Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post: How I (and my baby) Started Sleeping Through the Night

This guest post is brought to you by Jeannette from The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug

When you have a baby, the transition to sleepless nights is one of the hardest adjustments.  You feel like you are barely functioning yet you are expected to take care of this other little person.  And often, when you do go to sleep, you wake suddenly wondering what is wrong - why isn't the baby crying this time?  It's a very frustrating cycle that will leave you living in zombie land and barely able to function on a daily basis!

So, what is the solution to this sleep problem.  As a mom of two, I have had my fair share of sleepless nights.  I don't think that I have all the answers.  I don't think that I even have most of them.  But I have tried two very different methods with my two children and gotten very different results.  Here is what I've learned from each experience and how I'm now getting the best sleep of my life (and so is my baby)!

With my older son, I felt that co-sleeping was the best option.  I was a single mom and didn't mind sharing the bed with my baby.  Each night I would tuck him into the crook of my arm and fall asleep.  Yes, he would sleep through the night as long as I was holding him.  Yes, I did get 8 hours of sleep a night.  But I was always tired!  And so was he.  Neither of us were able to rest peacefully because of the close proximity of the other.  He was a wiggly, light sleeper and even though he would go back to sleep quickly, I was unable to move or turn for fear of walking him up.  It was not the ideal situation but I didn't know how to break it once it had started.  He ended up sleeping with me till he was 4 and I was too exhausted to function anymore!

Notice how tired both mom and baby look!

So, when I had my second baby I decided things were going to be different.  First of all, my hubby was not wild about sharing the bed with a little one and I was not wild about 4 years without a good night of sleep again!  I researched.  I asked questions.  I listened to recommendations.  And then I took all that I had read and heard and found a plan that worked well for us.  Yes, I let our baby cry it out.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but so worth it in the end.  I gave up 4 nights of sleep (and some of my sanity) but I now have a baby who goes down to bed and naps without complaint and sleeps peacefully through the night!  This is not an easy method to use and is by no means for everyone.  If you are not comfortable with your baby crying it out, don't do it.  However, this is how I did it and it worked amazingly well for me!

I began sleep training when my little man was 4 months old (yes, I know this is earlier than Ferber recommends but I had done other research that indicated that he was ready at this age).  We started slowly.  I would let him cry for two minutes and then go in and pat his back and comfort him (never picking him up).  The next time I would wait three minutes, then four minutes and so on.  The first night, there was a lot of crying - both from me and him.  I questioned myself and thought I was the worst parent ever.  I had decided to give it one more night and if it was as bad as the first night was, I would quit.  Well, the second night wasn't great.  But it wasn't as bad as the first.  And each night from that point progressively got better.  By the fifth night, he was sleeping peacefully for 8 hour stretches!  It was more than I could have ever dreamed.  He now goes to bed at 8 and sleeps peacefully till 7 the next morning (at 9 months old).

My awesome little sleeper!

Now, I know there are some out there who will say this is a cruel thing to do to a baby.  Let me assure you, my son is the most loving, well adjusted baby around.  People constantly comment on the fact that he is so happy and never cries.  Well, this is because he is well rested!  I have found that a baby that sleeps well will also interact well, eat well and function well.  Many people say that this method of letting a baby cry it out keeps them from bonding with the parent.  I can't speak for any situation but my own but my bond to my baby is very strong!

Crying it out is the method that saved my sanity and helped my family resume normalcy after adding a new member.  This method is not for everyone.  It takes nerves of still and lots of determination.  It also takes the support of the other parent.  However, if you have the will to do it, you will be amazed at the results!

A baby that sleeps well wakes up happy!

For more insight into my lessons learned on parenting, please visit my blog, The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug or check me out on Facebook or Twitter!


Whomping Willow said...

I realize this is a guest post but I would be surprised if I'm the only one who will no longer be a "fan" or "follower". I just can't support CIO recomendations, makes me so sad for those babies. The reason she has such a "good, well adjusted baby who never cries" is because he has learned that no one will respond when he cries, so why even communicate that distress or upset! I'm glad she's getting more sleep & is well rested, good for her, CIO should never be recommended, & then to continue by saying she started "sleep training" even earlier than Ferber recommends is even worse!

Madeline said...

Awesome post!

Laura O in AK said...


Thank you for your honesty about the way you managed to get your child to sleep at night. I've co-slept with 2 until preschool ages and had one that was a fantastic sleeper who LOVED his crib from the get go. But, child #4 had me so exhausted at one point I was ready to enlist in the National Guard just to have a break! It took a while of building routines and a modified CIO, but now he's a fantastic sleeper at night. The bigger problem is when we've traveled ~ he just can't get to sleep easily away from his crib.

The bottomline is that as a mom we have to make choices that are best for our family at that point in time. Thanks for sharing about yours :o)

mhoward said...

I agree with Laura, above every child is different and different methods work for different children. I'm still a fan, love your blog. Thank you for sharing.

Melissa said...

While I never used this method for my own children (I got lucky with great sleepers), I have had friends and even family that have used it with lots of success. And as for the whole "learned that no one will respond when he cries, so why even communicate that distress or upset!" that really isn't the case. My nephew was a CIO baby started at 5 months, and while he is a happy baby that doesn't normally cry, if he is hurt or someone takes a toy he does cry.
So Jeannette, thank you for sharing your experience with all of us.

SassyScorp said...

Fantastic post!

Every child is different, so long as you figure out what works for you, and you stay sane and baby thrives, then you did the right thing.

Mama Chocolate said...

Loving this post!
From the very beginning, (day one!) I have had my babies sleep in their crib. I take them to bed to nurse and then set them back in their cribs to sleep.
We are both WAY better rested that way, and I have fairly painlessly ended up with babies who were sleeping a solid 7, sometimes 9 hours by the time they were 3 months old, and they have been extremely happy babies.
I also agree that I have an amazing bond with my babies. You can totally tell that they entirely trust and love me...there is no trauma in their lives from not sleeping with me all night. ;-)

The method I use, and Jeanette's "Cry it Out" method as she described it is in no way cruel. She knew what was going to be best for both her AND her baby, and made the steps to get there in a gentle way.
Kudos to you, Jeanette.
I'm still a loyal follower. ;-)

Erika said...

Great post! I've had four kids and I've had easy sleepers and I've had tougher sleepers. I've done CIO with my babies. It's tough, but nobody ever said being a parent is easy. For me, it came down to the fact that I was too exhausted and the baby was exhausted too. It was best for both of us. And like you, my kids are all healthy, well-adjusted, and happy children.

Angela Sue Gross said...

Excellent guest post. I know it must have been incredibly difficult to listen to your baby cry, but I am quite impressed by what you went through to get your little one to sleep. You did something that was thoughtful and healthy for both you and your baby. I can only imagine that this will benefit both of you in the end. Keep it up. And if you have another, do it again -- those days of lost sleep will be followed up with by weeks, months and years of better sleep and health for your entire family. Best wishes and good luck. You're on your way to happier nights! ;-)

lewalk said...

Apparently this is a controversial subject. My daughter, only child, is 15 (16 next month) and I've never heard of this. I was 19 when I had her and knew nothing about being a mom or raising a kid. Lol. Obviously God saw that and saw fit to give me an easy baby. She only got up a few nights before she slept through the night. She gave up her bottle and paci easily and only had a handful of accidents when it came time to potty train. I think we made the right choice not having another. I wouldn't have known what to do with one I had to work with.Lol. I think people have to do what is right for them, for their family, for the time in their life. Kids are resilient, thankfully, and can overcome our mistakes if and when we make them. I'm going to look into this just so I'm not so far behind with what's going on today, lol, but there are worse things being done to poor, mistreated children every day than crying. They'll live (to quote my mother). Lol.

sueparks2003 said...

This was a great post! I too used the cry it out method. I had 4 children and could never have coped otherwise. It worked wonders for us as mother and baby and as a family.
The bonding comes the other 16 down to 14 to 12 hours a day that they are awake. I'm glad you are confident enough to share. I knew this worked but was in no hurry to tell others due to the "Oh no you did what" attitude from others.
Gladys P

Anonymous said...

I'm always shocked that people truly believe that leaving a young infant to cry doesn't do damage. Perhaps they do seem ok, but by ignoring their basic human requirement to be comforted, you are teaching the baby learned helplessness. The amount of the stress hormone cortisol raises when a baby cries, and if these levels remain high due to repeated crying then you are potentially causing neurological damage to the developing brain.

Is getting a good night's sleep in the short term worth your child having self-esteem issues, depression, IBS, etc in the long term? Babies cry for a reason, and ignoring them goes against all human instinct. Read 'why love matters' by Susan Gerhart and then see if you're so willing to leave your little one to cry...