First let me say, I love what I do! I love helping a family get their sleep back, bringing peace and happiness back to bedtime, and fostering happy healthy sleep habits for little ones. That said, do you know what I despise, what really gets me upset? (And no, it’s not parents that co-sleep or parents that give their kids pacifiers; to each their own, if it works for you, I’m happy for you!).
It is the moments when I hear or see other moms (either online or in real life) say things like: “You should enjoy your baby getting up to nurse all night – someday they’ll be all grown up and you’ll miss it!”
“You’re a parent now, so get used to never sleeping again!”
Or my all-time favorite…
“They will probably go out of it eventually!”
I’m getting angry just typing about it, so I’m going to take a moment to “fire back” or defend my profession and the parents I work with by busting the top three myths I hear about “sleep training” (also known as, teaching your baby healthy sleep habits), so here we go.
Myth #1: Your baby or child will love you less or be angry with you.
I didn’t even think this was a real thought until the subject came up in a mommy group one day. They discussed how they were genuinely scared that their babies were going to reject them in some way or love them less if they tried to sleep train. Do you think that? That just changing your baby’s schedule and creating a new routine over the course of a few days, somehow means your baby won’t love you anymore?
After all the times you’ve spent snuggling with them on the couch, bonding with them over feedings, silly playtimes on the floor and fun bath times, that would somehow all be forgotten because she was is protesting the new change for a few nights?
Here is the truth, making changes to anyone’s sleep habits (adults included), will always be met with some frustration and/or protest. Imagine if I took your favorite pillow away one night, would you be upset? Probably, would you get over it and find another way to sleep, of course! So yes, it is safe to assume that your baby is not going to happily accept the fact that you are no longer going to rock them in their chair for an hour each and every night, but as long as you are a loving and attentive parent in the first place, the love will endure.
In fact, most people find that once their baby is sleeping well, they’re even happier and more loving than before!
Myth #2: Sleep training means leaving your baby to “Cry It Out.”
Why is this the only option when we think of sleep training? There are lots of other more gentle methods you can use. Methods where you can be hands-on with helping your little one learn how to fall asleep (and stay asleep). Want to learn more about my methods and philosophy? Click here: https://goodlittlesleeperzzz.com/the-sleep-sense-philosophy/
I’m not saying the process isn’t going to be without some tears, but the crying is simply your baby’s reaction to the change in his or her sleep habits and routines. Remember the “if I take your pillow away” reference from Myth 1?
The real reason your baby is crying when you change their routine is the same reason you would be frustrated if I took your pillow away. Your baby now must try to do something new and that can be frustrating and difficult process at times, just like during tummy time when they can’t roll over on their own or when they are learning to walk and keep falling down. Learning any new skill can be a bit of a roller coaster, with some ups and downs but they’ll find their way with some love, support and a little bit of time.
The great news is that your child’s frustration will usually only lasts a few days. Children adapt and learn so quickly that they’ll soon figure out how to calmly get themselves to sleep and stay sleep!
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies.
First off, let start by stating there is no evidence that sleep training has any short-term or long-term psychological or developmental effects on babies or children. So, let’s cross that off your list of things to worry about.
As for those who say that a few nights of crying are “too stressful” well, then let’s look at our options:
The first option – Make some changes to your baby schedule and routine, this usually involves a few nights of your child crying at bedtime. After a few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep independently and the crying stops completely shortly thereafter.
In this first option, the total amount of “stress” felt by your child amounts to several minutes of crying for a few nights.
The second option – Do nothing and continue to nurse/rock/bounce your child to sleep every night. While the child continues to wake up 1 – 10 times per night and needs to be nursed/rocked/bounced back to sleep each time.
In this second option, both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of constant sleep deprivation where neither baby nor parent ever gets enough consolidated sleep. Which can lead to issues with hormones regulation, weaken the immune system, and if this continued into the school years can lead to obesity and trouble focusing in class – all of which sounds pretty stressful to me!
So what sounds more harmful: A few nights of crying or months/years of depriving your child of all the benefits of a good night’s rest?
If any of these three myths have been holding you back from looking into sleep training, I hope I have sparked some interest into taking some simple steps to start creating long-term, healthy sleep habits for your child’s sleep!
As always, I’m here for you if you have any question or when you’re ready to get started!