I despise the word sleep training hence the reason I keep putting it in quotes in this post. It is a popular way of referring to teach your child to sleep independently and teach them a healthy way of falling asleep – without feeding, nursing, rocking, bouncing, patting, laying down with them…….the list goes on.
“Sleep training” (for a lack of a better term) is a highly controversial subject amongst parents. You are either for it or against it and people have very strong feelings on the subject. As a sleep consultant, it doesn’t take a lot to guess that I am in the “for it” camp. When I had my first child and before my career as a sleep consultant, I read all the books there were on baby sleep and scheduling. I am a planner, so it only made sense that I planned when my baby would sleep, when he would eat and when he would play. I also know myself well enough to know that I don’t operate well without sleep – my husband can vouch for this as I turn into a not-so-pleasant individual when I haven’t had my 8 hours of sleep every night.
Based on this information about myself, I knew I had to come up with a solution for my sleepless nights, when my baby was 5 months old. I ‘sleep trained’ him for bedtime and naps and it TRANSFORMED my life. I am not kidding you or using those words lightly. Once my baby and I started sleeping through the night, I started becoming the old me again, which had been lost somewhere along the way. I re-discovered my joy for life. I started enjoying my relationships with people around me, I started enjoying cooking, photography and truly appreciated every moment I got to spend with my son, when he wasn’t sleeping. So far me, the benefits of “sleep training” far outweighed any of the negatives.
The same should apply for every parent out there who is struggling to make the decision on whether or not to ‘sleep train’. Guilt plays a huge part (as written by this blogger)- how can you put your own needs of wanting to sleep above that of your child? Shouldn’t you be attending to their every need? Is it selfish to want them to sleep through the night just so that you can get some shut eye?
There is a vast amount of information out there on why you should or shouldn’t “sleep train” your child. But at the end of the day, the decision is yours and yours alone to make. Parenting is a very personal choice and you are doing the best you can. Don’t judge others on their parenting choice and don’t let others’ judgment sway your decision. Do what is your right for you and your child and if that means co-sleeping, then that’s your right.
1. What are the benefits of teaching your child to sleep independently?
- More time for yourself and your partner to spend together
- Your child will be less cranky as they will wake up less or not at all during the night.
2. What are the cons of teaching your child to sleep independently?
- You might feel as though you are abandoning them during the night when they need you
- The fear of your child crying
3. Why do you want to teach your child to sleep independently?
- It is a life skill to that you are teaching your child like walking, talking, crawling etc.
- Better health for everyone in the family
- You want to have the energy to get through the day without dreaming about when and where you are going to sleep next.
4. How are you going to teach your child to sleep independently?
- There are a myriad of ways to do this, so research and pick the method that you are going to be able to consistently stick to without giving up.
5. Are you ready for it?
- It takes a lot of mental preparation to make this journey. It is not the easiest thing you will do, but you need to stick to it, once you have embarked on it.
- Make sure you have a lot of support around you and all caregivers are on board to help you through this.
Sleep is an amazing thing. You don’t realize how much you need it until you don’t have it anymore. It’s like food or water. You can survive on very little of it – but you are not thriving, barely surviving.