My daughter is now almost six months old. I seriously can’t believe it. It’s unbelievable how fast it all goes the second time around. As fast as it has gone, we just finally started sleeping at night. Over the holidays, she was up literally every two hours. Part of it was the fact that she was sick, but another part of it was that she got used to eating multiple times a night. I was worried about her weight, so I continued to feed her until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I set up an appointment with the doctor to discuss a strategy to begin sleep training.
As a child photographer, people sometimes ask me for advice. I am by far no expert in babies. I find every baby is different, and what works for one baby might not work for another baby. But, I’m always happy to share my success stories. I find that the more moms (and professionals) share, the more confidence people get in parenting decisions.
My husband and I decided after our first child, that the only strategy that really works in our house it traditional Cry-It-Out (CIO). It felt so cruel and heart wrenching the first time we did it. But, we found that the method of going in every 15 minutes only made the training worse and last longer. With Reese, we used the book Moms on Call and Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child as guidance. She was still eating up to 18 ounces a night over the holidays, so we began taking away some of her feedings and letting her stir and cry. We began putting her down at 7:00PM after a bedtime routine of bath, book and bottle. We fed her the biggest bottle of the day at night. The first night she cried for 35 minutes, and then put herself to sleep. We then went in before we went to bed (around 10:00PM) and gave her another 6 ounce bottle. She took it happily and we put her back down like before. We then didn’t go back in until 6:00AM. She stirred and cried a few more times throughout the night, but never lasting longer than 40 minutes. By the third night, she didn’t cry at all. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel that she is finally giving her tummy a break, and getting the rest that she needs. The books helped give me the confidence that she was eating plenty of food through the day, and the waking was just to be soothed. I know how important it is for babies to learn how to soothe themselves. She was such a fast learner, which made it so much easier. I have heard stories of babies crying for hours on end, which our first did. It was a looooong and painful process to sleep train Campbell.
Letting your child cry is a terrible feeling. But, we must remember that it is for their best interest to give them the confidence and assurance that they are safe, loved and okay by themselves for a few hours at night. Now, when I enter her room in the morning, she is awake and grinning at me with the biggest smile. She takes great naps during the day, putting herself to sleep on her own; and I believe generally loves her crib time. It makes me feel good seeing her so happy.
So if you’re on the sleep training fence – go for it! Whatever method works for you and your family is great. Just remember, everyone in the house needs rest to function properly, including mom and dad.