Sleep Training, The Update

By: Melissa Mensavage

I am so glad I wrote about the sleep issues we are experiencing here in my house. The comments received on my last post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been feeling pretty bad about all of this sleeping, not sleeping, picking him up, not picking him up or letting him sleep with me. I felt like I was in a battle that one, I didn’t need to be in and two, was only causing pain to both of us.

It’s high time to pick the right solution for us, and the commenters only supported that: “do what is right for you”.

By far this has been the hardest thing I’ve done as a parent. The hardest. The nights that Max would cry almost hysterically were killing me. I can’t sleep when that happens. I’ll go in to his room and try to soothe him. I’ve learned that he’s becoming attached to a certain blanket. I’ve found him several times clutching the blanket for dear life. That breaks my heart. He wants me, and I am not following through with his request, so he is finding comfort in a blanket, hopefully not thinking that is all he has!

I seem to be a lot more lovey-dovey during the waking hours to help with my guilt. Overcompensate, maybe? Ugh.

And so, when I read Madge’s comments about old school, just let him cry it out, the over-tired-all-I-want-is-one-night-of-sleep me can’t help but agree. There is something to be said about letting your kids sleep on their stomachs, crying out, getting vaccinations, etc. I mean, I think I turned out okay.

Barb’s comments were like a giant virtual hug. That made me feel better to know I am not alone and she struggles too.

Stacie’s comments offered an educated approach.

I’ve forewarned Kerrie with this nightmare. Well hopefully it’s not a nightmare for her.

And Tashia is right; maybe Max just needs an extra hug or five minutes to fall back asleep. And the only way to figure it out is determine what plan I will be using and applying it.

I think I have a combination approach. He will still have to learn to soothe himself, so that means he will cry, but there is a threshold that I will not cross because in my mind there is no need for a child to cry for more than 30 minutes. After that I will go in and see him. I will not pick him up. I will show him his books, the musical crib toy, and offer him his blanket. I imagine this will take a couple of weeks.

Today, as I left daycare earlier because Max was sleeping standing up (last night I let him cry it out and I think he protested by not sleeping at all!), I ran into the teacher who was his infant primary caregiver. She gave me a big hug and said ‘it gets better, you are doing the right thing.’ Standing next to us was the Assistant Director and she gave me credit because her three-year-old is still sleeping with her.

I pray (pretty damn hard) that I am doing the right thing.

And to the commenters of my last post, big hugs to you and thanks for sharing.


  1. says

    Melissa, consistency is the answer in whatever you choose. Glad all the comments helped. It will get easier and when you are rested you will be glad you did it (whatever way you choose). Let us know.

  2. Chris coyne says

    Hang in there Melissa. We have had one heck of a ride getting our little man sleep trained. Ch was sleeping through the night at 9 months and everything was perfect, until we took a ten day trip to Europe. That messed up our entire world. We ended up sleep training a couple of months later. I will never forget laying outside his door cryin harder then Cj was. Once that was settled he got sick, ended up in our bed nightly due to a every three hour nebulizer. Cut to a few more cross country trips, endless nights not sleeping due to wrestling with our toddler in the middle of the night. At one point we had no choice but to re-sleep train, again. Now, Cj is 21 months old and we just finished a new round of sleep training. He had us programmed to rock him until he would fall asleep only to wake as soon as he was placed in his crib. We would end up rocking him until 11 pm!! I was so tired at this point I was getting a bit cranks all the time. As a parent I felt like I needed my night back so we made up a new sleep routine. Bath, two books, one cup of milk, tooth brushing followed by ten minutes of rocking and a loving hug and kiss goodnight. The first few days there was lots of screaming but every day it was less and less. Last night after rocking Cj for just a few he asked for his crib. When I closed the door I heard him practicing all his new words and singing to his bear. He wakes up much happier and I he loves bed time now. What I have learned is sleep training is a very long process. It takes endless patience, lots of love and following your instincts. Do what is right for you and your little person and you will survive another day of parenting. It is clear you are doing a great job! Keep it up!

  3. Tashia says

    At 25 months, my daughter has *finally* started sleeping through the night regularly, in the past few weeks. Not just once or twice a week as before, but every single night unless she’s sick or teething. I started sleep training her at 7.5 months. It got better in increments, but it was definitely a gradual process of improvement, with two steps forward, one step back. I think this is true for a lot of kids no matter what method you use.

    This morning I realized that last night I was able to get as much as sleep as I wanted/needed for the first time in over 2 years. The time change helped a little – in spite of conventional wisdom that you shouldn’t put the kid to sleep any later than usual the night before the time change, I did put her on a slightly later than usual schedule yesterday, and we were both so tired we fell asleep pretty quickly and stayed asleep a little longer than usual. Total bliss! And what a change from a year ago, when both fall and spring time changes meant very screwed up sleep for both of us for several nights.

    It will happen for you, too, don’t worry – it just takes time. And don’t feel guilty that Max finds comfort in a blanket – that is exactly what you want him to do to be able to self-soothe and go to sleep on his own! It’s not so much a replacement for mom as a way for him to feel comforted and relaxed enough to fall asleep. I think many of us, especially those of us who are light sleepers, use sleep aids even as adults. For some it’s TV in the background. For me, it’s white noise (from a fan or humidifier).

  4. Tashia says

    Something else I forgot to mention in my previous comment – in the past few weeks my daughter has also started taking longer naps at home as well as sleeping through the night regularly – although occasionally she does skip a nap. As an infant, she usually napped no longer 30-45 minutes at a time for me. At 1 year, she would nap 45 minutes to an hour. And just recently at age 2, she’s gone from 1 to 2 hours at home, finally matching her nap length at daycare, which has always been 2 hours.

    I’ve read that it just takes longer for some kids to mature in their sleep habits, and I think that’s true for my kid. I think sleep training and other tricks helped, but really time was the best problem-solver of all.

  5. says

    It is amazing to me that none of this was an issue with my kids or friends back in the day. We put them to sleep and they slept. I guess I was lucky. My sister did have issues but as she looks back some 31 years later it was more her issue than her children’s. She let them control her and she learned her lesson when she had to extricate herself from their beds. Wonder what the differences are today that making sleeping and sleep training a big money maker?

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