If you ask me what the lowest point in my parenting journey has been, I will say without hesitation when Braden was 4 months old and going through his first sleep regression. Our first baby Braden was always a really good sleeper from the get go. He’d eat and go right down to sleep with no problem. I didn’t have to rock and bounce for hours convincing him to cave in to his slumber, and then gently try to put him down while holding my breath and sneaking out of the room like a ninja. He started sleeping through the night, most nights, by 8 weeks old and it was glorious.
Then in May, he started his 4 month wakeful period, also known as the 4 month sleep regression. It was painstakingly awful; I felt like I was losing my mind because I wasn’t getting any sleep. Sleep is important for your entire family’s health – don’t make anyone let you feel selfish for wanting good sleep for your family!
Braden was up every 1-1.5 hours for over a week during one of the busiest times at the farm when my husband wasn’t home to help me and my mother-in-law was very busy helping one of her daughter’s family through some medical issues. I felt like I tried everything: co-sleeping, bed-sharing, holding him, letting him sleep on me, warm up his play pen with a hot water bottle before I put him down, tried dressing him down, dressing him up, nursing him more…nothing was working. I hit my breaking point and knew something had to change when I hauled an extra mattress from upstairs, down to the main level in his bedroom so I could sleep on the floor beside his play pen. I was too tired to haul myself out of bed every hour to settle him.
When Something Has to Give
I had one of my girlfriends over for coffee during this time and told her how low I was feeling. As a first time mom I had no idea what was going on and I didn’t know that sleep regressions existed. She had an older daughter and was pregnant again and told me how she sleep trained her daughter. Again – I didn’t know that such a thing existed and that you could teach your baby how to sleep.
She let me borrow her sleep training book and I decided that it was a really good fit for us; I really agreed with the methods in the book and it made a lot of sense. The basic theory is to help your baby learn how to self-soothe while weaning them gently from their night feeds when they are old enough (4 months or older) and weigh enough (at least 14 lbs). Yes, this involves some crying as they learn, and I know that this particular method won’t be a good fit for everyone.
5 Tips for Successful Sleep Training
I’ve done it three times, and here’s my basic advice for you!
1. Choose a method that works for you
Not everyone has to do a cry-it-out method, it will not work for you if you are not comfortable with it. I was willing to listen to my babies cry, as hard as it was, because I knew it was the best thing for them. I also knew that other methods of going in for reassurance and “checks” was not the style for me – the idea of going in and continually having to leave was too hard for me.
2. Be consistent with your method, do NOT cave in and give up!
No matter what you do, don’t give up! I invested a lot of time in the weaning schedule, even on just the first night of sleep training our first baby. The second night of sleep training was AWFUL and I wanted to give up, but I also didn’t want to go back to the way things were. Short term pain, for long term gain – let that be your mantra! It kept getting better and better and he was sleeping through the night within a week.
3. Treat yourself to watching a brand new series or movie to look forward to.
When I sleep trained our second son, I was also waiting and looking forward to watching the new season of Downton Abbey. He was a lot more stubborn, and I was up way more in the night while training him, but I truly do remember looking forward to the fact that if I was up anyway, at least I could binge on watching a new season of a favourite show.
4. Have mom friends who have done it to talk to for support.
I could not have gotten through sleep training all my babies without the support of friends who had done the same thing. I have also supported those same friends when they were actively sleep training their babies.
5. Invest in a video monitor.
Again, as a first time mom, video monitors weren’t a thing and I had to constantly go sneak in and check on Braden to see if he was really sleeping or not. Luckily I had a video monitor with Ethan and recently for Jonathan and it really gave me peace of mind both times. I was happy to receive the Philips Avent SCD 630/37 Video Monitor, and you really are “always close to your baby”.
This sleek monitor gives a private and secure connection and has made different modes of use: audio only, video, only and ECO Mode which reduces power use during quiet times while still connected to the baby. It switches off the audio/video transmission and the units only connect when baby makes noise – I switch to this mode when I can see he’s asleep. I liked to use Video Mode while muted as he is falling asleep so I don’t have to hear him, but I could see him. I knew he was making noise because the sound activated lights would tell me so.
This monitor also features a night light and lullabies, a temperature sensor, vibration alert, and the all-important talk back feature for when they become toddlers and you need to tell them to lie down or stay in bed! The parent unit is powered and battery operated, and (get this!), has up to 10 hours of operating time before charging is required!!!
This is a life long skill that I have never regretted teaching our babies. The principles are always there to fall back on if there is a sleep regression due to illness or teething, or even traveling to a new place. Jonathan just got over ear infections and I had to let him fuss himself to sleep twice the other night as I knew he was healthy enough and not in pain and needed to be reminded he could settle himself, and he did.
You lucky person, you! Philips Avent has generously provided two more SCD 630/37 Video Monitors for two of you to win! Open to Canadians (excluding Quebec) 18 years or older.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Philips Avent and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.