Like all parents with infants, sleep is a major issue. Ours and our baby’s–when, where and how often.
With all that in mind, Meghan and I have been sleep training our son, Cash.
Sleep training? Sounds like the kind of training we’d all love to sign up for! Certainly seems to require less effort than basic training and cross training.
The concept of sleep training seemed silly to me. What training is necessary to sleep? If you are tired, you sleep. If you are not tired, you don’t sleep.
Simple, right? Not exactly.
There are a handful of standard sleep training methods for infants, with off-shoots and modifications on each one. Here are some methods: Ferber, Gradual Parent Removal, Scheduled Awakenings, Tear-free and “Cry it Out.” The last one is the precursor to the “walk it off” mentality when the kid falls and cries.
We opted for Ferberizing. This method directs you to put your baby to bed while he is still awake but tired and ready to sleep. Then you leave the room. We did and yes, Cash cried and yes, I had to hold Meghan back from turning around and picking him up–she asked me to in case you think I’m unnecessarily strong-arming my wife. I had to do this for only five minutes, then she was allowed to go in and sooth him but not pick him up or cuddle, just a one minute check-in so that he was assured we were still in the house and didn’t run off to some tropical isle without him.
This photo might help you understand how hard it is for Meghan to see her son seeking her comfort and how much harder it was for me to let her, let him cry.
(Warning: Do not try this in your crib…the manual says the crib will hold only “up to fifty pounds”…so this was the one and only time Meghan did this. FYI-It is still intact. If I had gotten in like this…Cash and I would played our first game of “Pick-up Sticks!”)
We left the room and again, he cried but this time we waited ten minutes and then soothed and left and waited 15 minutes and repeated.
After a little over an hour, and a little over a glass of wine for Momma, Cash crashed out. He woke up a few times that night, we took turns soothing and then morning hit and he was happy and normal as usual. No signs of trauma from the jingle jangle of the night.
On the second night, he was crashed within 45 minutes and the third night by 3o minutes. He woke up one time, fussed for a couple minutes and went back to sleep.
Our lives felt changed. Meghan slept a chunk of six uninterrupted hours for the first time since mid-pregnancy and Cash was as happy as ever.
A little over a month of this and we can say it really worked. Sure, there are more restless nights than others but Cash likes his crib and will even lay in there wide awake without fussing. And he naps quite regularly during the day as well…with a little help from his feline pillow.
I share this sleep story only to inform that the Ferber method worked for us. A quick side note when my wife mentioned this method my mind went to the iconic Gerber baby foods and made me wonder if we’d be feeding Cash fruit sauces out of little glass jars while he lay in his crib but apparently there is no relation to Gerber baby foods. Good thing…that could have gotten messy.
Each household, child and Momma cry threshold is different so this Ferber method may not be for everyone. As the saying goes, “Whatever gets you through the night.”
You can go blind reading all the theories for and against by mommy bloggers, pediatricians and family members who share all sorts of their theories, all genuine and valid but even more so shows how you are the only one who can decide what is best.
Made me appreciate how fascinating and ubiquitous sleep is in our lives. It applies to every. human. being. everyone regardless of race, age, nationality, orientation, gender identities.
In my own sleep journey-and by ‘journey’ I mean metaphorically not actual journeying as in sleep walking-which is a whole separate, fascinating/dangerous aspect of sleep.
I discovered about 10 or so years ago that I needed about 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night to feel fine and functional. The last few years I’ve dropped a half hour and reduced it to six hours needed/wanted.
I’m comforted by this sleep infographic courtesy of BigBrandBeds.com. Turns out, my six hour sleep pattern puts me in the company of Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, Richard Branson, and the President of the United States.
It is purported that Leonardo Da Vinci slept six hours a day also…just not a in a row. Instead, he took 2o minute naps every four hours, a practice known as the Uberman polyphasic sleep cycle. Not sure if he has anything to do with the Uber car but I would not like my driver nodding off so often!
Speaking of not nodding off often, Thomas Edison averaged three hours of a sleep a night, regarding sleep as “a waste of time.”
No surprise then, that Edison invented light.
On the other side of the bed, Albert Einstein reportedly required ten hours of sleep per day. But I don’t buy it. Does this look like someone who gets a lot of sleep?
If most historical inventors, leaders of country and business alike, sleep less, why is the common advocation to get eight hours of sleep for adults? Is “The Man” trying to keep us down…on our down mattresses?
They say in sleep is when his brain grows but also in sleep (at rest) is when your muscles grow. Sleep is, indeed, a powerful, impactful, time-consuming growth opportunity in all of our lives.
Like all concerned parents, we want to pass along the gift of good sleep habits to Cash. Maybe what he learns from this sleep process will lead him to be rich and famous like those individuals mentioned above? Maybe he’ll invent a new sleep method when he gets older and discover the ideal sleep patterns for all of humanity!
Hey, a guy can dream! But, he has to sleep first.