Kids & Parenting

Why I Taught My Child to Sleep… (And It Didn’t Involve Letting Him Cry It Out)

Why I Taught My Child to Sleep... (And It Didn’t Involve Letting Him Cry It Out)
By: Deneris Wong, working mom of three and Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach with Restfully   

Why I Taught My Child to Sleep…

One of the main reasons parents struggle with the idea of sleep training their child is guilt. They believe will follow for letting their precious little one cry and not being able to comfort them. It has become such a taboo subject mainly for this reason. First, I must say, that “training” is my least favorite word when it comes to the topic of sleep. I mean, we’re not talking about a Pomeranian here! Second, the sleep training coaching umbrella has various methods, and “crying it out” happens to just be one of them.

It is by no means the be-all/end-all of sleep coaching methods. It’s naively what I believed before having kids and shamefully admit to frowning upon sleep coaching not even knowing the true scope of it. 

I remember after having my first son almost six years ago and thinking, wow, I have everything I could need for this little person. But he still won’t sleep unless it’s on me. It’s all I could think about and what I really wanted, what I needed – sleep! Don’t get me wrong, cradling a baby, especially a newborn has to be the absolute most endearing and breathtaking experience a new parent will have.

And yet, at midnight, two, three, and four in the morning, I couldn’t help thinking “Is this how he’s always going to sleep? what’s going to happen when I go back to work in a few months and he’s home with my mother-in-law? I don’t want her to have to hold him all day long!” More importantly, even as a novice momma, I was pretty sure that this little person needed to sleep and that THAT sleep couldn’t possibly always happen to me. 

My mom guilt was already setting in. Knowing I had to return to work and leave my soon-to-be four-month-old. And while I was thankful that he would be in excellent care, it wasn’t my care. The least I could do was to get us sleeping well so I could hurry home. And not be exhausted from the prior night’s “wake party” and spend quality time with my little guy. 

As a working mom for a major corporation, which at the time did not offer maternity leave. I had to use my own time. It was evident that the clock was ticking and I needed to get my night owl on some sort of sleep schedule. The key factor that lead to this decision? Well, was it my state of minimal-to-zero sleep? Well, yes. How was I supposed to function and be productive at work during the day when I was up all night with only three hours of sleep? It seemed selfish at the time, but fortunately, I looked past that silly thought and made it my mission to get us sleeping.

That was the plan, and the plan worked. By four months, my little guy was sleeping 12 hours straight. Without waking up at night and was a much happier baby. Needless to say, so were mom and dad.   

I learned about healthy sleep habits, like knowing how much time my baby could sustain being awake for his age before needing a nap. Gentle strategies that would gradually teach him how to fall asleep independently. And didn’t involve leaving him to cry for long periods of time; and how feeding and sleep go hand in hand. I was realistic and knew that he initially wouldn’t be happy with this new plan and that it meant some crying was inevitable. But, I also learned that it was his way of saying “Um, excuse me, lady, I don’t like what’s going on here”.  

Restorative sleep is essential, nourishing, and just as important as eating a well-balanced, healthy diet. Our immune system becomes stronger while we sleep, and did you know that most of the brain’s growth occurs during the first three years of life? When well-rested, our learning and problem-solving skills are enhanced. Not to mention we are attentive, able to focus, and better at functioning physically. Studies have shown that quality of life can be disrupted due to sleep loss.

Lack of sleep has also been shown to be a major factor in postpartum depression, and yet, unfortunately, sleep deprivation is viewed as a badge of honor and a part of parenthood. Goodness, it’s not. 

It made me think about the myriad of benefits sleep coaching services could have on employees returning to work. And if employers offered it in their HR packages. How the productivity of working parents would improve both at work and at home.

Just by offering the gift of sleep. Talk about a win-win! But I guess that’s a whole other topic for another day.

By: Deneris Wong, working mom of three and Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach with Restfully

Recommended Articles