My daughter is almost 16-months-old and I have a secret.
She doesn’t sleep through the night.
And I don’t have the guts to sleep train her.
Why guts you ask? According to a New York Times column that has sparked quite the controversy in the parenting world, Dr. Michel Cohen, who founded Tribeca Pediatrics in 1994, recommends parents start sleep training at 8 weeks old.
The technique? Place baby in her crib at 7 p.m., close the door and wake her up 12 hours later, never mind if she’s screaming or seems hungry. Cohen swears that if parents “have the guts” to give his method a try, it will work.
If you had asked me about my plans for sleep prior to becoming a parent, I would have told you I’d most definitely be sleeping through the night by the time my baby was four months. By all that I had ever read, it was entirely possible.
Then all of a sudden it wasn’t.
The Girl was on schedule during the day relatively quickly. She started napping for 2.5 hours twice a day around one month. I could put her in her crib awake but sleepy and she’d fall asleep on her own. But she was up at night. And she was hungry.
I tried everything in the book, even the unsolicited advice of adding rice cereal to her bottle (which I later learned can be quite dangerous and doesn’t make a difference.)
By six or seven months, I was exhausted. I cried as I went into her room three, four or five times a night. But my heart ripped out of my chest if I sat outside her door trying to ignore her as she cried.
Yes, I tried to have the guts. But ultimately, either I didn’t wait long enough (my max was five minutes) or it’s not about guts. It’s like the “other” experts say — the non-trainers — sleep is developmental. Babies sleep through the night when they’re ready.
For my daughter (who now only wakes up once a night, thank God), that may be next week, it may be a year from now. For my husband, it was age 12 so I don’t have much hope.
But here’s what I know.
My daughter will not go to college needing her “milkies.” She’ll eventually sleep through the night.
And, there are a lot more aspects of parenting that take real “guts” (read: childbirth or teaching a child to drive) so I think this time, I’ll pass.