Regular readers will know that the Popple has never been a great sleeper. I’ve written about it a lot. For example:
- Why baby naps are the worst
- The proud mother of an okay sleeper
- 6 things not to say to a sleep-deprived mother
- I am a mother on the night’s watch
This past year has been one of sleepless nights, blurry mornings and a lot of watching Netflix on my iPad on mute in bed at 3am with a baby attached to my boob. It’s been pretty s**t, sleep-wise.
That being said, I think we MAY have turned a corner when it comes to sleep. I say ‘may’ because you never want to be too optimistic when it comes to the big S word, but things have taken a turn for the better.
I’d like to share my ultimate sleep training secret with all the other sleep-deprived parents out there. So here it is – how to get your baby to sleep in one easy step:
I realise that doesn’t sound very helpful, and it’s not exactly how we sleep trained the Popple, but it’s pretty close.
Adrian and I attempted actual sleep training months ago, and the Popple was resistant to everything we tried. The pick-up-put-down method? Controlled crying? Gradual retreat? It all just made her angrier. She never de-escalated – her cries just grew louder and more insistent as the hours went on. We stopped trying and just gave in to all of her sleep associations – breastfeeding, giving her a dummy, letting her pull on my hair, patting her on the back, picking her up. I spent most of my nights sleeping in the bed next to her cot in her room, with my hair in her fist and one hand on her back.
Then, one day around her first birthday, all of our tricks stopped working. If we tried to comfort her when she woke up in the middle of the night, she screamed louder. That left us with just one choice – leave her to cry. I was never a big fan of the cry-it-out method, and it definitely hadn’t worked for us in the past, but we were out of options. We went in periodically to check on her until she eventually stopped crying and went to sleep on her own.
The first night, this went on for two hours. The second night, she cried for one hour. The same on the third night. And then, on the fourth night, she cried for five minutes – then went to sleep.
I couldn’t believe it.
She’s sleeping for longer stretches now, and I’ll usually only go into her room to give her one night feed. Adrian turned to me the other night, after she’d fallen asleep at 7:30pm following a brief cry, and said, “Who is this baby?”
But that’s the thing. She’s not really a baby anymore.
The Popple just turned one, so she’s technically a toddler now – a proper grown-up little person who seems to have decided that she’s ready to give this whole sleeping thing a go. I’m convinced that her sudden change in sleep habits has little to do with our involuntary sleep training – it’s because she was just ready to sleep. When she screamed at me when I went in to offer her a cuddle or my hair to pull, what she was really trying to say was, “GO AWAY MAMA! I WANT TO DO IT MYSELF!”
If you’re going through sleep hell with your wee one and nothing seems to work, just know that it won’t last forever. I know that’s a really annoying thing to say – I wanted to punch people who said that to me when I was going through the worst of it – but it’s true.
Some babies will figure out how to sleep at six weeks. Some will take to sleep training at six months. For the rest of us, there is only endurance. And coffee. And sneaky snoozes on the toilet. And wine. All the wine.