Monday, February 6, 2012

Does Sleep Training Work?

I was just reading my entry 2 years ago when I was "sleep training" our second child.  She used to wake up so often and I was so tired.  That entry was written in August, when she was 9 months old, and by November she was sleeping through the night from 7p to 7a.

If you just google "sleep training" you will see sooo much on this topic.  No time to review it all.  I've read quite a few books on this topic and I've gleaned some underlying similar principles despite varying methods or techniques.

Our youngest is now 7 months old and we started training him a few weeks ago.  Until then, he had been waking up every 1-2 hours and would be so hard to put back to sleep.  Even naps required patting him until my arm turned numb.  Well, I started plotting his sleep the same way I did for his sisters and tried to be consistent with nap times and feeds.  We allowed him to cry a little.. never more than 10-15 min before checking on him.  We'd go in sooner if his cries sounded different then the "I'm cranky and just want to sleep" kind of cry.  With experience now, I can tell if the crying will stop or just escalate.

The process is hard because who likes to listen to crying?  It is more an art than science because there really is no formula.  What worked for my oldest child had to be tweaked for #2 and changed up again with #3.  It requires a lot of patience and perseverance and wisdom and judgement.  I'm not at all advocating to just let a baby cry it out... but the whole idea is training him or her to soothe himself and to fall into a routine and habit that is healthy.  Once there is consistency in schedule and location of naps/bedtimes, the child learns to associate his crib with sleep.  His body adjusts to the routine and he will naturally want to sleep during those "nap times".  As a result, naps last longer and night time sleep also improves.  Then everyone is happier!

So how are we doing?  Well, I thought we were done two nights ago because for two to three nights in a row he almost did sleep through the entire night!  However, last night we went backwards a bit and i was up almost every hour again between 2am and 6am.  Throw teething and colds into this mix and that is why training takes a while.  However, I am convinced that this child will be sleeping through by the time he is 9 months.

My first child took 15 months... second child 12 months.. so hopefully this child will be sleeping through the night by 9 months....  let's see...