Sleep Training: Necessary or Cruel?
Two Schools of Thought
I recently got booted off a Facebook group because I used the words "sleep training" in a post. The name of the group will remain unnamed, but they basically thought I was offside for asking for advice on how other moms got their babies to sleep independently.
Since then, I have come to realize that there are basically two teams of mamas out there. One team believes that the baby should lead the way, and if they cry, it means they need us and we should tend to them immediately. The other team believes that babies need to learn to self soothe, and sometimes, that means they will need to cry a little without us running in to save the day.
Well, apparently I'm on team two... but if you're on team one, hear me out before you write me off as a mean mama.
The First 6 Months
For the first 6 months of my baby's life, I have fed on demand. Every time she woke up in the night, she would get instant access to boob. For 4 of those months, she slept with us in our bed, and then I wanted to start testing the waters to get her used to sleeping in her crib. So, I would put her in her crib at bedtime, and when she cried, I would transfer her into my bed for the rest of the night. This worked well and ensured we were both getting sleep.
Then it stopped working for me...
I wasn't sleeping well with her wiggly little bum in my bed, and she was waking up far too often for either of us to get a good sleep. Perhaps she could smell my milk, and it was too easy for her to get milk on demand through the night.
So, I made the decision to sleep train. What did this involve? Well, I worked with Amanda Jewson from Baby's Best Sleep, and she had us do short intervals of letting them cry before going in, and to my surprise, she would (99% of the time) fall asleep before I had to go in. Within 3 days, she was sleeping through the night!
Did it suck listening to her cry? Yes, it did. It sucked a lot, but the reward is that she now knows how to put herself to sleep without my boob and she gets a solid 11 to 12 hours of sleep every night. On top of that, mama also gets a full night's sleep, and that makes me a better, more present mama! Happy baby, happy mama! Win win win win win!
To Each Their Own
So my response to anyone who thinks it's cruel to "sleep train", is that I think it's cruel to be a cranky and tired mama and not have enough patience for your baby. Do what you gotta do to get some sleep!
But as with all things that new mamas have to go through, find what works for you and do that! Every baby and situation is different, and who the heck am I to judge someone for the decisions they make for their lives and families?
It didn't feel good as a new mom to be shunned from a group because I was curious about how people helped their babies to sleep better. To each their own, right? Momming is hard enough without the judgment. Let's remember that, and be supportive of one another, no matter what.