Update: Check out my review of the Sleepeasy Solution online course to see if it's still working 18 months later!
The blog post below will probably be of no interest to you. Unless you care that I am no longer a sleep-deprived zombie. Or if you are a sleep-deprived zombie yourself, in which case, do read on.
The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5
When my little munchkin was born, I hit the jackpot. From early on she was such a good sleeper. For the first 8 weeks of her life, she'd wake up in the night, nurse, and go right back to sleep. I truly felt well-rested on most days of the week while on maternity leave. Toward the end of my leave, she'd sleep from 9pm to 9am and only wake up twice, which for a nursing newborn was fantastic. She even had a few stretches of 7-8 hours in those first few months.
And then I went back to work, and it all went to crap.
Every single week, her sleep got worse and worse. Her 6 hour stretches slowly got shorter and shorter. When she used to fall asleep nursing, she started needing a pacifier to soothe herself to sleep. And then we got in the bad habit of giving it to her for every nap and a bedtime, which I'm not against whatsoever, but it only works if the baby can fall back to sleep on their own once they realize the pacifier has fallen out. My darling daughter did not get that memo, so when she naturally roused from sleep, she starting getting frustrated when she realized her Wubbanub was gone. So 6 hours turned into 4, which turned into 3, which turned into every 90 minutes all night long. By 4 months, I was getting about 5 hours of severely broken sleep all night long. It was NOT good. She HATED her crib and would cry immediately when we put her in it unless she was completely passed out.
The other problem we faced was that she was still swaddled. Swaddling saved us in the early days when her moro reflex was out of control and she'd startle herself awake. But at 4 months old, the moro reflex was gone, but I didn't realize that because I mistook her normal baby movements for a need to remain swaddled.
So being the
I read the whole book in less than 2 hours. It made so much sense to me. I read about the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on both parents and baby, and decided that, just like some day I'll need to teach Emerson how to ride a bike, I needed to teach her how to sleep on her own. My bad habits were negatively affecting her sleep. I rushed into her room immediately when she made a peep, and would pick her up and try to feed her each time. When feeding didn't work, I'd give her the pacifier. At 4 months old, she was trying to tell me that she didn't need to eat every 2 hours anymore, but apparently I didn't get the memo. So by picking her up and either popping a boob or a pacifier in her mouth, I was robbing her of the ability to soothe herself. Couple that with the fact that swaddling her prevented her from moving around or getting into a natural, comfortable position that she preferred, and it was just a hot mess.
So here's where it gets sticky... some people claim this book and books like it to be controversial because they classify it as a "Cry it out" sleep training method. When I hear the phrase "Cry it out," I imagine someone laying their poor defenseless baby in a cold, dark room and letting them cry for hours and hours at a time. This book does NOT recommend that method. Not even close.
Without getting into too much (I'm happy to share more for those who are curious), what the book DOES recommend is giving your baby the space and the ability to learn how to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. Unfortunately, most of the time, it does involve a few tears.
Let's be honest here... who likes to hear their baby cry??? Anyone, anyone? Of course not. No, we don't want to hear our babies cry. Yes, we want our babies to get the sleep they need. Yes, we want to soothe them as much as possible because we are their primary source of comfort and security. But one of the best points the book made is this: For 4 months now, I've been the one soothing Emerson to sleep. I don't want to hear her cry, so I immediately respond and then proceed to rock her, nurse her, or in any way possible pacify her to sleep. But guess what?? THAT WASN'T WORKING. If that works for you, great. But obviously it wasn't working for our family because I paid $12.99 to instant download this e-book. She was getting as much (or as little) broken sleep every night as I was, and I knew it wasn't good for her. She had started acting like she was on edge, or ultra-sensitive, and I realize now it's because she was so dramatically over-tired.
So as for the method, the basic premise is that you lay your child down awake, in their crib, with no sleep props like swaddling or pacifier (unless she can re-insert it on her own). The baby will most likely protest, but you leave the room. Then, you go back into their room at timed intervals to provide loving, soothing reassurance, but you do NOT rely on your old techniques (because remember, they aren't working). You talk to the baby in a soothing voice, but you don't pick her up and you don't give in and give her the pacifier. The point of going in is not to soothe the baby completely, because they will probably keep crying, but it's to show them you haven't abandoned them. You are to do this for every night waking until the baby can learn to sooth herself, which the authors claim can be done usually within 3 nights. 3 nights of torture for a well-rested household??? I wanted it to be true!
The first night, Emerson cried off and on for 63 minutes. I cried non-stop for about 75. I was ready to throw my Kindle in the garbage, but when she woke up the next morning, she was laughing and smiling and as happy as ever. She didn't hate me, and she wasn't scarred for life. Her reaction gave me the courage to try again the next night.
The second night, she cried for 47 minutes. I drank two glasses of wine. But she made progress!
The third night, she cried very intermittently for 29 minutes. I saw a ray of hope.
The fourth night, she slept through the night. And she has slept through the night for the most part every night since then.
HALLEJLUAH! HALLEJLUAH! HALLEJLUAH! HALLEJLUAH!
<Cue choir of angels singing>
This book has changed our lives. I thought Emerson was a happy baby before, but now that she's getting solid sleep, she is just in baby dreamland heaven. She actually reaches for her crib at night, and will play in it like it's the greatest place on earth. You have no idea the freedom I feel when I can lay my sweet baby in her crib for both naps and bedtime and she just rolls over and goes right to sleep, or plays quietly to herself for a few minutes before dozing off. And she wakes up every single morning by laughing or talking, not crying because she feels abandoned or exhausted.
The book gives some amazing and genius tips for all sleep issues, including night feedings for nursing moms, how to deal with travel, teething, and developmental milestones, and techniques for older children who are in a bed and not a crib.
If you've stumbled upon this review from Google, I must tell you that sleep training of any kind is not recommended until your baby is at least 4 months old and 14 lbs. So if you are under those guidelines... I feel for you sister. Go grab an extra pot of coffee and hang on - there is hope ahead of you!
I feel proud of us that we were consistent and have set our daughter up for a childhood filled with restorative sleep, because I know it's so important for her health and well-being. But mostly, I am proud of my little girl for not only learning this new skill, but for adapting to a big change and coming out on the other end smiling.
Because isn't seeing this happy little face at the end of every nap worth it???