OK let me start this by saying that I am not responsible for raising any children other than my own therefore what I am about to post is how I stand on doing things for my daughter and not a judgement on anything else anyone chooses to do with their own child. I know many families do whatever works for them and may have drastically different views than we do so I want to be clear that the only opinion that I have on how others raise their children is that they do it with love and what works for them. The reason I'm writing this is because I know everyone is different and does what they need to do but I was recently berated for not just "sucking it up and letting my baby be a big girl" by a friend of a friend who I really have no real connection with. I felt it was highly inappropriate for her to be passing judgement on me and how I choose to raise my child. I was very thankful for Jake, my pediatrician and other mommy friends that stuck by me and encouraged me to do what felt right to us and not what everyone else out there was saying we should do. Yes, I was tired because I wasn't getting as much sleep as I could have been but seriously when your going to have a baby lack of sleep kind of comes with the territory and you have to put your child's needs over your own. Being a mother is the most selfless job out there so I saw it as doing my job. Hopefully after this Olivia will say I'm worthy of a raise ;) With that said here is our experience.
Ever since Olivia was born we haven't had it all that bad with her sleep schedule excluding the random sick nights and expected growth spurts. For the most part she would go to sleep around 8 wake up about 11 to eat then again at 3ish for another feeding. A few months ago she dropped her 11 o'clock feeding so we were down to the the one at 3. I didn't really mind it because it lasted for 15 minutes and then was back to sleep. Plus I've never been a big fan of the "cry it out" method and knew that there was no way I could ever just leave Olivia in her crib to cry for long periods of time. Well it turns out that I had some misinformation on what the Ferber method or "crying it out" really is. After reading Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Ferber and talking things over with our Pediatrician I discovered that when done correctly the method helped your child help themselves and in no way suggested just putting your baby in their crib and wish them the best of luck. For any of those non-mommy readers let me break it down.
Ferber says you can teach your baby to soothe herself to sleep when she's physically and emotionally ready. This is key and why we decided to wait until we did. With Olivia teething and getting sick we waited until she was healthy and happy so that we wouldn't be leaving her in her crib to "cry it out" when she was in pain or sick. By using progressive waiting i.e. put them down and let them cry 5 minutes, go in and talk to her/pat then for 2-3 minutes, then let them cry 10 minutes, go in and talk to her/pat then for 2-3 minutes and so on increasing the cry time by intervals of 5 minutes (the interval we decided to go with) I was reassured that we weren't going to just leave her in there to fend for herself until she was emotionally and physically exhausted.
We decided it would be best to wait until Olivia wasn't sick or teething to start any kind of sleep training, which I'm glad we did. I'm convinced the reason it was such a seamless transition for us is completely due to the fact that she was ready and I was willing to do what I needed to in order to wait until she was ready. The decision to start Ferber-izing her was a game time decision one Monday night. We started with our standard routine of play, dinner, bath, book, then nurse. After she finished nursing I kissed her, said "I love you, goodnight" and laid her in bed fully awake. When I got downstairs Jake asked me about her fussing and I told him well looks like tonight is the night to try the Ferber method and he was on board (he had read all the info and was up to date on the plan as well) She fussed, but never outright cried, for 5 minutes so at the 5 min mark I went in patted her back and told her I loved her again then walked out. 9 more minutes of fussing then she was out like a light. Seriously I had the timer on my phone set and it had 57 seconds left on it when she crashed. She stayed asleep all night and I even had to wake her up the next morning. Every single night since she has gone down without fussing at all and sleeps from 6:45pm-5:45/6:15 every morning. If she fusses in the middle of the night she's able to soothe herself back to sleep and it never lasts very long.
It's been nice to have that time in the evenings for Jake and me. We'll sit down as a family to do dinner and then do her bath and bedtime routine together. Once she is down we have time to pay attention to each other and be a couple. So anyway that is our experience with "sleep training" if you can call it that. I seriously feel like there was no training involved and Miss O was just ready for the next step.
I'm sorry if that seemed heavier than it should be but I just wanted to put it out there that you don't have to do what "everyone else" is doing if it doesn't work for you and your baby. We are so happy with our family and the way Olivia is developing and growing and would not take back a single decision we have made for her. And because I can't post without a picture her is a snapshot of the head of our household keeping it fancy during her morning playtime on mommies day off. Now we're headed to town lake for a run!!