The great debate: Is sleep training worth the trauma?
We all have our own views on sleep traning. But is it worth the trauma? Find out what these moms had to say. 
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The sceptic

Robyn Richen- Executive assistant

Liam was born a bad sleeper. As a newborn, he would sleep for an hour or two at a time. His stretches of sleep did become longer as he grew, but he still woke at least four times a night. I tried co-sleeping as I had heard that it had a calming effect and would increase sleep time. It did nothing for Liam.

Liam didn’t know how to self-soothe, and we needed to cuddle him each time he woke. So, desperate and exhausted, we decided to try sleeping training at eight or nine months. Apparently persistence is paramount with sleep training, but what I endured four times a night was a real challenge. It was awful: listening to my baby cry while I sat crying myself, going in and not picking him up but patting his face (the only part of his enraged and shaking body I could get at) and
talking reassuringly to him, even though he was clawing at me, desperate to get out, crying until he vomited.

I couldn’t accept the message I was conveying to my baby: “I’m leaving you to cry so you can learn a lesson.” Surely a baby understands this as “Mama doesn’t love me”? This wasn’t training, it was torture! After three nights, I accepted defeat. My child was miserable in the day from the trauma of the night. I was not willing to carry on. My GP told me some babies are just bad sleepers and no amount of training would x that. I made peace with this and trained myself to cope. Eventually at two and a half, Liam started sleeping through.

When Hannah was born, I didn’t need to sleep train! I was too busy to fuss over her as I had with Liam. I believe my calmness (more like I was blasé about everything, too exhausted to fret) rubbed off on her. She slept four-hour stretches day and night, and from about 12 weeks she started
sleeping from 8pm to 5am. I believe some babies respond well to sleep training, others don’t. I think it has more to do with your baby’s personality and adaptibility than with the method you choose. Perhaps if I had started earlier, like Sharon, my experience would have been different, but I have no regrets!

Read Robyn’s blog at: memoirs4mymunchkins.wordpress.com

The convert

Sharon Van Wyk- National account manager

Ava, too, was born a bad sleeper. The first two months were hell. She slept tfully and sporadically and would wake at 5am and stay awake sometimes until after 11pm. She hardly slept during the day, and I was frazzled to the point of depression. Getting her to sleep took hours and left me exhausted from holding, swaddling, rocking and soothing. We’d no sooner soothe her to sleep and put her down in her cot, as she’d jerk herself awake and we’d have to start the whole process again.

Then a friend suggested I try sleep training. I did a lot of research into the various methods as I did not want to do hurt her in any way. Sleep training seemed easier when done with younger babies as opposed to toddlers, and to be honest, I knew I wouldn’t survive until she was a toddler to implement it. I needed more rest than I was getting, and I knew I’d be a better mother to her if I was better rested and calmer.

I started sleep training when she was about 10 weeks old. The first day was easy: I’d feed her, burp her, wait until she looked drowsy and put her down – and she went to sleep for all her daytime naps that day. The second day was hell! She had cottoned on to what I was up to. Each time I’d put her down for a nap, she’d doze for a few minutes and then start crying. Each time I’d wait a couple
of minutes, then go into her room, check she wasn’t hot, cold, hungry or dirty. Then I’d pat her back gently until she calmed, reassure her, and leave. The third day went perfectly, and we have never looked back. At 12 weeks she started sleeping from 7pm to 5am.

Sorry, but I don’t buy into the theory of “bad sleepers”. I believe that if sleep training is done with rm commitment from both parents and at a young enough age, then success is always a possibility.
I wanted to give Ava the gift of knowing how to soothe and sleep by herself. She is now two years old, and bedtimes and naptimes are not an issue. We follow the routines for her naps and bedtimes, and she goes down without any fussing. This is exactly what I’d hoped to achieve when we started.

Read Sharon’s blog at: sharonannevanwyk.wordpress.com

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