Okay, so we’ve decided to sleep train. Now how to go about it? I have never felt good about Cry it Out as a way to teach babies to sleep. I think this is for two reasons: 1) all the books I’ve read tell me that it can be damaging to the babies and their ability to thrive (obviously, I wasn’t reading pro-CIO books), and 2) I don’t like the attitude of a lot of parents who advise me to just “leave them to scream, it’s the only way they’ll learn.”
My oldest daughter taught herself to sleep, so I know that it’s not the only way for every baby. Wonder Baby, however, had rejected all the attachment parenting methods of falling asleep, and had never slept through the night in her 11 months of life. Was leaving her to “scream” the only option left, or could I find something more in line with my parenting style that would still work? I decided that at 11 months I was comfortable with some level of crying, but I was worried about Wonder Baby’s separation anxiety at this stage.
After some online sleep consultant research, I came across The Sleep Sense Program. Sleep Sense was created by Dana Obleman, who is a BC (woot!) local and sleep expert who claims a 93% success rate with babies and little kids. She trains consultants who can work with your family for $400 and has an online program you can get for $67. $67 is a lot less than $400, but still more than a book (especially a library book, which is how I roll). On the other hand, I’d read a ton of sleep books, and we’re still waking up every hour.
I read some information on the site and then filled out the “get a free sleep report” form. A short time later I was given a moderately interesting form report that was tailored to my answers but didn’t tell me anything earth shattering. At the bottom of your report, you’re given a link to a special offer. Once you get to the bottom of a rather “As seen on TV!” sales pitch, you can buy the program for the low, low price of $29. If you act now! and buy it in the next 24 hours. Now $29 is quite reasonable, but the “too good to be true” sales pitch made me very wary. I spent the rest of the evening doing research and reading reviews and the upshot seemed to be that Dana was legit and that most people really liked her program. I guess she just needs to try a little less hard on the sales pitch. I went ahead and paid the $29. Here’s what I got for my money:
- An e-book with some sleep info and her sleep training plan, broken down for different ages.
- A workbook with printable logs to track your progress.
- A set of videos to watch every day for the 14 days of the program, as well as some additional videos on specific subjects.
Now, I have seen the e-book being passed around on various online forums that will remain nameless (but are not Hellobee!), and I would really encourage you to go ahead and buy the program rather then getting a copy from someone online because:
1) Piracy is illegal
2) I think the videos are really great. Seriously, it’s part of the reason the program is working so well for me. Dana is very supportive and encouraging; it’s the closest you can get to having an actual sleep consultant, without paying for one. I love my morning pep talk about the night before, and she’s talked me into trying things that I might not have if I had just read the book (and that totally worked).
3) Paying money makes people more likely to commit and take it seriously. It’s a mind game, but it’s true.
How We’re Using The Sleep Sense Program
We’re using the 7-12 month old section and have chosen the “Stay in the Room” method. What this means is that I do the bedtime routine but don’t let her fall asleep. I then put her awake in her crib so that she learns to fall asleep. This was a bit distressing (ie, tears) for her as she was learning to fall asleep without my help, but I felt that it was a lot better having me in the room so that she wasn’t also freaking out about being abandoned. You are allowed to pick them up or reassure them with touch, but Wonder Baby would just get more upset when I did that so I just talked or sang to her from in the room. So yes, it’s crying, but it’s not the classic cry it out where you just leave. She does have an option to “leave and check” if that works better for your baby/family. We’re going to have to switch to that tonight as Mr SH is back to work and I have both girls.
Because Wonder Baby is 11 months old, we are sleep training for nap and nighttime together as well as fully night weaning. She’s old enough to handle it, and I didn’t want to drag it out, especially as I was sure I couldn’t keep us awake for night feedings as the program recommends. The program is 14 days long with daily videos to watch every morning. We are currently on day 5, and Wonder Baby slept 12 hours night before last! After a week of being up every 1.5 hours (before we started), it’s pretty much a miracle. She has also had a couple morning naps in her crib, which I had written off as impossible at 6 months. I’m keeping a journal, so I’ll give you a break down of how it went when the 14 days are done.
Is Sleep Sense for you?
Sleep Sense is a pretty middle of the road program. There is some crying involved, so if you aren’t comfortable with that I would continue to try some other methods. If you’re hoping your baby will just outgrow being a bad sleeper, Dana says they probably will… at 3-5 years old. There’s no way I could keep being chronically sleep deprived for 4 more years; my kids deserve better from me. However, I don’t know that I would have been willing to use this method when she was still more of a little baby.
Sleep Sense also requires you to commit to a schedule. It’s not super strict, but you do have to make napping at home a priority and to keep naps and bedtime fairy consistent, especially for the first two weeks as you get good sleep habits established. There isn’t much in the program that’s super revolutionary, but the way it’s laid out makes sense and… it’s working for us. It’s good to be getting some sleep!