Why You Don’t HAVE to Sleep Train Your Baby
Sleep training. Such a daunting and controversial decision that many families are faced with. Ever scroll across an ad on Facebook or Instagram saying “When does your baby go to bed?” or “Is your baby getting enough sleep? Click here to take our quiz!” Then you’re sucked into this massive rabbit hole and eventually, you’re in a tailspin and worried your kid’s brain won’t develop correctly or that they’re overtired or that they’ll sleep with you for the rest of their lives. Dude. Stop it!
Some babies can be laid down and kissed goodnight, falling asleep soundly and quickly all on their own. If you’re the ultra-lucky mama whose babe is a sleeping rockstar, we’re so happy for you. No really, we are! Most babies, however, are not so independent. 4-6 months of age seems to be the time when parents start having their babes sleep in their own room in their crib. This can be a huge adjustment for both mom and baby. It’s often a time when American’s decide it’s time to sleep train their sweetie. Now, before you get defensive or offended, this is not a post against sleep training. It’s a post for those mamas who feel pressured to sleep train from the internet or other moms, but their heart really isn’t in it.
If you’re not familiar with sleep training, it’s essentially the process of teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own. The key words here are ON THEIR OWN. If that’s the real goal, you can’t do much helping. This means no rocking, minimal picking up and swaying, and not letting a baby fall asleep while nursing or taking their bottle. There are different methods of teaching baby to fall asleep on their own. The main gist of it though is that there is a nightly routine i.e. bath, lotion, book, bottle/nurse, bed. This is done every evening around the baby’s bedtime. When she’s drowsy and ready for sleep, lay her down for the night. This is where the “training” comes in. You can stay in the room and comfort her from beside her crib with loving pats or rubbing her head, but it’s not recommended to pick her up because, well, she could fall asleep in the comfort of your arms. Or you could just leave the room, coming back to check on and verbally comfort her every 10-15 minutes. The last method we’re familiar with is “Ferberizing” which is a method invented by Dr. Richard Ferber. Parents leave and let the baby cry it out until eventually falling asleep. All of these will work and baby will sleep better, longer, and fall asleep on her own. however, they’re not for everyone.
Another useful tool to help your baby sleep more soundly is a reborn baby doll. They are lifelike and soft to the touch so that your baby can snuggle up to them and not feel alone in their crib. They would make an excellent gift for a mama whom you know is struggling with getting her baby to sleep well. These dolls would also make a wonderful educational toy for your baby as he or she gets older. They are so lifelike that they serve as a useful tool for teaching young children how to hold babies, even swaddle or cloth them. The reborn doll appears to be sleeping soundly, so it could be useful in relaxing a baby of any age.
If you love rocking, nursing, swaying, snuggling, bouncing, using a pacifier, or swaddling; you’re NOT a bad parent. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re comforting your baby, she’s going to sleep, and so are you. One more time, this is not an article to discourage sleep training. It’s simply one stating some facts about sleep training to help parents make the decision about whether or not it’s right for them. Hopefully a breath of fresh air that doesn’t put pressure on parents who enjoy co-sleeping or snuggling, nursing or rocking their baby to sleep. As new moms, we feel this undeniable sense of guilt when we are thought not to be “following the rules”. Have you ever seen a book called “Rules of Motherhood?” No? Great! Stop beating yourself up and quit reading all the blogs that tell you how to do what you were born to do (be a mom).
Written by: Jessica Bailey
She's an ex-elementary school teacher turned to stay at home mama. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a Master's Degree in Integrated Resource Management from Colorado State University.