Why we chose to sleep train our son

The decision was 12 months in the making. 

For the first few months of parenthood, several night wake ups are inevitable and expected. Your new baby needs to eat and it doesn’t matter what time it is. 

As the months went on, there were fewer night wake ups. One or two a night was fine by me.

I was on maternity leave so could function with the broken sleep - I got used to it. As I approached the end of my time off work, I started to realise I would not be able to get through a full day of work with interrupted sleep.

My husband Duncan and I had done as much as we could to get Levi to sleep through the night, but were having no luck.  

We’d reached the point where we had to consider sleep training and reached out to a sleep consultant to help. It was a really good decision.

I researched a few sleep consultants in Canberra and settled on Amanda Rose from Hush Goodnight.

We chatted on the phone where I gave a brief overview of our situation. She told me some babies need to learn the skill of self settling, while others picked it up on their own.

It was during this conversation that Amanda told me an online consultation would work for us.

This involved filling out a detailed questionnaire and deciding on the type of sleep training we wanted to do. Duncan and I settled on controlled crying (or spaced soothing) – fast and effective and not at all harmful to Levi.

I was going back to work in a couple of weeks and needed something to work quick.

Here’s how it works: 

Put your baby in their cot, say goodnight and leave the room.

On day one, you wait 3 minutes before going in to comfort. Then you wait 5 minutes and 7 minutes after that.

Set a timer because the time seems to drag when they’re crying. You have to start the timer again if they stop and start crying. It needs to be consistent crying for the whole interval. If they stop and start, it means they’re settling themselves and trying to fall back asleep – this is what you want.

Each day, you wait a little longer before going in to comfort your baby.

On day two for example, the intervals are 5 minutes, 10 minutes, then 12.

On day one, Levi was asleep in 20 minutes. He was up again at 11.15pm and after crying for a few intervals, was asleep after half an hour. His next wake up was 5am and he cried a bit, whinged a bit, sat up, lay down and wasn’t going back to sleep so we got up.

On days two and three Levi was asleep in about 12 minutes, waking up a few times throughout the night but falling back asleep again, with me only having to go in a couple of times to comfort him.

On day four, Levi slept from 7pm to 5.15am.

He has pretty much slept through the night since then. If he does wake up, he settles himself back to sleep. We have the occasional bad night but Duncan and I feel human again and it’s fabulous.

The sleep training included his day naps. This was harder because a baby has less sleep hormone during the day.

Levi’s morning nap has been capped at 30 minutes to make sure he has a good afternoon nap. Amanda’s logic behind this is that eventually Levi will drop his morning nap so it’s better to focus on getting his afternoon sleep the right length (2 hours). 

For the first few mornings, Levi cried the whole 30 minutes (between being comforted) so he didn’t nap. In the afternoon, if he cried for 45 minutes to an hour, I went in and either fed him for comfort or he fell asleep in my arms. He couldn’t skip both naps.

After a few days, Levi had a short morning nap and a longer afternoon nap and it got better and better. Now he sleeps half an hour at home and an hour to an hour and a half in the afternoon.

Levi is at daycare three days a week and his sleeps aren’t as good as when he’s home but continue to improve.

Controlled crying is not for everyone (there are other methods of sleep training). I had to be strong, and could never have done it if I wasn’t 100% committed or if Duncan wasn’t on board.

I also couldn’t have done it without Amanda. She was there to answer my questions, offering support, reassurance and guidance for a couple of weeks while we got the day sleeps more in order. She still responds to my texts!! I cannot recommend Amanda more.