10 reasons why I decided NOT to sleep train my baby son
I often get asked about how my son is sleeping.
And by 'often' I mean there's barely a single person, from distant relatives to women on the bus, who doesn't check in with me frequently about the sleeping 'problem'.
In my paranoid, tired state I can't help but detect a hint of schadenfreude in their curiosity. If that sounds paranoid then what I say next will definitely make you question my sanity after 20 months of broken sleep: When I tell people that I have no interest in sleep training my son I get a strong sense that their sympathy evaporates rather quickly.
This is, of course, totally fine. I don't need peoples' sympathy for just doing what any parent is doing – looking after my son's needs but I do think it is an interesting indicator of what the current trends around the great sleep problem (or Sleepgate, if you will) are. I feel there's a strong sense that we parents should be "fixing" our babies' sleeping, rather than accepting it.
Here're 10 reasons why I didn't sleep train my son; he sleep trained me
1. The baby sleep thing is an industry
Baby books can provide invaluable information and reassurance to parents, but I also believe that after all they are largely a commercial enterprise, and I am a little bit distrustful of that. Maybe that's the sleep-deprivation-induced paranoia talking though.
2. The experts don't know my son and they don't know me
Though this is obviously not the intention, as a vulnerable new mother I often found advice in parenting books made me feel MORE hopeless rather than less. I was pretty anxious at the beginning and so insecure that reading things like how C-section mothers (such as myself) were unlikely to breastfeed successfully felt a bit demoralising.
3. Sleep training seems more exhausting and brutal than just weathering the terrible sleep years
One friend who tried sleep training told me that without it "we'd have been nervous breakdown candidates". But also feels it's "not a guaranteed fix at all".
4. I don't really believe that babies are supposed to sleep at such a young age.
I feel like it's something babies aren't really capable of like feeding themselves or critiquing the latest Netflix series.
5. The most sleep, whatever way you can achieve it, is the best sleep
I do believe that whatever way the baby is sleeping, as long as you're happy with the arrangement and getting rest yourself, is the best solution for your family.
6. Modern parents, prehistoric babies...
Babies don't really understand the demands of modern life, they don't get that we have deadlines and mortgages and years of uninterrupted sleep behind us.
7. I don't believe that interrupted infant and toddler sleep leads to emotional or behavioural problems later in life
It just seems a bit far-fetched to me. If the interrupted sleep pattern had these lasting negative effects would evolution not have solved this trait by now? Or maybe sleep training is the evolutionary process to address this? Or perhaps the sleep deprivation logic is kicking in again.
8. He is not a "bad sleeper"; He is just a baby
The good sleeper/bad sleeper debate is missing the point entirely. Our perspective is often that our babies are the ones with the problem, but really it's actually that the demands of the modern world don't marry up with the primitive, elemental needs of our young. For many parents, sleep training is the best solution to this problem.
9. I've gotten used to waking up every night
Or at least I always think I have until a particularly bad night hits and then I feel completely hopeless and despairing.
10. Occasionally, very VERY occasionally he sleeps all night
Occasionally, I said occasionally.
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