If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that in a desperate bid for a bit more sleep we resorted to sleep training (I wrote a post on my top tips for sleeping training that might be worth a read if you are considering doing it too) back in February. In other words, we did controlled crying. It was a pretty hard decision to make, but I just couldn’t function anymore. I also felt that Jacob wasn’t getting enough sleep because of his constant waking for a 1 minute feed. So we took the plunge and did it.
I felt terrible about it for the first couple of nights, but it actually worked really well for all of us. Jacob didn’t instantly start sleeping 7pm–7am, but things improved drastically. We went from at least 3 wake ups for feeds to a good 6-hour stretch of sleep for me between 10.30pm and 4.30am in less than a week. That massively improved my ability to function. Over a few weeks he got better and now sleeps reasonably well (except for his new early wake ups!).
Now that we’ve done it, here are a few things I’ve reflected on.
Was it awful?
Yes. It’s not nice to listen to your baby cry. We did the ‘timed comforting’ method, which was recommended in the Blissful Baby Expert book. That meant we didn’t leave Jacob to cry for hours, but instead went back in to soothe him after certain intervals of time. Ultimately, if you can’t listen to your baby cry for 1 minute without rushing in, this method isn’t for you. I rationalised it by thinking about Jacob getting chronically overtired, and decided it was for his own good. And mine, obviously.
The first night was by far the worst. After that it got easier. And quicker. I have heard anecdotally that it tends to take longer to work the older they are when you try any kind of controlled crying.
There are other more gentle methods of sleep training to try if you don’t like the sound of controlled crying. I hear they can take longer to work, but if you can’t bear crying they might be best for you.
Does it work long-term?
One of the criticisms I read a lot when researching sleep training was that it doesn’t work long-term. Now I can’t speak for every child, but I’d say it has worked for us. Sure, we still get the odd wake up. Especially when Jacob is teething or ill. But overall sleep has drastically improved.
I will say it doesn’t solve everything. We are currently having an early morning issue. Jacob has decided that 5am is morning and I do not agree. He’s still sleeping through from 7pm until 5am though, so it could be a lot worse!
Am I terrible parent for considering it?
No. Although I would say that! I’ve found it’s one of those things that parents fall into two camps about. Some could never in a million years consider it and judge anyone who does, others are fine with it. Ignore everyone and do what you think is right.