Sleep Training Can Make You a Better Mom

sleeping babyThanks to Facebook's plethora of braggy sharers, I get to hear all the time about sleep-happy babies who, at 10 weeks old, just fell asleep at 8:00 one night and then didn't wake up again until the sun rose the next morning. Well, that's real nice for them, but at almost 3 months old, my babies are nowhere near sleeping through the night. In fact, despite the fact that they'll now go almost five hours between feedings at night (hurray!), starting around 2 a.m., at least one of them will keep waking up every hour until they get fed again around 4:30.

Why do they do that? Not sure, let me go ask them .... They said it's 'cause they like to paaaaaartay. No, no, we all know babies can't talk because, if they could, I would be able to tell them to go the f&^k to sleep. This Mommy is run-down, tired, and consistently feels a cold coming on. So, I'm counting the days until I can sleep train my babies. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

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Look, I knew when I decided to have babies that my nights of long, peaceful slumber would be over, and that the rewards of parenthood far outweighed the beauty of dreamland. Still, sleep is freaking awesome, it's freaking awesome! I don't know why I didn't appreciate it more when I was having it. You know how some people will watch a Sandals commercial and wish they were on a tropical beach somewhere? Well, I watch Serta commercials and wish I was right there next to that smiley old guy, snoozing away. And I'm not asking for a miracle 10-hour stretch of sleep, I'm not. I'd just love five or six hours of uninterrupted slumber. Is that so much to ask?

Unfortunately, I still have at least a few weeks to go because the pediatrician refused to even discuss sleep training with me until their 3-month appointment. I get it, and I'm totally okay with waiting until they're big enough and mature enough to handle it. Still, that hasn't stopped me from obsessing about sleep training, reading different methods online, and asking every parent I know what they did to get their babies to sleep longer. We have the whole bedtime routine down, the noise machine, dream feeding, total darkness. They're eating more food during the day, to the point that they only take about half their bottles at night. So now I just gotta get them to stop bopping around during that middle-of-the-night stretch! But how to do it?

I've heard great things about Sleepy Planet, the idea being that you increase your baby's intake of food during the day and start to diminish it at night until you've ultimately "dropped" those feedings. But, there is some degree of crying it out until your well-fed baby realizes he doesn't need that midnight snack.

A couple of people have mentioned the Baby Wise method to me as well, which talks a lot about putting your babies on a schedule during the day with feeding and play and naps to help them sleep better at night. Apparently it's controversial because these dudes aren't MDs, and many are opposed to the idea of telling your baby how it is, rather than vice versa. But, as the mother of twins, I've had to schedule them from the beginning, so it's an approach that I'm totally comfortable with.

And then, of course, there is the Ferber Method. Oh yes, that mean, evil, terrible Ferberizing, right? From what I've read and heard though, its bad rap is unwarranted. Apparently, there's more to it than just crying it out. And, my friends who have done it totally swear by it, and have happy, healthy, loving children to prove it. So I'm not convinced there's anything wrong with letting them cry it out until they learn to self-soothe. But with twins, I'm not sure I can do that because won't they both just keep waking each other up?

Regardless, almost all of the sleep training methods that have been recommended to me seem to involve crying it out in some form or another. Some may give tips on how to make it easier on your little ones, or ensure their needs are met while you're teaching them to self-soothe. But, ultimately, if you want your baby to sleep through the night, it sounds like he or she is just going to have to get with the program. Let's be honest here: You're basically telling your little ones, "You're going to eat and sleep when I tell you to, and if you start to complain, I'm going to ignore it over variable stretches until you suck it up and get over it, m'kay?" Okay, yeah, it sounds bad -- no wonder so many people are opposed to sleep training!

But, I'm not one of them! I am ALL for it! Big fan of sleeping babies, that's me! And I know that I'm not the only Mommy who's desperate to start sleeping again. As far as I'm concerned, the more rested I am, the better parent I'll be. Think about it: if you were hiring a babysitter, would you want the kid who's all sleepy and foggy-brained or the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed one who's totally pumped about spending hours with your kid? I'm not sure I'd even hire me to babysit in my current state!

So, yes, if my babies don't seem to grow out of this up-every-hour thing, you can be sure that I'll be sleep training them. I'm going to ask the pediatrician and my Mommy and Me group what they recommend for twins. No, I don't think it makes me a selfish parent -- I think it makes me a realistic one, and ultimately, it'll make me a better parent too. A baby that sleeps well is, without question, going to be happier and healthier. The more predictability in their routine, the safer and more comforted they will feel. And as a Mommy, I'm pretty sure that once I start sleeping more than a few hours at a stretch, I'm inevitably going to feel happier and healthier too, and better able to take the best possible care of my children.

What method did you use to get your baby to sleep through the night?


Image via geckotales/Flickr

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