Wish you could try sleep training your baby...but afraid because of the things you've heard about it? The truth is that gentle sleep training is possible and having a baby sleep at night is not the stuff of legends. Check out these 3 myths about teaching your child to sleep well and the truths that will help you move forward.
You've heard the well meaning (yet completely maddening) comments. Someone asks you how are you are and you smile absently while you rub your sleeping baby's sweet head and respond in the words said by so many other mothers wearing that same tired smile that seems to be on your face all the time these days: "Tired. My baby won't sleep...at night, anyhow."
Of course, if she'd only slept this well last night, you could have gotten some rest, too. But you just don't know how to make that happen. And neither, apparently, does the person you are talking to because they jump in with frustrating comments you've already heard a dozen times (but no practical solutions that will actually help your baby sleep at night).
"When he's all grown up, you'll miss these moments; you should enjoy getting up with him."
"The nights are long, but the years are short. Treasure those late night feedings."
"You're the one who wanted to have kids; did you think they came out sleeping through the night?"
The Myths Around Teaching Your Baby To Sleep Well
If you think that babies simply can't sleep well until they outgrow this stage, you're not alone.
And if you've heard of crazy methods to help them sleep through the night that have left you unsettled, it's probably because you've been presented with some myths surrounding baby sleep training.
Here are three common myths about teaching your child to sleep well, and the truth you've really needed to hear.
Myth #1: If I teach my baby to sleep through the night, he won't love me in the morning.
Oh, mama, how untrue that is! You and your baby have a very real connection. Your love comes across in a hundred little ways every day: gentle kisses during feedings, sweet smiles, tender snuggles, little giggles, and every time you meet his needs.
So how on earth could anyone tell you that after one night of changing your baby's sleep habits, he won't love you anymore?
All those play times, warm baths, sweet meals, lullabies, and snuggles have made your baby confident in your love for him. That's why he wants you so much, Mama; you're all the safe and loving and marvelous things in his little world. And no, one night cannot change that.
While you're going meet with some resistance, it's just part of life. After all, wouldn't you resist someone trying to change your sleep schedule?
Sure your baby will express some displeasure that you're not rocking him to sleep for an hour, but your consistent love and attentiveness all day long will help offset this short season of change.
Once your wee one is sleeping better, he'll be even happier than ever! Sleep is one of the best gifts you can give your young child.
Myth #2: I have to let my baby “cry it out” to sleep train him.
Let's just stop right there. While gentle sleep training may result in some tears, this is not a full “cry-it-out” program.
You're the parent and you can lead this with whatever makes your feel most comfortable. Want to stay with your child in his room the whole time? Absolutely, mama. No one would tell you otherwise.
After all, you're not setting out to make your baby cry; crying isn't the secret sauce in getting your baby to sleep well at night. The crying is just the result of changing his sleep schedule; once he adjusts, it stops and he'll sleep even better.
You're baby isn't crying because you're a bad mom, a mean mom, or because he's 'mad' at you. Not at all.
He's just confused right now. After all, you used to rock or feed him to sleep every night and now you're not doing that any more because you know this is ultimately better for his health. He knows you love him; he just hasn't figure out yet that this is part of you showing him just how much.
The good news is that in most cases, your child’s confusion only lasts a few days. Children adapt to changes like this so quickly and sooner than you think, he'll be settling himself in to sleep through the night...much to everyone's delight.
Myth #3: Sleep training will stress my baby out too much.
I know, I know, I've heard it, too. But really, mama, there isn't a single bit of scientific evidence that suggests gentle sleep training has any short-term or long-term psychological effects on children.
Isn't that a relief?
If you're still on the fence, there's two ways you can handle it:
You could make some changes (and you'll both start sleeping better in less than a week!).
Your sweet little one might cry for ten minutes or he could hang on for 40. But after a few nights, most children have already started to learn how to fall asleep on their own and the crying completely stops very soon after.
Total "stress" on your baby (and you)? A little bit of crying for a few nights.
Or you could do nothing (and nothing will change).
This means you'll keep nursing or rocking or bouncing your child to sleep. Every.single.night.
And then your child will wake once or twice or ten times throughout the night and need you to put him back to sleep with nursing or rocking or bouncing.
Total "stress" on your baby (and you)? Anywhere from months to years of systematic sleep deprivation because no one is getting enough consolidated sleep to actually feel rested.
If this continues into kindergarten or later, evidence suggests that it can cause trouble focusing in school or even childhood obesity. Now that is stressful.
What Does Gentle Sleep Training Mean For Your Family?
Honestly, what sounds better for your little one...and you?
A few nights where he cries because he's a little confused, but then learns to settle in and go to sleep? Or months (or years!) of depriving your child of a good night's sleep?
If these myths surrounding gentle sleep training have been standing in the way of you taking the steps needed to create long term, positive changes for your child’s sleep, hopefully you're at peace and ready now.
I'm here to answer and questions and to help you give your child sweet dreams and restful sleep.