Continuing on with this series of mom shaming, one of the themes that I have seen floating around the internet is other moms (or the worst of the worst are people who judge that don’t have a damn kid) is over the controversial sleep training.
If you have ever had an issue with your baby sleeping or if you have been researching the internet in preparation of sleep issues you have seen the different methods to “train” your baby to sleep. I am no expert so I won’t name all the different methods. But there is definitely a clear distinction between the Cry it Out (ferber) method, variations of the CIO (Cry it Out) method and the no cry methods. Prowling the internet you will see countless mothers shame each other based on the methods that they use. One constant you will always hear people say is every baby is different however people (even experts) will say that one blanket method is best. How can one method be used for every baby if every baby is different? That just doesn’t make sense to me.
I will describe some sleep issues that we have had and what we used. I did much research and discussions with our pediatrician before I decided that we needed to sleep train our babies. My twins were born at 35 weeks per the recommendations of the doctors at the hospital and my pediatrician the babies had to be woken up and fed every three hours when they were first born and for quite some time. So, obviously I went with the flow for the first three or four months. Around four months our boys were thriving and wanting to sleep longer and not eat. There were quite a few nights that they actually slept through the night or only woke up for one feeding. Around that time we got lectured by our pediatrician for still swaddling. She said in case they roll over they cannot be swaddled. In retrospect our babies didn’t roll over back to front for another three months but always better to be safe than sorry, right? And why not break a bad habit early I suppose. Well unswaddling caused our first big sleep problem(**see note below for some sleep sacks that helped unswaddling). They were used to being swaddled and they still had their startle reflex at four months, so they would wake often. At first we were getting up twice a night to feed them again. They would take the bottle but the time that morning rolled around they wouldn’t take their morning bottle and it set the tone for the whole day. So, I thought to myself surely they aren’t hungry, they are just taking the bottle for comfort. But I tried to go with the flow. Then they started waking more and more frequently. It was becoming apparent I wasn’t doing them any good by going in there and feeding them every time they woke up. So, this became the point that I researched the method that I thought would work best for us. It is a variation of a cry it out method. I decided that I could not in good conscience let them just cry and cry. So I decided on a variable cry it out method. When they first start to cry I gave them about five minutes (in case they were just stirring, that would give them time to settle themselves). If after five minutes they were still crying I would go in there pat them and tell them it was okay, basically comfort them but not pick them up. I would then go back to my room and increase the time by five minutes before I went in there to comfort them and repeat. The first night took one hour and 10 minutes before they went back to bed. I was drenched in sweat and cried in my bed. I felt like a horrible mother. But every site I read about this method said it get better after three or so days. So, I went on. The next night it was even shorter and by the third night there was no waking. This whole time I was terrified that the baby that was awake and crying would wake the other but it didn’t happen. So, basically I had to repeat this cycle twice (I think it was about three weeks later when the other baby hit this stage).
Like I said I felt like a horrible mother. But is a baby waking up three to four times a night going to be a happy baby? Maybe. But that wasn’t the case for mine. They were crabby and overtired. So, I thought to myself what is one night of supervised crying for a lifetime of a good sleeping child?
This is the method that worked for us. I know that there would be some babies that would lose their minds and may not learn to self soothe. There are sleeping methods when babies rely on the crutch of being nursed or rocked to sleep. I, however, have twins. I cannot imagine having to rely on sitting there rocking each baby until they fall asleep. It doesn’t seem fair to them or me. In some ways I feel robbed that I won’t have that deep connection with my babies because I feel bad when I focus on one and not the other. I know there are some twin moms that excel in that and I applaud you. It was just not possible for me.
My point in all this, is that there are different ways to solve a problem depending on the baby and depending on the situation. It just so happens that this is what worked for us. Do I regret it? No. My babies still have some sleeping issues. They wake up early, around 5:45 every morning, but they go to bed at 7:15. So, they pretty much sleep through the night. That’s a victory in and of itself.
There are mothers that will say that I am a horrible mother for letting my baby cry. They will say that my boys will forever be emotionally scarred. I have seen people say this to mothers that say that they used the cry it out method on forums on the internet.
As I have said before in my other mom shaming posts, as mothers we need to rise above the judgment. We need to support each other. There is so much ugly in this world. Letting your baby cry for three nights in order to teach them to sleep well is not torture. Look at the news, this isn’t torture. There is actual abuse out there and that is not it.
Have you used a sleep training method? What worked?
Have you been mom shamed?
***At the point that the doctor yelled at me for swaddling the babies still they were in HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle, Cream, Smallswaddle sleep sacks. I loved those darn swaddles. They were the only swaddle the babies couldn’t break out of and they slept like angels. When the doctor yelled at me, I moved Noah to a swaddle sack that didn’t have the flaps. I used the HALO SleepSack 100% Cotton Wearable Blanket, Baby Blue, Largesleep sack that freed his arms. It took him a couple days but he did fine without his swaddle, in fact he sucked on his thumb to self-soothe so it worked out quite nice. Gabe on the other hand just wasn’t having it. He freaked out and he had cradle cap really bad so he was itching his head to the point that he was cutting his scalp. I felt so bad for him. I remembered a sleep sack that I saw on Shark Tank. It was designed to transition out of a swaddle. It was called the Zipadee by the Sleeping Baby. It makes him look like a little flying squirrel, but the idea is that it helps the baby transition out of the swaddle especially when they still have their startle reflex and it helped Gabe not scratch his head. I cannot rave about this product enough. It helped him learn to sleep unswaddled but not only that their customer service is superb. I emailed them when Gabe was having issues with it and within a half an hour they emailed me back with a possible solution. It worked and I’ve been using it for 4 months already.