Inside the article: Participating in a sleep training can be an extremely stressful and emotional experience for many moms. I was one of those, trust me! However, I can also encourage you that at the end of the day, it was the best decision we ever made. Learn how to overcome mom guilt when sleep training your child and gain your sanity back.
Hey Mama, Not Sleeping?
Auh, I remember the days of no sleep. I mean, kind of. I’ve mostly blacked them out of my memory at this point because if not, I would have no hope of future kids.
During the first two nights we were home, my husband and I pulled straight up all nighters. And while this was totally a choice (how could we leave him alone?!), it’s just not sustainable to live on little to no sleep. Even the next few months of waking every 2-3 hours to breastfeed left me completely exhausted.
When our son was about 4 months old, we hit our stride. Finally! He was sleeping mostly through the night with a waking here and there. We’d weaned off of night feedings. And most importantly, we’d done it all without resorting to any kind of cry it out method. Wow, I felt like the best mom!
Or so I thought… what was once a single, quick midnight waking turned into a several hour party in my son’s nursery complete with an unneeded feeding and the inability to put my son down in his crib without serious tears. This happened about 3 nights out of the week, generally moments after I’d fallen asleep for the night. FUN!
I knew it was time. For my sanity, for my husband’s sanity, and for my son’s wellbeing, I needed to look into a sleep course. Let’s talk about how I learned to overcome mom guilt while sleep training my son.
So. Many. Choices.
Ok, so shopping for sleep training curriculum is really difficult, far more difficult than I originally thought. Do we read a book? Do we buy a class with videos and handouts? Or do we squeeze information out of our friends until they cave and give us their log in?
Haha. JK. Kind of.
The biggest hang up is that classes can be really expensive. Many have a social media presence that hints at some strategies, and even combing through comments can get you some info. But learn from me, just buy the class.
After a lot of shopping, we chose Taking Cara Babies. My primary draw to her course was her Instagram stories that showed her compassion and encouragement with how difficult sleep training can be. I knew she would have my baby’s best interest at heart and her course seemed flexible to accommodate our needs.
Spoiler alert: I was right!
Cry It Out?
Remember when I talked about cry it out? Traditionally, cry it out involves the child learning to self-soothe by eliminating the parent intervening and calming the child. I had been made to think that babies would cry for hours with no one coming to their rescue. (Please hear me when I say that every parent can and will make the best decisions for their children. If this method is what works for you, no judgement here!)
I, however, couldn’t stand the idea of doing that! These preconceived notions combined with my Master’s in Developmental Trauma said a big fat “no” to anything smelling like cry it out. I wanted my baby to know that if he needed me, I would be there.
I was also confident that hearing him cry for any longer than 2 minutes would make me a puddle. My head screamed that I wasn’t a good mom if my baby was crying.
One of the first things I learned about Taking Cara Babies was that it involved crying. OH NO! Did I just waste nearly $200 on something I wasn’t willing to do?
Putting It In Action
To my relief, the method involved staying connected while crying. I won’t go into much more detail because I truly believe you should buy her class to have the full experience. But let’s just say I was comfortable giving the class a shot.
The first few nights were really hard. Even through the guidelines, my son did cry. And I’m not talking little sniffly cries. I’m talking deeply distressed and heart-wrenching sobs. UGH!
I had to continue reminding myself that my baby needs sleep to function at his best. What kind of person am I if don’t get quality sleep? Cranky, on edge, quick to anger… the list goes on. I wanted to set my baby up for success!
After just a few nights, my son was sleeping through the night. Miracle, right? Looking back, it’s easy to understand that he was so upset because things were different. Oftentimes when we are trying to change behavior, behaviors get worse before they get better simply due to change.
Imagine every time you screamed, you’d get a piece of chocolate. All of a sudden, screaming gets you absolutely nothing. You might keep screaming, or you might even try screaming louder. You get frustrated because the screaming isn’t working. So, you scream more! Get the picture?
Eventually, you realize the screams aren’t successful anymore and you stop getting so frustrated. It’s the same for your baby. It’s really distressing at first, but soon after, they know to just fall asleep.
Through working to overcome mom guilt while sleep training my son, I learned a few lessons I’d like to share.
- I am a better person when I am well-rested. And so is my son. While the first few days are long, the results are worth it.
- I now know when something is wrong. My son has woken up several times since sleep training began. While some of these events didn’t seem to yield any problems, one of the nights, my son had a 103 degree fever. I’m so glad I went to check!
- I am stronger than I think (and so are you!). No one wants their baby to be distressed. No one! But the cost is worth the benefit of consistent, healthy sleep for years to come. Going through three really difficult nights was for the benefit of my baby, which shows a lot of strength to me!
Tell Me What You Learned!
After sleep training, what did you learn?
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