Do you want to know something that really gets me fired up? It’s when Moms (either online or in real life) are talking sleep, and I hear comments like this:
“You should just enjoy getting up to nurse all night & someday he’ll be all grown up and you’ll miss it.”
“You were the one who decided to have children. Did you REALLY think you’d be getting a full night’s sleep for the next few years?”
Or my all-time favorite:
“Well, you’d better learn to live with it!”
My fingers are starting to burn just writing about this, so I’m going to ‘fire back’ with my top three myths about teaching your baby to sleep well:
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Really? 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. 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, the 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, The Sleep Sense Program (which I was trained in) is NOT 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 comfortable.
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’re 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’re not doing that anymore.
And the great news is that your child’s confusion usually only lasts a few days. Children adapt SO quickly that she’ll soon figure out how to calmly get herself to sleep; and then everyone’s happier!
Myth #3: Sleep training is too stressful for babies
First off, 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 got two choices:
A. Make some changes. This usually involves a few nights of your child crying for 10 - 40 minutes at bedtime. After a few nights, most children start to learn how to fall asleep independently and the crying stops completely shortly thereafter.
In this scenario, the total amount of “stress” felt by your child amounts to a few minutes 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.
In this scenario, both parent and child are subjected to months (or even years) of systematic 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 good nights’ sleep?
If one or more of these three 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 change your mind.
Erin Neri is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families with children from newborn to 8 years old providing customized sleep solutions that teach parents how to give their child the opportunities that are needed to develop their own independent sleep strategies and skills so they can sleep independently through the night and nap like champs.
Understanding that there is no one size fits all approach to raising kids Erin brings a unique combination of skills to your family’s sleep.
Combining her BA in Psychology and Infant Mental Health Training with The Sleep Sense™ Program, Erin is able to create a customized sleep solution for your family that allows parent and child to go from exhaustion to thriving in content, happy and rested households.
Through her personal experience with terrible sleepers, Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety, plus her education and training Erin has a unique ability to support mom’s where they are at emotionally within the sleep training process.
Gone are the days of mom and dad's walking through early childhood days like a sleep-deprived zombie. Erin's approach to helping kids learn their own independent sleep strategies is one of the most significant advancements in the way we lovingly raise our kids today.
To learn more about how Erin partners with parents visit To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting