“I’ve been trying to sleep train my one year old. Last night, she cried for a solid hour and I gave up. What do I do now?”
I’ve got to tell you, Heidi, this question is a great one. If you’ve started sleep training your child with whatever methods you’re using, you simply cannot give up. Here’s the reason why. If you allow a baby to cry for any length of time, only to then reward them with their sleep prop, you have just encouraged your baby to cry.
That’s not going to make sense to anyone. It won’t make sense to her that she has to cry for a certain period of time, and it’s not going to be really helpful to you at all. I find that when people do that, what they accidentally do is that they encourage and teach their baby to cry.
This question actually really makes my blood boil a little bit because I always encourage people to do this the fastest and easiest way possible. I don’t want this to be any harder on you or the baby than it needs to be, but by giving up, you’re making it harder on yourself and you’re, hands down, making this harder on your baby.
Is the timing right?
My advice to you would be to sit down and think this through. Is this the right time for you? Do you have the support you need to really hang in there and be consistent? If the answer is no, then, shelf this for now. You’re not ready. The timing’s not right. That’s OK.
That is absolutely OK. Give yourself that permission to let this go for now. But if the answer is, “No, I need to get this done. I’m committed. I’m ready. I made a mistake, but I’m not going to do it again,” then I would say, “All right, let’s do this, and let’s do this right.”
You have to decide. You’re in or you’re out. You cannot do this halfway. I hope you’re in because I think, given her age, the fact that’s she’s one, there’s no reason why she can’t be sleeping a glorious 10 to 12 hours a night, but you have to stay committed.
Stay in the room
Here are a couple of little tips that you can take going into this. Have a look at your strategy. My advice is to always start with the stay in the room method. I do find that for a lot of babies, this makes the process easier because you’re there, and you can support her. She doesn’t have to be worried that you have left the house. There’s just a lot of support around that method.
Leave and check method
But if you’re five or six nights in and you’re not finding you’re making very good progress or she’s really struggling, then, it really might be worth changing strategies. Then you would move to more of a leave and check method. Again, always asking yourself, “Are we moving in the direction of progress? Are things getting easier? Am I helping by being there? Is it better if I leave?” Because again, the main goal here is to make this as easy on you and the baby as absolutely possible. Have a good look at that.
If you’re struggling with the night waking portion, which most people do. I get it. It’s three o’clock in the morning. You’re tired. You just want to go back to sleep, too. If that’s the place where you lose your will a little bit then plan ahead. How are you going to get through this and stay committed?
Do you need to have your partner go in instead? Can you take turns with your partner? Do you have a mother in law who’s willing to help out? Do you have anybody else in your life that can help you make this through?
Practice makes perfect
I’ve even told clients, “You know what? Go stand in the shower for 10 minutes if you need a break around it.” Anything you need to do to be consistent and hang in there, because ultimately, this is what needs to happen for the baby. She needs to learn the skills she needs to sleep well. She can only do that if she has time to practice.
I hope that gave you a little bit of a pep talk, Heidi, and you can go forward and really get this done as quickly and as painlessly as possible.