The last three weeks have been quite the challenge for us. Between The Babe getting sick, refusing to sleep alone at night, waking up every two to three hours, and throwing tantrums galore, exhaustion has been our norm.
Four days ago, I got desperate enough to start reading one of the books My Mama got me: Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problem* by Dr. Richard Ferber.
For those that aren’t familiar with the book or the technique that Dr. Ferber touts, it’s commonly referred to as the Cry It Out method (or CIO), the Ferber Technique, or Sleep Training.
People seem to either love it or hate it.
No, really. Do a quick Google search on the topic and you’ll see what I mean. It’s more polarizing than breast feeding or using formula, co-sleeping, and vaccinating your child combined.
We used to be firmly planted in the hate it camp, feeling like it was absolute torture. We tried it once when The Babe was around 4 or 5 months old and not sleeping without being held or rocked to sleep for hours. We were exhausted, overwhelmed and in desperate need of a few uninterrupted hours of sleep.
So we tried it.
And after the fourth night of feeling like I was going to crawl out of my skin and hair pulling hysterics because I couldn’t handle hearing her cry, we put an end to it.
Fast forward to age 2 and we had a new problem on our hand. Our generally good sleeper had regressed to the point where we were reliving those newborn days again. Once again, we were desperate. But this time, we were armed with the actual book; which started with an in depth explanation of Sleep Associations, how to effectively use Sleep Training, and ways to trouble shoot if you weren’t seeing any improvements.
We decided to give it another go. At this point, NOTHING could be worse than what we were currently experiencing.
The first night was rough. Even though we had explained that we were trying a new bedtime routine, she didn’t quite understand what was happening. All she knew was that it was different and she didn’t like it. It took over 2 hours for her to fall asleep that night, with about 6 visits into her room to check in, before she finally fell asleep. She woke up once that night, and it took 4 visits into her room for her to fall back asleep. And then, of course, she got up at 5:30 AM and that was that.
The first nap was equally as “successful” in that she cried for 30 minutes and we pulled the plug. I ended up taking her for a walk to get a change of scenery and diffuse a nasty tantrum.
(In case you were wondering how long it takes for a toddler who woke up at 5:30am and refused an afternoon nap to fall asleep when embarking on a walk… The answer is 5 minutes.)
The second night got a little better. It only took 3 visits into her room before she finally fell asleep. And then, didn’t get up again until 6:15 AM. That was seriously our first uninterrupted night’s sleep in over a month.
And it was a freakin’ gift from the heavens above.
The second nap took one visit into her room before she laid herself down and fell asleep. And then continued to sleep for another 3 hours. It. Was. GLORIOUS.
The third night — which was last night — and HOLY FUCKING SHIT SHE WENT DOWN WITHOUT A PEEP AND SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT.
Today’s nap went just as smoothly.
And tonight, our fourth night of the new routine, The Babe couldn’t WAIT to get into bed. Zero complaints. Zero screams for Mama. Zero issues getting herself to sleep.
And that, my friends, is why I’ll never badmouth Sleep Training ever again. It has worked miracles in our lives and has helped to formally reset any and all sleep associations that had been created when The Babe got sick almost a month ago. In fact, I think it’s easier now to get her to sleep than it was pre-sickness.
I’m certain that the first time around it was simply too early for both of us. There is definitely a time and a place for this technique, and we certainly found the sweet spot for our family.
Have you ever tried Sleep Training? What did you think? Was it a success or did it make you utterly insane? Was there another technique that worked for you and your little one(s)?
*This is an affiliate link.