sleep, That's a basic need. Parents need to sleep as well. The way you do it it doesn't harm her at all. You're being a very thoughtful and loving parent. Keep up the good job. Research on small children's behavior shows that this method is efficient from 6months old. That's when I started it with both my children. They both started sleeping around 10 hours/night within a couple of days.

    Like you said, not every method is for every child, BUT I would not hesitate trying this method one second! Good luck <3