by Sarah Ambrose, owner of The Sleep Nook
I can’t really say I remember every moment of my sweet baby’s first few months of life, not only because they went by so fast with so many changes, but because I was so completely exhausted. I’m sure many of you know the feeling – if my baby wasn’t sleeping, neither was I. We all know those first few months of life are going to be filled with disrupted sleep, and this is essential for the growth of our little ones, but how long does this sleeplessness need to last? Months? Years? Eternity?
The decision to “sleep train” my baby was nothing short of miraculous for our family, and so life-changing that I decided to join this amazing organization dedicated to getting families the rest they need. Now that I am a Certified Sleep Consultant for Infants & Toddlers, I know that you don’t have to “live with it” just because you are a parent, which I have heard so many times!
So today I’d like to share with you my top three myths about teaching your baby to sleep well:
Myth #1: Your baby will not love you in the morning.
Really? Come come now, Momma. 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 for an hour each night, but as long as you are a loving and attentive parent in the first place, love never fails. 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, my techniques are NOT a “cry-it-out” program. 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. 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 is 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. 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 at bedtime or night wakings. 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 some crying & protests for a few nights.
B. Do nothing. In this scenario, the parent continues to nurse/rock their child to sleep every night. The child wakes up 1-10 times per night and needs to be nursed/rocked 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. There is evidence that these poor sleep habits correlate 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 – and yourself – of a good night’s 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. And I’m here to help you when you’re ready to get started! Send me an email at [email protected] or give me a call at (712) 269-5676. You can also find lots more information and sign up for your FREE 15-minute consultation call on my website: www.thesleepnook.com.
Sweet Dreams & God Bless You,