This blog is probably going to be my most controversial yet.
In the numerous parenting Facebook groups and blogs I follow the concept of sleep training is probably the most provocative topic.
It’s funny, the most common question from well-meaning strangers in the supermarket queue or sat having a coffee, “is she good, does she sleep through the night?” My now standard response “yes thanks, she sleeps like a baby.”
In other words she wakes up 2-3 times during the night.
Before having a baby, even while I was pregnant I thought leaving your baby to cry, to learn how to fall asleep themselves was almost like a rite of passage, everyone has to do it, it’s just what you do.
Then she was born and I decided, there has to be another way. That feeling of stress and anxiety I felt when she cried I realised was instinct. An instinct to protect and nurture and somehow allowing this tiny creature to cry alone didn’t fit with that at all.
Do babies really need to “learn” how to fall asleep?
What about self-soothing, surely babies need to be taught how to independently settle themselves?
I don’t believe so.
Recent research has linked repeated use of sleep-training techniques such as cry it out and controlled crying resulting in toxic levels of cortisol that is actually harmful to babies’ brains and may affect development. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8636950.stm
Even when the baby falls asleep without tears, the level of cortisol remains high.
I believe that for a baby comfort is a vital as food and warmth.
The need for closeness and security to fall asleep is not manipulation, it’s normal and biologically appropriate.
It’s taken me a while to feel secure and confident in my choice to go to my child every time she cries, despite advice that I’m spoiling her, making a rod for my own back, being manipulated.
I realise there are lots of people who will have undertaken sleep training to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep and I have no doubt the process works.
It is after all advocated by health visitors and the NHS.
This isn’t intended to judge those people or make them feel guilty I just want to show that there are gentler ways.
My next post...tips I’ve found to get a restful night’s sleep with a 6 month old.
Contact me via my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or my Twitter account @CescaNaylor.
Read Francesca’s previous blog - click the links below
July 18: The day my life changed forever.
July 25: Its scary but awesome being a mum.
July 31: It’s not easy being a mum.
August 7: Life is on hold but that’s alright.
August 14: Guilty secret.
August 22: In two minds.
August 30: Weaning issues.