Can You Train an Infant to Sleep?

Anyone who has a newborn knows what it is like to lose sleep… a lot of sleep. Anyone who has a newborn knows that in the middle of the night when you are stumbling to your infant’s room with a bottle in hand, you wonder, when will my child sleep through the night? When will I avoid seeing the numbers 1:00 or 3:30 when it is still dark outside? You hope that it will happen soon, but in truth, you have no idea. The uncertainty of the night is so much worse than the increased need for coffee in the morning and constant strong urges to nap under your desk at work. I have often wondered whether or not you can sleep train a baby. We teach infants to eat solids, toddlers to use a potty, and adolescents to drive on the right side of the road, but can we teach babies to sleep?

According to a recent study by researchers in Australia, it is Ok to let your baby ‘cry it out.’ The article published by CNN (see here) reports that kids whose parents let them ‘cry it out’ went to sleep 15 minutes faster after 3 months than those whose parents did not let their babies cry until falling back asleep. The article also reports that kids who cried in bed showed no later signs of physiological distress in comparison to kids who did not cry in bed. In other words, you cannot hurt your child by letting him/her ‘cry it out.’ It was reading this article that got me interested in what exactly ‘sleep training’ entails and how I go about doing it.

As I googled ‘sleep training Charlotte’, I came across Jackie Campbell’s company Infant Sleep Solutions. I immediately set up a time to talk with Jackie and learn the ins-and-outs of how she gets babies to sleep! In our first meeting, Jackie explained to me that, “babies are creatures of habit and consistency is key!” Jackie told me that the process of getting all babies to sleep is the same even though all babies are different. My immediate response was, no way, that seems so counter-intuitive! Jackie told me that by keeping the routine the same every night, parents can signal their babies to sleep via nightly bathes, swaddling, sufficient amount of ounces and familiar sounds. Jackie explained to me that she has worked with over 750 families and that she has successfully reached her goal of training babies to sleep 12 hours (straight!) with all those that followed her program. 12 hours!!! I have not gotten 12 hours of sleep in longer than I can remember, maybe even ever; have you?

While I was skeptical and believed what Jackie was telling me was too good to be true, I decided I would test her methods out on my own infant who was 2 months at the time and definitely not sleeping through the night. I was pretty much at my wits-end with work and no sleep, so I felt that I had nothing to lose. Jackie told me that her program includes an 8-week routine and that each week I would decrease the number of feedings per night for my baby and increase the number of ounces per feeding. She said that each night in the week is the same and that creativity in schedule was not to be rewarded. In my discussions with Jackie, I learned that she often meets with families before the baby arrives and starts a relationship with them during the baby’s first week of life. If only I had known!

Regardless, I set out on my 8-week routine with high hopes and a desire to be the 751st family to have their baby sleep 12 hours straight. During week 1 I actually had to wake my baby up more often than I was doing at that time in order to re-train her. I was not pleased with having to set my alarm again as if she were a newborn and needed to be fed every 3 hours. However, I had committed to the program and was going to follow directions as closely to a ‘t’ as I could. In week 2, my baby got an ear infection, and I thought the whole program was lost. Jackie told me to stay as close to the guidelines as possible and carry on with the training. Week 3 and 4 were a blur, and then in week 5 I had to get rid of my baby’s pacifier at night and during the day…. That was a rough week to say the least! In week 6, my baby stopped being swaddled, and in week 7, we put two diapers on her because she kept peeing through her clothes. Week 8 finally arrived, and I only fed my baby at 7 pm and then again at 7 am. For the beginning half of the week, my baby woke up and cried a few times. It was really tough not to go in and soothe her. However, I kept hearing Jackie’s voice in the back of my head…. Follow the program, and you will get the results you want!

I am here to tell you that sleep training works. At 4 months, my baby was sleeping from 7 am to 7 pm and is still following that schedule. Sure there are days she wakes up early, but I try not to go into her room before 7 am for fear that I will ruin it all. While I was skeptical, to say the least, of Jackie’s program and the concept of sleep training in general, I learned through personal experience that it really is possible to train your child to sleep through the night. Whether you are the parent of a newborn or a young infant, I would highly suggest considering a sleep-training program, for in the end, we are all better parents when we have had a full night’s sleep!

If you want to learn more about Jackie and her company, Infant Sleep Solutions, you can go to www.infantsleepsolutions.com. She just published a sleep training manual and also offers babysitting and nannying services.


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