You would think having a 2nd child, I would be an expert on sleep; but then now that Tyler is already a little over 4 months, I can honestly concur that every pregnancy and every baby is completely different. It’s not better or worse, but just different. My son, Tyler just has an aversion to sleep. I’ve even jokingly said to my husband a few times – I know he came out of me, but how is he really my son when he hates to sleep as much as I LOVE sleeping?
One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced with Tyler (aside from breastfeeding ) is sleep training. Sleep is one of the most talked about issues among parents and now I know why. Sleep and good sleep habits are one of those things that is always changing, hard to muster, but highly desired. While Samantha (my older daughter) was clingy, whiny, and cried for no reason; we were lucky enough that she started sleeping through the night around the time she was 4 months old. We were put her down in her crib around 10pm, and she would sleep through till about 5:30-6am in the morning. I never had to Google, “Sleep training” and read about everything!
Unfortunately, just like everything on the Internet, there is just too much information and worse yet – too much opposing opinions. There are two very different schools of thoughts in terms of sleep training. The “No Cry Method” by Elizabeth Pantley, or the “Cry It Out (CIO)” method by Dr. Richard Ferber – otherwise also known as the Ferber method. I read both methods and honestly, now I’m even more confused then I was before I started doing research.
CIO by Ferber teaches a child can cry themselves to sleep in order to learn independence and self-soothing. Ferber suggests that by allowing a child to Cry it Out, you’re teaching your child not to depend on their mother and/or caregiver, but learning to cope with their own ability to sleep. Ferber states that you should teach your child to fall asleep on his own and that he shouldn’t associate sleeping with rocking, having his back rubbed or with music on, etc… The big part of Ferber’s theory is the Progressive Waiting Approach or we call the “Cry it Out” approach – Ferber doesn’t recommend letting your child cry for progressively longer amount – but checking on your child in 3, 5, or 10 minute intervals with each waiting period a little bit longer. Experts in this school of thought believe that crying isn’t harmful or out of fear, but rather – the child is just frustrated that they can’t get back to sleep. Within 3-7 days, Ferber believers that you’ll have a child that’ll be able to cope with sleeping and soothing themselves.
But then parents on the other side of the argument feel that cry it out can damage a child’s psyche and is unnecessary. In an age where we can know if a baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries, does it mean we should leave the babies to cry on their own? CIO advocates says that babies left to cry will eventually stop and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. A no cry advocate would disagree – saying the child stops crying because he learns that he can longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because his distress has been alleviated. The no cry method is also called the Attachment Theory, and it’s been gaining popularity in the last few years. According to the attachment theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions. That is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, but do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes he is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. He learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which he can explore the world, and if he encounters adversity he can return to his base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual. North American parenting practices, including CIO, are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent. However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.
Of course I want my son to grown up being independent, smart, and all those good things that both schools talk about – but seriously, when opinions clash so intensely, as a mom – how do I even begin choosing which one is the right one for me? For the time being since my son and daughter sleep in the same room – and whenever Tyler cries, I don’t want to wake up my daughter as well, I am that responsive sensitive caretaker, but it would be nice to get a full 8 hour sleep again one of these days.
So what do you guys think? What do you do to get your child to sleep?