Thinking of sleep training your baby? If you are trying to sleep train a baby…
Chances are you’re dreaming about getting a full night’s sleep…
Things would be easier if you got nine hours of sleep every night, wouldn’t they?
If you dream about that amount of sleep, this post can help!
Imagine what life would be like if you were sleeping well again.
- Less groggy.
- Less irritable.
- And more focused.
In other words?
Ready to handle the parenting challenges of the day.
Cause here’s the deal:
Sleep deprivation with a new baby is a significantly downplayed part of being a new parent.
Parents have lived with the reality of sleep deprivation for generations.
It’s not like your grandparents didn’t deal with it…
But because it’s so common, sleep deprivation isn’t considered a serious parenting challenge.
But it is.
Frankly, it inhibits everything.
And it makes your life harder.
But what if you could, within your baby’s first year, get a golden 8 hours of sleep a night?
A game changer?
Absolutely. For you, your baby, and your family.
Impossible to achieve?
Not at all.
And that’s what we’ll talk about in this post.
Not only that, but we’ll also share lessons we learned using a popular sleep training method.
It’s what we used to get our oldest to sleep through the night.
Let’s dive in!
Sleep Training Will Help YOU Get More Zzzs Too
Shortly after the baby arrives, parents turn into walking sleep zombies.
We went months working and trying to survive on very little sleep.
Eventually, we realized it was time to start sleep training our son.
We simply couldn’t function any longer on so little sleep.
Yet when we found we were ready?
We discovered a new challenge:
There’s so much advice out there, it was hard to know where to start.
Plus given our work schedules, we had to figure out the best time to do it.
But much of the advice we saw online didn’t account for nuances like mom and dad’s work schedules.
Despite feeling overwhelmed about starting, we finally decided to go for it when our pediatrician shared some advice.
At our eight-month checkup, she said something that we hadn’t thought about, and it gave us a new perspective:
It’s equally important for the baby to get sleep as it is for Mom and Dad.
As soon as the pediatrician said it…
That sealed the deal. We knew it needed to happen.
Sooner, rather than later.
After all, we were walking zombies.
So we had to figure out which approach out of the many we read about.
When we started thinking and researching, the immense volume of information out there felt overwhelming!
Some strategies we learned about didn’t seem like a good fit for us.
One method is letting your precious, sensitive baby cry it out.
We heard an earful about this popular method.
And it’s exactly what it sounds like: Emotionally painful both parent AND child.
You put them to bed. They cry until they go to sleep. Could be minutes, could be hours.
But this sounded too harsh to us, so we kept researching and settled on a method that sounded like a better fit.
Looking back, we still smile when we remember how well it worked.
With this method, you take a humane approach.
It recognizes that your baby is a small and sensitive creature who requires special loving care.
She needs, in other words, something other than being left alone to cry it out.
She needs a more gentle approach to learning to sleep.
That’s, at least, how we felt.
And so with the method we chose, in practice, it felt like it was the opposite of callously leaving the baby to “cry it out.”
Yet it captures some of the benefits of letting your baby cry to sleep.
Let’s dive in and talk more about this method.
The Basics of The Ferber Method
While it’s similar to the cry-it-out method, with Ferber, you start small the first night – say 5 minutes – and let them cry for a bit.
By doing this you get a lot of the benefits of the cry-it-out method without as much psychological pain for mom and dad.
Then, after that first five minutes of letting them cry…
You go check on them.
And then leave.
By consoling and leaving, you are starting to communicate to them they’ll need to self-soothe.
But you’re not staying so long that they realize they can depend on you for that.
So you do that round…
And then repeat.
Then, at each interval, you increase the amount of time you let them cry.
5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15…
And so on.
With this method, you can sleep train them in as FAST as three nights.
That is how long it took us once we started.
Kind of hard to believe, right?
Once you get going you’ll have momentum, but the key is:
Muster The Courage To Start
We share this not to run in anyone’s face, but to say if WE could do it, so can YOU.
Let’s talk about it with an example scenario:
Let’s say you and your spouse are working parents.
You need to figure out the best time to start sleep training.
There’s no perfect time, right?
Why not a weekend then?
Here’s how it can work:
You both take Friday off work.
Because you’re thinking you’ll be up all night Thursday. 4 nights, you think, that’ll get us started (at least so if it drags on we’re not starting on a weekday).
You find a chart.
You calculate your time intervals.
You ready the stop-watch. The spouse (or partner) offers to be the one to go in and comfort the baby, and man the clock.
You go through the bedtime routine. Bath. Storytime. Hugs and cuddles. Rocking the baby.
You put the baby down and retreat to your room.
Your husband (or partner) starts the stopwatch when the baby starts crying.
“This is going to be rough,” you both say to each other.
Then the baby starts wailing.
You can tell he’s getting angry now.
You both watch the stopwatch in suspense.
It’s a race of microseconds.
But the minutes pass at a snail’s pace.
Until it’s time.
Go. You say.
And your husband gets up.
You hear him saying the pre-planned words to comfort your baby. The baby stops crying.
For a moment.
And you can tell when your husband starts to leave.
Because your baby starts wailing.
But it’s not just any wail.
It’s the angry one.
It gets louder.
And your husband appears at the door.
He starts the clock again. You look at each other. Exasperated.
A collective sigh ensues. “I hope this doesn’t take ALL night,” you think.
He joins you back in bed.
You both stare at the stopwatch (again).
The minutes wind down slowly.
Until you start getting close to the deadline of 15 minutes.
Time to check soon, you think.
But then something magical happens…
As the clock creeps down to the 14-minute mark, your baby’s whimpers start to wind down.
Oh my goodness, you think.
You and your spouse look at each other.
And think the same thing:
What if this is going to work?!
And just like that, he stops crying. And goes. To. Sleep.
Unbelievable! You both exclaim.
Suddenly, it’s like a whole new world of possibilities opened up.
… This story shows how the Ferber method can work.
And it’s a true story. Based on my experience.
Now, I can’t guarantee that you’ll have the same success we did.
There’s a risk that it’ll be the opposite.
There are certainly plenty of stories out there of that happening.
Of course, it might take you many nights to get your baby adjusted.
But even then, it’s still more humane than one of the well-known alternatives: The cry it out sleep training method.
Why Do So Many Talk About The Ferber Method?
You might have noticed this trend…
EVERYONE seems to be talking about the Ferber method.
And by “everyone” we mean parents we know who are also sleep deprived and haven’t yet trained their babies.
There’s a reason the Ferber method is so popular…
because it works.
You see, there’s nothing that beats being able to spend a few nights using the Ferber method and seeing the fruits of your hard work: getting your kiddo sleeping through the night.
Whatever short term-pain you might experience while doing so is worth the result:
You reclaim your sleep (and your mental abilities with it).
These two things are interconnected.
When you start sleeping again, you’ll feel like you got your life back. And that’s why so many praise the Ferber method.
It’s the method we used, and it worked amazingly well.
Consider it when you’re ready to start sleep training, and you might be raving about it too.
Based on our experience, it’s what we’d recommend!
How about you?
Have you done sleep training? What are you apprehensive about? Let us know below!
P.s. If you are struggling with postpartum insomnia, check out our post: Fight Postpartum Insomnia With These 14 Tips