The Problems with Anti-Sleep Training articles

I had another discussion today in the usual echo chamber of “anti CIO” parents. The same tired arguments (see what I did there?) came out, and the clucking and tsk-ing over parents who are so mean and selfish as to do something so horrible to their sweet innocent baby. Unfettered judgment like that immediately makes me see red, and so when I see red, you get a rant. Here is a whole lot more words than necessary about why sleep training is not what it’s made out to be – so many, in fact, that this is going to be a series instead of just one really long post.

1)It fundamentally misunderstands what’s going on when a baby is sleep trained.

There’s a huge misconception that sleep training means flinging your baby into the crib, letting him scream until he throws up, and letting him lose all faith and hope and trust in people meeting his needs. That they fall asleep not because they’re learning to fall asleep, but that they’re so exhausted they just pass out. And then they don’t cry because they’ve learned it’s futile and no one is coming to help them and probably a tiger is going to eat them or something?

Trust me – I have sleep trained hundreds of babies. THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS. Babies have habits, and often their HABIT – not their need – is to fall asleep with an adult’s help. By trusting them to be smart enough to fall asleep on their own, and facilitating and supporting that, we are meeting their NEEDS, and creating new habits. When I put a baby down awake and they cry, I’m listening to them, watching them, and seeing LEARNING take place. I’m not watching babies cry themselves into exhaustion over and over again. Most of the time, they’re very calm when they eventually fall asleep, after winding down from their initial upset. That’s why I call my method the “figure it out” method.

Another common misunderstanding is that sleep training means “is in a deep sleep for 12 hours” and “no one actually does that!”. I completely agree that no one sleeps through the night! But when you wake up, you flip your pillow to the cool side and go right back to sleep. You don’t call your mom to come over and rock you (unless you’re that dude in Love You Forever – I super hope that guy never brings dates home #awkward). A sleep-trained baby doesn’t sleep for 12 hours. They cycle through sleep and wake up occasionally just like we do. But they’re able to put themselves back to sleep, swiftly and easily! They don’t need to call you to come in and do it for them. I daresay they like being able to sleep uninterrupted, too.

Also, all of these articles include a picture of a screaming newborn. No one is trying to sleep train your 2 week old.

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