Sleep Training Myths – Busted!

Sleep is the topic of much debate on mommy Facebook pages and online forums. All too often, an obviously struggling, sleep deprived mother looking for help, will ask a question about her baby’s sleep habits and get bombarded with variations of the same comments like: “You need to learn to enjoy this time with your baby. One day you’ll really miss it.” Or, “It was your choice to have a baby, that means you have to be a parent 24/7, not just when it’s convenient for you!” And, of course, “It’s normal, you just have to let him grow out of it.”

My heart hurts for this mother who is likely already feeling guilty for wanting to sleep train her baby. Yes she knows that her need for consolidated sleep is paramount to her ability to be the best mom she can be. So with that in mind, I’d like to reply to these comments and bust some myths about sleep training.

Myth #1: Your baby won’t love you in the morning after sleep training begins.

It’s outrageous to think that after making a few changes to your baby’s sleep environment and habits that she will fall out of love with you.

All you do during the day is tend to your baby’s needs. You provide her with love, food, clean diapers and clothes, snuggles, kisses, walks to the park and so much more!

Of course, when things begin to change in her routine, she will be resistant. I don’t know anyone, child or adult, who likes an unexpected change in routine. Since you can’t explain these changes to your baby, she will be surprised! She is not likely to accept the changes without a protest. As long as you continue to give her the attention you normally would during the day, her love for you will not change. She will come out the other side happier and healthier!

Myth #2: Sleep training means using the ‘cry it out’ method.

You can! But you certainly don’t have to. The Sleep Sense Program is not a ‘cry it out’ sleep training plan. If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of leaving your baby alone to figure out sleep on his own, you’re not alone! Most parents hate the thought of listening to their baby struggle alone in the dark. Why not stay in the room with your baby while he learns to drift off to sleep independently? There are many options and plans available that do not require you to use the ‘cry it out’ method.

Some crying is to be expected, but it’s only his protest to the change in his routine and exactly how he falls asleep. If he’s used to being rocked or nursed to sleep in your arms, and all of a sudden he’s expected to fall asleep in his crib, he’s going to be frustrated. He isn’t mad at you, he isn’t in pain and he certainly hasn’t stopped loving you.

The good news, is that most children will begin to adjust to this new routine after only two or three nights. If the baby has never had a chance to doze off on his own until now, it will take time to learn a new strategy for falling asleep. Once he gets a chance to practice and become familiar with this new strategy, the protest crying will ease and he will begin to calmly fall asleep on his own.

Myth #3: Sleep training creates too much stress for a baby.

Numerous studies have found no negative, long term effects related to sleep training, yet many studies highlight the negative, long term effects of sleep deprivation. These long-term consequences of lack of sleep include poor school performance, and a higher risk of ADHD, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Now, you have two choices:

1. Make changes to ensure your child is getting enough quality sleep. This usually means that your child will be upset for a few nights while he adjusts to the changes you’ve implemented. There will most likely be a few nights of crying, but as the child practices his new skill of falling asleep independently, the crying will stop and he will be a well rested and happy child.

2. Wait it out. This means that things will continue as they are for many months or possibly years. Children usually outgrow the need for parental assistance at bed time and during the night, between the ages of three and five. Can you wait it out? And what is happening to your health – and your child’s health – in the mean time? After many months of broken sleep, things like functioning at work, being patient with our children and partners, and staying healthy and active, become a struggle. It’s much easier to be a parent when we have a solid eight hours of sleep under our belts every day. As for your child, learning, playing and being a kid should come easily. With the proper amount of consolidated sleep, you can be sure that he will stay focused, energetic, happy and healthy.

If you’ve been holding back on sleep training due to some of these myths, I really hope that you’re now ready to reconsider. If so, let’s talk! I am offering a complimentary 15-minute evaluation to all parents. Just give me a call at 250-552-5080, and together we can decide whether sleep coaching is right for your family.

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