A Milestone Almost 11 Months in the Making

When it first happened, 3 nights in a row, I almost couldn’t believe it was true. My rested body and perky eyes told a different story, but reality hadn’t quite set in. For the first few nights, my husband and I didn’t even mention it, as if talking about it would suddenly make it untrue. I didn’t dare say it out loud to anyone else, for fear of jinxing it. But after 3 nights turned into 5 nights, then a week, and even 2 weeks, it started to set in that our little baby boy had indeed reached the milestone us parents all dream about from the moment we first bring our little bundles of joy home from the hospital. What milestone is it that I speak of?

Sleeping through the night is the milestone I speak of, and one that we celebrated mightily after a couple of weeks of solid sleep! To be perfectly honest, I began to think our guy wouldn’t start sleeping through the night until after I had weaned him, but he proved me wrong.

The road to getting there

It was a long process of getting him to sleep through the night, and one I had pretty much given up on, telling myself it would happen when he was ready. We stayed consistent with our sleep routine, and encouraged independent sleep, meaning we helped him learn to fall asleep on his own, but other than that, all other sleep training methods had been abandoned for months. My husband and I had both decided that between work and caring for our other 2 children, it just wasn’t worth the tears, energy, and lost sleep trying to get him to fall back asleep on his own in the middle of the night. I had resorted to nursing him back to sleep anytime he woke in the middle of the night, which was often 2 times a night. Letting go of control was hard for a control freak like me, but losing upwards of 1-2 hours of sleep a night, when we tried to “sleep train,” was way harder.

But it appears that, as with almost everything, our baby was on his own timetable, and slept through the night when he was good and ready. For the first few nights we recounted what we had done special, if anything, to get this miracle to occur. But through retracing our steps over and over, it appears that he just did it because he was ready.

Advice for sleepy, weary parents

- Stick to what feels right for you, and works for your family. Some parents rely on the cry it out method, some believe co-sleeping is best and will allow baby to fall asleep independently when they’re ready. If necessary, talk with your partner and come up with a plan to tackle “sleep training” to make sure you’re both on the same page.

- Once you’ve established a plan, be consistent and stick with it. For us, we just focused on encouraging Hayden to fall asleep when he first went down for the night, on his own, with little to no intervention from us. We both felt and believed that eventually, he would learn to fall back asleep in the middle of the night, just as he had learned to do in the beginning.

- Don’t take unsolicited advice to heart. A few people, when they found out he still wasn’t sleeping through the night at 10 months old, would offer advice and ask questions about what we were doing, certain we were doing something wrong. Others were very supportive and assured me that he would sleep through the night when he was ready. I held onto the latter and ignored the former as much as possible. It wasn’t always easy, but it’s called mother’s intuition for a reason. Listen to your gut, it will hardly steer you wrong.

- Rest, rest, rest until the day comes! Go to bed early, take up friends’ offers to come watch baby for an hour and take a nap. You need your wits about you, as much as possible, to be able to stay the course and make good decisions and stay strong! So get rest any way and anywhere you can. Someday your babe will sleep all night, but until that day comes, take care of you, so you can in turn, take care of your baby.

So when did your baby start sleeping through the night? And did it happen on its own, or did you sleep train your baby to speed things along?

Read more of Andrea’s writing at her blog For The Love Of
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