Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The SleepEasy Solution

Update: Check out my review of the Sleepeasy Solution online course and to see if it's still working 18 months later!

Warning! Warning!

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.


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 obsessed and neurotic avid researcher I am, I searched high and low for the perfect baby sleep book. I think I read every single website, book, and article relating to baby sleep. I even *briefly* considered hiring a baby sleep consultant to come to our house and tell me how to be a parent. But at $900 a pop, I was desperate for another option. One Saturday while little miss was napping I ordered The Sleep Easy Solution based on reviews I saw on Amazon. 20 minutes later, I decided the 3-5 day shipping delay was too much, so I ordered it electronically. Yep. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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???


24 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this Audra! I just ordered a copy and I'm hoping to have as good an outcome as you!!

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    1. Good luck!!! Just stay as consistent as possible and I think you'll have success - it seriously changed my life!!!

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    2. I just started it tonight. I seriously hope its not bs. My little man gets up every hour like you said yours did! But reading it gets easier helps!

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  2. Great post! I just recently found your blog and love it. I have a 6 month old son and your parenting style is so identical to mine. I recently had to resort to sleep training and it also transformed my family. Emerson is lucky to have such a great mommy!

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  3. My Baby Girl isn't even here yet, but I took your blog post advice for the Happiest Baby on the Block and thought the concept was great and DVD was insightful for DH. You haven't led me astray yet with your reviews *hopping over to Amazon to order my copy now* THANKS - A - BUNCH! And your little Emerson is a beauty!!!

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    1. Thank you!!! Happiest Baby is amazing, and I sincerely hope your little girl doesn't even need you to read the SleepEasy because she'll just be a perfect sleeper! ;-) But feel free to ask any questions along the way! :)

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  4. Almost to the 4 month mark, two more weeks to go! Thank you so much for this review, its exactly what I needed to read!

    http://hopefullittleone.blogspot.com/?m=1

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  5. Hi! Thank you for sharing your experience!! My daughter is 4 1/2 months but only 11 lbs... Does than mean its not recommended yet until she is 14?? She Hayes sleep and screams until she falls asleep with us holding her. It's miserable and exhausting! She defiantly can't self soothe at night either when she wakes :(

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    1. Yes, the book definitely says they need to be at least 14lbs, for various reasons. Hang in there!

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  6. Will it work if we are room sharing?

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    1. There is a section in the book that talks about room sharing. I skipped over the part because it was n/a for us, but I'm sure it'll still work! Good luck!

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  7. I ran across your post through google.....and was encouraged! We have a 6.5 month old with the same problems.....swaddled, and nursed to sleep. Would you be willing to answer a couple of additional questions over email. If you have time, email me if you can help!!
    meretracy@gmail.com

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  8. Are there any specific instructions for older children, I.e. 14 months?

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    1. I believe there is a section for children 12 to 18 months - you're in luck!

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  9. When you started this sleep training was your daughter still wakin through the night to feed? Or did you follow the steps to wean her from night feedings? My son is 5 months old and has become such an erratic sleeper these past few weeks. To say the least, I'm exhausted. I am hoping to finish the book this week and start Friday night with sleep training. Then, we get to deal with time change, lol.

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  10. You have described my daughter to a "T"! She will be 4 months Soon, and I have the book. I was wondering if your daughter is as stubborn as mine?!? I just hope that this method will work for a little girl who can cry for a long time! :)

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  11. Okay, first your daughters face is priceless!! Love that sweet smile. It is BEYOND time for me to try this, we have got to do something, night time sleep for my 9 month old (yes, 9 months! eek!) is getting worse and worse. He use to wake only once at night, I would nurse him and then he would go right back down, but lately he is up every 90 min. We are struggling. Thanks for posting this and for the words of encouragement.. and I think I will totally read this one and try it out. One question-when you say she cried say, 63 mins or 47, etc was that when you first put her down at night and then she didn't wake afterwards or was that off and on throughout the night? Thanks again!!

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  12. We are experiencing the same exact problem. Our daughter was a beautiful sleeper. We'd put her in her crib awake and she'd sleep through the night at 2 months. Somehow that got all mussed up as she started getting out of the swaddle and we were unable to put her down awake. She started having to nurse to fall asleep. Then she started waking more frequently at night. We kept saying, "it's teething pain" or "it's from the shots at the Dr's office", but I think you are right in that she is exhausted, and we are not helping her learn to soothe herself back to sleep. I just ordered the book, and hope that we can wait til it arrives. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

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  13. I just ordered the DVD so my husband will actually watch it with me but i have a question ... my almost 4 month old(15+ lbs) falls asleep at night easy, no pacifier. BUT wakes up 3-4 times throughout the night and i just put a pacifier in his mouth and hes off to sleep instantly. When he does wake up at night i let him fuss around until he starts to actually cry and that is when i go in there to give him the pacifier. So i would start the check ins only when he wakes up crying? He is swaddled now but in a woombie(pretty much a bag that zips up so he can move his arms and legs inside) do i stop putting him in it the same night i start the sleep training? IF pacifiers are not used at night to sleep does that mean no paci's ever? Thanks for your response!!

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  14. Does this book cover issues like feeding to sleep?

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  15. Thank you so much for the great review!! My little girl actually sleeps pretty well at night (9-10 hrs) but will NOT nap during the day on her own (only if Im holding her, and even then she's not sleeping enough!). We've noticed lately she's been super cranky and having frequent meltdowns, probably because she's over tired. Would you recommend Sleep Easy for helping with a napping schedule? She will be 4 months in a few weeks.

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    1. Yes I definitely would! We've recently had to use the Sleepeasy for our 11-month old for naps, and it worked like a charm! Good luck!

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  16. We loved this book for our first child, who was an absolutely horrendous sleeper (read: no more than 20 consecutive minutes of sleep for the first 7 months of her life. No joke!!) It worked like a charm - in just 3 nights, she became an awesome sleeper and has pretty much remained that way (she's now 4 and a half.) But I just started it this week for our 5-month-old son, and we're feeling kind of discouraged. He hasn't been as bad a sleeper as his sister, but it's been 5 nights and he's still waking up at 4:30 and crying for 2-3 hours despite check-ins and following the book to a T. He's been off night feeds for 2 months but I'm wondering if I should reinstate one (but then that'll have to be weaned later). Anyone else have problems or tips for early morning wakings? I had recommended this book so highly before and now feel kind of let down by it! :)

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  17. Thanks for posting this! My son is 7.5 months old and sttn from 2-5 months for 11 hour stretches! Amazing, I know... but now I'm paying my mommy dues! For two and a half months he's been waking 1-3 times per night and will not go back to sleep without me nursing him. I'm not sure why because he self soothes well and puts himself to sleep for naps and bedtime, occasionally with me giving him his paci if he's getting really worked up. Do you think this book will help since he's already a self-soother at all other times except during the night? I'm desperate to get back to uninterrupted sleep, especially because I'm caring for my husband who's recovering from surgery.

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