Monday, January 26, 2015

Adventures in Sleep Training

Disclaimer: I'm not writing this post to create any type of controversy or debate -- I know that every one of us has our own ideas and opinions about sleep training/co-sleeping. This is our account of sleep training and what worked best for our son.
If you've been around my part of the Internet for the last year or so, you know all about our co-sleeping adventures with Jackson. 

As some of you may remember, Jax was born two weeks early and was admitted to the NICU hours after being born because of his grunting and inability to cry. Fortunately, after a day and a half, Jax showed signs of improvement and we were sent home. Once we were home and began adjusting to life as a family of three, we discovered that Jackson wasn't the greatest sleeper and was always wanting to be cuddled and fed. Since this was our first child and we had virtually no other experience with a newborn, we decided to just roll with the punches and let him sleep in bed with us for the time being since he was a bit premature and may have just needed the extra comfort and warmth.

Fast forward a year and Jackson was still sleeping in bed with us.

We had (kinda) tried crib training Jackson in the past but it wasn't working--we tried letting him cry-it-out during his regular nap time but my mamma heart couldn't take the crying and I'd end up picking him up and laying down with him a few short minutes later. Then in November, when I was sick with a bad case of bronchitis, my doctor prescribed me a codeine cough syrup to help me get some much needed sleep and we attempted some "emergency" crib training (I'm normally a very light sleeper and feel Jax's every move but wasn't willing to risk rolling over on/nursing him in my narcotic induced state). Needless to say, he was back in bed with us 45 minutes later and I settled on just taking some Robitussin.

Then on New Year's Eve, Brandon found a deal on airline tickets that got us thinking about taking a weekend vacation away.. just the two of us.. without our darling little bed sharer. Long story short, that ended up not working out but the next day, I found a good deal on a flight and hotel in Vegas and decided to just go ahead and book it.

That was the final nail in the coffin (so to speak)--we had to sleep train Jackson.


By that Friday night, Brandon put Jackson in his crib against both his and I wishes we were ready to give it a shot. After our nightly nursing session, we put Jax in his crib and without skipping a beat, he began to scream bloody murder. It took every fiber of my being to not go in there and rescue him from his cold jail cell of a crib--I finally had to go downstairs to do dishes just to resist the urge to "save" him.

While Brandon was taking his "shift" and checking in on Jackson every couple of minutes, I let the hot tears pour down my cheeks and onto the dirty dishes. I prayed for strength and self control on my part, patience on Brandon's, and peace for our confused little Jax. After I finished loading the dishwasher and turned off the faucet, I braced myself for the shrill screams of an angry and tired toddler. Do you what I heard instead? Nothing.

I heard nothing.

I tiptoed upstairs, peeked into Jax's room, and saw my husband leaning over the crib, rubbing our sons back, and reassuring him that everything was okay while Jax laid there in a calm and dreamlike state.

Was this real life? Was our son actually calm? In his crib?

I had every intention of just letting Jackson cry it out all night but my husband surprised me and tried a different method he'd read about earlier that day.

Here's what he did:
  • Quietly walked into the room and softly reassured him that everything is okay.
  • Encouraged him to give Elmo a hug (Elmo is Jackson's version of a security blanket or lovey), which got him to lay down. 
  • Rubbed his back until he fell asleep.
I wish I could say this method kept him asleep for hours straight but alas, Jax was up again a few short hours later (which is when we started the process over again). But it was progress.

We've been consistent in using the same method for over two weeks now (with the exception of the night he was running a high fever and just wanted to be held) and things are getting better and better each night. Jax now LOVES his crib and squeals with delight every time he sees his Elmo and music/light machine waiting for him. We still need to work a bit more on teaching him ţo self sooth and fall back asleep on his own but we figure we'll take everything one night at a time. One great article I read in regards to sleep training recommended letting your child hold onto a stuffed animal/lovie/security blanket during nursing sessions so they begin to associate that item with being comforted and cared for. I've done that with Elmo and it has made a huge difference.

I never thought that Jackson would be sleeping on his own (in fact, I figured he'd be co-sleeping until he was 16) so the fact that he's falling asleep and staying asleep in his crib for a few hours at a time is a really big deal. I also forgot how nice it is to be able to sprawl out in bed, cuddle with, and be a little more, err.. spontaneous with my husband--I'd say that sleep training has been a win/win/win for the entire family.

Over the next week, we'll be working more on drinking whole milk (versus breastfeeding) and self soothing so stand by for another lengthy blog post.

Which method worked best for your little one when it was time to sleep train?

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