Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I failed at sleep training

A good friend recently said to me that with the second child, you realize not every technique you read about will necessarily work for your child. And it's okay. It's okay to acknowledge that fact.

It's true.

A few weeks ago I started sleep training my eight-month old baby because I was tired and frustrated. I tried the controlled crying method, in which you go to your infant at short intervals, providing comfort and reassurance without actually picking him up out of the crib. It has worked successfully for other people.

I tried this method for a few days.

Then, on the fourth day, he was up at 4 a.m. I stood over his crib, rubbing his back, saying soft words to soothe him as he cried. All I could think was, he is my baby, he wants me to pick him up. I want to pick him up. And then I thought.

Screw this. And picked him up.


And that, my friends, was the end of sleep training and the end of my plan to regain through-the-night sleeping for who knows how long.

What the hell is coffee for anyway?

The truth is, as I was standing there, over his crib at 4 a.m. I thought to myself, he is probably my last baby. My last baby who is already eight months and growing (too) fast. Soon he'll be crawling, then walking, then he'll be a toddler and he won't want to be picked up - he'll want independence from his mum.

And so I said screw it, and I held him, and I enjoyed the warmth and closeness of my baby, who won't be a baby for very much longer.

And it may be that I don't sleep through the night ever again. Okay not ever again. I'm being dramatic. But it could be another six months, or longer.

But I will pick him up, I will go to him, and I will sit and hold him and rock him to sleep at 4 a.m. because that's what feels right for me. For us. And I have an oddly confident feeling that he'll grow out of his night wakings before too long without the sleep training anyway.

It feels good to admit something didn't work and I'm okay with it.

Then again...

Ask me if I feel the same next year and I may give you a different answer.
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Mwa said...

Mummy knows best.

Canadian Bald Guy said...

Every child is different, as is every parent.

Nothing wrong with trying new things, but at the end of the day you need to do what YOU want to do.

This wasn't a fail...I would have done the same thing.

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

There will be a time when you think it's best to go along with the sleep training. Right now, it just isn't it, and that is so ok! You want to hold him? Do it! You're right, he won't be a baby much longer, so enjoy the snuggles.
Oh, and you are so not alone! Sleep training is not easy, and definitely not immediate!

Momma Sunshine said...

You know what? I was the kind of mom who believed that if my baby cried, it was because they needed something from me. Yeah, that meant a fair bit of exhaustion...but you know what? My girls are now 4 and 6 and I've had several years of good, solid sleeping under my belt. And even better, I have a close relationship with my girls because they know that while I'm not always perfect, I do try my best to respond to their needs.

I say enjoy your baby, because he's not going to be a baby forever, like you said. And although it hurts right now to be sleep deprived, some day you will look back on those late nights/early mornings with great fondness, wishing that you could experience it all again, if even just for a few moments....

Really Rachel said...

Well, maybe you had just enough sleep to see you through a bit longer, and now you are able to cope with being awake at night a bit better again. I'm sure babies do benefit from being picked up: knowing that they are secure and their needs are met. The controlled crying thing, for me, was a last resort when I didn't have any of my own energy left to give. I applaud you for trying something new and for sticking with what is best for you. Hope you get some good sleeps soon anyway. But, as you say, they grow up so fast. This too shall pass. Rx

Chandra said...

Only YOU knows what's best for you and your baby and if picking your baby up in the middle of night is what is best for you..then more power to you! Hey it worked for me and then he turned 1 1/2 and started the waking 2/3 times a night who knows whats best...not even an expert can tell YOU what's right and what's wrong! Do what makes you feel good!

James (SeattleDad) said...

You are the person who ultimately knows what is best for you. So, you did the right thing.

Lisa said...

Really? That's too bad. Every trick I've tried has worked and my kids sleep 12-14 hours a night and also eat every morsel of food I serve them. Yup. Oh wait, I'm delirious. Sorry, that was all complete fantasy. I'm so tired I can barely form a sentence. Who cares. I'm not that smart even after a good night sleep, so I'm just going with it. The other commenters are right - enjoy their "babyness" while u can...

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I agree. Soon enough the one year old will be 12 years old. I have no regrets about picking my children up, carrying them when they ask me to and crawling into bed with them when they need a little comforting. It's fleeting - and that contact will be a sense memory that we'll all long for when our children grow up and no longer want to be cradled in our arms.