Sleep Training (aka No Monkey in the Middle)

My husband is tired and cranky.  I am tired and cranky.  Monkey is tired and cranky.  Time for SLEEP TRAINING!

Yes, that’s right, folks.  It’s time to train a human being to do something human beings have been doing for thousands of years.  It can make one nostalgic for birthing class, when we learned how to breathe.  Or perhaps it’s more like therapy, when we learned how to feel.  Or, dare I say it, like potty training, when we learned how to do the pee pee dance, so we wouldn’t have to go allllll the way to the toilet when we had much better things to do.

Though I love my nighttime private moments with Monkey, I’m getting really nonfunctional during the day.  In fact, I love those moments so much, I’m hesitant to change our routine!  However, my husband is fed up, and about ready to send the Monkey to someone else’s house, so she can cry there.

So sleep training.  What is it, you might ask.  Depends on your definition.  Baby Center defines it as “the process of helping a baby learn to get to sleep and stay asleep through the night.”  This is quite a feat, considering (from what I’ve read) the majority of babies wake 1-2 times per night until they are a year old (and that this is actually the “norm.”)  Up until three nights ago, I believed there was one form of sleep training – the “cry it out” method.  This method is exactly what you would think it is.  To summarize, it’s the method of teaching your child to “self soothe” by allowing them to put themselves back to sleep, instead of responding to their late night cries by picking them up and giving them what they want (pacifier, boob, physical attention, etc.)  My husband and I had spoken to a (very) small handful of people, who said “give it a few nights of utter pain of listening to them cry, and you’ll have them sleeping through the night in no time.”  My husband, needless to say, loves this idea.  But being the mother (and female) that I am, this plan went against pretty much everything my body was telling me to do.  On a few occasions, we allowed Monkey to cry herself to sleep at the beginning of the night.  Though it was truly painful to hear, she was able to succeed in usually 15-20 minutes.  But it was listening to her endless crying in the middle of the night that pushed me over the edge.

The other night, upset about spending another night listening to my darling baby cry herself crazy, I surfed the Internet on my (amazing) iPhone.  I put in the search for “Cry it out method bad.”  Within seconds (again, amazing iPhone) I found a number of links that told terrible stories of mothers and babies suffering through that (archaic) method.  I found that I wasn’t alone.  Sure, no parent likes to hear their baby cry, but I truly believed in my heart that what I was doing to my baby wasn’t the right choice for either of us.  I was thrilled to see all these articles and women in agreement with me.  Moments later, I found a book online called “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley (she even has a fun little video.)  Using my gift card to Barnes & Noble, I went to the store and bought her book.  Granted, this chick is biased.  Is she ever!  She and her husband talk about how torturous it is to let your baby cry it out.  I know, I know that if I allow Monkey to cry it out, that it won’t be the cause of her going to therapy in twenty-odd years (that’ll be something else I’ll do) but the slightest emotional damage to her, even in the short term, is not an option for me.

So the book!  I’m only half way through, but I’ve already done the first two assignments: I kept a log of her naps (when she took them, where she took them, what she was doing when she took them) and a log of our bedtime routine.

Until tonight, we didn’t have a bedtime routine.  But now we do!  Here what happened:

  • 6:30pm – Supper (something hearty, like cereal and prunes with breast milk)
  • 6:40pm – Bath time, followed by a massage with baby oil
  • 7:00pm – Read 2-3 books together (she spends most of the time squirming and trying to eat the book, but whatever)
  • 7:15pm – Nurse to sleep
  • 7:45pm – She falls asleep
  • 7:55pm – She wakes up!
  • 8:10pm – Back to sleep

As we continue with the book, and I learn more about Pantley’s method, I will have to change some of the events of the routine.  Up until this week, we have had little to no “sleep training”, and I have simply done what was “easiest” and made Monkey the happiest.  This means that whenever she wakes up at night, she cries, I take her and bring her to bed with us.  She then spends the rest of the night lying between us, facing me, and being allowed to nurse whenever she gives the slightest stir.  Again, I absolutely love lying in bed in the deep dark of night, stroking her hair and rubbing her back as she nurses herself back to sleep.  I am in heaven.  However, the other day I almost forgot how to tie my sneakers.  I need more sleep.

So that leads me to the last part of the book I read this afternoon.  Pantley asked if we actually want to change the way things are with our nighttime wakings.  In a way, I don’t.  But I’m tired, and my hubby’s tired, and most importantly, Monkey’s tired.

And if I’m not careful, I may trip on my shoelaces.


1 Response to “Sleep Training (aka No Monkey in the Middle)”

  1. 1 jaimeclewis October 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    It’s so funny how this parenting gig truly is “to each his own.” What you call an archaic method has been a brilliant solution for our family. Letting Seabass cry it out was the ONLY way to get him to sleep, and now he doesn’t need to cry much at all. But I know plenty of other moms who feel the way you do, and whose babies are really different than mine. Glad you’re finding other ways to get some rest.

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