It’s a controversial topic, and if you look for advice online you’ll find armies of mums convinced that it’s cruel and that you’re harming your child. To be honest I had also felt it wasn’t for me, I enjoyed the night time cuddles and I couldn’t imagine it working. I’d read about babies needing comforted to develop and about babies crying for hours on end and mums in an even worse state.
Isla’s sleep had been getting steadily worse, to the point that I slept sitting up in her room holding her in my arms. I’m going back to work in a few weeks and as a youth worker, I need a lot of energy to get through a day. Isla will also be starting nursery and I was panicking about how she’d cope at nap time when, unless I fed or rocked her to sleep, she would work herself up into an awful state and be completely inconsolable.
Both my mum and health visitor had suggested letting her cry, but I imagined this going on for hours and to be honest thought it was another ‘in my day’ ‘didn’t do me any harm’ kind of things. But we were at the point that it couldn’t continue the way it was, so I decided to try some sleep training.
I looked into various techniques, leaving them to cry it out, staying in the room until they fall asleep and so on, but settled on controlled crying – when you comfort the baby without picking them up, then leave the room, with progressively longer gaps between going back in. I was prepared for this to take all night, I thought it would be a case of a few nights bad sleep before it clicked.
I couldn’t believe how quickly it worked, some people recommend leaving a minimum of five minutes but I started off with one then two and so on. The first time it only took half an hour, she was getting very upset but the longest she cried before I went in was about seven minutes. Then when she woke up in the night I fed her, popped her back down and this time it only took about twenty minutes and she was less upset. I heard her fuss slightly during the night but just as I got ready to get up, she settled herself back to sleep, usually at this point she’d have woken up screaming and I’d have spent half an hour rocking her and trying to lie her back down without waking. She then slept right through until this morning when we both woke up far happier, she was full of smiles and cuddles so it’s clearly not damaged her in any way. It’s the best sleep I’ve had since she was born!
This morning when I put her down for her nap it took less than fifteen minutes and I only had to go in once. She’s now been napping for over an hour which is great as she often doesn’t nap for quite long enough but won’t go back to sleep and gets grumpier and grumpier as the day goes on.
Hopefully this continues and soon I’ll be making up for all that lost sleep!
I just wanted to share my experience in case it was reassuring to anyone who was as anxious about it as I was. I know it may add to the overload of information, but I’m just so amazed at how quickly it worked especially as Isla has needed fed, cuddled or rocked to sleep every nap and bed time since she was born.