(Mis)Adventures in Sleep Training
My wife and I gave our 20-month-old daughter a bath, changed her into her pajamas and read her a story. We followed that with a hug and a kiss goodnight before we closed the safety gate behind us as we left her room. That’s when our daughter begins to cry. We take a moment but we know this is her way to protest bedtime. We continue to our bedroom and in a few minutes, she’s asleep. Now my wife and I are free to do whatever we wanted. Tonight, like most nights, we want to huddle around the warm glow of our iPad to watch the latest Netflix offering. This wouldn’t have been possible three months ago. This evening’s moment of sanity 1 was brought to us by the magic of sleep training.
Three months before this scene, my wife nursed our 16-month-old to sleep and before she falling asleep in her room. She did this while she worked full time. It wasn’t my proudest moment as a husband and father, but I couldn’t get our daughter to go back to sleep.
We read about the Cry It Out method, Dr. Sears and talked to other parents. We made a half-hearted effort, but we couldn’t stand the crying and she wouldn’t stay asleep for long when we put her down in her crib. We thought that as she got older, she would learn to fall asleep on her own. We were wrong. We needed to teach her to sleep.
My wife found “The Sleepeasy Solution” and thought it was in line with our parenting style. We listened to parts of the audiobook together and bought the book so that we could refer back to it. I liked how the book explained why our daughter cried at sleep. She wasn’t in pain. She was upset that she that it was bedtime. We bought into the sleep training solution, and we were ready to formulate a a plan to teach our daughter to sleep.
The book was gospel and we were prepared for the worst before it got better. I don’t think any of us slept on the first night. I didn’t sleep much on the second night either, but for an entirely different reason. My daughter was actually sleeping – and I couldn’t believe it. I kept checking on her to make sure she was actually asleep. Since then, every night’s been different. She protests some nights more than others, but she sleeps in her own bed at a reasonable hour – and it’s fantastic.
The sleep training’s been great for my wife and I, but I can’t say enough how it’s helped my daughter. She sleeps better and wakes up in a better mood in the morning. She has more energy and she’s less cranky when we’re approaching her afternoon naptime. She’s learned an important skill and she’s better for it.
That’s what we missed and what we had to keep in mind. We weren’t doing her any favours by not teaching her how to sleep on her own. Learning to sleep is a skill. Some people are naturals, some are not. My wife and I are not natural sleepers. We shouldn’t have expected our daughter to be sleeping beauty.
For other parents out there who are struggling with sleep training their child, keep at it. You’re doing what’s best for your little one. Find a method that works for you and your family. If your family is functioning fine without sleep training, that’s great! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
- I mean serenity. ↩