Please stop telling people to Sleep Train their baby!
Does everyone like swiss cheese?
Have wobbly knees?
Their dog have flees?
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s chat about this for a moment.
Confess to some poor mama at the grocery store that your baby doesn’t sleep, and wait for it…. Wait for it… “OH! You HAVE to sleep train! It worked AMAZING for my two boys.”
And there you have it people. Everything that is wrong with society!
Okay. I am exaggerating. But please hear me out. You do not have to sleep train your baby. And you know what; it doesn’t work for everyone.
But Lara, “You’re a sleep trainer?” No. Actually. I am not. I am a holistic infant and child sleep consultant who seeks ways to normalize infant sleep, a family’s perspective, and has even been known to help a family wean a baby or two of nighttime feeding while continuing to share a family bed. Okay. I digress.
The point of this article is not to encourage you to sleep train your baby or not sleep train your baby, but to be wary of the information above for ONE very important reason.
Every baby has a different personality.
What?! Seriously, Lara?! They don’t all just poop, and cry, and eat?! You’re telling me MY baby may actually be very different from my best friend’s baby?! Or the lady at the grocery store’s baby?! Seriously?! I thought they were all the same.
You see how preposterous that sounds.
So why for the LOVE of… WHY are you all trying to sleep train your baby the same way?!
Please stop. Just stop right now.
And let me tell you why.
Because I am TIRED of helping families overcome a traumatic, horrible, awful sleep training experience. You might not know what that looks like. But, I do. Sometimes I get on the phone with a family and it takes every ounce of my being not to burst into tears alongside them while they express what they have recently gone through.
You are not a failure if you can’t sleep train your baby. You are not a failure if “controlled crying” does not work for you. You are not a failure if you can’t night wean your one year old, and you are especially not a failure if you can’t leave your child alone in a room to cry.
You are not a failure if your baby doesn’t sleep. Period.
You have a different personality from the lady at the grocery store, and so does your partner, and so does your baby. And so will your subsequent babies. Which I think is the hardest one for some parent’s to understand.
“But it worked beautifully for our older daughter.” Yes. Yes it did. But she may have been an EASY baby. You may have been set-up for success. You may have felt right about what it was you were doing because she responded so well to sleep training, and then you told all of your friends to also sleep train their babies. Guilty as charged!
Let’s compare Baby 1 with Baby 2
Baby 1 wakes up cooing in the morning. She looks around her crib for 15 or 20 minutes before signalling to her parents that she would like them to come get her. She nurses easily; has a beautiful latch, and pulls off cooing and satisfied. Her diaper change is a breeze. She lays on her back calmly watching her mobile. Gazes into her mama’s eyes, and says perfect little words. A breakfast of solids is served and she opens her mouth wide, enjoying every bite that is offered, and grinning from ear to ear as morning passes. This is an EASY baby. This may become the agreeable toddler at the playground. The teenager who drives cautiously with the music turned down. Or, the barista who serves you your coffee with a smile, a hello, and a perfect swirl on top.
Baby 2 wakes up SCREAMING. She has never woken up cooing in her entire life. Rage crying is more her style. She is loud and proud and doesn’t take no for an answer. She nurses. A bit of a struggle – as she actually has an undetected tongue tie that no one has yet to notice, and mom is feeling anxious and upset at the fact that their breastfeeding relationship is not going quite so well. Baby is laid down for a diaper change but will not sit still. She wriggles, and cries again, as she absolutely DETESTS the cold wet wipe on her backside, and feels threatened by the dog barking out the window. At her solids breakfast she throws things against the wall, is disgusted by her mom’s offering of prunes, and refuses to drink water from her straw cup. Dad leaves for work. Mom didn’t get a chance to kiss him goodbye because she was so busy attending to their high needs baby. Dad feels a little sad and disappointed. Their marriage is struggling now. This is a SPIRITED baby. This may become the toddler who can’t stand a tag in their t-shirt. The teenager who stands up for what she believes in, and as a result is thrown in the principal’s office. Or, the barista who tells you to f*ck right off when she can’t get your double mocha chocolate, 83 degree, half caf latte just right.
Would sleep training go the same for these two families?
Do you think it might go really well for baby #1, and not so great for baby #2?
Yes. I think that is a reasonable hypothesis.
So please stop telling your friends to SLEEP TRAIN their baby.
Tell them this instead.
I love you. It get’s better.
(Maybe you should hire the girl from @heavyeyeshappyhearts). *Shameless plug*
Thank you Hayley-Rae Photography for these pics of me and my beautiful "spirited" little girl.