Ahhhh, sleep training – such a hot button topic amongst moms. There seems to be a great divide between mothers when it comes to sleep training. This post is for those tired mamas who desperately need some sleep but are terrified that sleep training will jack their kid up. If you’ve brought up sleep training in any mom groups, either on Facebook or in real life, you’ve likely heard some pretty scary claims. I wanna take a second to debunk those sleep training myths for you. To wrap up it all up in a pretty bow I’m going to conclude with some sleep training tips to make sure you’re successful!
Disclaimer: I literally don’t care if you sleep train your kid or not. It is 100% up to you. I’m not saying you have to sleep train. I just want this information out there for the moms that do want to sleep train.
My experience with sleep training.
Before we get into these sleep training myths, I wanna give you a little background on my experience with sleep training. Before I had kids, I was passionately against sleep training. I believed all the myths I’m about to debunk and I was convinced that sleep training was unnecessary…
And then God laughed at me and sent me my firstborn.
She was a horrifically bad sleeper. It took a lot to get her to sleep and she didn’t stay asleep for long. The first 6 months of my daughter’s life are the most nightmarish of my entire life. By the time she was 6 months old I was literally delusional and my speech was suffering – ask my best friend and my husband. Sleep is so important for our health! Literally so important. I had already tried everything else, so I had no option but to sleep train. It was either sleep train or continue to deteriorate.
It took us about a week, but within that week she was falling asleep independently and sleeping all night. Don’t get me wrong – sleep training was hard. So hard. But it was so worth it and I only regret not doing it sooner.
It’s been over three years since we sleep trained her and I fully believe her constant crying and colickyness was 100% caused by her exhaustion. Once she was getting decent sleep she was a completely different baby. It was life changing for our entire family!
I tell you this so you know that I know what it’s like to be so against something only to “cave” and do it. We all have ideas and expectations before we have kids, and sometimes our kids break those down slowly. I get it. Sleep training seems scary. But I’m here to debunk that fear and the sleep training myths for you.
Set realistic expectations.
Oh, another housekeeping point before we get started… please do your research on realistic sleeping patterns for newborns, infants, and kids. Please know it is not realistic to expect your newborn who is still in the fourth trimester to sleep through the night. If your baby does that on its own then halle-freaking-lujah. But don’t expect it.
Okay, let’s get started.
Sleep training myths
Myth #1 – Sleep training is harmful to your baby.
Point blank – there is no study out there that says “if you sleep train your kid, xyz will definitively happen”. Nada. Zip. Zero. That doesn’t exist. So just know that going into this.
Myth #2 – Sleep trained babies just learn you don’t respond to their cries.
If this were true, wouldn’t sleep trained babies just not ever cry? Furthermore, if you talk to any mom who sleep trained, she will tell you that sleep training is not a one and done thing. Sleep training is an ongoing process through regressions and leaps and new milestones.
Plus, my kids do cry when there’s something they actually need me for. My 10 month old cries when he’s gotten his leg stuck in the bars of the crib. My 3 year old recently rolled out of her bed for the first time over the summer and cried for that. When my 3 year old gets sick in the middle of the night she cries. When my oldest was about a year old she started waking once a night for about a month – I would nurse her and she went right back to sleep afterward. It’s not as if I sleep trained them and then they never cried at night again.
Myth #3 – You cannot sleep train and breast feed.
These two can absolutely go hand in hand. Sleep training is about your kid learning to fall asleep independently – it doesn’t necessarily mean night weaning.
We sleep trained my oldest when she was 6 months old and I continued to nurse her 1-2x a night. At around 9 months old she stopped waking for those feeds on her own. My son naturally cut down his own nursing sessions as well. I nursed him at around 5:30am for a long time until he eventually stopped waking for that at around 7-8ish months. Sleep training did not mean night weaning for us.
Disclaimer: If you do want to wean your kid from night feeds, always check with their pediatrician first.
Tips to be successful at sleep training.
Consistency, consistency, consistency!
Being consistent is the key! That’s probably the biggest mistake I see parents make. I get it – hearing your baby cry is hard, but you’ve gotta stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a little bit (sometimes a lot) of crying now in order to teach your kid a very important skill. As I said before, good sleep is vital.
Learn the importance of an age-appropriate schedules and routine.
A baby’s sleep needs change a lot within the first year. It’s important that they’re on an age-appropriate schedule to set them up for success. Lots of people think that more time awake equals more sleep, but that’s not true for infants. Sleep begets sleep.
You can learn more about schedules and routines from Respectful Sleep Training/Learning. It’s a Facebook group that is a gold mine for information. And it’s full of sleep wizards, so you’ll definitely find help when it comes to schedules and routine. I’ve mentioned this group in another post of mine about surviving the first year of motherhood because it’s that good!
With all that being said, I think this sums up everything I wanted to say on the matter. Again, I’m just here to meet moms where they’re at. It doesn’t matter to me if you want to sleep train or not. I just don’t think it’s fair to scare mothers and fathers into years of sleep deprivation when there isn’t any definitive evidence against sleep training.
Did you find this helpful and informative? If so, share with a mama who has expressed interest in sleep training but is still unsure.