Three Myths About Sleep Training
Do you want to know something that makes me absolutely crazy?
It is when someone spouts off either untrue or negative statements about sleep and sleep training. As a mom who went to hell and back with my own daughter's poor sleep, I know first hand the positive change that can come about from implementing positive sleep habits with your child through sleep training. The happy(-ish) family harmony that returns between you and your partner or you and your child(ren), your sense of quality of life a that returns and even your overall health that improves- I have experienced it all.
Here are just a few of the statements that are completely mind blowing to me:
“You should enjoy getting up to nurse all night because someday he will grow up and you will miss it”
“Oh well it was your choice to have that baby, get used to not sleeping for the next 18 years”
OR my all-time favorite…
“Good luck with that!” (and a chuckle).
Really? Do you honestly believe those statements? I am going to have to counter the top three myths about teaching your baby to sleep with my top three myths-busters:
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Wait what? Do you think that after just one night of changing your baby’s sleep habits she won’t love you anymore? Is that all it would take?
Would all the cuddles you give her, all the food you provide, all the diapers 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?
The truth is that making changes to anyone’s sleep habits will always be met with some resistance. For instance, if I told you something as simple as I want you sleep on your partner's side of the bed tonight-I'd bet money that you wouldn't be completely overjoyed by it. You like your side, you are comfortable on your side, it's what you are used to. 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 on the exercise ball for an hour each and every night, but as long as you are a loving and attentive parent in the first place, her love will endure.
In fact, most people find that once their baby is sleeping well, she’s even happier and healthier than before!
Myth #2: Sleep training means leaving your baby to “cry it out.”
First off, all sleep training is not the same. Little Night Owls does not promote a “cry-it-out” program.
In fact, you can stay in your child’s room with them the whole time if that makes you feel more at ease.
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.
In other words, your baby isn’t crying because she’s “mad” at you- or because you are being cruel. The only reason she’s crying is because she’s temporarily confused! I mean, you USED to rock or nurse her to sleep every night-and now (for her own health) you are not doing that anymore.
And the great news is that your child’s confusion usually only lasts a few days. Children adapt SO quickly (so much more quickly than their adult parents!) that she will soon figure out how to calmly get herself to sleep- and then everyone is happier!
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies.
First and scientifically foremost, 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 crying are “too stressful?” Well, I say you’ve really only have two choices:
A. Make some changes. This usually involves a few nights of your child crying at bedtime. After those few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep independently and the crying stops entirely shortly thereafter.
In this scenario, the total amount of ‘stress” felt by your child amounts to a minimal amount of crying for a few nights.
B. Do nothing. In this scenario, the parent continues to nurse / rock / bounce their child to sleep every night. The child wakes up 1-10 times per night, and needs to be nursed / rocked / bounced back to sleep each time.
Both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of systemic 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- 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 healthy night's sleep?
If one or more of these three common myths have been holding you back from taking the simple steps needed to create long term, positive change for your child’s sleep, I really hope I’ve been able to make you consider otherwise.
And, as always, we are here for you when you are ready to get started.