The following is a guest post for the series, “Speak-Up Mama!” The purpose of this series is to help Mamas have more compassion for one another regarding controversial decisions. In light of that, feel free to comment but please play nicely or your comment will be removed. Thank you to Crystal for her willingness to share her story!
SLEEP. Another very important and often extremely sensitive parenting topic. So… here I go!
When my good friend and co-mommy, Jaclyn, asked me to share our story about “Sleep Training”, my mind started to race. I thought to myself, I have so much information to share, how exciting to be apart of this resourceful and educational channel! This is a passionate topic for me, which is why I became what I call a “research-aholic”.
When I found out I was expecting our son, Cameron, my extreme type A personality kicked into high gear. I knew so many parts of parenting could not be planned or scheduled- but with my husband and I both working full-time jobs and owning a business, sleep needed to be as consistent as possible for us to function on a daily basis. I also knew I had a limited amount of time to implement something before my maternity leave would be up. The pressure was on! It was time to do my homework and decide what would be best for us. I quickly hit the book stores and online articles for any piece of information I could get my hands on. I was totally obsessed, neurotic as ever. I picked the brains of parents around me, what worked for them, what didn’t? Why? I heard stories about everything from co-sleeping, independent sleeping, CIO-Cry it Out Method, sharing a Family Bed. I wanted to soak it all up and put a game plan together for OUR family. Because let’s be real, there is no perfect formula for any two families- that’s the beauty of life.
I will be totally honest, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and totally confused after gathering up all of this information. How do I know what will work best for us? And like most things in parenting- I took a deep breath and figured it would just be a process of elimination for us along the way. Aren’t most things in life that way? That is when I realized, in my opinion, sleep training isn’t for training the baby, it was for training the parents. Out of everything I heard and read, I related the most to the Baby Whisperer collection by Tracy Hogg. I decided to blend parts of her method of knowing how to follow your babies cues with the EAS cycle; first baby Eats, then has Activity, then Sleeps, and a “Every 3 Hour” feeding schedule recommended by a midwife. I came to the conclusion that what you do during the day seemed to be what effected you the most at night.
After my son was born, I decided that I would start slowly implementing OUR sleep program. BUT, and this was very important— implement our program following his cues. We started the 3 hour feeding schedule as soon as he was ready, and it worked like a charm. Our son would store food during the day with the consistent feeding schedule and quickly started cutting out night feedings at around 6 weeks. This is when we started our transition from his bassinet in our bedroom to napping in his crib in his room, so he could get to know this new space. Was this easy? NO WAY. I cried, A lot. But, in those first few weeks, I realized that Cameron wasn’t keeping us up at night, we were keeping him up! He was a newborn, a very light sleeper and anytime we made a peep, we disturbed his rest. I decided to see if moving him into his own space, would help him to rest more peacefully. That was the first night he slept through the night, 8 HOURS. If you have survived a newborn, you know just what 8 straight hours of sleep means to a new parent. This was an important step of our sleep journey that I felt re-assured we were making the right choice for our family.
I also came to the conclusion that the sleep environment played just as big of a role in restful sleep as the program (I use program because I don’t like the term; training). Items like white noise, clothing that smelled like me and a sleep sack called the “Woombie” were the combination of what worked for our son as a little one. I am confident in this because we followed Cameron’s cues on what worked best for him. Over time, we have changed our sleep program as he grows and develops and provide him with the structure and tools to do so-that is our role.
Has this sleep journey been perfect? No way. It’s a journey, our journey. Cameron is now 23 months, still sleeping 10 hours at night with an afternoon nap during the day. For me, a big part of the sleep program success is seeing his independence, his ability to feel totally safe, confident and comfortable in his own space, where mommy and daddy get to rock and sing him to sleep at night because we want to, not because we need to. I am proud of this. I hope you enjoyed our sleep journey. Hugs, Crystal
Crystal, Louie, & Lil’ Man Cam!
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