Monday, March 25, 2013

Sleep Training: Your Kid Will be Messed Up No Matter What

Crying it Out method can elicit a variety of responses from parents. It is disrespectful to your baby, does not solve any underlying sleep problems, causes more stress than good, damage the baby's self-esteem, and ruins the trust. Or it is a life-saver for you as a parent by giving you much-needed relief, teaches the baby to self-soothe, the baby sleeps longer at the night, and go to bed easier after being sleep-trained.

If you aren't doing CIO, then you must be a weak, soft-hearted, and wimpy parent who can't handle hearing her/his baby cry. If you are doing CIO, then you must be a cruel, cold-hearted, and cruel parent who does not care for her/his baby. There's no win-win situation in pleasing anyone when it comes to sleep training your baby.

When Forrest was 4 and half months old, we transitioned him to his crib in the nursery for naps, and bedtime. We had no clue how to establish a bedtime routine for Forrest. For some reason, nap time was easy. Forrest had no problem sleeping in his crib for his naps. As for bed, I figured I was going to wing it somehow, and see how it went. I placed him in his crib while he was sleeping from being nursed, and I took a step back. Wow, that was easy. Not even half hour later, a screaming cry came from his nursery! I went back to check on him, and rocked him to sleep. Then I silently tiptoed to his crib, put him down, and snuck out of his nursery. Forrest must had a little sensory radar in his brain because the minute I stepped out, he started crying which quickly escalated into a screaming fit. Guilt quickly set in. Perhaps I was being too rash with transitioning him to the crib? 

Stu, and I really tried to stuck it out the first night. After nearly 5 hours of Forrest crying, and screaming, and checking on him to assure him that he was fine; we were exhausted, and wanted some sleep. We ended up returning Forrest to our bedroom to co-sleep with us. So much for consistency.

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The reaction I had gotten from mommies was crazy. I was told that I was too wimpy. Not consistent enough. We should have stuck it out. Or I got "I told you so" from mommies, who were anti-cry it out method, and they snatched my situation to use it as an example why it was so vile to attempt sleep training. I rolled my eyes at the reactions. No matter what we will do, we will mess up our kid somehow.......

A week later after traveling for Christmas, we attempted it again with Forrest, and it was miserable especially so for me. I ended up sleeping with Forrest in my arms in a rocking chair for many nights in a row. My neck was stiff. My back was sore. I worried that Forrest was going to end up burrowing against my chest, and get suffocated. I envied Stu for sleeping in our cozy bed, and resented him a bit for not holding Forrest at the night in order to have him to sleep. It was ludicrous, I know. He was working full-time, and I was just a stay at home mom. I had a bit more flexibility than he did. Besides, he was more than willing to jump in help if I had cried help. 

Sleep deprived, and exhausted; I began to research on methods to sleep train Forrest, and decided to do this step-by-step. We were planning on staying up late anyway, so it might as well be a good time as any to do it once again. It was difficult that night. My monitor went off, and shook with building intensity timing with Forrest's screaming cries. I checked on him every subsequent five minutes to assure him, and gave him kisses then left the room. He finally settled down around eleven pm, and we tucked ourselves in the bed for the night.

Sleep training Forrest was easy. He cried a lot initially, and we checked on him every subsequent 5 minutes to assure him. He quickly learned that if he was crying for sake of crying then we were not coming. Forrest was able to teach himself how to self-soothe, and it became easier for all of us. I finally got to sleep in my own bed! The bedtime got pushed back half hour every night until we hit 7 pm. We decided 7 pm was a great time for him to go to bed. It took us maybe a full week for Forrest to get used to going bed, and learning that crying was for necessity instead of attention.

For about 2 months, I didn't sleep well because I was checking on Forrest frequently.  I really missed having my little guy next to our bed.  Forrest was also going through four-month sleep regression, growth spurt, and an adjustment period. I woke up with jolt in the middle night while panicking to not see Forrest next to me or the monitor went off, and it startled me for a moment. I had to get used to relying on the monitor, and put faith in the Man Upstairs that everything was well with Forrest.

Gradually, it became easier for all of us, and I found that I began sleeping much better once Forrest got through his adjustment period. While I loved to co-sleep with Forrest, I really did not get much rest because I was always conscious of him being near. I didn't get that deep sleep, and a part of my brain was always awake. Once Forrest was in his nursery, that part of my brain finally shut off, and I was able to sleep.

In past month or so, our bedtime routine looks very much like this:

6:30 pm: Diaper change, massage, read a story, and jammies being put on.
6:40 pm: Nurse
6:55 pm: Bed time

Forrest goes to sleep with no problem these days for bed/naps. He knows that once I turn on the music, it means nap time, and I am very consistent with his sleeping schedule.Very rarely, I will change his sleeping schedule, and plan the day around his naps/bedtime.

At bed time, I do not ignore his cries, or wait 5 minutes to check on him anymore because Forrest goes to sleep right away. These days, he only cries when he needs a diaper change, is hungry, or is in pain. So, I go in and see what is the problem then fix it, and make sure Forrest is comfortable before leaving the room.  I rely on my monitor to see whether he's crying, or just tossing and turning. Most of the time, 1-2 vibrations means he is just tossing and turning. More than 2-3 vibrations, he is crying, and needs me.

Occasionally, Forrest does cry a lot for nap time, and won't settle; I usually let him cry to sleep after making sure he was clean, and warm. I know he is just super overtired, and is fighting sleep very hard. If I go in and check on him too much while he is doing this then it will make his crying worse. So I blog, and wait. Then I go in, usually ten minutes later, and I find him fast asleep.

Crying it out method has worked for us. I do plan on using this for our future kids. I don't find that it is harmful at all. We do it properly, and wisely. We do not "abandon" Forrest. We love him, and take a very good care of him. In no way that I am damaging him. Forrest is a happy boy, and is well adjusted baby. For any judgment that is being passed on to me, I know no matter what I do; I will mess up my kid somehow. You know why? Here's a little chart for giggles: 


  1. Replies
    1. I agree. I cracked up when I saw it. ;)

  2. I can totally understand where you are coming from. I have read many articles about CIO, and I see where both sides are coming from. The one thing that many people forget is that every child is different. Obviously since my son isn't born yet, all I can do is research and see what path he takes us when the time comes. :)

  3. I love this!!! I especially love the chart at the bottom haha!! Anyways, I did sleep training with both of mine and they can get themselves to sleep easy as pie anytime and anywhere. They are SO easy now (after the week of screaming crying for hours at night). It's hard to sleep knowing they are upset, but it only lasts a short amount of time and the reward is endless! Good job, mama!

  4. This touched close to home. I get the side-eye bc I still co-sleep and Blake is 2. I haven't been able to transition her. I am the wimp. Ha. But oh well. One day we'll get there, it's not going to hurt her meanwhile. :)

    1. Nope! Remember, there is NO wrong way! :)

  5. Good for you for figuring out what works for you and your family and not giving up!

  6. Very interesting article. I know an added article from The Sleep Doctor that that will supplement your topic on developing healthy sleeping habits for your child. I hope this helps.