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Editor's Letter

Sleep training

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past two weeks. We had one hell of a fortnight. Henry and I were down with gastro and a cold so we were house bound for 10 days. We also started sleep training about two weeks ago which meant I was walking around like a zombie and was literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Henry was such a good sleeper up until he turned 6 months. When he started pulling himself up, he was suddenly waking up few times a night and we had to spend a long time re-settling him back to sleep. 

About a month ago, he suddenly started waking up every hour or two and wouldn’t go back to sleep unless we were next to his cot. I blamed it on separation anxiety. Weeks had gone by and we were left physically exhausted and mentally drained. 

Finally out of desperation, we decided to try the Controlled Crying method. I read the book Save Our Sleep and realised that my “good sleeper” had actually never learnt to put himself to sleep. He relied on me to fall asleep so when he woke up, he naturally looked for me. 

I did everything the book says. I upped his solids – he’s always been a good eater but the book says feed until he turns away. So I literally double what I would normally him and he still has no trouble finishing his upsized meals (maybe I’d been under-feeding him all this while!)

When it’s time for bed, we let him cry and he cried for an hour and 40 minutes the first two nights.

Then on the third night, he came down with a cold (so did I)and he was waking up every hour. It seemed like sleep training had backfired. So we stopped everything and just focused on getting him well again.

I was in tears when I called my lovely sister-in-law in Sydney. She suggested bringing in the big guns – Taking Henry to the renowned Masada sleep school. It costs about $4,000 for its 5 day residential program. Our sanity was at stake so we really couldn’t care less about the costs. But the sleep school has a 9 week waiting list and I couldn’t even last another 9 days. 

Meanwhile, we introduced a new furry friend Bunny. I played match maker by playing puppetry with Bunny and putting Bunny in Henry’s hands when I gave him his bottle before bed. It didn’t take long for Henry to fall in love with his new friend. He now goes to sleep with his Bunny every night and talks to Bunny when he wakes up in the morning (instead of crying for us).

The real turning point was last Saturday when we were at the farm, our friend Lija, out of habit, switched off his night light and walked out of his room after failing to settle him. He continued his crying and screaming for about 20 minutes and then suddenly we noticed the other part of the house has fallen into a complete silence. I tip-tied into his room, he was still awake and heard me so he started crying again. I walked out immediately – it’s much easier to ignore the crying when you’re in a big house. Another 10 minutes had gone by and he stopped again. This time he had fallen asleep on his own and boy, he didn’t wake til 6:30am!

That has really given me a boost of confidence. There is hope! He can sleep through the night if he wears himself out! We can do this!

So I persevered with his sleep training when we got back in town on Sunday. I put him down while he was relaxed but awake, switched off his night light and walked out of his room. He still cried for 40 minutes at the beginning of this week. But once he fell asleep on his own, he slept til 6:30am! 

He grizzled for ten minutes last night when I walked out. But tonight (5th night), he grizzled for 3 seconds – it was literally “eh-eh-eh” and he’s out! 

I can’t believe this is happening after 4 months of torture. I forgot what it feels like to have our dinner in peace, to watch tv after dinner without dreading the next sleep battle. 
I just wanted to share our experience because I hope somewhere, out there, a sleep deprived parent will read this and know that there’s hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train!)

Good night and may the force be with you. xoxo

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