I have super powers… in the sleep area, that is. I’m terrible at remembering names, keeping track of groceries at home, and can’t run ten feet without losing my breath. But give me a bed and a pillow, and I will sleep. I’m the person who can sleep for 10 hours, then naps, and still wants to sleep more. I wasn’t aware about my love relationship with sleep until I had my first child. I was exhausted, aged 10 years in 10 days, and was so moody I hardly recognized myself. Everyone tells you to sleep all you can before you have children, to nap when baby naps. But no one tells you how awful being sleep deprived feels. I was determined to save my romance.
To say I became obsessed with teaching my child to sleep is an understatement. 3 months into motherhood I hit rock bottom. Cat naps and every 2 hour night calls ruled my life. I didn’t have the energy to engage with my daughter and husband. Baby was cranky all the time. We were all losers in the situation. The first step was educating myself. I must have read over 10 different books about children’s sleep and I looked through my old psychology text books. Ladies, I taught myself to teach my baby to be an independent sleeper, and I had figured out a way to do it without letting her cry it out.
Without getting into the crying (we all know how much we hate it) I want to tell you that teaching your baby to sleep doesn’t mean abandoning your child. You can offer them security and comfort throughout the process. While sleep is vital, (so vital that it hasn’t changed as humans evolve), the skill of falling asleep without help is learned. And just like we teach our little ones to use the potty and tie their shoes, we can teach them to sleep independently in a respectful way. I took the sleep training plunge, and boy did it change my life. My baby slept 12 hours at night and took two long naps during the day. Sleep and I got back together. I felt like a better mom, because I had all the energy to play and enjoy my baby, who was now a happy baby, and nights were for me and my husband.
If you have ever been hesitant about sleep training, I encourage you to make a list of all the pros and cons. I promise you, the only con on your list will be crying. And I’m not going to lie: there will be tears. All of us are very particular about sleep. If someone took away your favorite pillow, or you could no longer get into your favorite position, you wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. Babies and infants are the same way, and tears are nothing more than a protest to the change. Being in the room with my baby allowed me to give her the confidence she needed to work through her frustrations. I loved watching her develop her own self soothing strategies and fall asleep. Each night she grew more confident. She looked forward to sleep time and often times leaned towards her crib. My job was done.