1. PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE! Don't go in too early, or leave too soon.... In our rush to get Juna to sleep, we weren't always allowing her the time and space to try to fall asleep on her own. With the first sound, or even when we'd see her squirm, we'd rush in to 'save' the nap. Now, we give her a good 10 minutes to figure it out by herself, unless of course she's crying hard. By the same token, we used to give up too early. If she cried a little, we'd change tactics right away, rather than waiting her out. As long as you know Baby is fed, clean, dry and burped, you can be sure s/he is fighting you because this is a new and different way to fall asleep. It takes time to learn any new skill! Once she's down, don't rush away just yet. Give it a few minutes with your hand on his or her chest and some gentle shush'ing until you are sure Baby is relaxed (we do this for naps, but for bedtime, we just take off and that works for us!).
2. Confidence! Choose a plan that works for your family. Just because one technique worked for your friend, doesn't mean it will work for you. In fact, one technique may have worked for your older child, but is not working for this one! Decide how much crying you can take, how much time you can devote and what your goals are by the end of the training. If you're happy co-sleeping and the whole family is getting the appropriate rest, wonderful! If you want baby in his or her crib and in their own room now, fantastic! Once you've decided how you want to approach your sleep training, be confident in your decision. The only true goal is a happy, rested family, so do what works for all of you, and forget the naysayers.
3. Support. My husband and I did this together, with the additional support of Sasha, our pediatrician and readers like you! Support works in two ways: it gives you a boost when you feel discouraged, and also makes you accountable. It is so easy to give up when the going gets tough, but just when you want to quit is usually when things get better. Sasha reminded us of that this entire week, and I'm so glad we stuck it out. Find support wherever you can, and make sure that person or people are truly behind your efforts. Having someone in your home who can take the duty of a nap or two is immensely helpful, especially if you're a single parent. Don't feel like you have to go it alone!
4. See the Big Picture. It's easy to say "this nap isn't working, this child needs sleep, I'll do whatever it takes to get her to rest", and then you're stuck with a baby in your arms, on your boob or in your bed. When we have a failed nap, I try and remind myself that this one nap isn't that important. The process is. Know that the week or two you devote to sleep training is going to be challenging, exhausting and frustrating. You will want to quit, you will feel it doesn't work. Instead of seeing that moment as a failure, look at it as practice for the next time. Assess what wasn't working: was your shush too aggressive, your pat too fast? Did you wait too long before put down, did you put down too early? Did you miss the 'sleep window'? Resolve to try again at the next sleep period. You are devoting this time now so your baby learns to fall asleep on her own. What a wonderful gift to give your child!
5. Be practical. Make sure Baby is fed, dry, burped, well-swaddled and comfortable before trying to put him or her down during your sleep training. Keep the room your child sleeps in cool, quiet and dark, with fresh sheets and fresh air. Don't try and do too much this week. Stay home, rest when baby rests, order take-out, leave the laundry. These little things are practical ways to save yourself a lot of stress.
I wish you all the best in your sleep journey. I wish you and your family peaceful days and restful nights. Thank you for the support you've given me as we work towards getting Juna some sleep. This is just the beginning, but I feel hopeful and encouraged by our progress this week. If anyone is interested in learning more details about our plan, or would like information about our consultant, please feel free to contact me.
|Back in the day when Juna would sleep anywhere.....|