Just the words “sleep training” causes a cascade of emotions from many people. Some people are vehemently against it, some don’t even know what it is, and others have done it and swear by it.
This isn’t a post to say “You have to sleep train your kid,” so don’t come at me. It’s simply my personal experience.
So let me start by saying: do what works for your family (and follow safe sleep practices).
If you’re reading this it’s probably because 1), you’re aghast that I sleep trained my babies, or 2), you’re so exhausted you’ll do anything to try to get a night’s worth of sleep. Both are valid.
There are dozens of different infant sleep resources out there. You can find a wide range of sleep training ideas and principles on the internet, in books, and on social media.
Just scan through them and pick one. Each baby is different and will probably take a different approach, both of my kids did.
I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all sleep answer for an exhausted baby and mom.
You have to figure out what you are comfortable with and what sort of things work best for your baby.
I sleep trained my oldest out of pure desperation. My husband worked long hours and traveled for work frequently, so I was on my own at least 85% of the time.
We didn’t live near any family, lived in a new city and knew no one, and I was drowning in exhaustion. I could barely keep my head afloat.
In pretty much an act of complete hopelessness at 2 a.m. one morning, while I cried on the floor next to the crying baby in the crib, I typed “how to make a baby sleep” into the Google search bar.
I went with the first article that popped up. I needed something, anything, to get my kid to sleep and for me to feel like a functioning human being again.
(In hindsight I probably should’ve done a bit more research, and I did with baby number two, but hey — new baby exhaustion can make even the soundest mind a little fuzzy).
I bought sound machines, five or six different swaddles, blackout curtains, and a couple different books on sleep training methods. I hit the ground running.
When I say I saw results the very first night, I mean it.
I had no idea you could teach a baby how to sleep.
But I learned how to guide my baby to sleep, how to watch his sleepy cues and anticipate his needs.
I know some people think that sleep training your kid is just leaving them to cry in their crib alone all night, but that’s not the case. Never once have I left my children to cry all night long. It isn’t necessary. It doesn’t have to get to that if you establish good sleeping habits early on.
I do not feel less connected to my children because I sleep trained. I know that’s a gut reaction for a lot of people. Moms worry their baby will feel disconnected from them or the child will think “Mom won’t come to me in my time of need.”
I can promise you my children know they are safe, secure, and loved. They still run to me for all the boo boos, fruit snack openings, and happy hugs. Sleep training did not harm them or our relationship in any way. If anything, it benefited them (and me) in more ways than one.
Sleep training my kids saved my sanity.
It gave our family a routine we were sorely lacking. It gave my children a good sleeping foundation that they’ve come to expect. My kids find comfort in the routines and know when it is time for bed.
I find solace in the fact they are able to sleep no matter where we are, for the most part, as we travel frequently. It’s a relief to know I can leave them overnight with grandparents or have a babysitter put them to bed. I know they won’t put up a fight AND they’ll sleep all night.
There is a plethora of information out there showing links between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression. Multiple studies have been done, including one in 2016 showing that the likelihood of depression in women with poor sleep quality was over three times higher than those with good sleep quality.
One study in 2018 showed worsening or minimal improvement of sleep problems were associated with higher depressive symptoms at seven months postpartum. Not only is postpartum depression a greater risk, but creating good sleep routines and habits is beneficial for children too, as proven in this 2018 study.
I am able to be a better mom for my kids when I am well rested.
In order for me to take care of my kids, I have to take care of myself. I can’t run this family ship on a couple hours of sporadic sleep a night. I am happier with a consistent sleep schedule, and honestly so are my kids.
Every family is different. What works for us may not work for you — and that’s absolutely fine. But if you’re in the trenches of depletion and exhaustion, I want to tell you it isn’t a cardinal sin to look into sleep training.
If you’re looking for permission, encouragement, or validation that sleep training is ok, then that’s what I wanted this post to be.
Hang in there, tired mama. With the right routine and method, they will sleep eventually. And so will you!
Yes – give yourself permission to and your child the gift of better sleep! Thanks for sharing!