The Struggles of Sleep Training

A stumbling approach, a child who sleeps through the night, and what I learned in the process.

Sleep…Something you don’t appreciate fully until it’s gone from your life, seemingly forever.

I spent many sleepless nights during my pregnancy, trying to get comfortable after getting up to pee for the 45th time, but also dreaming of my baby and the excitement of motherhood. Honestly, those sleepless nights didn’t seem so bad since it had taken us 3 years to get pregnant; I was just so excited to finally have a baby growing inside me.

I could accept the annoying advice that it was just my body getting ready to have a newborn. And for the first few months after she was born, I truly loved those middle of the night feedings where the whole world seemed to be asleep, and it was just me and my precious little one. Her tiny, squishy body nestled against mine, her quiet whispering breathe, the awe that she was mine; those times are a gift.  

But it didn’t take long for the awe to wear off a little and I missed having more than a few hours of sleep in a row. I knew I wanted her to be able to self-soothe and sleep through the night, I just didn’t know how to get her there.

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For the first several months I would rock or feed her to sleep, not sure when to officially start sleep training and always worrying that she would be a terrible sleeper forever because I didn’t teach her the right way in the first months of her life. Once I felt like she was ready to be trained, I never knew how long to stay in her room and how long to let her cry. And in my sleep deprived haze, I found it difficult to make decisions.

I felt alone and isolated in my struggle. In asking people around me at play group, most of the advice I got was to keep trying things until I found something that worked for me.  At the time, I was frustrated with that advice and felt like it was no help to me at all.

But the farther I’ve come in this parenting journey, the more I see the wisdom in it. There are a lot of methods out there and it can feel overwhelming to wade through them and find the one that works for you. I now know myself and my daughter on a different level and I can determine a little bit better what fits our personalities and our family values.

What I also found was that in spite of fumbling through sleep training, she did learn to soothe herself to sleep and she slept through the night at an acceptable age (though I don’t recall now when exactly that was…see, hazy!). Her naps evened out and she turned into a great little sleeper.

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Looking back on it now, I can see with a little more clarity the things I did right.


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  1. You may also want to read the 3 lessons I learned while floundering through sleep training.

  2. And for even more guidance in sleep training your newborn, pick up a copy of On Becoming Babywise today.

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Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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