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An update: sleep training is a nightmare!

February 27, 2014 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , ,

Disclaimer: This is a recanting of the horrors and damage of sleep training. It's very graphic in case you want to skip it. After the "***" is a wrap up of our fateful story. Following the "***", is the "=", which is where you'll find some further advice on sleep training.

So our little experiment with sleep training has gone horribly wrong and we're still unsure of the damage we've done to our daughter. It's my hope that anyone who reads this will think twice about sleep training and reconsider after reading my eye-witness account..


The first few days the changes were minor and we didn't really chalk them up to anything other than her horrible sleeping habits those first couple of nights. However, a few days after we began sleep training, instead of waking up with a big smile on her face in the mornings, which is what she used to do, she would wake up just and lie there, staring off into space. I found that getting her attention was sometimes difficult and even snapping my fingers infront of her face didn't work. It was as if she wasn't all there yet. When she did eventually "come to", she seemed disinterested in interacting with me or the things I'd give her.

And, eating became an issue as she would just sit there and stare off into space or become agitated. Occasionally, she would absent-mindedly chew a few bites before throwing a fit. We became a worried that she wasn't taking in enough calories.

So one night we prepared several items that she had seemed to enjoy eating before our sleep training experiment began, but she turned violent as we buckled her into her chair and tried to bite us. We took her out of the chair and decided that we should probably call the doctor.

Out of nowhere, this weird growling or mewling (I can think of no other way to describe it) came from her throat and she began banging her head against a wall. It didn't sound like a noise a baby could make. It was deeper somehow and guttural.

At this point, my wife started crying and I had no idea what to do. After standing there, dumbfounded, for what seemed like a half hour, I finally dialed the doctor's office. However, as soon as I picked up my phone, the baby stopped growling and banging her head against the wall, walked over to the food she had thrown on the floor, and began eating it off the floor. Not picking it up with her fingers, but eating it off the floor like an animal would.

I put my phone away. I stared as she licked the floor clean and then picked up the bowls and licked those clean, too. When she finished, she walked over to the couch, crawled up and sat next to my wife. She even rested her little head in my wife's lap as if nothing had happened.

For the rest of the evening, she was almost normal, except for the weirdness that had transpired earlier. She watched a little TV, played with various toys and even giggled at the usual things.

Maybe it was some phase she had been going through.

Babies and children are weird, you know? Their minds aren't fully developed and the way they interact with reality is vastly different from how we interact with reality..

At least that's how I rationalized it.

That night, instead of putting her down in her crib, like we had been trying to do for several days, we let her back into the bed. Maybe all she wanted and needed was to be in the bed with us.

She fell asleep, content. Everything seemed to be fine until about 3 am, when my wife shrieked and jumped out of bed and ran out of the room. Without thinking, I jumped out of bed and chased after her to find out what happened.

Upon finding my wife in the kitchen, furiously pulling papers towels off the towel rack, I noticed the blood on the floor. I asked her what had happened and as she turned around I saw something that will be forever burned in my memory.

The front of her nightgown was covered in blood.

Through her sobbing, I could make out, "She bit it off. She bit it off.."

Remembering that the baby was still in a bed that was 3' off the floor, I went back into the bedroom to check on her. Or, get her.. Or, I don't know. As I opened the door, I heard that strange growling noise again. She also seemed to be panting. I could just make out her sitting form on the bed.

Being a little unnerved by all the eeriness of the situation, I flipped the light on.

I almost wish I had not gone back into the room. What I saw almost made me lose my dinner. There in the dim light of the bedroom was my sweet little girl with blood smattered all over her face. She had a big four-toothed grin and my wife's nipple between her teeth.

Let this be a lesson to you. We don't always know what is happening in and to our children's minds. And, something so simple as sleep training can make irreparable changes to your baby's behavior. I'd heard some of the negative criticisms of sleep training, but was very quick to write those off as coming from these weak new-age parents and doctors. The sort of people who obsess over every aspect of child-rearing and then lament how this food or that color or those toys can ruin them forever.. Maybe I should've done more research. Maybe I should've be fairer in my assessment of the research I did do. Whatever the case, I wish I had listened to my instincts about sleep training.

Sleep tight, my friends.
As I write this, it's been several weeks and our daughter is still in and out of clinics with doctors and child psychologists. Nothing seems to be physically wrong with her and her brain seems to be normal, according to the MRI scans. She even seems to be acting more like her old self these days. Except for every once in a while. She has these regressions, which are short-lived but still unnerving to witness. 

My wife hasn't fully recovered, either. She seems tentative and unsure of herself around the baby, but I don't blame her. Not everyone has had their nipple bitten off by an infant. I mean, it was traumatic for me to see, so I can only imagine what it's like for her. To have to go through life with one nipple-less boob can't be easy. 

I suppose we'll all heal in time. 

Cosmos willing.

I just wish we had never tried to sleep train our baby. 

I hope you all enjoyed that as much as or more than I enjoyed writing it.

Actually, I didn't enjoy writing the whole thing because it exposes a bleak reality: that all sleep training can turn into a seemingly endless nightmare.

But flesh-eating infants aside, sleep-training (probably) was more traumatic for us than it was for the baby. More so for me. My wife is ice-cold and our baby is a girl, so it's only natural that she shows the baby tough love. They're also both vying for my radiant attention and at some point my wife is going to lose the battle.

In any case, we're several weeks in [to the baby's new sleeping arrangement] and putting her down for naps and bedtime is no longer an issue. It literally did only take a week to get this bit of the training down. More than half the time, she goes to sleep right away without a complaint.

Yes, we have hiccups here and there deep into the witching hours, but having our evenings back is an invaluable gain.

Stick to the schedule!

Maybe my wife will let me start putting her into triangle chokes and arm-bars again. The possibilities are limitless!