My baby is six months old and still not sleeping through the night. I’m exhausted! Did you try sleep training your baby?
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: The number one thing I recommend to my friends and patients who are pregnant is to read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg while they are still pregnant and have time to really think about it. If they are really geeky like me, they should read it with their partner and discuss a plan for sleep training before the kid(s) arrive(s).
With twins, I knew I had to get them to sleep, or I would go insane. I returned to work after 12 weeks and needed to function as a doctor and a mom. Even though my three babies were very different from each other in personality and size, all three were sleeping 12 hours at night by three to five months.
Once we got to the point where our babies were only getting up once each night, around 2 am, barely eat, and then fall back to sleep, we Ferberized them. At that point, we knew in our hearts that they weren’t waking because they needed something, but more out of habit and they needed to learn how to fall back to sleep by themselves.
Sleep training totally worked. I’ve heard that it takes about a day to work for each month of age. So for instance, if a baby is three months old, it would take three nights of crying herself to sleep before she’d start to fall asleep without crying. That’s exactly what happened for us. We did it when our twins were three months, and it took three days. Our son wasn’t ready until he was five months, and it took five days.
If you wait until your baby is older to sleep training, it will take longer and be more painful to go through—for the baby and for you. I think it’s better to make an attempt at three months. Then it’s not that bad.
—Katherine Dee, MD, a mom of six-year-old twin daughters and a four-year-old son and a radiologist at the Seattle Breast Center
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: When our twins were four months old, we started sleep training. We read the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and followed it to the letter. Mark Weissbluth is a genius! Both girls were sleep trained in about 8 days. I must admit I was the softy, and my husband was the rock. The first night I went out and walked the dogs for a long time because the girls screamed for almost an hour. But the next night they only cried for 42 minutes, then 35 minutes the next, and by eight days it was over with.
It’s hard to sleep train, but once your baby is on a schedule, you function better. As a bonus, after my husband and I put our twins to bed, we could actually have a conversation!
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: My son was four months old, and still not sleeping through the night. My husband and I decided to start sleep training him. One night, my husband got up and turned off the monitor.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“If you’re not going to go in to get him, listen to your own advice,” he told me gently. \I drifted off to sleep. Awhile later, I woke up and turned the monitor back on. All was quiet; my son had fallen asleep too.
—Ari Brown, MD, a pediatrician with Capital Pediatric Group in Austin, TX; author of Baby 411, Toddler, 411, and Expecting 411, and a mom of two