Find out the most well-known myths about sleep training from a certified sleep consultant
Do you want to know something that drives me crazy?
It’s when Mums (either online or in real life) are talking sleep, and I hear and read comments like this: “You should just enjoy getting up to nurse all night, someday he’ll be all grown up and you’ll miss it
“You were the one who decided to have children. Did you REALLY think you’d be getting a full night’s sleep for the next few years?”
Or my all-time favourite…
“Well, you’d better learn to live with it!”
I can feel my pulse rising just typing this out. Some people might think that these comments are true, or helpful, and as we all know, everyone has opinions and they just love to share them! Especially the keyboard warriors I often see on Facebook Groups which are based on the premise of women, mothers, supporting each other. Not helpful Barbara, not helpful…
Let me take this opportunity to set a few things straight, to bust a few of the common myths about sleep training and reassure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting your baby to sleep well and help coach them how…
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Really? Do you think that after just one night of changing your baby’s sleep habits she won’ít love you anymore? Is that all it would take?
Would all the cuddles you give her, all the food you provide, all the nappies and clean clothes she wears, all the playtimes and bath times, all the kisses and laughter be for nothing because of a few nights of protest? And quiet, gently managed protect at that.
The truth is that making changes to anyone’s sleep habits will always be met with some resistance. 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 her sleep anymore, 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 are even happier and healthier than before!
Myth #2: sleep training means leaving your baby to ‘cry it out.’
First off, The Sleep Sense programme is NOT a ‘cry-it-out’ programme.
In fact, you can stay in your child’s room with them the whole time if that makes you feel more comfortable. I could never leave my son to cry, and I would never ask another parent to do something I haven’t done myself!
The bottom line is that it’s not the crying that gets a baby sleeping well. The crying is simply your baby’s reaction to the change in his or her sleep habits, nothing more.
Let’s be realistic here though… unfortunately, there will be some crying. If there was a magic wand to make it a cry free experience, I would gladly share it with you. But here’s the thing, babies are just too young to use words and tell you they preferred falling asleep with their bottle for comfort, or on you, or in your bed, or by being rocked, etc, etc. They can’t verbalize this in any other way than a little cry of protest.
In other words, your baby isn’t crying because they’re ‘mad’ at you, or because you’re being cruel. The only reason they are crying is because they are temporarily confused! Let’s be fair here, you USED TO rock or nurse her to sleep every night, and now (for her own health, well-being and development) you’re not doing that anymore.
This is where an experienced sleep consultant comes in and their years of experience. They can coach you through handling your little one’s protests as gently as possible. They will work with you to create a bespoke sleep plan for your little one, and confidently explore the best method for your child to minimize the protests as much as possible within all of your comfort zones.
Using a gentle sleep plan means that you’ll be in the room comforting and teaching them how to sleep on their own – you won’t be putting them in bed and simply shutting the door. Your sleep training plan should be tailored to you all, and your sleep consultant should listen carefully to your wishes with how you want to handle many different scenarios that could arise so you have the tools to confidently draw on when it’s bedtime.
And the great news is that your child’s confusion usually only lasts a few days. Children adapt SO quickly that they’ll soon figure out how to calmly get themselves to sleep, and then everyone is happier!
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies
First off, there is no evidence that sleep training has any short term or long term psychological effects on children. So you can cross that off your list of things to worry about.
As for those who say that a few nights of adapting to a new routine is too stressful? Well, I say you’ve really got two choices:
- Make some changes. This usually involves a few nights of your child crying for 10 to 40 minutes at bedtime, with you close by. After a few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep independently and the crying stops completely shortly thereafter.
In this scenario, the total amount of ‘stress’ felt by your child amounts to a few minutes of crying for a few nights.
- Do nothing. In this scenario, the parent continues to nurse / rock / bounce their child to sleep every night. The child wakes up 1 to 10 times per night, and needs to be nursed / rocked / bounced back to sleep each time.
In this scenario, both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of systematic sleep deprivation where neither ever gets enough consolidated sleep to wake up and feel rested or refreshed. If these poor sleep habits continue into the school years, there is evidence that it correlates with things like obesity and trouble focusing in class ñ both of which sound pretty stressful to me!
So what sounds more harmful: A few nights of crying or months/years of depriving your child of a good nights’ sleep?
If one or more of these three myths have been holding you back from taking the simple steps needed to create long term, positive change for your childís sleep, I really hope Iíve been able to change your mind.
And, as always I’m here for you when you’re ready to get started.