Sleep training takes guts


When people joked about those 'sleepless nights' I'd endure as a new parent, I was quick to shrug it off. After all, a lack of shut-eye is surely a small price to pay for the miracle of new life? Nearly seven months on and that's still true - but with the novelty fading, it seems the price has escalated.

The first month

After the first month, I felt like a real trooper. With my tolerance for sleep deprivation and newfound bulging triceps, I felt fit to join the marines. 'This too shall pass', I told myself two months later.

While we'd moved baby into his own room, I was still up at least five times a night and fast transforming into a foul-mouthed zombie.

By five months we thought we'd hit the jackpot when little munchkin decided to sleep for six hours at a stretch. Of course, a week into that was round about when the teething started. While friends and family ooh-ed and aah-ed over his little choppers, waking hourly was causing me to bite everyone's head off.

Comfort or trickery?

At six months, I opted for sleep training. For my sake more than his. Like any new mom, I did my research and established that there were two schools of thought. One option was to pop him in the cot, wish him goodnight and let him scream his lungs out and after considering my already shattered nerves that was clearly a no-no.

Which brings me to option two: Feberizing... or what I like to call 'the art of baby deception'.

The idea is to wish baby good night, leave him to cry for a 'limited amount of time' and  go back to 'comfort' him, without picking him up, rocking him or feeding him. You do this repeatedly until he finally 'drifts off' to sleep, all on his lonesome. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Of course where the trickery comes in, is when baby gets the impression you're actually coming back into the room to COMFORT him. You see in my baby's vocabulary, comfort equates to rocking, cuddling - and yes, sometimes a good old midnight snack. And it's for this reason that smiling, giving him swift pat on the back and then walking out on him amounts to treachery.

Feeling like a fraud

For the first week, just the thought of baby's bedtime left me cringing. Each time I crept back into his room, I feel like a fraud. “It's ok baby, Mommy's right here... but wait, now I'm running out on you again.”  Once out the door, I'd hear him erupt into the most heart-wrenching wails, leaving me wracked with guilt.

He knew what I was up to.

All the books urged you to try any routine for two weeks and so we stuck at it... as much as we could bear. 'Teaching your baby to fall asleep on his own is giving him a life-skill' said the paediatrician. Turns out teaching him this life skill meant our vuvuzela ear plugs were coming in handy.

Towards the end of the two weeks, something strange happened. Instead of crying inconsolably each time we left the room, baby's yells had started petering out after a few minutes. Stunned by the uncustomary silence, we'd walk in a while later to see him snoring away, clutching onto his stuffed dog for dear life. Oh the triumph!

The past few nights, we've heard him wake, give himself a little talking to and then conk out again.  And while I'm sure the worst is far from over, I can tentatively say I'm finally claiming back my right to sleep.

Until the next tooth comes along...

What was your experience with sleep training? Share with us below.


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