The hardest part about sleep training your child is realizing you won’t get any sleep for a few days.
It was all too easy to stick to a routine when I was a mother of one. When my second child, Milani came along, there were some rough moments, but, for the most part, I could stick to a consistent routine which allowed me to get the uninterrupted sleep I needed. I began sleep training a lot sooner back then. My eldest son, Christopher was 6 months old when he began sleeping full time in his crib. By that time I was very pregnant with my second, my then 2 year old son, Christopher, began waking more often through the night. I took the advice from my pediatrician who said I would need 4 days of consistently not allowing him to enter my room and his intentional “sleep walking” would be healed! Here’s what I did…
I was 8.5 months pregnant with my second child (Milani) and my fear was that if she was born and I sent Christopher back to bed, he would associate his dismissal with the new baby. Avoiding that complex was my main mission. I slept on a sofa in his room that night. He woke up around 5 times. Each time I would put him back in his bed and pat his back until he fell asleep. I didn’t sleep much at all that night.
Again, I found myself very uncomfortable and overly pregnant sleeping on a small couch in my son’s bedroom. This time he woke up only 3 times. He knew I was in the room, so he never left his bed each time he awoke. PROGRESS! I would get up and say, “Mommy’s here!” and gently pat him back to sleep.
This time, I did not get up when he popped his head up off of his pillow to let me know he was awake and ready to jump in our bed as he would normally do. I simply said to him, “Go back to sleep! Mommy’s here!” Tonight he only woke up twice.
This is the night I was longing for. I spent one more night on his couch and it was like magic. Although I still did not sleep much, he never woke up until the morning!
Finally! At this point I am desperate for sleep after 4 nights of playing “sleep walking guard.” I prayed those nights were not in vain as I tucked him in for the night and made my way to my own bed and joined my husband for the first time in 4 nights. I slept like a baby until I woke up in panic around 5am and waddled to his bedroom, only to find he was still asleep. SUCCESS!
Here’s the breakdown:
Christopher was only waking up out of habit and also to make sure that mommy and daddy were nearby. We are his comfort and his “body alarm” was triggered every night to make sure he was as close as possible to that comfort. I had to first break the cycle of him getting out of his bed and making the journey to our bedroom. The only way I could do that in my case, was to be near him but not in his bed. After I was able to keep him from getting out of bed altogether, my next mission was to reassure him that I’m nearby and it’s okay to remain asleep.
I did the same practice with my second child, Milani, and she was a breeze. To this day she loves her beauty sleep and rarely interrupts us throughout the night unless she’s feeling under the weather. Now, years later, as I look at my beautiful baby boy Chase (2 years old) who loves to wake up and scream, “Daddy,” every night around 3am, I know his time is coming. His time is NOW! This has to end! And since he’s not yelling my name in the middle of the night, for the first time after 2 children, IT’S DADDY’S TURN to sleep train the sleepwalker! HA!
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