It’s wonderful isn’t it? When you hear of little ones sleeping soundly from the get go, or from the 3rd month and parents are joyous and full of energy? Well I’m not one of them! I wish I was. I waited till my son was 11 months old to start sleep training him. And for a lot of parents this is way too late, and for a few it’s too early.
I did contemplate starting earlier when we begun weaning onto solid foods. But I quickly realised that with me exclusively breastfeeding my son was having a hard time letting go so early and so quickly. So why rush it? I wont lie, a part of me didn’t want give up the cuddles and snuggles and co-sleeping. But yes I was getting to the point of being exhausted and surviving on little or no sleep. Not healthy for me, does my baby no good, I know. So, come almost 11 months it’s time! But here is the fun part, I didn’t do the training!
Sleep training is hard! It is emotionally exhausting, it pulls on every heartstring, it makes you feel like you are the worst mother on this earth. You hear your baby cry and of course you want to run to them and give them a cuddle and a million kisses. When I had tried to do it myself I felt like a monster and I couldn’t bare it. So, I decided that I needed help. And who better than my mummy to the rescue! I had read so much about the different methods of sleep training, watched numerous YouTube videos (as you do as a first time mom!), spoke to health visitors and other mums, and even looked at all the many gadgets you could buy to help your baby sleep! Different methods work for different babies, and it also depends on you and how you want to handle the training process. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way. And I cannot sit here and say my method was the best or worst. I just know it is what worked for me and made me the most comfortable. I felt safe and secure knowing my baby was in the best possible hands, my mother! I felt reassured and calm and supported about the whole process.
I had asked my mum to come to me for a couple of weeks to help us get the sleep training process started. I knew it would probably take longer than 2 weeks, but at least this time would get the basic screaming out the way! And with my mum having the experience of doing it with me I knew she wouldn’t have an issue with my son. It has been two weeks now, and can I say, for the first time in 11 months, I am sitting downstairs in my living room at 8:50pm, after having a lovely shower and getting into fresh PJ’s, writing out this blog in peace! What bliss. All thanks to mother dearest. So I thought I would share a few things on how we managed to get here.
The first 3 nights were the hardest. My son had to get used to sleeping in his own room, in his own cot, and learn to self-sooth if he woke up. The way my mother made this happen is my favourite technique by a mile. I would get him into his sleep sack, give him his night feed and rock him to sleep. I would then put him down in his cot by which point he would wake up screaming. And boy did it take every ounce of emotional energy to not pick him up. Mummy would order me to go downstairs, and she would just sleep on the floor next to his cot in the dark room and hum gently. She also would put her hand through the cot bar so he could hold her hand and fall asleep. The first night it took all night! He kept waking up, and my mum would just gently pat him through the bars and hum till he fell asleep again. I decided that between 5am and 6am if he woke up I would pick him up, take him out of his sleep sack and give him his morning feed and he could then come into bed with my husband and me for the morning for an hour or 2 till we would all get up to get ready. That seemed reasonable to me and also reassuring for my son to know that in the morning when he wakes up he gets to spend cuddle time with mummy and daddy before nursery and work.
The first week, again the same routine, with slightly less waking up in the middle of the night. And now, 2 weeks in, I have put my son to sleep and down in his cot and he is fast sleep! WOOHOO!! Now I will add that if he does wake up crying in the middle of the night, I bend over his cot and I give him a tight cuddle and a kiss. He should always know that I do love him and that I am there when he needs me, but yes it is bed time so he needs to sleep. So I simply lie down on the floor next to his cot and place my hand on his bed through the cot bars till he falls asleep. And this has worked amazingly well for us.
Now I know things like teething, bad colds and fevers etc will all get in the way and interrupt this process. For example, my son gave himself such a sore throat the first week and a cold with the crying and learning to settle. But I just had to stay strong and trust that this process would work and benefit all of us in the long run. It has made things happier at home and less stressful. I don’t have to go to bed at 7pm with my son anymore leaving my husband downstairs alone. I can now sit down with him and catch up on our day and have some quality time together before bed. We both sleep better…mostly because we have our bed back to just ourselves! No little man in the middle kicking us in the face or pushing us to the edges of the bed. I wake up happier and with more energy to give my son, and also more energy to do a lot more for and with my family. I can’t thank my mother enough for her help, and I am glad I had her support through it. And from her point of view she was happy to be a part of this journey of his.
So if you are someone like me, a big softie, don’t be shy or afraid to ask for help.
I would love to hear from those who have been through this journey. What worked for you, what you found helpful.
Until next time xoxo