My Sleep Training Journey
I am not going to lie and say sleep training is easy because it is not. However, it is 100% worth the hard work.
My sleep training journey with Joshua has been painful at times, but once he gets it! Oh, Hallelujah! It is bliss! It makes such a big difference, and it is worth those painful few days when you are training your baby.
Sleep Training On Your Own vs. Hiring a Sleep Consultant
The biggest difference between sleep training on my own and hiring a sleep consultant is that you save a lot of time with trial and error and googling. I am not sure about you, but for me, I only have a certain amount of days of will power to do this. After that, I start losing the will to keep going, because I am tired and emotionally drained.
I remember the days googling and asking friends how they slept train their babies. Some parents don't believe in sleep training, and most of the information I found, and experience parents have shared is the "cry it out" method. This method is not for everyone and not for every baby. It certainly didn't work for us, so we needed to find an alternative way.
When we hired Gemma, she assessed our situation, our baby's personality, and our (as a family) routine and habits. She will then give you advice and the best sleep training method to suit your needs. This saved us a lot of time and emotional stress. For parents, who need more hand-holding and support, Gemma offers packages where you can contact her after her first assessment and extra advice and help. (This can come in very handy for those who have babies who are more difficult to sleep train.) The great thing about Gemma is that she is very flexible. You can always start with her most basic plan and upgrade to a different package if you need the extra support.
My Experience With Sleep Training On My Own
When I tried sleep training on my own, I tried the "cry it out" method, because that is what I found on the internet and what other parents have told me they have done. So naturally, I thought I would give it a go.
I regret trying this method out, as it was both excruciating for me emotionally and damaging to my relations with both my baby and my husband.
My husband didn't believe in sleep training, as he doesn't feel it is right to let your child cry for a long time. I, on the other hand, is a strong believer in sleep training. For one, I am the one who is on the night shift every night. So if I am to function during the day, I need to sleep train my child! This topic is one that we butt heads all the time!
When we tried the 'cry it out' method with Joshua, it was a very painful experience. Not only is it heart-wrenching to hear your child screaming at the top of his lung for 20 mins straight, but I also had to deal with my husband protesting about letting our child cry for 20 mins. Those 20 minutes were the longest of my life! Trying to stay mentally strong while fighting with the two people closest to you is not easy. In some ways, I will even say it is soul-crushing.
We decided this method wasn't working when Joshua lost this voice. My husband was furious with me, and needless to say, I felt super guilty. That is when we decided to reach out to Gemma and ask for her help.
Like many parents, we didn't think hiring a sleep consultant was necessary. To be honest, we didn't even know such a professional exists until I went to Gemma's Q&A session.
I was always told, if you hold it out with the "cry it out" method for a week or so, your child will get it. So that is why I tried it. Little did I know, there were less painful methods out there, with a higher success rate.
Sleep Training With a Sleep Consultant
Sleep training Joshua after we hired Gemma was like a night and day experience. For one, her method was a lot more gentle, and both my husband and I were much more comfortable with it.
Gemma is very empathic and supportive, and she takes the time to understand what you are struggling with. It is important to be as honest and as open with her as possible, as she is only here to help and not to judge. She was once the struggling, sleep-deprived mum too, so she completely understands what you are going through.
Gemma's sleep plan tells you exactly what you need to do. In my experience, if you follow it exactly, it is much easier than deviating for her plans. I was soft a couple of times and deviated from the plan slightly. It backfired, and it prolonged the sleep training journey. So please don't make the same mistake I did.
There is still a bit of crying involved, but it wasn't half as bad because I am in the same room as him. For one, Joshua doesn't feel like he is being abandoned, and I don't feel like I am neglecting or depriving my son of comfort. (As strange as it sounds, but early experience of abandonment can impact you to adulthood. I didn't know I had an issue on this topic until I did reiki, and all my emotional baggage surfaced. But more of this in another post.)
In conclusion, going through sleep training with a sleep consultant's guidance was just a lot smoother and saves me time and emotional stress.
I don't want to set unrealistic expectations for parents about sleep training. Sleep training with or without the help of a sleep consultant still involves hard work and commitment.
The most significant difference is whether you are using the right method for you and your family. If you use the correct method, your sleep training journey will be a lot smoother.
I cannot stress this enough; what works for one baby does not always work for another. Every baby is different, so it is not surprising that every baby responds differently to different sleep training methods.
That is why when people ask me what I did to sleep train Joshua, I am not that comfortable sharing because I don't want to make it worse for you. Because what works for us might not work for you, and I don't want to make your life more difficult by giving you the wrong advice. That is why you hire a sleep consultant, so they can pinpoint the problem and show you the correct method that works for you and your family.
Sleep training is also continuous. Before I first started sleep training, I thought I only had to do it once, but the truth is, you need to be consistent with the approach you use. This is particularly important for when your baby goes through teething, an illness, separation anxiety, or development leap, as this can cause disrupted sleep and children find safety in consistency.
I know some sleep consultants offer an overnight service so that they can sleep train your baby for you. This might seem like the easy way out; however, I would not advise on this option because you need to learn how to sleep train your baby so that you can be consistent in the future. Can you imagine having to call a sleeping consultant to come over every time your child goes through teething, vaccinations, or sickness? It will cost you a fortune!
Not all babies can be sleep trained. If your baby has any breathing problems or underlying problems, your child might not suitable for sleep training. This is best to be discussed with your pediatrician or sleep consultant.
If I am to go back in time to give myself advice about sleep training, I will say:
Before you start sleep training, make sure both you and your partner are mentally prepared, because there will be a couple of hard days ahead.
Make sure EVERYONE who takes care of the baby is on the same page. There is no point in doing sleep training if everyone does something different when putting the baby in bed. Consistency is KEY!
Be patient - Sleep training is boring. It will involve a lot of sitting around and looking at your baby monitor.
Know when to stop - if your baby is going through teething, separation anxiety, and illness, put sleep training on pause. If you press on, it will make things worse.
When it gets tough, remember why you are doing this. It is easy to throw in the towel and call it a day when it gets tough or when you are exhausted. Just remind yourself, it is all worth it once your baby is sleep trained. So you can get a good night's sleep as well.
It is never too late to sleep train. You can even sleep train adults, so don't think your child has missed the boat by starting later. You just need to find the right way to do it.
Finding the right time to start sleep training. It is important that you have a clear diary for at least 2-3 weeks when you initially start. This means no holidays or any situation where your child will be unable to sleep in his/her own bed and sleep environment. Changing of time zones during this time could also be confusing for your little one and it is important that the new routine proposed by your sleep consultant is put into practise with pure consistency. (Since most of us aren't travelling right now, it is the perfect time to do it! See, there is always a silver lining in every situation.)
I hope you find this blog post helpful and gives you a better idea of what sleep training is all about. Even though it is hard work, it really is worth it, and remember, you are not alone. Every parent goes through this unless you have won the baby lottery, and your baby is just a fantastic sleeper. So if you do need a helping hand, feel free to reach out to Gemma. She will be happy to answer questions you may have about sleep training.
Gemma and I will be hosting some sleep training Q&A soon. So if you have questions and want to find out more, please leave me a message and let us know. So please stay tuned to my upcoming post about the upcoming Q&A sessions.
Sending you love & positive thoughts,