Sleep training a baby

Every now and then since our first born son was 4 months old (when we were not too tired or sick), hubby and I would ask some friends to house-sit for us while we spend some couple time out of the house (a.k.a. a date!). Our boys have their bedtime around 8pm so dates at night have been possible. Upon returning home, our house-sitters would give us an incredulous look (if they were there for the first time) and ask us questions along the lines of “What did you do to the kids/ baby? Drug them/him? Hit them/him on the head with a hammer? I mean… you just said good night and closed the bedroom door and they/he just went to sleep!! And they/ he didn’t fuss the whole time we were here!!”

Our response would always be 2 words: Sleep training

You may wonder… has sleep time always been this blissful? Both of our babies were nocturnal to begin with (awake and crying a lot at night and wee hours of the morning but dead to the world during the day) and although sleep time was peaceful after they were sleep trained, something happened when our elder boy was around 5 months old. He couldn’t settle down to nap one day and hubby went to pat him until he calmed down and fell asleep. From then on, he needed someone to pat him to sleep for naps (thankfully not at bedtime!). What began as a time I looked forward to (some me-time or time to cook/ do housework) became the time I dreaded most each day. On good days, the baby would fall asleep within 15 minutes of patting. On some days, it took as long as half an hour of back-breaking patting (I had to lean over the crib to pat the baby), only to have baby wake up and cry 30-40 minutes after falling asleep. What had been a blissful one-and-a-half hour’s worth of nap became a painfully short half an hour nap. What had been a peaceful transition from dreamland to the waking world became a traumatic awakening filled with tears and wails. After 5 months of this stressful situation, I finally decided to steel myself and sleep train the baby for naps the same way as I did for his bedtime several months ago…

 

What is sleep training?

Sleep training means teaching the baby to fall asleep on his/her own without parental intervention. It does not mean training the baby not to wake up in the middle of the night because most babies do. But he/she is capable of falling back to sleep on his/her own without having to wake up mummy or daddy after being sleep trained. Since many sleep-deprived parents are waiting for the day that baby can sleep through the night, I will share what I know about how to help the baby to sleep through the night as well. I write mainly from my own experience of sleep training my boys and from other families that I know of since I am no pediatric sleep expert. Therefore as with everything you read on the internet, please exercise discernment ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Why sleep train?

In the words of Gina Ford “…itโ€™s no exaggeration to say that broken nights can turn the sanest of human beings into complete wrecks.” Most of us have gone through periods of sleep deprivation and find it hard to function during the day. Imagine being in this state not just for weeks but months and even years on end! How is it possible to enjoy your relationship with your spouse or kids in this state? We have heard of stories of parents taking their kids for a car ride every night to put them to sleep or a mum who has to lie down with her daughter every night so that she can sleep (even at the age of 8!). How is it possible to have time and energy for date nights or even intimate moments with your spouse? In my own experience, once the baby is sleep trained, I am able to have much more rest, have time for hubby/ friends, join a weekly Bible study and enjoy being a mum much more. Having more me-time may sound like a selfish reason to sleep train a baby, but the me-time is necessary so that I am not a wreck that can’t function to serve my family. Having more time AND energy for my hubby is necessary for the marriage to continue remaining strong even with the arrival of little ones. A strong marriage in turn benefits the kids as they can grow up in a loving and secure environment.

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