Is Sleep Training a Mistake?

Infant Sleep · Sleep Safety

Hey there, tired parent. Are you sitting there wishing you could sleep train your baby, but don’t want to be a bad parent who leaves a scared, confused little one screaming for your comfort? The truth is that gentle sleep training is possible and having a baby sleep at night is not the stuff of legends. Check out these 3 lies about teaching your child to sleep well and the truths that will help you move forward.

You’re a good parent. You love your child, you want to do what’s best for them, and you’d do anything at to give them a healthy, happy life. But you also need sleep.

And so do they.

You might have considered sleep training them and even talked to a few friends about your thoughts. That’s when the horror stories came out. And the advice (that you didn’t really ask for). Possibly even the guilt-inducing opinions. And the lies.

The Lies About Teach Your Baby To Sleep Well

Lies? What lies? Surely no one is lying about sleep. But they are. And they come with a heaping side of guilt that makes you afraid to be a bad parent to this little life you cherish so deeply.

And that’s why you’re on the fence about whether or not gentle sleep training is possibly a good choice for you and your little one. But you might not even realize they are lies because the people who have shared them with you are well-meaning and believe they are true.

The lie that you should enjoy walking the floor in the wee hours of night when your body desperately need rest and the guilt that once these days are gone, you’ll weep with missing them.

The lie that just because you wanted this baby (and love her dearly!) mean you need to embrace this season of sleeplessness and that guilt that because you want sleep you’re not enjoying this time in her life.

The lie that if you gently teach your baby to appreciate sleep so that both of you can be more rested you’re selfish and needy and the guilt that he’ll resent you for not pacing back and forth with him all night long.

So let’s look at these misconceptions and give you the truth you need to make the choice that is best for your baby.

The Misconceptions About Teaching Your Baby To Sleep Well

A lot of people believe that babies simply can’t sleep well until they outgrow this stage. Maybe you’re one of them.

You’re definitely not alone in that.

You’re also not alone struggling with guilt over longing for sleep and feeling unsettled about some of the seriously harsh methods of achieving this. No one wants to hurt their child.

But this can all be straightened out when you understand some simple truths about gentle sleep training to help your baby sleep through the night.

Here are three common -and incorrect!- ideas about teaching your child to sleep well, and the truth you’ve really needed to hear.

My baby isn’t going to love me in the morning if I push him to sleep through the night.

Oh, mama, how untrue that is! You and your baby have a very real connection. Your love comes across in a hundred little ways every day: gentle kisses during feedings, sweet smiles, tender snuggles, little giggles, and every time you meet his needs.

So how on earth could anyone tell you that after one night of changing your baby’s sleep habits, he won’t love you anymore?

All those play times, warm baths, sweet meals, lullabies, and snuggles have made your baby confident in your love for him. That’s why he wants you so much, Mama; you’re all the safe and loving and marvelous things in his little world. And no, one night cannot change that.

While you’re going meet with some resistance, it’s just part of life. After all, wouldn’t you resist someone trying to change your sleep schedule?

Sure your baby will express some displeasure that you’re not rocking him to sleep for an hour, but your consistent love and attentiveness all day long will help offset this short season of change.

Once your wee one is sleeping better, he’ll be even happier than ever! Sleep is one of the best gifts you can give your young child.

Crying it out is the only way to teach a baby to sleep all night long.

Let’s just stop right there. While gentle sleep training may result in some tears, this is not a full “cry-it-out” program.

You’re the parent and you can lead this with whatever makes your feel most comfortable. Want to stay with your child in his room the whole time? Absolutely, mama. No one would tell you otherwise.

After all, you’re not setting out to make your baby cry; crying isn’t the secret sauce in getting your baby to sleep well at night. The crying is just the result of changing his sleep schedule; once he adjusts, it stops and he’ll sleep even better.

Your baby isn’t crying because you’re a bad mom, a mean mom, or because he’s ‘mad’ at you. Not at all.

He’s just confused right now. After all, you used to rock or feed him to sleep every night and now you’re not doing that any more because you know this is ultimately better for his health. He knows you love him; he just hasn’t figure out yet that this is part of you showing him just how much.

The good news is that in most cases, your child’s confusion only lasts a few days. Children adapt to changes like this so quickly and sooner than you think, he’ll be settling himself in to sleep through the night…much to everyone’s delight.

Sleep training is stressful on babies and bad for them.

I know, I know, I’ve heard it, too. And I’d gladly listen if they had anything other than opinions to share with me.

But really, mama, there isn’t a single bit of scientific evidence that suggests gentle sleep training has any short-term or long-term psychological effects on children.

Isn’t that a relief? None at all.

But there are lots of studies on the value of sleep.

What’s The Best Choice For Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule?

If you’re still on the fence, there’s two ways you can handle it:

You can make some changes.

Your sweet little one might cry for ten minutes or he could hang on for 40. But after a few nights, most children have already started to learn how to fall asleep on their own and the crying completely stops very soon after.

Total “stress” on your baby (and you)? A little bit of crying for a few nights.

And a lot of sleep in your very near future.

You can keep things status quo.

This means you’ll keep nursing or rocking or bouncing your child to sleep. Every.single.night.

And then your child will wake once or twice or ten times throughout the night and need you to put him back to sleep with nursing or rocking or bouncing.

Total “stress” on your baby (and you)? Anywhere from months to years of systematic sleep deprivation because no one is getting enough consolidated sleep to actually feel rested.

If this continues into kindergarten or later, evidence suggests that it can cause trouble focusing in school or even childhood obesity. Now that is stressful.

What Does Gentle Sleep Training Mean For Your Family?

Honestly, what sounds better for your little one…and you?

A few nights where he cries because he’s a little confused, but then learns to settle in and go to sleep? Or months (or years!) of depriving your child of a good night’s sleep?

A few nights of a worried, slightly stressed mama because she’s doing something for her child that’s hard today, even though she knows it’s right in the long run? Or months (years?) of tired motherhood where you’re not at your best because you’re too exhausted?

If these myths surrounding gentle sleep training have been standing in the way of you taking the steps needed to create long term, positive changes for your child’s sleep, hopefully you’re at peace and ready now.

I’m here to answer any questions and to help you give your child sweet dreams and restful sleep.

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