Accidental sleep training: is it possible?
I nearly cried this past February when I opened a birthday card from my parents and two tickets to The Who slid out. Of course I was ecstatic to see one of the greatest rock bands of all time, but I knew it meant I would be away from Jack for at least five hours. The pressure was on to get him sleeping on his own.
Some experts say that once a baby reaches six months, they are ready for sleep training. For those of you who may not know what sleep training is, it’s simply helping your baby sleep on their own throughout the night. I’ve been trying to train Jack for the last five months.
He was eight-months-old when I opened that card, and had never taken to bottles or soothers, and he was still waking up every two hours to feed unless I gave him the comfort of co-sleeping.
“He’ll be okay by May, right?” my mom asked.
“Oh yeah, of course!” I said with great confidence.
As the weeks went on, I told myself that I wasn’t going to sleep with him anymore, but he continued to wake up every few hours, and I grew so tired and miserable by the middle of the week, that I just gave in. The arrangement seemed permanent.
People would drop encouraging comments like, “oh he’s a boy, they do that; they’re super clingy,” or “boys love their mothers; good luck with that.” I thought the only way I would get Jack to sleep on his own was to endure night after night of endless crying.
The night of the concert I tried putting him down at his usual time of 7 p.m., but with the excitement of grandma having just arrived, he wouldn’t have it.
“Well, the plan is to keep him up as late as possible,” I told grandma. To which she obliged, and sent me a text around 9:30 p.m. that he had finally fallen asleep.
He slept through the night without waking once. Fair enough, I thought. He’s exhausted. And then the next night as well. A hangover from the excitement the night before, I assumed. And then again the next night and the next. How is this possible I thought? Was going out for one night and keeping him up past his bed time the cure?
Most experts will tell you to establish a solid routine before bedtime, but maybe breaking it and throwing your baby off with a few extra hours of playtime is key. It may be too early to tell, and I could very well be in for a world of pain in the next few days, but maybe (fingers crossed), I stumbled upon a new, hassle-free, cry-free sleep training method that involves the parents going out and having fun.