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When I last posted
, I was in the throes of sleep deprivation and obsessing on a nightly basis over how to get my then 11-month-old to sleep for more than three hours at a stretch. We would put Henry to bed (never letting him cry it out) between 8 and 9 p.m. each night. We had a bed time routine (sort of) and he was sleeping in his crib in our room. It probably wouldn’t surprise you then to hear that Henry was still waking up three or four times a night to nurse and often times ending up in our bed around 4 or 5 a.m.
Looking back, I don’t regret any of the decisions my husband and I made on how we approached our son’s sleeping. He is now 14 months old and we have only let him “cry it out” twice (by “cry it out,” I mean that when he cried upon being placed in his crib, we would go to him every five minutes, give or take, and pat his back and kiss his forehead and tell him we loved him and then we would leave the room). I HATED letting him cry it out. It felt wrong to me and it was physically painful listening to him cry. That was my experience, but I know that for some parents that method has worked. And therein lies the trick with sleep training – you have to do what works for you and your baby and make changes (or not) when you and your family are ready. I don’t believe you should do it according to a book’s schedule, or based on what your sister did with her children, or just because your pediatrician said such and such was the best way.
I never expected to have our son in our room for as long as we did. I thought he would transition to his own room at six months, give or take a week or two. Instead, Henry was in our room until he was almost twelve months. We thought that was the best option since he was still waking so often at night and wanting to nurse.
Not long after my first post on sleep training was published did we decide to move Henry to his own room, and I accepted the fact that I would be doing a lot of walking down the hall at night, at least for a while. At the same time that we moved Henry into his own room, we moved his bedtime up an hour, to 7:30 p.m. Within a month, Henry was sleeping through the night. He may wake up once or twice a week in the middle of the night and need a cuddle from mommy or want to nurse, but for the most part our baby is sleeping through the night.
Every once in a while I catch myself wondering if Henry would have made this transition as easily if we had moved him when he was younger or if he still would have woken up three or four times a night to nurse no matter where he was. It really doesn’t matter, though, because now I know that it wasn’t just Henry that had to be ready to take the next step towards independence. I had to be ready, too.