How To Sleep Train A Selfish Baby

When you have a new child, you have only one priority in life, one that takes precedence over procuring food, finding a job, or anything else: getting the child to sleep through the night. Everything you do with a baby beforehand—feeding it, putting it on a schedule, repeatedly throwing the baby up in the air and then catching it so that the thing gets really tired—is geared toward achieving that moment. Before the child sleeps through the night, you aren't a human being. You're just a lifeless sack of beef constantly waiting for a clean night through. After that moment, you again become fully functional, as close to normal as normal can be.

The problem is that there's no guarantee of when that moment will arrive. I have three kids, and among them there was absolutely no consistency as to when each child began sleeping through the night. My first kid started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks old, which is very early and served as an irrational source of pride for me even though it was dumb luck. Parents constantly ask each other if their babies are sleeping through the night, and if your baby is sleeping through the night and someone else's isn't, then that parent is a fucking failure and you get to passive-aggressively gloat in front of them. "Oh, wow, your kid is a year old and not sleeping through the night yet? Is she needy? Brain damaged? She might be both. All I know is I got eight solid hours last night. Fucking CRUSHED that sleep, bro! She falls asleep at 7 and wakes up at 7. Now let me take a picture of you looking crazy jellz!"

I assumed our next kid would take only 10 weeks to sleep through, but that wasn't true at all. It took my second kid a year to sleep through the night, even though I don't think we did anything different. You're allowed to start sleep training a baby at around four to six months old. That is, you're allowed to ignore them when they cry for food in the middle of the night because THIS IS NOT A FUCKING 7-11, KID. YOU CAN'T JUST EAT WHENEVER YOU WANT. This is a process called Ferberization and it almost always works, provided you have the STEEL BALLS to not go running to your precious child the second he or she starts crying.

(NOTE: There are coddling parents and parenting experts who believe that you should ALWAYS respond to your child's crying, and you should ALWAYS be able to determine the child's needs, and you should feed the child ALL NIGHT LONG, and it shouldn't be a problem because the child should be IN YOUR BED anyway, and if you object to any of this or it doesn't work, it's because you don't care enough to treat your child right, and you are damaging your child and ruining its emotional balance for life. These people are insane and must be lashed.)

The problem is that, if the child cries long enough, you become tempted to just feed the thing and get it over with, so that you can go back to bed instead of listening to it wail for hours and hours. But if you do that, then the baby become a fat and entitled GLORY BABY who expects you to make with the six warm ounces at 3 a.m. forever after. The longterm effects are devastating, and so you have to have willpower, or soundproof walls. Soundproof walls would probably do nicely.

It's the uncertainty that threatens to crush your spirit. It would be one thing if you had a hard date for when your child will sleep through the night. Then you could anticipate it and see the light at the end of the tunnel. But when it drags on for a fucking year, without any firm knowledge of when the kid will finally rest for eight consecutive hours, it begins to break you. You wonder if the child will ever sleep through the night. Maybe he's an insomniac. Maybe he's like a very small Jon Gruden. THIS GUY LOVES BEING UP AT 4 A.M. TO STUDY TAPE. Maybe he hates sleeping and will become a drug addict.

In the case of my third child, it took six months. Six months of dragging myself out of bed to change and feed the little bastard as quickly as possible so that I could then continue my love affair with my comforter. Six months of reconvening with my wife the following morning to go over the times we got up and do the quick math to see how long he slept without needing anything. Six months of this won't last six more months, will it?

But last week, we had the moment of triumph. I heard the child cry, and when I looked over to the alarm clock, it said 7 a.m. I tapped my wife. Shoved her, really.

ME: Holy shit! It's 7!

HER: It is?

ME: He slept through the night.

HER: Holy shit.

ME: Holy shit!

HER: He slept nine hours straight!

ME: FUCK AND YEAH.

We had done it. We had sleep trained the baby successfully and were now able to gloat about his sleep schedule to anyone unfortunate enough to get sucked into a conversation with us. We were fucking WINNERS.

Then, the next night, the baby cried at 3 a.m. But I wasn't going back. You never go back. I turned the monitor off and shut our door. Sorry, kid. I know what you're capable of. NO ONE IS COMING TO HELP YOU NOW. Sleep training is a bitch.