Ok, I’m back from my meditation mountain of studying for my course exams! Back to the unfinished business of Sleep Training Part 2! Part 1 was about the eat-play-sleep cycle in Babywise and how it helped small J sleep through the night. Part 2 is about how to get your kid to sleep on his or her own, according to Babywise.
The Babywise solution is essentially the Cry It Out (CIO) method and also having your kid sleep in his or her own room. Hold your horses! Don’t pelt me with stones! Don’t write hate mails to me! Remember, no judgment?! CIO method has received a lot of flak and is almost a taboo word these days but I’ve got to say it works wonders if applied correctly and consistently for a week. The results? Good sleep for yourself and the baby in 7 days! And a baby in a good mood during the daytime. Sounds suspiciously like a slimming ad? The small print is the same: results may vary and it really depends on your baby and your effort.
The CIO method in the book writes that during the sleep phase, you should say a firm goodnight and leave the room so that the baby can learn to self soothe and sleep on his own. If he or she starts crying, allow him or her to cry – most babies will cry to sleep within 45 minutes. The assumption is that the baby sleeps in another room, which is what I practiced since I am so light a sleeper that I can’t sleep with the baby cot next to me even when my head is buried under pillows.
So that’s what I did! Almost really, but I made up my own rules and cheated.
- Firstly, as expounded by Babywise, observation is the key. We are not supposed to twiddle the thumbs or whistle when sleep training. (Reality: just like every mother, I feel like cringing at the corner and die when I hear my baby cry). So, a good way for me to cope was to record the type of cries and the length of time as well as whether the kid was well-fed and received enough stimulation before that. When I had something constructive to do like plotting trends, I felt less emotional. If the baby is well fed and stimulated at playtime, he should fall asleep quite quickly.
- Secondly, our rule is not to let the baby cry over 35 minutes. Why such a random time? Because by observation, small J usually doesn’t cry beyond this time to go to sleep.
- I face the baby’s bed such that the eyes of the baby faces 180 degrees away from the door, so I could effectively peep in and observe him without him seeing me. When I was able to see him and check on him, it was comforting.
- I noticed that if I consistently sleep train him for a week, he will cry for 5 minutes or less after that before falling asleep and after a few weeks there’ll be no more crying. For small J, consistency is key. I have to psycho myself that if I decide to sleep train, I cannot give up halfway; if not it’ll all be in vain and it’s better not to start in the first place. My secondary school discipline teacher used to tell us to raise our right fist into the air and shout ‘SHORT TERM SACRIFICE, LONG TERM GAIN!’ like a communist to rah-rah us for the exams. This was also my motto during sleep-training week.
- I cheated and he had a sleep prop – the pacifier that the confinement nanny used, despite my protests. I found it to be a necessary evil until I weaned him off cold turkey when he was 7 months old (another dramatic experience). I also used the sarong for 2 weeks to get him to switch from being a night baby (one that is awake most of the night and sleeps in the day) to a day baby in his 2nd month before starting sleep training.
Sidetrack: When I was preggie and idealistic, I vow never to do some things…
I have not looked back since and am grateful that small J could sleep on his own without crying or waking up at night for most nights since about 3 months old and that was the most important factor for giving me some way to function normally at work and in life. As with fighting the flab, sleep training is a constant fight. It has to be done again and again and again (sigh!) after every transition since there’ll be sleep disruptions during transitions and I’ll try to be more understanding e.g. When I weaned him off the pacifier, when he transited schools, when he was ill…
However, I have regressed much. recently, after he transited schools, I was much less successful in sleep training him. When he changed schools, he felt insecure for two weeks, so I accompanied him to bed. And I found out that I enjoyed the experience now that he is older and can speak. Even though I will pretend to be asleep to dissuade him from playing in bed (like slapping his bear around), he will talk to me about his day e.g. friends in school, why mummy was angry, or that grandma came over. Sometimes he will sing too and accompanying him to bed is a really heartwarming experience. Who knows? I may give up sleep training after all since life is certainly more manageable at 30 months old as compared to 3 months old. It can only get better.