Before I was a parent, I was a judgmental asshole. I mean, I was super uninformed. I heard of things like sleep training and thought I’d never do that to my child. Then I had a child, and got my head out of my ass about ever judging what another parent does and why.
Even once JJ was born, I thought sleep training just wasn’t for me. I thought, why let my child cry if I can help them? What I didn’t realize is that sometimes letting them cry is helping them. (For those who don’t know sleep training is basically the process of teaching your child to fall asleep and stay asleep without your help. There are various methods, but most, if not all, involve more crying than I was used to).
When JJ was just over 4 months, Scott was out of town for business and my little angel decided to wake up every 40 minutes. Day or night. For 3 days. It was something else.
On the 4th day, I called my amazing night nurse turned friend and personal guru, Gina, and begged her to make it stop. She kindly and calmly explained that it was time to sleep train. I immediately told her I wasn’t “that kind of parent” and didn’t believe in sleep training. This is what she taught me:
- Sleep training is a bad name for a really important life skill- putting ourselves to sleep.
- Until this point, I had been helping JJ fall asleep with rocking and cuddling (and often praying). So when he woke up (which we all naturally do, all night between sleep cycles) he didn’t know how to put himself back to sleep without momma.
- By letting him cry for a few minutes it gives him the space to figure out how to put himself to sleep and gives him the confidence to know he can do it alone.
This was a revolutionary idea to me. I thought I was helping my baby by always rushing to do/fix/cuddle, but in reality, I was taking away the opportunity for him to learn how to do it himself. So I put on my bravest face and gave it a try.
I cried more than my son did. No, seriously.
He cried 17 minutes the first nap, 13 the next, 11 the next and 4 that night for bed. And that was the end of “sleep training” after that traumatic (for me) day, my son has gone to sleep like a champ, slept like a teenage boy and- best of all- puts himself to sleep and back to sleep.
This isn’t all to say sleep training is the best thing since Hulu, it’s to say that sometimes our own judgements, preconceived notions and fears are stopping us from making the best decisions for our kiddos.