Then, around four or five months old, things changed. My husband and I weren't sleeping much at all anymore. It started becoming a little more difficult to put our son to bed. Although he always easily went right back to sleep with night wakings, he started waking more frequently for feedings. He also started waking up for the day super early in the morning. It became more difficult to put him down for naps, and his naps became shorter and shorter. My cups of coffee each day also increased exponentially ;)
Somewhere around six months, my husband and I realized we were so tired and that we needed to figure this whole sleep thing out. I'm totally in the pro-feed-on-demand group, but after about four months of age, most babies no longer physically need to eat in the middle of the night. I started to wonder if maybe we had created a bad habit... or maybe he was just eating because I assumed that's what he was waking up for and offered it to him. So we decided to switch things up a bit, and for a few weeks, when he woke in the middle of the night, instead of me going to his room to feed him, my husband would go in to soothe him and pat his butt. We decided to try sending my husband in so that the food source wouldn't be present. And guess what? He always went back to sleep with no issues. It wasn't a hunger thing at all!
The next hurdle was trying to get him to go back to sleep without either of us going into the room. This was a bit more challenging. After talking with our pediatrician, we read about all of the different sleep training methods and decided to do a modified version of the Ferber Method because it seemed the most gentle (please do your own research on sleep training as I do not claim to be an expert!). Even though it was "gentle" it was still so hard to listen to him cry, even watching the timer on my phone set for just two minutes! As soon as the timer went off, one of us would scurry in, lay him back down, say a few soothing things, and re-exit the room. Every time we left the room, he became more and more upset.
We eventually decided a video monitor might be helpful. Enter our new best friend, the VTech Safe&Sound VM342 Digital Video Monitor with Wide-Angle Lens and Standard Lens (available at VTechPhones.com or Walmart). We previously had an audio only monitor, and we would sit there listening to him cry, but we couldn't really evaluate whether he truly needed us to come in and soothe him or not. Many times we were actually disrupting his own self soothing ability and would make the situation worse. As soon as we got the VTech VM342 monitor set up, I knew it would be so beneficial in our sleep training process.
Now, when we lay him down for a nap or bedtime, if he cries, we can decide whether to go in or not based on what we see on the monitor. We quickly learned that if we can see him laying down on the monitor, even if he's crying, he will self soothe and go to sleep in a few minutes. If he's crying and standing up, most of the time he will stay standing until we come back into the room. We usually give him a couple of minutes, and if he is still standing and crying, we go in, lay him back down, tell him goodnight again, and leave. Sometimes it takes a few rounds, but he then goes to sleep after we lay him back down.
The VM342 video monitor also has a talk back feature, so if he continues to cry while laying down, we can talk to him without ever entering the room. Sometimes our voices alone are enough to help him calm down and go to sleep.
Aside from helping us solve some of our sleep issues, I'm really impressed with the super clear picture on the 4.3 inch full color LCD screen and the crystal clear sound. It even has a lullaby function. I think the coolest feature is that you can add up to three of the video cameras, so if you have multiple young children, you only need one parent monitor and can see them all at the same time. This will definitely come in handy next time around!
The monitor was super easy to set up and can be mounted to a wall with the included mounting kit, or can be set up on furniture or a shelf (as we did). It has a cool tiltable lens, so no matter how high you place it, you can still angle it to view your baby.
Another thing I love about it is the rechargeable battery. In the morning, I can unplug it, take it off of the night stand, and keep it downstairs with me all day completely wireless. As I write this post, it's sitting next to me on my desk allowing me to keep an eye on him as I get my work done. Then we'll just plug it back in in the evening and let it recharge over night.
We've only been using the VM342 video monitor for about a month, but it's already made such a huge difference for us. Our son is now going to bed more smoothly and sleeping peacefully through the night. Being able to actually see him has made sleep training so much less stressful for all of us and really helped ease us into the transition. We are so thankful for a good night's sleep! We're now working on naps, and know this monitor will be just as reliable for that.