A while back I wrote this post about sleep training. Some people liked it, others compared my home to a Russian Orphanage. The reasoning; I allowed my daughter to try for 4-8 minutes at a clip to teach her to self-settle. Show me a Mum who can settle a baby in under 8 minutes and I’ll show you the next bazillionaire.
For the record: I’m not Svetlana. My child didn’t stop crying because she thought no one would come tend to her. She learned to stop fighting bedtime. My first born is now four-years-old and still sleeps like a champ.
Allow me one more defensive comment and I’ll get to my point, promise. There are many ways to teach a baby to self-settle, some involve crying and others don’t. It all depends on how much patience you have.
To make an omelet, you need to break a few eggs. I prefer my breakfast after a full night’s sleep. (Our method did not involve controlled crying even though some robust commenters accused such.) If you want to know exactly what we did to teach our baby to sleep you can read the full article here.
It used to really annoy me when people told me I got lucky with our methods. They said I was gifted with a good sleeper.
I never argued for fear of seeming smug. My husband and I worked our buns off to teach our daughter into good sleep habits. We would slip up from time to time, and we always paid the price. After every illness or vacation, we had to 're-set' the sleep schedule. It was hard WORK I tell you! Not luck!
I see that now. We were lucky enough to crack our daughter's code with a mixture of methods. She’s a regimented child by personality who responded well to our regimented sleep routine and settling.
Each child is different, everyone says it over and over when you’re pregnant with your second. I tried to go into this with a clean slate but obviously, with plans to try the same approach as last time. It worked once, so if it ain't broke...
Then we got silent reflux. And no sleep. For four months. The same approach would not work for a child with different needs (and a health condition).
I pick the baby up all the time because it could be trapped wind (or she's messing with me). Silent reflux babies comfort-eat so she fed every two-to-three hours in the first four months. That stretched to every three-to-four hours once she started medication.
Fed up and exhausted, I tried weaning her. She’s slept eight hours exactly twice since (but I didn’t because my body anticipated a wake-up like a puppy waiting for a walk).
Thank goodness for medication because it’s made a tremendous difference to her wind and pain (and our sleep). But it’s not a 100% perfect solution.
We had bub settling beautifully, and waking up once (for about a month), but for the last two weeks, she’s demanding to be wiggled or rocked to sleep- not something I plan to live with.
To be honest I feel slightly sheepish about my (former) confidence. I still stand by my initial article with the intent that sharing our first approach could help other children. It's understandable that parents who deal with serious sleep-issues (I take my hat off to you, you warriors) might have been skeptical.
I still believe there are solutions, it's just a matter of finding the right one for each individual child. I have to believe it! We humans are meant to sleep, not fight it. Right?
Perhaps it’s time to call in reinforcements. I do truly believe every kid has a sleep code, it’s just finding a way to crack it. Sometimes, if we can't figure it out ourselves, we need to call in the experts.
Have you tried sleep school or a sleep-nanny?
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