Part of the reason we decided to do sleep training was because it was successful with my nephew. He was 18 months old when we visited my brother in Germany, and I was absolutely amazed at how this little boy went to sleep at night. He would drink his bottle in his cot (alone in a dark room) and just drift off to sleep. Some evenings we would hear him playing in his cot for about twenty minutes after which he would drift off to sleep. Being able to see the benefits of sleep training first hand was what motivated us to try it for ourselves.
There are many different sleep training methods. After extensive research, we chose to do the controlled cry it out sleep training method. This approach seemed to be what would work best for us. We made sure to read up about sleep training extensively before starting the process, so that we knew exactly what we were in for. The most important fact we learned was that just like anything else, sleep training is a process. It’s a journey that you have to take with your little one, a journey that will only take time before it is successful. We are in our seventh week of training and our journey still continues.
Before I dive into the nitty gritty of our strategy, I would like to give you a little bit of advise. I am by no means an expert on this topic, but based on my experiences, here are a few pieces of advise I would like to share with you:
Mentally prepare yourself
This is not easy – it is difficult and challenging. It is difficult to hear your baby cry and it is challenging to fight your inner self and stop yourself from going into the room to save your baby.
Everyone needs to be on the same page
Before you start, you need to ensure that everyone in your home understands and is in agreeance with your chosen strategy. You are going to need support. You are going to need someone to help you through the moments when your little person is crying, all alone in their sleeping place. I should probably say screaming, not just crying! We would not have been able to get through this if we did not support each other. There were many nights when Zieyaad had to hold me back from going into the room to pick her up so that she would stop crying. There were many times where I myself stood outside the door and cried with her, whilst Zieyaad stood beside me and urged me to just wait a few more minutes. It is really difficult, but once you push through that first successful night, the motivation is automatically there for you to continue.
Everyone needs to know the rules
The worst thing that can happen is that half way through, someone goes into the room to pick them up, or talk to them, when they are not supposed to – especially during those first few crucial nights! You do not want to mess with the routine, because you will have to start all over again.
Choose a time where you can ensure no visitors during sleep training
Everyone has there own opinions on life matters and everyone has their own experiences. This is a highly stressful process, and you do not need someone criticizing your decision to sleep train because your little one is crying alone in the other room. As mentioned above, you need support. It’s also very true that your baby can sense your energy. If you are tense or stressed, chances are your baby will feel it and be unsettled. It is important that you are comfortable and settled yourself. Having judging eyes stare at you in disbelief while trying to concentrate and pray that your little girl falls asleep quickly is rather stressful and very much unsettling!
Prepare yourself to be home every evening, at the same time, for about two months
Sleep training is a process of teaching your little one how to self soothe. Because it is a routine, it’s important that your routine remains unbroken until it becomes embedded and becomes second nature. It’s a sacrifice of time in the beginning, but if successful, the benefits would be endless.
What helped us and Princess Porschie to get through this was to make noise. We did not make loud noises, that would startle her, but we made normal noise throughout the house. We had the TV on at a suitable volume, I would put the kettle on and make a cup of tea and Zieyaad and I would talk to each other. I think it is important that your little one listens and understands that you have not left or abandoned them, but that you are just in room next door.
Find something to do during the waiting times
The worst part about the process is having to wait for the alotted time to pass before you can go into the room again. It’s like tick tock tick tock in your head, repetitively looking at the clock to see if the time has passed. Find something to do that will help you to relax, as this will help you time pass by quicker and help you through the process.
Lastly, give it a fair chance
Give yourself a time period for your first attempt before giving up. Make the decision to try it for three nights, as an example, before deciding that your little one is not ready and that you should wait a bit before trying again, or before deciding that this strategy is not for you. You have to give it a fair chance. Give it time.
You know your baby better than anyone else. And you will know whether this process will work for you or not. Trust yourself and do what you feel is best for your baby.
Because that is what we did. We made the decision to try sleep training, we decided on how we were going to do it and when we were going to do it. We were in control. And so far, so good. I am really happy with our results thus far, which I promise to share with you on the next sleep training post…
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