Consulting on middle ground...
If you’re feeling lost when it comes to your next move in the sleep department. Just know, you are not alone. Well.. clearly you’re not alone. Everywhere you look you’ve got advice on how or what to do to change your baby’s sleep patterns.
It is no secret. I help families get their babies to sleep MORE for a living. Yes, this means more than might be “biologically normal”. Yes, this might mean more than perhaps a baby should sleep.. depending on who you talk to. But the truth of the matter is..
Someone has got to do it.
And yes. That someone, is me.
When I see baby sleep advice on the internet - I cringe. Probably not for the reasons you might think, but because of how polarizing people can be on this topic.
You’re damned if you sleep train, and you’re damned if you don’t.
This is the message I see repeating time and time again.
The competitions as well. OH EM GEE. Just stop!
We’ve got the sleep trainers.. Or sleep shapers.. Or sleep learners.. Or sleep nudgers.. Whatever you want to call them!
“Well I never had to do ANY kind of sleep training and my baby slept perfectly from 10 weeks on. We just never fed to sleep.”
“We started with strict scheduling from birth and it worked PERFECTLY for us, and we had 3 sleeping babies by 12 weeks because of it.”
“I let him cry. It was awful. He vomited. We all cried. But it worked, and it was the BEST thing we ever did for us and our son!”
And then the other side…
“We would NEVER ever sleep train our baby. Our hearts could never take it! We don’t want him to feel abandoned.”
“It would break me into a million pieces to hear him cry for even 5 seconds. We breastfeed and co-sleep all night long. It’s what works for us.”
About 9 months ago I made a firm decision that I would no longer support families using any form of “cry-it-out” sleep training.
Since many people define “cry-it-out” differently, I will offer you my cole’s notes definition.
To me this method is defined as - any period of leaving your baby alone to cry. I’ve got my reasons why I practice in this way, and if you’re curious.. You can read more about how I came to this decision here.
But since I officially came out about my stance, people have been REALLY curious about what I do. Like. Really curious.
A “sleep trainer” who doesn’t do CIO? Is she the answer to our prayers?! (haha.. I put that in there for me. But yes, I might just be).
But seriously, every day I get questions about what I do and how EXACTLY I do it.
Because you know what, what I do.. Is really freaking hard to do! And it DOES not exist in a book. It really does not. I can tell you. I’ve read 29 different sleep books and have yet to see my methodologies anywhere (yes - enter writing a book into 2018’s to-do list).
And I understand the curiosity.
When I was a sleep deprived mom, I think I was THE hungriest mom for sleep information. Seriously. I digested every single thing I could get my hands-on, by anyone who seemed to know what they were talking about on this subject.
^^ and that, my friends.. Is how I learned to do what I am doing now. By reading ALL OF IT. And then actually being so lucky as to have people actually trust me to try it with their babies (thank you guys!!).
Today a mom in a facebook group asked me a question after I made this statement...
There are ways we can help our babies learn to sleep in different ways, while still being physically and emotionally available to them.
And her question to follow was this…
“But how can you be emotionally and physically supportive without having the baby cry?”
Fair question - right?
And here is where I realized we as a society have a problem.
I feel sometimes like I am the ONLY person who is trying to merge the gap between the sleep trainers, and those who support natural, biological, parenting choices.
It is a big hole to fill some days. And no, I’m not prepared to give the secrets that I have spent the last 3 years learning, away for free.
But the question above.. I would like to answer.
How can we be emotionally and physically supportive of our babies while they are learning to sleep in a different way?
That is how I would reframe the question.
Tears are not necessarily the enemy, my friends. Baby’s cry. They do.
But I would argue that tears in the arms of a loving and supportive caregiver can be healing.
Think about when you have a GOOD cry. Like a disgusting, ugly, snot flying out of your nose, cry. And your partner puts their arms around you and says, “I don’t know exactly why you are feeling the way you are feeling right now, but I want to be here to support you.”
^^ that my friends, is being physically and emotionally supportive. That is healing.
As a society we see good babies as the ones who are not crying. We see good parents as the ones who can stop their babies from crying the fastest.
But I would love if we could shift our thinking to this….
GOOD babies are ALL of the babies. Because. #babiesareawesome
GOOD parents are the ones who are TRYING to support their babies in whatever way they feel THEY should at that particular moment based on their intuition and instinct.
And really, it is OKAY for people to want to change a pattern of behaviour that is not serving them, and is not allowing them to be the parent they hoped they would be.
If what you are doing now in the sleep department is not physically and emotionally sustainable for YOU, then we have some work we could do together.
Because ultimately, you do have to put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST, if you are going to wake up and love on that GOOD baby as much as you want to love on them.
When we support our friends we could be saying, “Is there something about what you are doing now that is just not sustainable for you? Something that HAS to change?”
What if we focused on THAT little piece of information, rather than the cry-it-out, don’t cry-it-out, debate.. And saw what we came up with as a result.
You might just find an "in the middle" starting off point for you and your baby.
And if you’d prefer to save yourself the trial and error of what Suzie, and Sally did first, then please holler at me. I'd like to help make the line from sleepless nights, to more-sleep nights, a lot clearer for you.