SHE BROKE HER BABY’S BAD SLEEPING HABIT IN TWO NIGHTS
Sasha Pantel, project manager; mom of a 1-year-old, Cambridge, MA
The problem: Formerly a good snoozer, when Baby Jacob hit month four, an infamous sleep-regression time, Sasha would spend an hour feeding him then putting him down. If he woke up, she’d have to restart the process. “I was chronically exhausted and getting frustrated with Jacob. I would walk away to cry to my husband, who would go in and rock him until I was calm enough to try again.”
The solution: Her employer, Broad Institute, held a sleep seminar with Dr. Roban as a speaker. Sasha had a phone consult with her during which they discussed Jacob’s sleep history and issues. They then decided on “a soothing bedtime routine (most of which we already had), followed by putting him down in his crib awake, telling him I loved him, and walking out until morning,” says Sasha.
The result: The first night, Sasha cried more than her son, who whined for 25 minutes, and then fell asleep. “I couldn’t believe it!” she says, adding that the next night he was asleep in 15 minutes—and put himself back to sleep when he woke up. By 7 months old, he was sleeping about 11 to 12 hours a night. “He goes down pretty easily, and if he wakes, he generally doesn’t cry,” says Sasha.
Her advice: “If you can afford it, a sleep consultant (about $200 to $600 for a call and follow-ups) is totally worth it,” says Sasha. “She gave me a plan to follow and provided daily feedback, encouragement and advice for two weeks, which allowed us to fine-tune our strategy to include Jacob’s naps.”
The expert’s take: “The key to sleep training is 100 percent consistency—and that’s easier with the ‘extinction’ method, which usually lasts two to three nights, than with other methods, which take longer,” says Dr. Roban. If you deviate from the plan—like by going in when your baby cries—you have to begin anew the next night. Wait until your baby is at least 4 months old and can sleep through the night without a feeding and until major changes, like a divorce or a death, are behind you.