I had the privilege to spend time with a new mommy of twins. Those babies were so adorable and I could hardly keep my hands off them! It quickly became a battle between my oldest five for who was going to get to hold which baby. Thankfully, the momma felt comfortable enough to leave them for a spell so she and I could go for a drive and chat.
She is really having a tough time getting these sweet 8 month olds to sleep. I shared with her that teaching a child to sleep is a skill. Sleeping through the night is a skill, just like running, riding a bike, or swimming. Teaching a child when to sleep and eat, regulating their metabolism and inner clock involves a simple routine and yes, even some crying at the onset. But in the long run, you have a well rested mother and baby, which is worth it on the long run.
Ladies, I know “crying it out” seems cruel. When Daly Kay was several weeks old and I was at my rope’s end for having no sleep, I was left with either letting her cry for a few minutes to learn when to sleep or loosing my mind. My husband favored letting her learn to sleep over loosing his wife. I am sure I cried more tears than Daly Kay, standing outside the nursery door, sure I was destroying her very inner spirit and trust in me while she wailed.
(Please understand, teaching a child to sleep through the night involves a routine and some tears, but when in doubt, always err on the side of caution and feed the baby if you think they are hungry. I would never advocate letting a hungry baby cry…but I would suggest to a parent that EVERY cry is NOT a cry for hunger. The trick is to learn to discern their cries, and that is where a gentle routine comes in handy.)
But you know what? In a few days that baby was sleeping on a routine and I knew what to expect in my day. I could take a little pack and play and go to my other “new mommy” friends’ homes and we could hang out while our babies napped. I knew when I could run to the store and have a happy baby to accompany me. I knew when I could take a shower, go for a run with her in the jogger, and I was far more confident in my parenting. Those few days and nights of tears training her resulted in a much happier baby, momma, and daddy. Hardest and best thing I ever did in my young parenting experience.
A sleeping baby and a rested momma results in a happier wife, a better lover, and a far more confident manager of her home. Moms and Dads, teaching your child to sleep through the night is the first step in a lifetime of training that tells junior you will meet their needs at the proper time. Letting them “cry it out” a bit in the process is a necessary part of you becoming “tough enough” for far harder decisions in parenting that will require you to be a stalwart strength in the face of a fit-throwing toddler, a pleading tween or challenging teen. It’s as much training for you as it is for the babe.
Fifteen times I have trained a newborn to sleep, and every time, I am thankful for the sweet success of a sleeping baby.