Author Says Sleep Training Doesn’t Work, So All Those Parents Must Be Imagining That Sweet Sleep
I am a parent that at one point, would have open-mouth kissed whoever pioneered sleep training. For our daughter, just a few nights of cry-it-out was all it took to make her sleep by 7 pm and not hear from her again until 7 am. She never cried more than 5-10 minutes and was a much happier baby for it. Of course, this method did not work for our son, but I do see how it works for some babies, which is why I am deeply confused at this author’s claims that it does not.
Author Heather Turgeon decries sleep training and then says this, from Today:
Newborns need all that rocking, shushing and bouncing to regulate their little nervous systems. But as they grow, they become more and more able to self-regulate. When we work with parents in the first four months, our main goal is to help them gradually do a little less. Just to see what happens. Babies let us know if they truly need our help, but we try to “train” parents to be a little curious and give them space to work things out on their own.
In my case, when I realized that bouncing my son to sleep was overshadowing his own self-soothing skills, I had to step back to give him the space he so clearly needed. He did protest — why wouldn’t he? I was changing a well-entrenched pattern. Once he understood the new pattern — that I was nearby but he was in charge of soothing to sleep — he figured out his favorite sleeping position (legs tucked under, bum in the air) and his sleep improved drastically. As my partner and I have learned over years of practice and research, a little struggle is OK for babies and kids — it’s a normal part of growing and practicing a new skill.
Ok, maybe I’m a little slow this morning, but didn’t she just basically describe sleep training? More specifically, cry-it-out or fuss-it-out? “He did protest” is what she said. Somehow, I don’t imagine an infant holding up a sign saying “Hell no, I won’t go….to sleep!” and that “protest” meant crying or fussing. Is she just trying to sell her book with it’s “new” methods or is her son more evolved in the art of Infant Protest? I feel like she’s just gussying up cry-it-out to make it more palatable for herself and other parents not fond of the term and all it implies. Then, she can claim that she let her son “figure it out” instead of “crying it out.” Sneaky, sneaky.
I know for us, it was very clear that we were interfering with our daughter’s natural ability to self-soothe and possibly, making things worse with all our frantic efforts. By about six months old, we felt it was time to let her cry in her crib for a few minutes and see if it worked. We put her down drowsy but awake, as recommended by the bazillion sleep-training books we were consulting, and there we went. She cried for maybe three nights, only a few minutes each time, before falling into a deep and restful sleep. After that, it was totally smooth sailing unless a new tooth or milestone were happening. I was ready to praise sleep training from the highest roof tops to anyone who would listen because, sleep. It totally worked and our lives improved drastically.
Our son was not so easy to convince. We tried this with him at the same age. I had made an effort not to nurse him to sleep, as I know that can cause a problem with a baby being able to fall asleep on their own, but he was fussy and restless without it. Our cry-it-out attempts were all futile as was everything else we tried- but nursing him to sleep did work. So, guess what I did? Once he hit 13 months or so, he got slightly better and didn’t need boob to fall asleep, so those months that I did it were not a huge deal in the long run. You do what you have to do- only you are an expert on your child and you know better than any sleep “expert” what they need.
In conclusion? I know why books like this exist and I don’t deny that they should. Desperate parents will do anything they can to get their babies to sleep more. I’m sure this book has some nuggets of wisdom to offer as do the others, however, every baby is different. That is a fact. Gather the tips from each method that work best for you and roll with it. There is no set formula to get every baby to sleep. A parent can save themselves a lot of grief by understanding that from the start.