When our son was born a couple years ago, my husband and I were like, “We don’t care if he only eats Cheetos and watches 19 hours of TV a day. As long as he sleeps.” So at seven months, we sleep trained him (using the Happiest Baby five S’s method). And it was hard. And heart-wrenching. But now, he’s the best sleeper in the entire world.
Cut to two weeks ago. Our daughter Louise is only four months old, but her sleep schedule (and ours) is all over the place. “Why wait another two months?” we asked ourselves. “Let’s sleep train her now.” So we did. And here’s what happened for the next seven days.
I put Louise to bed at 8:15 and tiptoed out like a champ—but by the time I made it to the kitchen, she was crying. After 15 minutes of wailing, I was worried she would wake my son, so I headed back in and fed her more until she fell asleep. I know, bad form. But at least she was quiet and I could go watch TV in peace. To give her some extra calories, I offered her a dream feed at 11 p.m., then went to sleep, fearing the worst. On cue, she woke up at 3 a.m., crying. My husband went in and patted her, which seemed to make her more upset. After about 40 minutes of crying, she fell back to sleep until 5:45…when her zombie parents were forced to face the day.
I put her down at 8 (yay for sticking to bedtime!) and she went right to sleep. I scooped her up for a dream feed at 11, and she slept until 3:45, when she woke up crying. We ignored her for ten minutes. She screamed. My husband checked her diaper. It was dry. We huddled under the covers and contemplated how forcing your child to wail for half an hour could be good parenting. After about ten more minutes, she went back to sleep until 6:30. (Hey, better than 5:45, right?)
We got this, we got this. Except somehow, bedtime took longer than usual and she didn’t go down until 8:20. But at least she stayed asleep. Dream feed at 11…and—wait for it—she slept until 6 a.m. No interruptions. No crying. She’s trained! We slept! We’re the best parents ever!
Night Four (Aka: Just Kidding)
Bedtime at 8. Dream feed at 11. Wake up at 3 a.m. Screaming for 45 minutes. WTF? Kill me now…
Bedtime at 8:10. Dream feed at 11. Sleep until…4:50. Not the best, not the worst. I fed her at 5, and she went back to sleep until 7.
We went out to dinner, so the whole evening was off and I had pretty low expectations when I put her down at 8:30. But what do you know? She slept! After the 11 p.m. dream feed, she went straight until 5:45. I’m cautiously optimistic.
Another solid night. (Down at 8, dream feed at 11, slept until 5:50.) I feel like we’re in a groove here. Would I love a child who can sleep past 6? Yes. Will I take a child who isn’t waking up at 3? You bet.
Sleep training definitely works, and I’m glad we did it earlier this time. But I’m not sure it’s the solution to all of our sleeping woes. Kids are just weird, and wake up a lot. And I have no doubt that we’ll be in a constant state of teaching Louise to sleep for quite some time. For now though, I’m relishing in my six and a half straight hours of shut-eye.