About a month ago, I️ wrote a Motherhood Monday post about sleep training Andrew. In it, I️ talked about how getting Andrew on a better schedule really helped with his fussiness in the evenings. It also helped us get a bit longer stretches of sleep during the night. While not much has changed as far as how much he sleeps (he still hasn’t slept through the night), my mindset on sleep training and STTN has changed so today I️ wanted to chat with y’all about that.
For weeks, I️ tried so hard to follow the prescribed Moms on Call schedule in the hopes that Andrew would STTN or at least go longer than his new record of five hours. However, I️ was frustrated and stressed out because there were very few days that Andrew would follow the schedule to a tee – I️ can’t get him to nap longer then 30-40 minutes – or that I️ could follow it due to errands, appointments, etc. Because it was nearly impossible for me to follow the schedule consistently, I kept thinking that’s why Andrew wouldn’t sleep through the night.
Desperately trying to attain the most prized possession of new parenthood, a full night’s rest, I️ decided to try other “sleep training” methods. First, I️ bought the Love to Dream swaddle. When I️ put Andrew in it, he immediately started screaming. Well, that wasn’t the response I was hoping for. Next, I️ bought the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit.
As I stuffed his little body into it that first night, he didn’t seem to mind it at all. I, however, just didn’t feel right about it. He was basically immobilized by something that you would only see an Eskimo wearing, not a baby in Georgia! Plus, I️ worried about him getting too hot. Even though all the online forums said babies would be fine in it, I️ kept the air extra low that night and decided I would give it one night’s try.
Well, guess what? Andrew slept nine hours straight during his first night in that thing! Of course, I hardly slept because I was worried the entire night. Was there something wrong with him? Was he too hot? Why is he sleeping this long? He’s never slept this long! While I was obviously thrilled that he had slept so long, part of me felt like it just wasn’t right. I know that sounds silly – after all I just said how badly I wanted him to STTN – but I guess I just wanted him to do it on his own, not with some silly puffer jacket contraption. Unable to push past this questioning pit in my stomach, I️ decided I️ would just ask my pediatrician her opinion of it at his four month appointment that same week.
As soon as I️ uttered the word Merlin to Andrew’s pediatrician, she said don’t do it. Her feedback was that it wasn’t worth using because it was just another thing we would have to transition him out of. She also said it would discourage him from learning to roll over onto his belly to sleep. She recommended just using a sleep sack and encouraged us to let Andrew cry it out at night. Looking at Patrick and I️ she told us to be each other’s support and not to go in his room. In a couple of nights, we would have a good sleeper she promised..
Standing in that exam room, I had the same pit in my stomach that I had when stuffing little Andrew into the Merlin sleep suit. I just couldn’t imagine letting him cry it out. While I️ don’t always run into his room the second he starts crying, I do go in there after 5 -10 minutes if he hasn’t soothed himself. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, but I am a mom, and as Andrew’s mom, I’ve personally decided I can’t let my four month old baby cry it out. So, even if it’s just a loving touch he needs at midnight or an hour in the rocking chair at 3:00 a.m., I’m going to give it to him. If this somehow messes up his ability to self soothe at night and leads to him waking us up late into his toddler years, then so be it. Hopefully by the time he goes to college he’ll know how to put himself to sleep :p
Up until this point, I️ had major guilt about the fact that Andrew wasn’t STTN. It seems like there are so many MoC success stories of babies STTN after just three nights of training that I️ thought there was something wrong with him. Or, if there wasn’t something wrong with Andrew, then it had to be the fact that I was an incapable trainer. Wait, what?! I couldn’t believe I was thinking these things. He’s literally a four month old baby so what if he doesn’t STTN yet! STTN is not some milestone he has to reach like holding his head up or eating real food. I know he will someday, but for today, I’ve decided to accept the fact that he hasn’t hit this landmark event just yet.
Last night at our monthly bible study, which we do with three other couples who have babies the same age as Andrew (so fun and so much baby cuteness!), the moms started discussing sleep habits and sleep training. Talking to them was encouraging as they had similar sentiments and experiences with the whole sleep training situation as I do. Turns out there are other moms out there who haven’t had perfect experiences with sleep training 😉
In just four months, motherhood has taught me a lot of lessons. Of the many, I want to share one that I think is relevant to this post: Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you, your baby, and your family regardless of what others think or say. If that means following a strict schedule or no schedule at all or if that means comforting your baby at every cry in the night or letting them cry it out, you do you and you do what is best for your baby. That’s what I continue to remind myself to do so I just want to encourage any new mamas out there to do the same (I’m thinking experienced moms may already know this 😉 )!
Happy Motherhood Monday! Sweet dreams!