When Olive was about four months old, I remember taking her to a talk put on by the local library. Each week they hosted different speakers, and this particular week featured a public health nurse speaking about the unique nature of baby sleep. It sounded interesting and I needed to get out of the house and talk to real, grown-up people that didn’t shit their pants, so off we went.
At the beginning of the talk, all of the moms went around the circle and introduced ourselves and described our baby’s sleep patterns. Many moms expressed frustration and/or insanity at the lack of sleep they were getting, but because at that point O was sleeping like a rockstar, I just said she was sleeping well and was interested in hearing the talk.
I did, however, happen to mention that I usually nurse her to sleep, and at that point, the speaker interrupted me to let me know that nursing a baby to sleep was not good. Not just not recommended, but like NOT. GOOD. at all, ever. Period. Her sternly angled eyebrows added extra emphasis.
She was pretty clear about the fact that all in all of the popular approaches to baby sleep and all the books written by all the experts, the common thread was that “sleep props” like nursing impede a baby’s ability to self-soothe. She told me that Olive would never sleep through the night if I continued putting her to sleep this way.
I nodded because everything I had read – by all of those experts in all of those same sleep books – agreed with this statement. And that’s what I do in the face of confrontation, I nod and smile.
But despite my robotic nodding, I didn’t agree. These statements didn’t ring true for me.
At that point, Olive was sleeping through the night, despite the nursing. And she did wake up and go back to sleep, I could hear her several times a night – waking, talking to herself and then rolling over and drifting off.
But I sat there and nodded because who I was I, a first time mother with a four-month-old, to argue with a nurse (not to mention all of those experts?)
Complicating matters even more was the fact that I happened to be, at that very same moment, nursing O to sleep because it was her nap time. As the introductions moved on to my left, I guiltily unlatched her and then spent the next forty-five minutes walking her and bouncing her and trying to hear the nurse over her cries because she was tired and wasn’t done and I had stopped nursing her because I couldn’t bear to be doing it wrong.
The next day we tried a mild form of sleep training, involving some bullshit they call “Pick-Up, Put-Down” and I call terrible. The idea was, I was supposed to hold Olive and when she looked drowsy, put her in her crib. If she cried I was to pick her up, hold her until she had JUST calmed down, and then put her back in her crib. Aaaand repeat.
The idea is a no-cry sleep training. In reality it was 45 minutes of lots of crying – from an exhausted baby who just wanted to be snuggled and also from me, a confused, frustrated first-time mom who didn’t understand why what she had been doing was wrong, but desperately wanted to be doing it right.
At the time, when all of this was happening (the nurse and the talk and the day of failed “sleep training”) I remember feeling overwhelmed, helpless and confused. I was scared that they might be right, that I might be ruining Olive’s ability to self-soothe and she would be a horrible sleeper and rely on nursing as a “sleep prop” forever and never be able to go to sleep on her own. Ever!
Looking back now though, as the mother of a one year old, I mostly just feel angry.
What is this bullshit? Why do we do this? Why do we voluntarily subject ourselves to sitting in a room full of people, being told we are doing it wrong simply because a handful of self-proclaimed experts with books to sell say so?
You can’t sell a solution if there isn’t a problem, and in the past fifty years, we have increasingly categorized what amounts to normal, human infant sleep as a problem needing to be solved.
Experts and books and exorbitantly priced “Sleep Consultants” have proliferated, and because we are terrified new parents with bags under our eyes the size of Samsonites we eagerly open our ears and our wallets to find a solution, any solution! And we are frustrated. We’re frustrated because our expectations are out of whack, and our expectations are out of whack because we are being sold lies – lies I tell you!
Here is one lie: The secret to a three-month-old sleeping 12 hours straight is just $20 away.
Another lie: It isn’t normal for an infant or toddler to wake up a few times a night.
And one more lie: It is now, and has always been, customary for humans to sleep in solid 8-12 hour increments.
Enough of these lies! I call bullshit!
This series of articles published in Psychology Today was honestly the single best thing I ever stumbled upon as a new parent.
It is totally worth a read – all six parts – but if you are text-averse, I can sum it up for you by saying this:
- Infant/toddler sleep is erratic, unpredictable and doesn’t conform to our expectations. Children’s sleep habits have evolved to best serve the child, even if they don’t make sense to the parent. Adjust your expectations, not your child’s sleep habits (within reason).
- Don’t stop being a parent at night.
- Be gentle with yourself, follow your instincts, listen to your gut and stop being so crazy with the books and the shushing and the picking up and putting down and the precisely-timed intervals and the living by the clock.
The whole series of articles made me feel as though I was getting a good, old-fashioned wallop of common sense from some stern lady with a wooden spoon, but the line that stuck with me the most from the whole thing was this: “…one long-term study looking at child sleep between 3 and 42 months found that there was no stability in night wakings or even sleep duration…”
Guys – there is no pattern! There is no rhyme or reason or explanation! It does not matter if you sleep train or don’t sleep train or nurse to sleep or rock to sleep or whatever. Just give up! Adapt, react, give in. You don’t have to train your child to sleep, you don’t have to enforce rigid guidelines and you don’t have to stop nursing your baby to sleep out of misguided fear, perpetuated by experts looking to make a buck.
Here is the truth, from a mom who has nursed her baby to sleep for more than a year: It is easily one of the best parts of our day.
It is an indescribably sweet feeling to sit quietly with her as her eyes flutter and her breath slows. I love that pause and that stillness. And there’s a reason it works so well. Nighttime breastmilk contains tryptophan, the same chemical found in turkey that makes us feel so drowsy after huge thanksgiving dinners. (and even as adults, what is the old wives remedy for insomnia? “Have a glass of warm milk…”). We were designed to nurse our babies to sleep. Babies are meant to fall asleep nursing.
More importantly than all of that however, and this is the part that makes me mad thinking about my scared, impressionable new-mom self: They were wrong.
At twelve months old, nursing is absolutely not the only way Olive can go to sleep. Grandma can give her a bottle and rock her and she will drift off without any fuss. Her father can snuggle her and she’s out in five minutes. And recently, miracle of miracles, there have been a few times that I have put her into her crib awake for a few of her naps and at bedtimes, and she has rolled around for a bit, talked to herself and then fallen asleep. By herself.
It doesn’t happen every time, and now that I have shared this information with The Internets, I have ensured that these events will never, ever repeat themselves, but I was told that this would never happen period because of the sleep props and the bad habits and my terrible, lazy parenting with the bedtime nursing.
For months I felt guilty, instead of content, every time I sat there with her and watched her drift off. And guys, that’s why I’m angry, because no mom should feel like that for nourishing and comforting her child.
It’s hard being a new parent. Not just because of the incredible changes affecting every facet of your life – your career, your finances, your home and your relationship – but because everyone has an opinion. About everything you are doing and more importantly everything you are doing wrong.
So here’s what I recommend to all of you new parents or soon-to-be parents, or someday far away in the verrry distant future parents: Read the article I linked to above, and have zero expectations. You might have a baby that sleeps, you might not. You might have a baby that tricks you into thinking they are a sleeper and then messes with your mind by suddenly stopping sleeping, like Olive did. But regardless, when someone asks you how your baby is sleeping, smile and say “Like a baby”.
That will be the truth.
And so is this: It’s normal for a baby to sleep 9 hours straight. It’s normal for a baby to be up every hour. It’s normal for your baby to do the former one night, the latter the next (and it’s totally normal to feel like an insane, husband-hating, coffee-chugging, borderline-emotional-wreck while this is happening.)
The Dark Time
Here’s another thing, while we are on the subject of truth-telling. Two months ago Olive went through a two-week-long stretch of waking up every 1-2 hours at night. I call this, “The Dark Time”.
The Dark Time happened to coincide with deadlines for the final draft of my book and every morning as I hauled myself out of bed I wanted to gouge my eyes out simply because my eyeballs were taking up valuable space that could have been filled with more coffee.
It only lasted a week or so, but it felt like an eternity measured in 1-2 hour segments. Sleeps that were never long enough, and eyes gritty like sandpaper. I was like, “Oh my god. They were right! She is effed. I’ve ruined her! Everything is ruined forever and no one in this house will ever sleep again!”
The thing is, the week after The Dark Time, Olive began crawling, started standing unassisted and then popped out two teeth.
And lo and behold, her sleep went back to normal.
You see? There’s a reason for all of it, I promise, even when we don’t understand. It’s not our job as parents to understand, it’s just our job to parent. That’s all.
All we need to do is respond to our child’s needs, even when they need things at 1 a.m. And 2 a.m. And 2:30 a.m. and every single other a.m. that you didn’t know existed.
It doesn’t make sense and it gets better and then gets worse and the nights seem long and the crying oh god the crying, but the dawn always comes. The sun always rises.
And that, my friends, is the truth.
UPDATE Nov 23, 2014: Wondering how all of this turned out? Well, I weaned Olive at around 18-19 months and transitioned into reading books to her at bedtime instead. There was an adjustment period of around three days but she is now just over two and we still read books together every night. She usually falls asleep mid-Horton-Hatches-The-Egg and then sleeps for a blissful 12-13 hours. Hey! Looks like I didn’t ruin her after all 😉 Thank you so much for everyone who has commented and emailed to express how much this post affected them – I am so, so glad!
UPDATE Nov 18, 2013: I added a follow-up post to address issues about sleep training-shaming. It can be found here
Did you enjoy reading about infant sleep? I also write about other things, too, in book form!
If you are interested in learning how to compost even in small spaces, make your neighbours uncomfortable by line-drying your undies, or start shampooing your hair with baking soda, click here!
Thank you so much for this. As a mother to an 8-month old who I still nurse to sleep, I needed this! I’ve been told more than once that I’m doing the wrong thing in nursing my baby to sleep. That she’ll never learn to “self soothe”. That she’ll never, EVER sleep through the night. Ever. It’s made me feel terrible on more than one occasion.
You made me feel lots better. Thanks. 🙂
Yessssss! You are my person! (You know how cheesy motivational speakers always say, “If I can just reach one person…help one person…”? Well you are my person for this post, congratulations!
(You don’t win anything though. Sorry. But also…you’re welcome?)
This is great and soooo true! As a first time mom, I was so annoyed with comments from family…”You really shouldn’t co-sleep.” “He will never be able to go to sleep on his own.” “You shouldn’t allow him to nurse in the middle of the night.” “When are you going to stop nursing?” I just wanted to say, “When are you going to mind your own business and let us figure it out?!?” And…my son never slept in his crib. 🙂 We nursed for 18 months and he is just fine and such a happy little guy. Around 1 we put a twin mattress on the floor in his room and he would sometimes sleep in there. Regardless, by about midnight he was in bed with us again. He will be 3 in January and has his big boy bed. Every night he takes his bath, brushes his teeth, we read stories, sing songs, and he happily falls asleep in HIS bed. There are still nights he gets in our bed but overall, I have absolutely NO qualms about co-sleeping or nursing him to sleep. It’s sad we allow ourselves to be, in a way, “bullied” by what society believes is the “best” way to raise a child. Each one is different and by God allowing us to figure out what works best for our family is what matters! Thanks again for this article.
I loved this post! I am new to your blog, but as a mom of a non-through-the-night-sleeping-5-month-old, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! Also, sorry to infringe on Lindsay’s comment, but I could NOT find the end of your comments!! Speaks to how amazing this post/your blog is/are. 🙂
I just always went with what worked.I have two 13 year olds that many nights were spent holding and rocking them to sleep. They are happy healthy and well adjusted children. Lots of people were always telling us how to get them on a schedule and I just ignored them. I was VERY lucky to be a stay a home mum and just did what was best for them and I ALWAYS went with what my gut told me 🙂
Thanks:) and here’s my method that WORKS:)) cover their eyes!:) while holding my baby/walking I put a scarf over the eyes (I have a seethrough cotton one when hot;))- the edge of itover their forehead. Or a blanket as a shield to disconnect from the outside, leaving a gap BTW my chest and baby for breathing. You will work this out…baby will calm and soothe without distractions….have to go, good luck:)
I agree with u I felt the same way but I feel like no one can tell u what 2 do u are in tune with your baby what he or she wants ….. ot some expert. Regarding slèep patterns and nursing baby… o sleeping etc. I nursed my baby boy for 10 months then stop breastfeeding and he was trained in a week with help of ml and hubby …it was hard but then he went sleeping in his crib with bottle bc I was expecting I personally wanted to try and train him 2 sleep in crib so it would be shocking for him when new baby comes he was happy ….and lives everything these experts are a little 2 carried away with making a general statement all babies are different and adapt differently …
I also wanted to say it’s OKAY! My son is 4 years old now and when he was a baby, he was always nursed to sleep. It was the most natural thing for us. He took naps and went to bed with no fuss because he knew the routine as he became an older baby and toddler. I even am going to go so far and say…when he was on the bottle, he drank it and slept. I didn’t even wake him to get in there and brush his new baby teeth. Gasp! And his teeth are fine and he sleeps on his own easily now. The truth is, you cannot train a baby. You are supposed to meet the babies needs. That’s the natural thing, babies do what they need to do to survive and I could never get why “experts” keep telling mothers that they need to deny the needs of babies? Anyway, do what is best for your baby and yourself.
thankyou heaps I know how you feel, my son is 12months of age and up all different times but never the less we are still here and we are healthy x I have been told non stop the rights and wrongs of what I am doing wrong, what works with every other apparent ‘perfect’ parent and their perfect baby sleepers. and from all that BS a would love to tell them all to go shove their advise! thankyou for giving me piece of mind and to know that i’m not alone in my sleeping baby battles. xxx your words have infact make my day. ( p.s. think it’s a male thing lol)
Lindsay – only people who have no idea what they are talking about, are jealous that our breasts are used for more than one thing, or hasn’t had children of their own would make such stupid assertions such that the natural way of feeding our babies (which has been the same for ever) is the wrong way to feed and sooth our baby.
I do the same with my 8 months old son. He will turn 9 months in 25 July 2015 and only recently, his sleeping habit got harder and harder. I need to look into sleep training him as this mama needs some sleep (him too)
OH MY GOD THANK YOU! My boy is 5.5 months and i swear I thought I was crazy! I was trying to google why my boy was starting to fidget in his sleep all of a sudden around 3.5 months I got all these sleep solutions sites touting sleep training and how you have to train baby to sleep! I felt in my gut that this was so wrong, sleep is natural, why would you have to teach this, its like teaching him to breathe. But i read on and felt like the worst mother ever until i found the wonder weeks book which said that at that age they are learning so much that it carries over in to sleep, but the only thing you can do is hang on for dear life until its over. Sure enough at 4.5 months his sleep went back to normal and before the next wonder week he even got a 6 hour stretch without eating, i couldn’t believe my eyes or the clock at first! I am currently going through the next wonder week and his sleep is deteriorating again but he is learning so much. I am glad to find others who know what I do now, and i want other moms to know you are a GREAT mom, if they sleep or not it has albsolutley ZERO to do with how you are doing as a mom, don’t let yourself feel defeated like i did!
I wish I had found this article when my daughter was brand new and I was a brand new mom bogged down by the worst case of post partum depression. And now that I am better, I can see that as you said there is a whole industry that capitalizes on our new parent fears and sleep deprivation. I can’t thank you enough for writing this. This needs to be taught in the birthing class and save a lot of women a lot of guilt and heartache for simply wanting to rock their babes to sleep.
Your pediatrician said something very wise to me when your brother wouldn’t sleep more than 20 minutes at a time. He said “When Liam is 13, he will sleep all night AND most of the day” and he was right. Puts it in perspective… this too shall pass.
I nurse my eighteen-month-old to sleep. Always have, except for a brief period around her tenth month where I tried to get her off the habit, and it worked fine for a number of weeks and then suddenly didn’t anymore. (?!?) I knew what the experts said but mostly ignored/exempted myself from it, for pretty much the reasons you state here.
Generally I’m okay with it, and I know she won’t be breastfeeding to sleep forever, but I do wonder how long this will last. Because sometimes it feels like I spend a third of my life putting her to sleep. And because it’d be nice to sleep through the night again. And because I miss my husband at night, dangit.
Oooh I hear you. It isn’t all snuggles and eyelashes, is it.
Sometimes I feel exactly like you do, that I am missing the fun in 15 minutes increments every time I have to put her down. This seems like the place to say “She’ll only be a baby once, so enjoy this time while you have it” but I don’t think complaining means you aren’t enjoying something, I think it means you are fully immersed in it and seeing all sides. So instead I will just say yes, YES. I feel you sister (and thank god for iPhones, because without them during nursing sessions I might never be able to keep up with the celebrity gossip 😉
Right. “I wish I’d held and cuddled my baby less,” said no mom ever 🙂
And oh yes. The old ipod touch has been – if not a lifesaver – definitely a sanity saver! Except now Ashelyn’s caught on to the awesomeness that is technology and backlit screens in particular, so I’m up against another dilemma!
I nurse my 22 month old to sleep. There have been a few nights recently when I ask him “milky?” he’s said “no” and I’ve been able to put him straight down in his cot. I then sit by the cot with the trusty iphone and he happily drifts off within a few minutes. He has been, and remains, the worst sleeper I know – we’ve had months on end of hourly wake-ups, or waking at 3am and refusing to return to sleep, napping for 20mins only, only sleeping while lying on me, the whole lot. But, at 22 months, he can sometimes put himself to sleep. I for one am pleased that I have been able to get him to this point without the traumatic (for both of us) crying. Parenting is about sacrifice, and the amount of sacrifice every parent is able to make is different, so I’m not saying everyone is able to give up their evenings or their sleep, but just do the best you can. And take hope in the fact that they do all get there eventually – hopefully before you reach the end of your tether.
Oh madeleine, thank you! “Its not our job as parents to understand, its just our job to parent. So well put- i truly do give up on tryin to understand why some nights she wakes up once and ithers 16, i just go with the flow and accept it now.as for snuggles and nursing sometimes i think F@@k you all those people that dont shit their pants- scaremongers who say hugginga dn holding your child will damage them. Intruly do think its the other way around- arnt people scared that leavin your baby to cry will breed angry sad serial killers? , and truly as a 31 year old, i much prefer falling asleep in my husbands arms rather than in a big cold bed, so i dont blame my daughter…
Doesn’t it seem strange? I’d rather sleep cuddled against someone, too. I don’t blame the babies one bit,
Oh public health… One thing I’ve learned over the past 3 years is that *you* (and other primary caregivers) are the “expert” of your child.
So true, but I feel like this is a lesson I keep having to learn over and over again! I’ll get it one day, I swear 😉
Oh I always forget, especially after a bad day, and I will second guess every aspect of my parenting! But then Ayden will say “I love you Mama” or Maya will give me a goofy grin, and then I know I don’t really suck 😉
you tell it sister!
Oh my GOD, where was this post 7 months ago when I was struggling with the guilt and the crying and the no-sleep and the books and the “tsk, tsk”s?!?
I needed it then, too! I’m writing the post I wish I could have read.
I seriously have tears in my eyes right now!! I have been so concerned by peoples judgment! I have read books, taken Brikley to the chiropractor just to say I had tried it, talked to friends etc, etc, ETC! I am going crazy… But I keep thinking she is happy. she is healthy… am I that much of a failure?? Yes she sleeps with me for half of the night, but that’s what works for my family… this was a refreshing and reassuring read! Thanks so much for sharing! Now my coffee cup is empty so I must go!
I have realized over the past year that more than the lack of sleep, it’s the perceived notion that I must be doing something WRONG, that makes me crazy. The idea that with someone else, Olive would be sleeping 12 hours straight and I’m just missing something.
I don’t think you’re ever doing something wrong by understanding and meeting your baby’s needs.
Go get some coffee, mama!
I don’t know how old all you mothers are here – I am a mother of 4 (ages 14, 12, 10,7). Breastfeeding and toilet training and toddler years was the most tiring years of my life I didn’t come out of it until a couple of years ago… when my mind went… “hey, you are alive and awake again”. And I can safely say that I have no complaints as to my babies sleeping during the night (other than teething – they were asleep from 10pm to 5am every night), or any of the other toddler issues… and I still was a zombie… I just accepted it and knew it would be over. It helps the time go quicker. I can also say that it wasn’t the sleepless nights in the first few months of baby that got me…. it was the breastfeeding – that is like sucking the actual life from my body – it was a beautiful yet draining experience at the same time, and if I had my time again, I would do it exactly the same way. If we choose to have babies… we choose being zombies for some considerable time and it is an issue worth discussing and planning for with our husbands.
I seriously rolled my eyes at this article. I have never heard of any of these “lies”, or had any interaction with a doctor or nurse who had drawn lines in the sand regarding parenting. We ALL know that each child and parent is different and to write an article about it to so obviously plug your own book you have written in order to rope in like minded women is atrocious
Hey Morgan! I’m glad that you’ve had positive, judgement free interactions with healthcare professionals re: parenting methods- our doctor has always been great, but the info session I talk about in this post, as well as conversations I’ve had with many other parents have shown me that’s not always the case. You’re right, every parent and child relationship looks a little different and it’s up to them to decide what that relationship will look like. My book is about Eco-friendly living, and I didn’t mention it anywhere in the post. The main purpose of this post wasn’t to plug my book but to write what I wish I would have read thirteen months ago as a nervous, unsure first time mom, in the hopes that it might he able to help others. Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate the feedback even though you don’t agree with the content.
Sent from my iPhone
Oops! I was wrong, I DO mention my book, “The Dark Time happened to coincide with deadlines for the final draft of my book…” My mistake!
My book isn’t about parenting or baby sleep, it’s about how to learn how to do ridiculous things like shampoo your hair with baking soda and estrange your husband by composting, so no overlap, really.
I didn’t even catch on to the fact she had a book, I must be that tired…? Honestly though I enjoyed this article as I complained the other day that my baby had decided that 5pm was bedtime and 4am was day time and he never sleeps during the day. My complaint was followed with lots of advice on how I have to get him to nap during the day, or to keep him up longer, and to give him stimulating things at night, and I should sleep train him etc etc. The fact he only wakes once between 5 and 4 went un noticed, (as did the fact I put him to bed awake usually) as long as I go to bed at 6pm I still get almost 9 hours sleep since he falls back asleep after nursing. Hes also happy as a pig in shit so the fact my house is a disaster zone well, too bad to people who come to visit, they can clean if they want I’ll hang out with my laughing 3month old who naps in 10 min intervals a few times a day. My evening social life is temporarily gone but me and baby get out with friends during the day plenty.
I was at a lecture like this the last two Fridays. And she did say book, but for all we knew her book was about the Quechua tribe of Peru, because she’s a sociologist. Let me tell you there are scores of new parents out there who *don’t* know that every baby is different and that they should do what feels right to them.
I have an 8 year old. I nursed him to sleep for over a year and he was an incredible sleeper! All my mommy friends were impressed by what an independent, happy, confident kid he was at bedtime cause he felt nurtured and loved…. and he continues to be that way. I guess I did it wrong cause 8 years later he seems to still be doing great with sleep and sees sleep as something positive, not something to get anxious and fight over. lol. Just ridiculous.
As a first time mom who has done my best to avoid discussing these types of things with doctors, but sought out various books & websites on various parenting perspectives and philosophies as well as had countless friends and relatives offer their parenting wisdom. Finding articles like this is a breath of fresh air. I can’t count the number of times I have, out of desperation, typed some sort of question into Google in the wee hours of the night/morning convinced I was failing somehow and somebody had to have the answer.
I nursed my little one to sleep for a year. She self weaned at 13 months, and has been sleeping through the night since. Hoping to have far less concerns and much more peace with #2 (due in a few months!)
What’s up Betsy’s arse?? Guilt? Confusion? Rival book perhaps? Betsy the fact that you had a joyous experience with your baby doesn’t take away the fact that western culture is unhealthily obsessed with baby sleep…because the expectations are damn wrong….this why so many write every day pleading for solutions when really it is what it is…adults have sleep problems babies do not, this post was refreshing and spot on!
You’re lucky Morgan, I had my child health nurse and paediatrician both recommending formula to help my baby sleep through the night. Both “tsked” at feeding to sleep. Luckily my paediatrician was from a cultural background that routinely co-sleep, so I didn’t get in trouble for that one.
I think I was at that talk at the library – and I think I felt the exact same way as you. After 8 and 1/2 months of sleep deprivation HELL I really wish THIS had been the blog post I had read back then. Thanks for sharing so honestly. Olive is such a cutie! Congratulations 🙂
Doesn’t it seem like ages ago?!
And thank you! I hope some new mom somewhere reads this and feels better.
The road can be rough enough on its own in the beginning, without all the advice, well- intentioned or otherwise.
I’m a new mom to an 8 week old and I read this and I feel so much better. Friends / mom groups can be another source of “sleep-shaming” and I find it stressful to compare babies and sleep experiences. I breast feed my baby and he sleeps just fine for my liking, but I constantly get told by my friends who formula feed that my baby isn’t getting full enough from breast milk because their babies slept through the night at 8 weeks. Reading your post and the comments just helped remind me that my baby is my baby and our experience and choices are ours alone.
My analogy to parenting books is that they are actually written by politicians, not experts. Ostensibly a politician’s (author’s) job is to do what’s write for their constituents (readers). But that’s not the case. Their primary goal is to get re-elected (sell books). In order to do that, they have to create a sense of need in their audience (parents) and bill themselves as the only one who can be trusted (Direct quote from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: “Warning: If your child does not learn to sleep well, he may become an incurable adult insomniac, chronically disabled from sleepiness and dependent on sleeping pills.” WTF?)
It’s too bad it works so often.
Such an apt analogy. Marketing 101: create a need.
And yes, wtf indeed! I have no idea how Non-Western cultures get anything fine, being as they must be filled with chronically disabled sleeping pill addicts.
I just read that book…and cried, because in order to get more sleep I bring my daughter to bed at 5am, which makes me a “reactive cosleeper”, which the book says creates a lifetime of unhealthy sleep. So I let her cry, because that’s what the book said to do. And I cried, because it goes against every instinct to let your baby cry. Thank you for this post. I’m 8 months in, and I too had a champion sleeper for the first 4 months. The most sleep I’ve gotten in a row in the last 4 months is 5 hours. I keep trying to fix it, but she will not let me. And she’s the boss 😉
Aww…take that baby to bed. Babies are the best teddy bears ever. My 8 month old daughter has slept in my arms every night of her life. She sleeps “through the night”, waking a bit to find the nipple and falling right back to sleep after a quick feed. I get rest that way and she’s happy. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong, you do what is right for you and yours!
They are the boss, and Tiffany that is exactly what I did with my first now 4 year old, honestly a lot of nights I passed out with the boob out, I started putting a towel down got tired of constantly changing the sheets, she self served if she woke up it was out and ready…okay that sounds bad but I got good sleep and she self weened at 10 months when she started walking funny enough, but she was on formula during the day as her Aunt was Nanny while I went to work so she was not a stranger to the bottle. Now she is slipping into I’m scared wake ups and it might be because she is begging for attention since now my son who is 7 months has mommy at night. So we currently have moved baby brother in to the room with her so she would not be alone and not feel like she is being left out but he is not nursing I had a bad yeast infection/ mastitis in the breast so we only made it 2 months on breast for him and I felt so guilty about that even though it could not be helped. I felt like I missed the bond that I had with my daughter but he doesn’t feel that way he lights up when he see’s me and loves to cuddle with me while drinking the bottle or sucking on the pacifier. Still getting the I’m scared from 4 year old and the 7 month old doesn’t seem to like being in the other room either but its only day 2 but I’ve been giving in and sleeping with them on the floor as stated below in my own post. It’s not a good habit but its not a bad thing I am Mom and I have to comfort them I do what I feel I need to.
Just another mom who has to justify why she needs to be with her baby at all times. The nurse was right. Maybe you should have listened and tried it. Just because some moms let their kids cry in the middle of the night doesn’t mean they don’t live them. It just means their life doesn’t revolve around their baby, they like routine, and their kids will turn out better. Infants who learn to rely on their moms at all times turn out to be obnoxious kids. True fact. Moms who nurse their babies to sleep, co-sleep, or rock them throughout the night should not complain about being tired. Stop doing that and you’ll be less tired. You do it cuz you’re lazy. It’s easier that way. You are also the annoying ‘trendy’ moms. Your kids will be the ones teachers hate in school. But good luck.
I have thought all of these things at some time or another- questioning myself and the way I choose to parent, so I totally understand why you would, too.
I disagree though. I did try what the nurse suggested, which led to my day of crying baby and crying mom. The methods espoused by the nurse and the sleep experts didn’t feel right, and it went against every instinct I had as a mother, so I chose not to continue with them.
I absolutely agree that parents who choose to sleep train love their children- of course they do! Someone making different parenting choices than I do proves nothing other than the fact that different approaches work for different families, each parent has to make a decision that best fits their particular family.
I think the idea that moms who respond to their babies more create more dependent children has been pretty thoroughly debunked (let me know if you want stats or studies- I love sharing research!) and not that’s it’s hugely relevant, but Olive is a really happy, adventurous and independent little girl, despite all of my lazy parenting 😉
Thanks for sharing an alternate viewpoint, Shelley. I disagree with most of what you’re saying but I appreciate that you took the time to comment.
I really don’t think it is possible that because someone co-sleeps that their kids will be the ones teachers hate, co-sleeping or nursing your kid to sleep has nothing to do with how they are disciplined or wether they are respectful or authority figures.
Why do people have to make such judgement on how kids will turn out in 10 yrs time!!!!!!
For crying out loud
If you don’t agree why waste your time in making self judging comments and carry on with your perfect life
Funny…my daughter slept with my husband and me for over 2 years. She is now in first grade. She’s been a favorite in both of her grades so far. She’s also very respectful and pretty much the opposite of obnoxious. Our son also co-slept, though not for as long as his sister. Every adult in his preschool classes talks about how cute his actions are, how polite he is, and how they’d like to take him home. I’m not seeing what Shelley is talking about at all in my kids (and neither is anyone else). I must not be very good at lazy…
Ugh, don’t feed the trolls. This honestly pushes so many buttons at once I wonder if it was deliberately written to stir up trouble…
Good point, Betsy! I was just getting ready to write a heated reply about my well-behaved kids, 4 of whom are now responsible adults, who all nursed to sleep in bed with husband & me at times, but you have saved me 15 minutes of my life! Thank you!
“Infants who learn to rely on their moms at all times turn out to be obnoxious kids”
Is that what happened to you? This is a gem; they rock them through the night because they’re lazy? Even you know that makes zero sense lol. Let me know what your parents did to raise such a “lovely” person so I will know exactly what not to do.
Wow! The ignorance of this comment astounds me. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you may have been a child left to CIO? Who’s the obnoxious one here? I’ve never thought of myself as “trendy” for putting my child’s needs before my own, nor do I consider myself “lazy” for co-sleeping. Oh, and if you would like to have another little tid-bit to bash the so-called “trendy” mom’s for, I’d also like to throw out that I don’t vaccinate my child either! I am a horrible excuse for a human being because I am doing what I believe to be best for my child. Shelley, YOU dear are the only obnoxious child I see here.
Please vaccinate your baby. It is much safer than leaving them at risk of fatal diseases. It has been proven that there is no link with autism. CIO is bad for babies, you are the exact opposite of lazy for co-sleeping and rocking to sleep. You are doing an amazing job as a mum. You clearly want the best for your baby, so don’t leave them vulnerable to serious, fatal, preventable diseases. FWIW I was not vaccinated as a child (but was left to CIO) and developed an interest in science so have formed my own opinion based on actual statistics as well as anecdotes from those who regret not vaccinating.
Had i known the true ingredients in the vaccinations, I would not have vaccinated either. Well done to you. I do not recommend vaccinations to anyone purely because of the ingredients and the “control” surrounding the entire issue.
That’s funny. My baby is almost one and has slept with me since she was 3 months old. She is mild-mannered, independent, brave and curious and during waking hours hardly wants anything to do with me because she’s too busy exploring. When she meets new people, she checks them out from my arms for a few minutes and then whole-heartedly throws herself into playing with them, only checking in with me once in awhile.
Many, many studies are showing that leaving an infant to cry and not comforting them causes numerous issues, due to chemicals released in the brain from distress. Humans aren’t meant to sleep alone and just because it’s nighttime doesn’t mean your parenting responsibilities stop. I think leaving your kid to cry so you can sleep more is lazy parenting, personally. I’m sure if I would take a few nights of putting my kid in another room and leaving her to cry, eventually she would learn that it doesn’t matter how much she needs me, I won’t come anyway, and give up. That’s not self-soothing, though, that’s just learning that the person she needs most and who is supposed to be there for her doesn’t give a s**t anymore. I’d sure get a lot more sleep than I’m getting now–she still wakes up every few hours.
And as far as teachers hating them in school? Wouldn’t you know it? I am a teacher and in my training in university for infant and toddler development we learned how bad crying it out is for a child’s attachment and how a healthy attachment and trust in caregivers and parents is essential to a child growing up to be an independent, functioning person in society. Go figure.
Oh, and as for the “trendy” bit? Crying it out, books written by so-called “experts”, cribs and bottles are “Trendy”. Sleeping with your baby, following your instincts, comforting them through the night and nursing them whenever they need it have been around since the dawn of time. So I guess that makes YOU the “trend-follower”.
I’ve randomly stumbled upon this comment I made when my daughter was under a year old. She’s 8.5 years old now and one of the most independent, self-assured, confident, bright and empathetic humans I know. No sleep training. No cry it out. Never spanked. Hell, rarely even a timeout. We are raising her with empathy, understanding, communication and RESPECT at the core of all of it.
I also have a master’s degree in early childhood education now (and work as a training specialist for the state of Washington, developing and creating content and teaching teachers and families best practices around child development) and I can say with 1000% certainty that crying it out leads to lifelong issues including anxiety and depression, drug use, physical health issues caused by toxic stress damaging the immune system, mental health issues from toxic stress damaging the brain (literally), and leads to adults who are less likely to form healthy relationships or show empathy to other human beings.
All of this information exists on the internet in plain sight these days, but I just had to follow up when I found this. That’s what I get for googling myself.
Thank you for coming back and giving an update! I love the sound of your work, it’s so important! Those early years arw CRUCIAL for development.
I’m now a grandma. I met my. Babies needs in a natural way. Co-sleeping, nursing on demand and nursing until they were ready to stop. My kids teachers loved them, they all learned to sleep through the night, though they don’t all now as they raise their own babies with love
Shelley it is fine to sleep train without criticising other ways. Your way is right if it works for you & bub, that doesn’t make Madeline’s way wrong. Children’s personalities are pretty clearly a part of them when they’re born. Teachers don’t hate kids (unless they’re rubbish teachers) and mum’s aren’t trendy or lazy. We’re all just people, doing our best.
Personally, I’m yet to meet an obnoxious kid, but Ive many obnoxious adults!
I second that, Susan. Very well said!
I am I guess what you would call lazy I went my own way and did what my heart told me to do. What works for you is fine but there is no fail prof method to life or parenting. You will fall and get back up, each child and parent is different, you cannot presume to know what my children can or will be when she grows up. When I became a new mom as I was getting new mom advise from everyone and it was so confusing my Mom said the best thing ever to me “Trust yourself and your instinct let your heart guide you in raising your child.” I live by this. My daughter now 4 years was never clinging to my skirt approaches everyone as a friend (still working on stranger danger but at least she only seems to do it if I am around loves to say hi to everyone) is loved by her teachers, she is very interdependent has wonderful imagination and is often found when at home playing by herself with her dolls, and when with other kids is very much a leader that is kind and loves for everyone to join in her activity. So am I doing so wrong I don’t think I am, but I could be wrong after all I am human but that doesn’t mean I will stop listening to my heart and mind as long as they continue to agree with each other then I seek out another opinion from someone I trust.
lol Shelly, bit of green eyed monster rearing its ugly head here. What a gross over-reaction and generalisation.
Not only was my daughter nursed to sleep and co-slept with me, she is now the brightest well liked kid in her class and incrediably well liked with in the greater school, she is empathetic (a trait you should learn), sympathetic, happy and independant at 5yrs. I believe parents like you are the annoying cliquey parent, self absolved and without emotion. Good luck to your kids.
Everyone should parent the child as they see fit. Every child is different and has different needs. Great article would have loved to read it when my girl was new.
Shelley! I totally sleep with my kids because I’m lazy!! I really am. I wouldn’t trade the snuggle time for anything in the world. I’m confused though, because first you say we do it because it’s easier, then you tell us to stop complaining that we’re tired. I really wouldn’t call breastfeeding all night easy. Neither is co-sleeping with an almost 4-year old.
I have so many friends who sleep-trained their kids. It worked for a short time, or forever… kind of depends on the kid. TO EACH THEIR OWN. (Moms — another great resource is Dr. Sears who has had something like 8 children who turned out amazing and him and his family advocate co-sleeping and night nursing!!)
Shelly, why do you need to be so rude? That was totally unnecessary. All you had to do was simply disagree but keep your nasty comments to yourself. I hope you’re not teaching your kids to be this nasty and rude towards others as you have, otherwise THEY will be obnoxious and the ones teachers hate. Just sayin…
first of all THANK you for writing this!!! just wondering what your thoughts are on co sleeping? Mostly when my youngest woke through the night i would take him into my bed and breastfeed him back to sleep as it was peaceful we both went back to bed right away, then as he got older he would wake and i would just bring him into bed with me instead of fighting him and the crying in trying to get him to go back to sleep in his crib. Even if he fell asleep with me rocking him or holding him AS SOON as i would try to lay him in his crib he would wake and the crying would start again, so he is now 2 and a half and still wakes once a night and gets into bed with me. I had an older son and a husband who had to work and the concept of being awake in the middle of the night with a crying fighting child over sleep just didn’t make sense to me. I am still a little tired as i sleep with a wiggling toddler every night anywhere from 11pm to 5am he makes his crawl into my bed. My husband now sleeps in the spare room as our toddler likes to turn sideways and sometimes our 5 year old crawls in around 5am too..He gets a full night of sleep that way. Here is my issue. He believes it is wrong for the kids to be in our bed and he ALWAYS tells me how i should have let them cry it out and trained them to sleep in their own beds. Any thoughts or input here would be SO welcomed. THX
I do the same with Olive some nights if she’s having a rough night. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with co-sleeping, it’s regarded as strange in much of North America but in most of the world it’s normal to sleep with your children in the same bed.
If it’s working for you, keep doing it. If you want to transition him out of your bed I’ve heard of a few gentle ways to do that, including snuggling him down in his bed then going back to your own, or starting with his bed in your room then gradually moving him out.
I think it’s the most natural thing in the world for a child to want to sleep close to his or her parents. He will eventually want to sleep on his own, so whether you want to encourage that to happen sooner is up to you 🙂
Those are the thoughts of this mom, anyway. I hope that helped a little!
My kids are 14, 12 & 9. My daughter, now 12 breastfed voraciously, until she was about 13months, when I weaned her to go back to work. My oldest son was an indifferent nurser and cut me off at around 7 months. I developed a life threatening infection in my leg when my baby was 6 months old, so because of the drugs I was on, he had to be weaned early. So my kids have nursed and they’ve had formula- from a bottle. 2 of them had soothers, they slept on their backs, their sides and their tummys. They had strawberries really early because I love strawberries and I didn’t know that strawberries are evil. (They were fine). I nursed my kids to sleep, I nursed while I slept. I put them down with bottles, sometimes, until they had teeth. I walked in circles around my house with one in a sling and one in a stroller. I wasted staggering amounts of fossil fuels driving aimlessly at 2am, because the car motor was “soothing”. They had cereal before 6 months and have eaten sugar- more than once. They have all climbed into the parental bed, they have all successfully pushed at least one parent out of said bed on more than one occasion. After a bad dream, my 9 year old will still wake me or my husband and ask us to lie down with him until he falls asleep, and usually,we do. I could go on…
Here’s my point: Now that I’m safely on the other side, I have three kids that are actively involved in music and sports, who are polite and confident and thoughtful, who are inquisitive and creative. They sleep on their own, they can feed themselves, dress themselves, brush their own teeth and hair. They even walk the dog. Their teachers quite like them. Most of the time, I do too. Probably I did some bad stuff when they were wee- I blame sleep deprivation and hormonal imbalance, however, in the end we all survived, quite happily in fact.
Madeleine, I too wish I’d had your blog 14 years ago, if only because I could have kept copies in my purse to hand out to the “experts”. To the “Shelleys” and “Morgans” of the world, well…. that’s another blog.
My suggestion to get your husband back in your bed: shove your bed up against a wall, sticking a blanket in the crack if necessary, and only let your son sleep on that side of you, against the wall. Daddy should not have to move out of the bedroom to accommodate a child. By the way, that’s where both of my kids slept (and still do if they get up at night), and it worked out very well. 🙂
Also, you and your husband are both their parents, right? My husband was starting to complain about kids in our bed, so I finally said “If it bothers you, YOU can walk them back to bed and get them back to sleep.” Your sleep is just as important as his– and if he chooses to leave 100% of the nighttime parenting up to you, you make 100% of the decisions about how it’s done. This wasn’t a one-time conversation– I’m still saying this on occasion, and it’s not easy– but it at least made him think about it differently.
I’m a father of two kids, a four year old girl and two year old boy. And, I’m a parent who was VERY involved with the development my daughter’s schedule when she was young (I unfortunately couldn’t take as much time off work when my son was born.
For at least my two kids (far from a representative sample), my wife and I came up with a strategy that worked, getting them both to sleep 8 hours consistently through the night by 6 weeks. We are blessed to have had such a good experience with infant sleep.
But you’re right: all kids are different. I’ve got plenty of friends with young kids who struggle every night, and other friends whose kids are rockstars like yours. At the end of the day, anybody who tries to convince you that they know what’s better for your child than you do is insane, and wasting their breath.
In the early months, and in those “Dark Times,” I think we’re all easily convinced our universes are imploding, and we will never get to have normal amounts of sleep again. But, these things pass, and life goes on. And the stories are always good.
Kudos to you! This was a great read.
Wow! You really hit the nail on the head. Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I needed to hear. My baby is 10 weeks old and we just went through the wake every 1-2 hour phase after he was only waking 2-3 times a night. People around me kept talking about sleep training and ways to get your baby to sleep longer, but I can’t see letting him cry it out or sacrificing my own sleep. After all, he’s a baby and babies have needs. You made me realize that all babies are different and all families are different, so what works for us might not work for someone else. But that’s okay. We’re not supposed to be the same. And neither are our parenting styles or our children. Thank you for making me realize this and for allowing me to do what I want, not what everyone thinks I should be doing.
You survived the 10 month crazies! 😉
I’m glad you found something of value here- keep doing what you’re doing, and have some coffee for me!
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Amen! To all of this!! The dark time is also known as the wonder weeks. I encourage all new moms to look it up. It’s a lifesaver. And no, I don’t work for them. But it’s the one baby book that ever made sense. It doesn’t try to fix your baby, just tells you why they all of the sudden seem broken.
I absolutely love the wonder weeks! It makes me feel better to have a reason for the f*ckery, and helps extend my patience. Plus, telling people “Oh, she’s going through a period of intense cognitive development” sounds way better than “I don’t know. Maybe shes possessed?!”
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Where was this article 11 months ago when my son was born??!! I lOVE every single word of this post and thank you for writing it. I think you may have been inside my head for every word as this is exactly how I have felt every single bed time since my boy was born!! I am bookmarking this and every time we are awake at 3 am for no reason or sleep in until 7 o’clock I’m going to read and re-read it!!!
Aw, thanks Christy! Happy 3am reading 😉
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I agree with the experts. I have two daughters, now age 13 and 14. The 13 year old learned to “self sooth”. She slept like a dream, her whole life and to this day. Her sister has problems sleeping to this day and it was hard to get her to sleep in her own bed for many years. I think you have to start “training” your kids early. For example, if you don’t want to have to serve them by getting their food for them and cleaning up their garbage when they are teenagers, start getting them to put away their garbage, dishes, etc when they are young. Getting their own water and snacks (within reason). That type of thing. Trust me, the whimsical beautiful sleeping baby nursing herself sleeping gets really old then they are 10 years old and trying to sleep OMG your bed every night. Don’t think in the now, think in the future.
I totally agree re: getting kids to do age appropriate chores and become independent, helpful little people. I feel that sleep is different somehow though, part if me thinks that they have to be old enough to learn how to sleep on their own and take small, age-appropriate steps to get there. To relate it back to the chores analogy, while you wouldn’t expect a one year old to do their own laundry, it’s great to ask for their help putting toys away.
In the same vein I am not expecting O to sleep through the night right now- or even go to sleep on her own every time- but I do ask her to sleep in her own crib for naps and bedtime, and keep a fairly regular schedule. Does that make sense? You have the benefit of hindsight though, and I am so curious to see what I will think when I am where you are now, reflecting back on this time when Olive is thirteen or fourteen (!). I’m hoping I will be thinking wistfully about how lucky I was to get all of those baby snuggles, but you might be right, I might be kicking myself!
Come back in a decade and I’ll write an update 😉
“…they have to be old enough to learn how to sleep on their own and take small, age-appropriate steps to get there.”
Yes! My daughter is only 13 months, and so far (knock on wood) she sleeps like a dream, with a few rare exceptions. She is both clingy and independent at the same time, so when we make changes for her, they have to be gradual, small steps. Forgive me, this is going to be long-winded, but it has a point, I promise. 🙂
I started out nursing her to sleep when she was a newborn. By the time she was about four months old, I was still nursing her to sleep, but we also had received the Fisher Price musical seahorse as a gift for her, and so I would play the seahorse’s songs for her as I was nursing her to sleep. Over the next few months, we would gradually transition from nursing to sleep, and we eventually moved her crib into her own room as well. (We had been room-sharing, but not bed-sharing, until 6 months.)
The seahorse’s songs played for about ten minutes, and so every few nights, as I nursed her to sleep, I would nurse for a shorter and shorter amount of time. First all of the songs, then all but the last one, then all but the last two, etc. until she only needed to be nursed for the duration of a single song before being set in her crib. Eventually, all I had to do was turn on the music, set her in the crib (no nursing!) and she would fall asleep on her own because she had come to associate the music with comfort.
It helped with night weaning, too. I weaned her overnight starting with one feeding, then the second, and finally the third, by slowly backing off the length of nursing, and if she would wake overnight and cry, all I (or my husband – it’s his turn to soothe!) had to do was sneak in, start the songs, and sneak back out, and it was enough to help her calm back down and fall asleep again.
Now, she doesn’t even need the music to soothe her to sleep – most of the time she’s awake when the music is done playing, and she’ll talk to herself for a few minutes (or, as today, an hour) before falling asleep. But she still puts herself to sleep.
Not everyone’s child will be so open to the gradual changes. Some babies just NEED to feel comforted from a primary caregiver. And that’s okay! The method I used with my daughter was what came as instinct to me – it wasn’t anything I’d read, and I was -dreading- the thought of sleep-training. But since I am the only one that knows my daughter well enough to know how she needs to be soothed, I took most advice with a grain of salt, and did what worked best for us. That’s all one can do!
I’ll give you a glimpse into the future–I nursed all six of my sweet babies to sleep and the youngest is now 18. I am so very thankful to have those precious memories. And guess what? They have all turned out to be wonderful, responsible, intelligent, respectful adults and not one of them has trouble sleeping! I am looking forward to being able to snuggle my first grand-baby soon, but I think nothing will ever take the place of nursing my own!
This is totally absurd, Willow. My daughter will be two in December and she sleeps through the night perfectly. When she was a newborn I fed her (not breastfeeding due to complications, but I did try) and rocked her until she was asleep and then placed her back to sleep IN OUR BEDROOM!!! We lived in a small trailer and the “nursery” was at the other end, close to the road and the front door…I was not comfortable with her being there. We moved into our new home when she was 6 months old and immediately started putting her to bed in her own room. At this time she stopped drinking from a bottle and stopped wanting us to rock her to sleep. 18 months later she STILL talks herself to sleep and sleeps ALL night long and I rocked her to sleep and fed her until she was out. She can also pick up her toys before bed and make sure her trash gets in the garbage can. She also likes to feed the dog…guess your theory just went out the door 🙂
” I think you have to start “training” your kids early. ”
There’s early and then there’s /early/. You say for example that you don’t want the kid to get into the habit of being served food and having garbage put away and yet nobody would give a five-month old baby a stern look and inform them that if they won’t empty the nappy bin, no one will!
My baby is two months and he occasionally forgets how to /feed/ himself (it’s sort of funny, he paws at the breast, bangs his head against it, and then starts winging because no milk is coming and he’s confused). I seriously doubt that nursing him to sleep is laying down un-changable and irrefutable habits that will last his whole life. When he stops screeching every time he sees the cot I’ll start putting him in it. Until then he can sleep on me if he likes.
(I never read any books btw. I’m just doing a reactive sort of parenting – he cries and I do stuff to him until he stops!)
I’m so glad to read this today. My 2.5 yr old daughter has suddenly decided that she can’t go to sleep on her own at night. This is after nearly a year of a blissful bedtime routine which ended with me saying “nighty night!” and her saying “I love you!” followed by several hours of evening free time. A chance to get some cleaning done. And by cleaning I mean watching Grey’s Anatomy. Two nights ago she put the breaks on that, screaming bloody murder when I tried to leave and forcing either me or my husband to lie with her for HOURS until we could detach and go to bed. No free time, no likey. I hope its just a phase, but it’s good to be reminded that she needs us right now, for whatever wacked out reason, and we need to suck it up and be there for her. Thanks for the reminder 🙂
Tiffany, my 2.5 year old daughter just went through a phase of doing the exact same thing! She would scream non-stop as soon as we left the room. She shares a bedroom with her twin brother, so leaving her scream was not an option (not that I could bear to leave her screaming like that anyways). DH would have to lie in bed with her for half an hour until she fell asleep. This lasted for about 2 weeks until we found a solution that has been working for the past 3 weeks. After bedtime stories, brushing teeth and tucking in, I ask her a question pertaining to tomorrow, for example, ‘Do you want goldfish crackers tomorrow?’ Or ‘Do you want to go to the park tomorrow?’ And when she replies yes, I say ‘Okay, go to sleep like a good girl now and you can have goldfish crackers tomorrow/ we’ll go to the park tomorrow.’ I suppose its called bribery…but it’s our best solution ATM.
I’ll have to try that. I do try to get her thinking beyond the goodbye that is coming when we say goodnight. Bad news is she is now crying at nap time too and her nanny (3 days a week) has had to lie down with her as well. Thank goodness we have such a compassionate nanny. She’s starting to cry as we read books, in anticipation of lights out. I just can’t bear it. I know I could leave her in her room but that feels like a total betrayal of her trust, and I can’t see how it will make her feel more secure. We are going to ride the wave I guess but last night was brutal. I had to go up and 1am and we both tossed and turned and I tried to leave several times when I thought she was asleep but she would sit up wide awake every time. Finally she said “I want you to leave.” at 5am! Then I was up at 6:45 to go to work. I’m exhausted and praying there isn’t another night like that coming tonight. She has 5 stuffed animal friends in bed with her – I thought that would help, but they aren’t doing the trick. I really hope she grows out of it soon. We are thinking about another one and right now that seems like a crazy idea! 🙂
As a mother of FOUR I congratulate you on your fabulously ‘bang on’ blog regarding infant sleep. Each of my children had and continue to have very different sleep patterns. My oldest just turned 20. She did NOT sleep for her first 5 years. She requires very little sleep to this day. I had taken her to my doctor (to keep), she had CT scans, EEG and meds because I thought there was something wrong with her. I read every sleep book, watch every sleep video and I listened to other people’s opinions (which I would NOT recommend)! My second child was a lovely sleeper which I attribute to a higher power. Our oldest was 22 months old when she came along and it was like she knew we as parents couldn’t take anymore. Maybe hearing all that screaming & crying from the womb soothed her. LOL Our third & forth were what you would call ‘typical’ infant sleepers. I am a firm believer in ‘mother intuition’ and if I personally could give any advice/helpful hints it would be… Do what feels right to YOU! ♥Love and Hugs to all the sleep deprived Mamas out there♥ Please know it is only temporary and use the support of family/friends/loved ones if you need some rest or a break!
Thank you! thank you! thank you!
I’ve been a closet nurse to sleep mom. I nurse to sleep at bedtime and nap-time and love it. So does my LO. It feels right and natural and warm. And it makes me sleepy too, so I get a good nap in. Just recently I told myself to stop feeling guilty – if it feels right, it is right.
Thanks for the reinforcement!
This is the first of your blog posts I’ve read and I will definitely be back for more! Finally, some down-to-earth, real, one size does NOT fit all perspective!! Thanks!! And thanks also for the giggles!
Thanks for your kind words, Kristin! I’m so glad you liked it. Sent from my iPhone
Thank you so much for sharing this! I needed to hear this! It’s so wonderful when gems like this come to you exactly when you need them! 🙂
Just wanted to post and say yup, you’re right. As a mom of three and a fourth on the way, I’ve been through my share of sleeplessness and will be there again. I never managed to get organized enough to sleep train with my first (I was too tired and besides it made her too sad!) but I did obsess over sleep with her. I think the obsession did her no favours as she was the nuttiest sleeper because of it. My second was one of those babies who from birth was able to fall asleep on her own – yet she still woke every two hours until 10 months. My third- omg she was exhausting …WEEKS of waking ever 45 minutes! I almost died lol. I’m happy to report that in spite of all that horrid sleep, and all the nursing to sleep (they all stopped doing that on their own btw), my 8,5 and 2 year old ALL sleep the night, in their own rooms, with no sleep issues. The bottom line is, babies grow up.
After having 3 and nursing all three to sleep I can completely agree Madeleine! Do not stop parenting at night! That is when my babies were upset for reasons that only a parent could soothe.. teething, tummy troubles, aspirating over something she had choked on during the day, you never know what can happen in the night in their world. I nursed two to sleep at night and when the 3rd one came I looked at my husband and asked if now was the time to finally figure out Ferber and do it the logical way – get lots of sleep (so I thought) – and he looked at me and said why change now! We have 2 happy well adjusted children that can go to sleep by themselves. We felt good about all of the snuggling, waking up, soothing… doesn’t the third one deserve the same treatment? Now that they are teenagers I cherish all the snuggle time. I will never feel that I didn’t spend enough time with them….
O-M-G! What a brilliant and eloquently written piece! My son is 8.5 months and going through a growth spurt, teething leap of sorts. This post spoke to me in so many ways from people questioning the fact that he co-sleeps to him still being breastfed. Umm excuse me, but if we are in fact listening to anyone “experts” here the AAP says one year is the standard while WHO says two years is better, why everyone cares to be so involved in other peoples lives instead of their own is beside me. Thank you for reiterating that this moment and sleep regression while too pass. And most of all thank you for pointing out my child will be okay if he feeds to sleep, deep down I know what I’m doing is best for him but yet I’m guilty of letting other people question my instincts. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there, it’s nice to know that there is that proverbial tunnel at the end of all of this especially from the fresh perspective of a first time mom! Well done all around : )
You are me… And Olive is my Sofia! An amazing baby who started sleeping 6 hours a night at 3 months old! I too nursed her to sleep and now that she is 18 months we read our stories, say our prayers and snuggle over a bottle! She also had a week of “dark nights” which like u coincided with the first week of school and during my husband’s 2 week business trip to Kenya! I don’t know how I managed…. But like Olive… Sofia came out of it just fine and with her first 2 canine teeth! Thank you for this post! In a world where everyone else is right except for you…. It’s nice to know that more and more of us are “wrong”!!!
I can say – with all honesty – this is the best blog post I have ever read. (And I’ve read a LOT of blogs!) My son is 9 months old and nurses to sleep. It is my favorite part of the day. I put my feet up and enjoy the quiet and it’s just “us” time. I love it and he loves it. I’ve been made to feel guilty, like he’ll be 16 and needing to be rocked to sleep. I’ve even been given the “gift” of a sleep consultation by a well meaning mother in law, which I have no interest in calling. I can’t imagine how many hours of cuddles that sleep trained babies miss out on. So THANK YOU, I really, really needed to read this. 🙂
Thank you so much, Kristen! And oh the nine month old- the months from 9-13 months have been so much fun!!
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I just wanted to add to these comments – as we are mainly talking about mummy and baby time – that when we had babies… I loved the fact that my time with baby at night feeding was always accompanied by daddy as well, and we enjoyed it together. And…. that Daddy’s time with all of our babies was bath/shower time…. I rarely bathed our children in the evening until they were 3+…and then I was just a trainer for them to know what to do. I loved watching them have showers together, or daddy bathing our babies…. that was always a special time for me to watch. I think it is very important for father’s to be involved in the nurturing of babies… and this may be one way they feel involved… if asked/involved by us in a loving way (not demanding).
Thank you!!! As a mom to a 5 month old, I loved reading this.
Oh I’m so glad! Enjoy your little one 🙂
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thank you for this! I have an 8 week old girl and am experiencing the same guilt and frustration as you described here. I cannot just let my baby cry herself to sleep— I want to cuddle her, soothe her, and be there for her. You just reminded me that it’s okay and completely normal to do whatever you can for your child. thank you
Congratulations on your new baby! I thoroughly believe you can not spoil a child with love. Even those experts that advocate CIO don’t recommend it before 6 months. Do what feels right! Thank you for reading 🙂 Sent from my iPhone
my boy is now nearly 10 (don’t blink, seriously it goes that fast) but I AGONIZED over his sleep. He was a colicky baby so frankly none of us slept for about the first 3 months, and then the voices… oh the voices in my head – all the well meaning voices that told me “the best way” to get him to sleep. My dears, it comes to this. If it works for you DO IT. Because you will feel calmer, which will make your little one feel calmer too. And yep – he was another one who stopped sleeping just before a major milestone. but happily I learned that one fairly quickly (once I had got rid of the voices!) and we always got through tired but ok. Most people will share suggestions with you out of kindness – you know, because you look REALLY tired, or because they found a way for them and their child. Take these and file them away, you never know. But take it from one who fell into the guilt trap – after you blink and they are in school it will all be in perspective. Enjoy the little ones. It flies past.
Now if only I could figure out why he’s having trouble getting to sleep NOW!! (other than the fact that we just moved and he started intermediate school… oh wait…)
We were “elderly” parents, (just turned 40), both RNs, family were thousands of miles away, but my wife had to listen to months of….”you’re too old to breast feed”, “you’ll be up all night”, from well meaning colleagues! After an emergency C-Section for pre-eclampsia, and our preemie baby stopped breathing twice, we eventually took him home. I had to return to work, night shift in the local ER, so they were on their own.
What worked for them was simply contact! Despite the horrified reactions of the paediatricians and so called experts, my wife slept with our son in bed at night. She was acutely aware of all the little snorts/snuffles and waking periods of our newborn, and she felt calm because she was right there. Took a thermos of tea to bed, and breast fed him and talked with him, he would drop right off to sleep. During the day, she would carry him around in one of those baby slings. She decided to dismiss all the comments, theories from books and just do what she felt was right. She napped when he napped through the day, did just 2 or 3 house things a day…which was hard because she is kinda OCD about a clean house….and chaps….the best thing you can do is pick up the slack! I loved wearing that sling and carrying around my son!
We were told that our son was going to be developmentally and physically delayed, psychologically difficult…oh and that God forbid, she would smother him sleeping in bed with him! Preemie that he was….he didn’t crawl, but was walking at 13 months.
Our son breast fed for a year, went to morning and bedtime feeds for the next 6 months, then up to around age 2 fed at bedtime only. He only really cried through the night if he was sick or teething, which can be wearing at times. My wife always says that she misses those times in the night when she would watch those tiny eyelids flicker and his little quivering lips pucker away….. And most of all says she did the right thing …. allowed herself to be his mother, the way she felt it should be!
We now have a very tall, handsome 14 year old, who is a straight A student, and an extremely “laid back” kid, who still gives you hugs!
Kudos to you and your wife, Walker! We bed share as well, and have also gotten the disapproving looks or admonishments. We ignore them as well. This way, when our baby wakes, we are able to tend her immediately and she never even cries. It’s been a lifesaver. She’s now starting to fall asleep on her own now and then and I actually dread the time when she sleeps independently because *I* cant fall asleep without her nursing!
I nursed my so to sleep every time and it worked for me! I was an older mum and went with whatever worked for my son and he is a healthy 11 year old now who sleeps for England and has never had sleeping problems. It is our job to nurture our children and bring them comfort, it is what we are built to do. Well done, fabulous article, well written and straight from the heart.
Great Blog. Just wanted to add to all those mothers and fathers out there that have babies and think that one day you’ll never have to worry about being awaken at night once they are of a certain age (what ever age you have picked), it is also a lie. While as your child(ren) grow older you will definitely have more undisturbed nights, until your child(ren) are out of your house you will always have the potential of being awaken by your child(ren). From growing pains, to stressful situations, to feeling unwell, to simply life, having a child in your home means nights of your sleep being interrupted and nights of simply no sleep. If you are a parent and are never awaken by your child in the night, your bond with your child, in my opinion, is damaged or broken.
In addition, if you look at our species biologically, we are pack animals more than solitary animals. We are meant to sleep together and children know this instinctively. Sleeping together provides warmth, and safety. If we still lived in the wilds of nature, sleeping together would be a necessity for children. This can still translate to our world (though I think our world is more safe than not) with the remote dangers of burglaries and kidnappings. If you child is sleeping with you, danger to your child is less likely to happen as you being the adult you are normally more physically and emotionally able to handle such threats. This is why babies want to be held while falling asleep and want someone there with them. They are defensively against everything and they know this.
It’s 4:30am and I have just finished nursing my 6m old daughter. She was awake when I put her back to bed because she didn’t fall asleep with this nursing. She talked to herself and then went to sleep while I read your article. As a mom to a 3.5 yr old and a preemie who is now going strong at 6months; I am moved by your writing! One thing is have learned is to trust myself. I know my children and I make guesses all the time about what they need at any given moment. Amazingly, I am almost always right (or in the least; it works!). It is far too easy to be critical of our parenting and as such, allow doubt to sneak in BUT I have learned that I am a good mother and my children thrive because of my confidence. Everyone has an opinion about parenting but the one that matters is yours because your children teach you what they need. Thank you for an amazing and authentic read! Oh, and good night! 😉
So worth the read. I was told nursing would mess my little ones sleep up as well, but it didn’t. Luckily I stood up for my views and everything is going well. She is 13 months. Some nights she sleeps about 9 hours straight and other nights up every few hours, we just take it as it comes.
Reblogged this on Baby Bonjour.
My old self with a 4 month old wants to throw things at you with your good sleeper. My son woke every 40-60 minutes until he was 1yo, and then every 2-3 hours thereafter needing to be nursed/rocked back to sleep. Your “dark times” were “I can’t believe I slept for two hours straight!!” in this house. Our dark times were wake ups every 20 minutes, and lasted a couple months. He is 3.5 and just now started settling down by himself at night. Sometimes. I usually still have to get up twice. Where are the blogs by moms of crappy sleepers?
Reblogged this on I Am The Mama Mantra and commented:
I first read this post mid-October, and when I came to the end of it I slapped my knee and shouted, “YES! THAT is what I’m talking about!!”
There needs to be more posts like this for new and expecting Mamas to reference – they need the straight goods from a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale… and who also happens to be an exceptional teller of stories.
Sweet Madeleine is one of my favourite writers. I “met” Madeleine herself through a baby forum, and have had the pleasure of e-chatting with her from time to time. She is lovely, and so is this blog. So please, don’t just read this post as a one-0ff, viral thing. When you have the time, go back and read some of her archived stuff, and continue on the journey with her.
I loved this article, randomly someone posted it to facebook after I had just read an article on how to sleep train and how to set patterns. That said I am still going to try to set a bit of a pattern and try to get my baby to nap a bit during the day, he’s been getting over tired and screaming till he’s soothed to sleep the last few days. I couldnt’ deal with his snoring and random giggles etc during the night they woke me up and I never slept so he’s been in his crib since week 4. He sometimes nurses to sleep but usually I put him down in his crib around 7:30 if he hasn’t falln asleep on me. it takes about 20 min (not of screaming, if he screamed I’d go pick him up, but he just gurgles and squirms and then falls asleep) then he gets up (usually once or twice before 6am) twice (sometimes 6times but not normally) I’m thinking if I can figure out how to just put him in his crib at a few set times he might get used to it, but Im starting to just put the soother in and rock him if its been 3 hours since his last nap. So far that’s worked but he still only naps for 10-30min. Anyways all baby’s are different some are high maintenence some arn’t I don’t think parents are lazy for lettign their babies nurse to sleep, I mean if you like cuddling you like cuddling, same with co-sleeping. Not for me, keeps me awake, I think it might make it harder to transistion later to their own room if you carry it on a long time but I don’t know of any adults that still need to be nursed to sleep… All parents should do what works for them, and I complain about being tired even though my baby sleeps in his crib so if co-sleepers wanna compain they are tired, they can as well.
Thank you for writing this! I nurse my one year old down – sometimes. He sometimes naps in our arms or on my lap when I’m working. He is a pretty good night sleeper but stinks at daytime sleep. Except when he’s teething and then all bets are off. Thing is, he’s my last baby and so I’m going to baby him. I’ve never met a kid or grownup whose early sleep style affected their eventual ability to sleep!
Thank you so much! You don’t know how badly I needed to read this after constantly questioning why my 4 month still gets up at night and all my friends babies slept 12 hours at 6 weeks. As a first time mom I drive myself insane researching baby sleep online when I know all it does is make me more upset because everything insists what I am doing is wrong. This made me smile when I really needed to. Thank you again!
Oh Julie, I’m so glad! You’re not doing anything wrong.
You know what really helped me was to switch from reading “expert” sleep advice to researching how other countries raise their children. The approaches are so varied, and so intuitive that it sort of raised the curtain on the fact that our method of raising children is not the norm everywhere. There is no right or wrong, because everyone does it differently 🙂
I have a husband named Adam, a daughter named Olive, and passionately call bullshit on stuff like this all the time! Hello, me!
Oh my god- are we the same person?! How old is your Olive? Are you future me? Should I buy those boots I’ve been listing after? Does Adam ever shave his beard?
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Not only did I nurse my daughter to sleep, I nursed her way beyond the age at which most other moms quit nursing their babies. As in, she wasn’t a baby anymore by the time we were done. I think she was four and I had gone dry.
And yet she goes to sleep on her own, just fine, at the age of nine.
There is no need to train a baby to sleep. Babies sleep. What sleep training really is, is making the baby sleep when you want them to. Good luck with that… they haven’t been brainwashed yet into thinking someone else’s arbitrary priorities are more important than their own biological needs. And frankly it’s a shame that any of us ever *are* brainwashed thusly. I mean, it’s resulted in such healthy, happy people with such a sane culture. Right?
A very interesting point. A Harvard psych study I read recently posited that our attitudes towards infant sleep mirror the emphasis we as a culture place on independence-as adults this independence results in somewhat solitary lives where people are loathe to ask for help even when they really need it.
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Oh my lord x
You are AMA ing and you have made me feel completly normal 🙂
I have had 2 yrs of stupid judging by other mothers/so called health visitors frowning on what works for us
We as babies are not all the same and feel very saddened when people say your doing it wrong when in fact your doing exactly what your baby needs xx
Thank you and I will be passing this on to future mummies xx
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For once, I have read something about babies and sleep that makes me feel good about myself instead of guilty. Thank you! And you are right. Despite my failed attempts at all different types of ‘gentle sleep training’, Benjamin has started to fall asleep by himself at 9 months. Not every night, sometimes we Rock, nurse, sing, walk, cuddle, but now I know, it’s all fine, and normal, and I should relax and enjoy it!
I loved this! Thank you so much. I’ve been told over and over that I am ‘spoiling’ my 11 week old son because I pick him up when he cries, nurse on demand, cosleep, and baby wear. I am a single mom, it’s just him and I at home and I want him to always know that I’m here to meet any of his needs no matter how inconvinent it is to me. It’s my job to adjust to him, I haven’t slept more than two hours straight since he was born but that’s ok because this too shall pass. I will continue to ‘spoil’ my child and tell anyone who wants to open their mouth about it to shove their sleep training and CIO up their asses. I’m glad my son Just wants to cuddle and that I am his comfort, his safe space because all too soon he will be going to kindergarten, high school, then college and not need me as much anymore. So, damn right I’m going to cuddle him every chance I get, change diapers at 2am, nurse until 3am, deal with a gassy tummy until 4am with a smile on my face. My son has always and will always know that mom is here for him, for anything, anytime. That is the foundation I’m trying to build.
Oh my gosh, no, you can never spoil a baby with love – especially not an 11 WEEK old! It sounds like you are building an amazing relationship for you and your son. It can’t be easy doing it alone, you are a strong lady! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it 🙂
Love, love, love it! Omg… I’ve been told by every dr and pretty much almost every women in my family that it was wrong wrong wrong… Guess what… My daughter is 4 and is sleeping thru the night 12 hrs straight, falling asleep in minutes by herself… Very confident and no… She’s not glued to me at all… Loves her “school”… I’ve nursed her to sleep for over 2 yrs… And she slept right next to me as well… So thanks for this article… The more we post that its RIGHT, the more moms will be relaxed… FYI I’m nursing my 10 month old right now to sleep and am not fueling guilty at all… After all I’m giving her my love… And how can this not be a right thing?!?
Excellent post. Well said.
MamaUndone | Tiaras&Prozac
Yes. Yes. and YES! I am a mom of 4, my youngest is just 5 months old. I am in the midst of the exhausted, coffee chugging, husband resenting sleep stage where I haven’t slept through the night in WAY too long, but I know this will pass. Unfortunately for me, the last time it passed, I found out I was pregnant again and started over. BUT I’ve learned that each of my children sleep different, and that the kids who slept great as infants were awful sleepers as toddlers or preschoolers, the baby who wouldn’t sleep for anything now won’t wake for anything as a 7 year old. We are mom around the clock, and those moments in the dark with each of my children are moments I can assure them I’m there for them no matter what…and I was a rigid schedule sleeper with the first (who never slept) and now I too, nurse my baby to sleep quite often and enjoy every. single. moment. Thank you for posting this!
Nicely said. There is a solid scientific reason for sleepiness after eating. It is the rest and digest action of the parasympathetic nervous system.
I was in your shoes 9 years ago. I now have a 9, 7 and 4 year old that sleep on their own through the night. They all co slept and nursed to sleep as infants.
Thanks for the PSA to all the new moms.
My favourite part of this post is all of the women commenting and giving “updates” on the sleeping habits of their once-nursed-to-sleep babies.
Thank you for sharing your experiences! You are making a whole bunch of moms feel better 🙂
I loved this article. I was a mommy at 20 years old.. I did not know what I was doing, probably a good thing… I nursed my baby to sleep day at night, mostly cause it was the only natural thing I could do. Without books, or education I simply did what came NATURAL! She spent many a night on top of me sleeping like a dream… I had a neck ache or two and maybe didn’t quite sleep the way some new mommies wished they could, but I woke happy and content that my baby’s needs were met and she slept well and with the understanding that this baby was only going to be a baby for a short time and I wanted to be there for her for everything! I went on to have 7 more children and each one was given my all…. each one got to nurse on demand, fall asleep at my breast and I still have no regrets! Thank you for posting this…
[…] why bother with all the rules? Like myself, here’s another mom who suggests trusting your instincts and listening to your baby instead. My approach to parenting, […]
I love this. I recognised so many situations I had been through.
I fed both mine to sleep until they were 2and a half. Tonight Iwas just thinking how I miss those long nights as my 8 & 4 year old now sleep through the night after self settling, in their own bed.
Have you heard of “The Wonder Weeks”? This book explains how our babies develop during the fussy periods. I think you will love it.
I LOVE the wonder weeks. It’s been so accurate for Olive, and helps me have more patience for her “stormy” weeks 🙂
I liked and respected most of this article. My one disagreement is regarding your disparaging of sleep training/cry it out.
Nobody has a right to frown upon CIO until they have experienced months upon months of sleeplessness.
I am from the school of ‘whatever works’ and nursed my daughter to sleep as often as required. She still woke 3,4,5,6 times a night. It was only after 10 months of this that we tried CIO. I didnt want to, I hated it but I had no other option. I was going crazy, I couldnt be a good mother and our pediatrician ok’d it.
It worked. My daughter now sleeps much better and was not traumatised by the experience.
Please don’t disparage other parenting techniques until you’ve tried them – or until you’ve been in a position that you have to try them!
I wanted to reply to you because I am definitely not anti-sleep training or CIO (I’ve written about it before in a post here, point #7 https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/07/02/why-new-parents-are-so-obsessed-with-sleep/) but I totally see how this post leans that way.
I think I could have expressed myself better, or differently, because a few people have come away with the same impression, but what I was trying to get at was that as long as it is working for mom, dad & baby, there’s no need to change anything. I didn’t personally have a problem with Olive’s sleep, her schedule, or how I was putting her to sleep but I felt guilty because of the way books, the health nurse, etc. were implying that I was doing something wrong.
But of course if whatever the current situation is going on ISN’T working for the parents, it is necessary to change it. There’s no point losing your mind from sleeplessness just to be a mommy martyr, and as I said in the post I linked above, no one WANTS to sleep train, it’s a decision made out of neccesity to improve the health (mental, psychological, emotional, physical) of the parents, and that is a good thing for any baby.
I hope that makes sense. I just wanted to clarify because I wrote this post with a “let’s stop judging and giving advice that isn’t asked for!follow your gut and make the decision that’s right for you!” goal in mind, and I would hate for someone to come away from it thinking that I was shaming them for choosing to sleep train, if that was the best choice for their family.
Thank you so much for commenting.
Thanks for the reply and for clarifying. It can be a fine balance to strike, giving advice/an opinion without it being interpreted as ‘judgy’.
Like i said, I liked and agreed with much of your article and am happy you did what worked for your baby – regardless of what the experts say.
There is no ‘one size fits all’, right?! 🙂
Take care, Karen
Agreed. I did the same, after a failed attempt with a sleep consultant. But I had run myself sick and could barely call myself a nurturing mother by day, with the 8-16 night wakings I was experiencing!
CIO worked. But then lasted 2 months before until baby #2 was born. Then I was attempting to soothe a crying newborn that was waking up a toddler that had just fallen asleep after several other night wakings. Oh… Mine is a story I can barely tell without feeling major anxiety even now.
ps. At 3 years old and 4 and a half, I can now say, weight see 2-3 wakings/week. And I’m finally healthy again! And do are they. But I would do it all over again. The research. The books. The consultations. $$$
Oh, thank you so much. My six-month-old was sleeping for 8 or 9 hours a night a few months ago but then abruptly stopped when he reached four months. Since then there hasn’t been a 1am-waking when I haven’t felt like I am doing something wrong. He doesn’t do well with the bottle so I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding him, and feeding him to sleep. Your post made me feel connected to a whole web of wonderful mothers who feel something similar – that I love my baby and he’s happy and thriving and energetic and beautiful, so it must be my fault that he won’t sleep to a pattern. Thank you for saying something so important in such an entertaining way.
Don’t you love the 4 month sleep regression?? Knowing it’s normal doesn’t change how tired you are, but I totally had the same feeling of relief knowing I didn’t *cause* it with anything I was doing 🙂
LOVED this! As a first time mom, it was very hard when others were telling me what to do, giving me “advice”, co -sleeping is seen as a taboo in the U.S and I for one LOVE co sleeping with my little love. We also tried the CIO and just the drowsy method, but my baby wanted ME, he wanted his daddy and if that meant patting him to sleep and sneaking out and letting him sleep in our bed, so bed it. We still co sleep, he’s 2.5 now and when my son is ready, then we can transition him into his own room. My advice to new parents is always follow YOUR gut, not what a book says, not what the doctor says, your parents, family, friends, but what your mommy and daddy heart tell you is right.
Preach it, sister! 🙂 When my son was about a week old, my lactation consultant told me to get rid of the clocks, stop trying to time everything, and just breastfeed on demand. We did that and I nursed him to sleep and everything went pretty well for the most part. Then when my son was about 11 months old and I mentioned something about our bedtime routine to our pediatrician, he told me that I should stop that immediately and let my son “cry it out” or else he’d never be able to self-soothe. I asked how long we might have to do this “cry it out” method before he was going to sleep on his own and the doctor replied about a week. To my everlasting shame, I tried the “cry it out” method that very night. I don’t know who cried more, me or my 11 month old. He cried so hard that for the first time ever, he projectile vomitted his last meal (breastmilk, of course) all over his bedroom and then I really cried! I cried over my baby being so upset, over the vomit I had to clean up, over the fact that now he would be hungry and that I was “empty” and didn’t have any breastmilk stored in the refrigerator, and just over not trusting my own maternal instincts. And then I realized that if it would take a week, according to our pediatrician, for my son to learn to self-soothe himself to sleep, then we could take a week to do that in a year or two, not now when we already had a system that was working pretty well for us. After that horrible incident, I breastfed my son to sleep until he was 16 months old, when he self-weaned, and then my husband or I would rock him to sleep. When he was about 24 months old, we started putting him to bed before he was asleep, which was rough for the first night or two but he had the language skills at that point to understand that mom and dad were close by and would come in if he needed us. From that time on, we never had any problems with his sleep patterns and he would take 3 – 4 hr naps during the day too. It was heaven! 🙂 So for the soon-to-be and new moms, it’s hard at first finding what works for you and your baby but trust your instincts! 🙂
You don’t know how badly I needed this article tonight. Finding this on my Facebook newsfeed couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I related to your story and appreciated your advice on a level I can’t even describe. Thank you to the moon and back. You’ve pulled me off the ledge and helped me see our families little life in a new light. This article may have changed my life. Yes that sounds drastic and maybe a bit dramatic but helping me to alter the way I look at my Nora’s sleep, when I’m in tears and stressed every day about the “problems” I thought I created, is a massive, beautiful change. Thank you.
Btw…I love your daughters name.
Thank you, Jessica! I am so glad that this post helped! Sometimes things show up just when you need them 🙂
I saw your post show up in my news feed the other day and I read it and I was like, whoa, lies and bullshit and jeez this chick just sounds like another militant anti-sleep trainer. You know, I get why you needed to rant about feeling like sleep training stuff got pushed on you. But your pendulum was swung waaaay too far to the other side my dear…. Not all sleep training plans and methods are bullshit, and it’s not abnormal for a baby to sleep through the night, any more than it is for them to wake up several times.
I have to say that the first thing that really struck me was, why did she pull her baby off the boob during the class? And then – why on earth was she sleep training if she only had one week of Dark Time? One week can be an eternity I know, but that’s not like the 13 weeks of insomnia/colic/whatever-else that my friend who gave me her custom plan from a sleep consultant had to go through, with a 2-year-old along for the ride…. So multiply your Dark Time by 13 (and add a toddler who never sleeps at the same time) and surely you will imagine all new levels of desperation that you never even came close to…. Start thinking postpartum depression, marital strain, and just sheer exhaustion beyond what you ever thought you could stand…. And maybe you wouldn’t be so quick to write off the “lies and bullshit”…. After all, waking every hour on the hour is a known form of torture (which was my lot for the first few weeks with my son… as soon as it improved and I was able to get four-hour stretches of sleep, my PPD faded away – my son would nurse for five-hour stints sometimes).
You know, I think that yes, sometimes we’re oversensitive as moms and we need to let stuff roll off. But I also think we really need to be careful about our rants, particularly public online ones. It’s so easy to jump off a bandwagon and be all vociferous about how useless it is but the thing is…. there are still lots of people on that wagon that are pretty happy to be on it, and who are you to tell them it’s all lies and bullshit? You are one mom with one kid. I got news for you honey – you having your specific experience and reading some stuff falls waaay short of making you any sort of expert.
The thing is…. I read alot of the same stuff you did. I was particularly diligent about researching this stuff before I did it because I didn’t want to screw up my kid. In all the blogs and sites and books I read I found that scienceofmom.com was awesome – you should check it out. I could only find one study that looked at moderate forms of sleep training (i.e. not shut-the-door), and it basically said once the kids were six there were no notable differences anywhere…. in the kids’ sleep habits, functionality in relationships, nothing…. (which I will add, conflicts with the advice I got from friends who had sleep trained some of their kids and others not – they claimed the sleep-trained ones slept better even once they were all out of the toddler years). So what did that tell me? To sleep train or not to sleep train…. not a big deal if you do or you don’t. I chose too, and I am very, very glad I did and I’m happy to tell anyone about it. Once I tell you though, I couldn’t care less if you do it or not – I respect your right and ability as a parent to be the one person in the world responsible for analyzing and understanding your child’s little personality and doing the best thing for them in a way that no doctor, nurse, consultant, grandmother, neighbour, mail lady, or dog walker will ever be able to do.
So next time you come across Stern Eyebrows…. flip her off when no one is looking, and find another class to go to…. or just say thank-you, that’s interesting, and keep your baby on your boob. The world needs mothers with the backbone to do what they think is right without having to rip apart the philosophy of the other side that certainly may not have held merit for them, but may be a Godsend for the next desperate mom.
I wanted to reply and let you know that I couldn’t agree with you more. I hope I didn’t come across as across-the-board anti-sleep training. What I was trying to get at was that no parent should feel guilty for making a choice that is right for their family. When I heard the talk, I had zero problems with Olive’s sleep, or how I was putting her to sleep, but I felt so guilty hearing that I was doing it “wrong” that I started second guessing everything, and that’s why I pulled her off during that session. I was still so unsure of myself as a mother, and I felt like I was being told I was ruining Olive’s sleep. I so desperately wanted to be doing it ‘right’, and I was inexperienced enough to think that there was a single right way.
That feeling of judgement is horrible, and I don’t want any parent who chooses to sleep train to feel that, coming away from this post. I wrote about my feelings towards CIO in another post here (https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/07/02/why-new-parents-are-so-obsessed-with-sleep/ point #7) but basically it comes down to the same thing: make the choice that works for your family. If the constant night wakings are driving you crazy from sleeplessness and it’s having a detrimental effect on your mental, emotional or physical health then sleep training is the absolute best choice for you AND your baby. Period.
it wasn’t my goal, or my intent, to disparage any specific parenting style or method, but to tear down the culture that insists that other people (experts, nursess, well-meaning advice givers) know what works for your family better than you do. If it’s not working for you, you absolutely have to work to find something that does.
I hope that made sense.
Thank you so much for commenting, and giving me a chance to respond.
Hey Madeleine. Thanks for the reply. You clarified some things. This is the first time I’ve seen your blog, and I just read the post for today and had a laugh. Nothing like sleep training to get backs up hey!! Haha… I actually quit telling people that I had sleep trained at one point because I got alot of the “lazy parenting, unnatural, cruel, blah blah blah etc” labels and didn’t care for them too much…. it’s like working moms vs stay-at-home ones…. you’d better take shelter from that sh*tstorm…. 😉
It got me thinking though…. what’s the real problem here? Like I said, I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way with approaching infant sleep…. or breastfeeding, bedsharing, weaning, starting solids, childproofing, car seats, or working at home or outside it. Every parenting decision is a delicate balance of pros and cons, risks and rewards, personality, tolerance and temperament. Every family is different. And every baby is different. Babies are sensitive, fragile little things but they are also little humans right from the get-go who are being “trained” and conditioned whether we intend to do it or not.
There is no right answer.
But we keep getting sucked into this cycle of laying it down and drawing lines for each other. Why?
I think that as women, we feel guilty alot. And that makes us defensive. And sometimes in trying to be defensive, we got unintentionally offensive (even if you didn’t mean to sound anti-sleep training, you did use strong language…. I am one of those who believed the “lies” and bought the “bullshit” and used the plan of the “exorbitantly-priced consultant” when my son was four months old and I am so very, very glad I did. And my kid is fine, in fact he was so much brighter and more alert and happy for getting the unbroken sleep post-training, people even commented on the difference – and I invite anyone who dares to tell me I’ve “damaged him” to step outside). And then someone else (me in this case) gets defensive and all of a sudden you have 40,000 blog posts haha. And around and around and around we go…. if it’s not this issue, it’s guaranteed to be another.
I really think it all comes down to Stern Eyebrows. I thought about it, and I thought of my mom-in-law. We used to get along pretty well but there is like, the Grand Canyon between us now since I had my son. He was 9 lbs 6 at birth, his dad is 6’6, and his little appetite was voracious. I remember one night nursing him for five hours, then he slept for 30 minutes (of which I maybe got 20 myself), then nursed for another two. I was like, this is like a work day with a really sh*tty lunch break. And I was confiding all this in my mom-in-law but saying, you know I’ve done my reading and I’m going to exclusively breastfeed till he’s 6 months. And then it started. She said, I don’t think you’re going to be able to do that. He’s too big of a baby, he’s not going to stay full on breastmilk. And inside I went, oh yeah, we’ll see about that. And I did it. And he was fine. And actually those marathon feeds tapered off after a few weeks when he got stronger and could take in more. And the distance between her and I started and grew because I didn’t like being told, and she didn’t like feeling ignored.
In my prenatal class I really liked the nurse who taught it. She wasn’t stern or judgmental. She just said at one point, put your baby to sleep awake. And I laughed at her. I said, you must be on crack because I will never sleep again if I do that. But months later, I realised that she was right. I was a mom who nursed every time my baby cried, and it did condition him to expect that response. And wow did it ever bite me in the ass down the line, and I found myself wishing I had listened. So my experience seems to have to have been the polar opposite of yours, on several levels. But for all our philosophical differences, I bet both our kids are just as happy and healthy.
And then I see all the comments from people thanking you for your post (I guess I accidentally checked the box to receive all subsequent posts, and I’ve gotten about 35 e-mails since last night) and I think, you know, I think we’ve just got to get better at being confident in our abilities to make our own decisions. And we need to build each other up and give each other space to make those decisions…. and mistakes…. Women can rip each other to shreds but we also have the ability to be incredibly supportive.
So I’m going to vow to not be a Stern Eyebrows. I try not to be anyway…. but even when I’m older and hopefully having grandkids I want to be the grandma who’s supportive instead of bossy. Who gets that there are no right answers. And every mom is her baby’s expert.
And that is the truth.
Thanks so much for this! I just finished a horrific “dark time” with my 9 month-old. Worst week ever! It’s interesting how sleep patterns differ between babies. My 2 boys were great sleepers right from the start but my daughter…not so much. I haven’t done anything differently with her, I think that’s just the way she is.
Lovely article but thank your lucky stars that the ‘dark time’ only lasted a couple of weeks. For many of us it’s months or even years long, with no 9 hour sleep respites in between.
Oh she’s still not sleeping straight through, her “normal” is typically up 1-3 times a night. But I do know that we have been, and are still, comparatively lucky in terms of sleep.
My heart (and large quantities of coffee…and maybe wine?) go out to you, that sort of constant fatigue is hell, and it’s probably a small comfort but I’ve heard that colicky infants and troubled sleepers tend to be incredibly sensitive and intelligent adults- my brother and one of my sisters definitely fit this pattern!
I hope you get more sleep soon, Kat 🙂
To be honest I go with the flow… I have to, I have 6 kids, 3 under 30 months but I think youd find if you drank decaffeinated coffee you’d both get alot more sleep!!
You know I’ve always wondered about the coffee! I was convinced it affected her when she was a baby, so fur the first eight months or so of her life I drank decaf or tried to avoid it altogether.
These days I have been having a cup in the morning, and it doesn’t seem to affect her nap or nighttime sleep, but I’m still trying to work up to switching permanently to tea, because coffee isn’t great for my kidneys, but I love it so!
Thank you for the suggestion!
In the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, Dr. Weissbluth says that he thinks it is fine to nurse your baby to sleep. He also talks about how normal it is for babies to have wakeups in the night. As a mother who has nursed both my children to sleep for naps and bedtime and have had great sleepers, I highly recommend this book. If you actually read it, it really works! He gives many options to try depending on your child.
I don’t need a doctor or nurse. I have taken more medical classes in college than most nurses and am a CNA. I stopped taking my son to the doctor at 2 months when they chastised me to death for not vaccinating him. Needless to say he is 20 months old and has just had the sniffles. No ear aches or anything and he is 34 pounds and extremely healthy. Books are useless. You’re the mom. Kids actually do have wake patterns though dictated by rem. my son would wake at 12:30 am like clockwork for weeks. He sleeps from 8:30pm to 7:30am straight usually. I’m blessed.
My rule to get my babies to sleep were the 4 B’s…..boob, bath, boob, bed! You follow their rhythm and enjoy every minute! Cause then they are teenagers before you know it!
You nailed this 😉 the nursing your baby to sleep is a great part of the day I do it all the time my daughter 5 months old sleeps great then doesn’t and it’s all normal 🙂 well done on putting this in words , it drives me nuts when ppl make comments ooo you shouldn’t nurse her to sleep well nursed or not I think she’d be up or sleep ether way 🙂
I never post, ever, nowhere but this is a great article. I only wish I got it 7 years ago! My eldest is now almost 7, little guy is 3 and they weren’t big on the sleep thing! So many people offered so many opinions like they knew, I often felt judged and like I had failed. If it had totally been up to me I would have nursed them both to sleep every night, through the night until I went back to work (10 months for #1 and 12 for #2) I’m sure my hubby would not have been impressed! But now they are so far past those days and although I was exhausted they were very precious times and they do stop and then you miss them.
I am so glad I read this. I really needed to read it. My baby girl is 4 months. Her first month she slept in my arms in the recliner because that was the only place I could get some sleep. (Don’t think bed sharing is wrong but personally uncomfortable with it). Then the next couple months she slept in swing, then rock n play, then eventually her crib for 2-3 weeks. During these months not in my arms she was finally sleeping anywhere between 4-8 hours straight a night. Sometimes after 3 months I ended up back in recliner with her and have been for about 3 weeks now. Because she will only stay in crib for 30 minutes at a time and after a while I give in and want to sleep. I’ve let her fuss a little bit for a couple minutes to see if she will put herself back to sleep since I know she has before. But I have always been against letting her cry it out. I don’t feel like it’s right for my baby. But the last couple weeks I keep hearing about how ive started a bad habit, we need to fix it, let her cry and that will fix the problem. I’m not going to give in but it makes it so so hard and frustrating like I’m doing the wrong thing and I’ll be stuck sleeping with her here forever. There’s a 4 month sleep regression//wonder week//she’s teething right now and I feel like she just needs her momma now and soon (hopefully) it will pass.
Just an FYI – recliner sleeping is more dangerous than bedsharing. babies get dropped, wedged, etc in recliners more often than injured in beds.
This is the mother of 15 children–I never listened to that sort of baloney–I have always slept with my babies, and nursed them, sometimes multiple times a night. They have all been able to put themselves to sleep, and now that many are grown, I am so thankful I allowed myself to mother them, and enjoy them, even if I had to lose a little bit of sleep–I don’t miss it! Thank you for doling out truth that can set mothers free!
[…] This is a great article/blog https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/10/14/…-infant-sleep/ I hope everyone is well? Not been on a while as Hannah been sleeping pretty well. Starts at […]
I still feed my 3 year old to sleep. Though most of the time he doesn’t fall asleep on the breast any more, but he did say the other night after books ‘yum, yum breast time.’ Hope lots of first time Mum’s read your post! Sending it to my sleep deprived sister 🙂
I’m a mama of 4 and I own a natural mothering boutique. You ROCK. No seriously, you rock. This is by far the best blog post I’ve read yet about the stupidity that is this society’s need to want to train little babies to do what they were not meant to do. Thank you for writing this!
Awesome. My daughter is now almost 3, we nursed for 2 years and I nursed her to sleep for nearly that while time, while getting the “bad parent” rap for it from family and friends who subscribe to the CIO methods. It made me insecure and like you I tried to have both of us tough it out a few times, and for what? So we were both exhausted and miserable? Now that we are having #2 next summer I have learned my lesson… Trust your mama gut and comfort your baby, those that disagree aren’t going to be there at night anyway. I will never regret all the cuddles, milk comas, and dreamy baby faces next to me.
[…] to see what it was that was suddenly garnering so much attention, and it was this post about baby sleep. Yes, the one that starts off by saying how Adam told me not to write it because, […]
This is great, just had my 10th and have been feeling like ‘How bad am I to have done this 10 times and I still can’t get my baby to sleep ‘normally’. I know I’m doing it right I can see it in my childs happiness but it does not take much to undermine ANY mother. We all want to do what is best.
Best is follow your instincts!
Oh my gosh, ten! We had six in my family growing up and although it was tough sometimes, now that we are all adults I absolutely adore my giant crazy family and wouldn’t trade it for anything 🙂 you are super mom!
As a new mom of a 9-week-old… I love this! I nurse my son to sleep and once in a while I have wondered about all that expert advice. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that my instincts are better than all those crazy parenting books 🙂
I had all four of my kids in Japan, but tried following all the experts in my (American) books when my first was a baby. I soon saw that the Japanese moms around me were so much more easy going and not stressed at all about sleep. They all sleep with their babies for an extended period, and I have never met one who didn’t nurse her babies to sleep. I have seen more Japanese people who can go to sleep anywhere anytime than I can even tell – my husband being one of them – so I quickly gave in to doing it the “Japanese” way!! My kids are between the ages of 6 and 15 and all sleep very well. And, though I do read, pray and cuddle with my youngest at bedtime still the older ones go to bed on their own with no problem – of course! I hope more young mothers learn to go with their instinct a little more!
I agree with you. I don’t mind doing those things my son needs to go to sleep, however when he is 8 months old (he is 6 months now) he is going to daycare because I go back to work. I am worried they will not go through everything I do and worried they will just do CIO or something. I am sure they would never explain it to me that way, but I’ll never really know. That is why I feel the guilt/ need to sleep train.
Thank you so much for this blog. I am a first time mum to my 3 month old daugher and my HV told me to stop nursing her to sleep, I also have people judging me for bed-sharing but it just feels right and makes life easier. My LO is now teething and waking every hour, its hard but nice to know other people are doing the same. I felt because of my age (22) people think they can talk down to me or that I know nothing but it works for me and I love the cuddles
Thank you so much for this article! I went through pretty much the same realizations as you and the same frustrations when I breastfed my baby to sleep until she was 28 mo, and still sleep with her at 32 mo. And I get annoyed when people still ask me if my baby is sleeping “better” as though, there`s a problem with it. I gave up a long time ago on sleep training her when we went through some Dark times too, and then decided to do what just felt right and GOOD to me. Because the truth is that I want to sleep with her because just like you said I love this cuddling and quiet special time and I loved nursing her to sleep! It`s so nice to see I’m not alone!
As a mother to 6 children I have heard everything. I was ‘lucky’ that my first 5 children slept through from 6 months but I know this was due to going back to work and moving them onto formula.
My youngest however has other ideas and is still night nursing at nearly 11 months old. I only wish articles like this had been around when I was a first time mom x
Thank you! I have 13 month old and a one month old. I have been told a lot in the last month I need to fix my one month olds sleeping pattern, that she needs to be awake during the day light hours, to force her awake or she won’t ever sleep at night. Every time I hear this from the pediatrician to my mother-in-law I look back on past 13 months. No one said any of this with my older daughter no one cared because I’m a stay at home mom and it didn’t matter if Isabelle was waking up at 5 at night or 5 in the morning. I’m still a stay at home mom my 13 month old sleeps through the night just fine so I just nod and smile at the ppl telling me my baby will never sleep at night and call bull shit because my 13 month old was the same way and she sleeps just fine. I have found with 2 I need a spotter someone that after 2-3 days of getting no sleep because as soon as my one month old does finally go to sleep my 13 month old wakes up. Having someone that can step in and watch my older daughter for a few hours is a must sense I’ve found myself falling asleep cooking and almost fell onto the stove. I think sleep deprivation is why wet nurses where common in tribal times so the mothers could sleep in shifts and all the babies still got fed and looked after.
Thank you for this! I’m writing this with my babe feeding/sleeping right now. 🙂
I have a six week old baby and the amount of “sleep” reading I have done is exhausting! It’s all very confusing and contradictory. But “you can’t stress about it because you baby will be stressed about it”…lol
I breastfeed my babe to sleep now too and I know it calms him when he’s upset too.
Thanks for helping me quiet my head a bit and enjoy the bond between my baby and I. It’s true: my heart just melts when he stares into my eyes while I feed him and I just love the little purrs he makes when he is totally content.
I don’t post on things like this, but I agree with all my heart with how much pressure and bullshit is put on new families to be perfect and conform with the new ‘in’ method of looking after your child.
Every child is different. I work in a nursery, and as a pratitioner it is drummed into you that every child is different. Why does this not happen when you have a new born?
I was told not to swaddle my boy. But as a wiggling mass of limbs he would often hit himself in the face when tired, thus hindering his attempts to sleep. SO I SWADDLED! (under observation)
I was told not to combination feed, but a very complicated birth and a boy with a tongue tie ment my milk supply was not the best, so I COMBINATION FED!
Do not feed your baby till they are six months old!! I started at 4 months as he is an eater and not a drinker.
My boy is nine months old now. He sleeps from 7 till 6am. With minimal fuss being put to bed and sleeps through. Enjoys eating and has a full diet of differing textures and can hand feed well. He endures his two milk bottles a day and has water during the day.
My advice to any first timer is to go with how you feel, and if unsure ask your family or friends who have had a family. If it works for your baby do it!!!
Thank you! I wish I had found this MONTHS ago!!! I feel like I’ve gone through most of what you’ve mentioned – feeling guilty about BF to sleep b/c I’m always being told he’ll never sleep; being encouraged to try they cry-out-method (never did), we did try the PU/PD as a compromise. Never did let my baby cry though and I feel good about that. He is a happy 11.5 month old that just last night slept all night! Daddy did take over the night routine and he falls to sleep a lot quicker w/him. This was after a 2 week spell of him waking up every 1.5 hrs – this was when he learned how to walk!
It is refreshing to, for once, feel like maybe I am doing what is best for my baby and that is was right to follow my gut, but as you say, I wish I could have enjoyed those cuddles more instead of feeling bad about BF when “I wasn’t supposed to”! THANK YOU!
It isn’t tryptophan from the turkey that makes you tired. While that amino acid is certainly IN turkey, its consumption being linked to inducing sleep has been overhyped incorrectly by the media and laypersons. It’s gorging on carbs and and the resulting metabolic chain reaction that follows.
Thank you for your article. I have so struggled with the “right” way of dealing with my not so good sleeper. This isn’t my first time at this. I have an 11 year old that was also breast fed and co-slept with me. My daughter woke so often to nurse that I finally put her in bed with me at 8 months and she’s been co-sleeping every since. I didn’t mind it at all and actually loved having my baby next to me, but as she got bigger I was concerned because my husband is a heavy, wild sleeper. I would put a barrier pillow between him and her. But that was tough because I woke when she moved and also when he moved to make sure he didn’t come onto the pillow. So made for less sleep for me. Hubby says he doesn’t mind the co-sleeping just not until they are too old.
Well… as she was getting bigger I found out I was expecting again when she was 10 months old! I started freaking out. We all know how hard it is to sleep while pregnant and so our current sleeping arrangement only lasted a while longer. Hubby is in the couch now. I first thought oh my I have got to get her out of my bed and sleeping on her own. Well… she wouldn’t. I tried letting her cry a little, coming back to comfort and continued that for until 1.5 hours later it took my heart a day or two just to heal from the hurt I felt that she just wanted her mommy. My main reason was because both my little ones are going to wake each other once the other is born.
It’s a scary thought how I will deal with this. I plan to have the new baby (due in March) in the basenett and continue to co-sleep with my toddler and take it a day at a time. So for all you moms co-sleeping with your babies who wake frequently cherish those days they are such sweet times. Yes, I still nurse to sleep at 14 months with all the comments making me feel bad. I don’t know yet but it looks like I may tandem nurse. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through but I will do what feels natural and I will not just let my babies cry for extended periods of time.
Oh, I should also add that my toddler would never take a pacifier.. we tried so yes I’m sure sometimes I was also a soother. I thought all this was a had thing but my heart tells me so different and so does my content baby. This way may be a little harder but I have given in to this is what I have to do. I think some babies are just different and parents have to find a balance with helping our children self sooth and meeting their needs where they are at.
Sorry sooooo long, but I needed to share my story because I will be having two in my room and thought it would help you moms with one 🙂
I’m nursing a 2 1/2 year old old. When she was little she always nursed to sleep. It was easy and she was happy. While nursing her I read to my older daughter. I can’t remember when it happened but when she wanted to she stopped nursing and just listened to the books. Still dreaming about sleeping through the night but not because she is nursing. She can’t hold her potty through the night so I get up and take her potty. Parenting is definitely a 24 hour a day job. Hugs to all you sleepless moms.
I think it is best to follow your intuition. You can listen to the experts or your own maternal instincts… The problem now is we have too much info on how we should be doing it (that is sometimes conflicting) that we doubt ourselves. With my first baby was started co-sleeping *gasp*. And I learned that most co-sleeping studies done in the US are funded by crib manufacturers (and let’s just say that if there was ever a bias…) Some of these things are just cultural and we feel we need to follow what we’re taught. But when it comes down to it – follow your instincts. If you feel like nursing to sleep works -then do it. If you feel like co-sleeping – do it (just learn the safety involved). If you don’t feel like nursing to sleep or co-sleeping works for your baby – don’t do it.
And as Mom’s we should NOT be judgmental of what our fellow mothers do. We’re not them and we don’t have their baby – we have no right to judge them!
what if you think CIO is wrong for your baby but you also can’t function because your baby hasn’t slept more than 3 hours straight in 13 months?
really enjoying this discussion, but feeling pretty depressed.
I think if you can’t function, then it’s totally appropriate to look at ways to improve your baby’s sleep (and therefore your own).
I don’t think it’s a black and white thing- either nursing/bedsharing or CIO. I think there are some gentle methods that fall somewhere in between that might help your baby sleep longer or better, but I’m not sure what to suggest.
Anyone want to chime in with gentle methods that worked?
Sent from my iPhone
My little girl is six and didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost 2. She also didn’t nap regularly until she was 2-1/2, and then quit at 3. My husband and I were the living embodiment of BAT SHIT CRAZY. And everyone wanted to just tell me HOW I WAS DOING IT WRONG. So in addition to being sleep deprived, I felt that I was an awful failure. So thank you for your post. Thank you for calling bullshit on all these so-called experts and every other person who feels the need to inject themselves into a situation they are not living in, without actually offering to HELP or BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION. What would have done me a world of good, would be for some of these people to say, “hey, you need some rest. Let me watch your kid for awhile,” instead of looking down their nose at me, and feel good about how they have all the answers. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
I love this! I actually read it while nursing and…… Gasp! My three month old has fallen asleep! At the breast! 🙂 thank you!
I am a 55 year old mom of seven who nursed six of my seven. My oldest was a c section and due to complications i couldn’t nurse him. Believe me your instincts are right on! By nursing my babies to sleep and letting them sleep with us until age two we all got so much more restful sleep! My second slept through the night at two months which was heaven as his older brother didn’t sleep all night until he was 2! The rest had their own sleep patterns, but because they were right next to me, they could nurse and i could sleep. A well rested mom makes for a much happier mom.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! My son is nearing 14 months soon and I still nurse him to sleep. I have always tip toed around that statement for fear of being judged or told how i’m ruining him and his ability to sleep on his own. I read your post for the first time this morning and I almost started crying. Someone else who feels like me, who does things the way she wants to do them because they feel right to her! I know i’m not doing anything wrong, but i’m so glad that someone else was able to put into words exactly what I feel.
Thanks for this.
Especially for this: “Not being able to breastfeed is heartbreaking, but being constantly guilt-tripped over it is worse.”
I already gave myself the worst time over not managing to breastfeed. I tried everything for 6 weeks. I spent 16 hours a day either trying to breastfeed, pumping breast milk and feeding my baby the expressed milk in a bottle. Sleeping in stretches of maybe 30 minutes-1 hour. The WHOLE rest of the time trying to feed. The health visitors kept saying ‘have you tried x, y, z ?’ I tried everything I was told about. Nothing worked. I eventually admitted defeat and then suddenly found I could enjoy being a mum and enjoy my baby (and finally stop crying). Like literally from one day to the next (the day I gave up!). In retrospect, I feel like I was so agonized and stressed and upset about not managing to breast feed that I probably stressed my poor beautiful baby out more than if I’d just admitted defeat earlier and given her formula. Maybe next time I will be more relaxed. But I felt SO much pressure to breastfeed. Eventually my wonderful GP said to me that he thought my baby would love a relaxed, happy mum and a bottle of formula more than a stressed out, crying mum and expressed milk. Thank goodness for practical, sensible doctors.
I totally agree with the sleep thing too. My parents were just visiting me and we were discussing my sister who has a baby just two months younger than mine (both now nearly 2) and who breastfed him until maybe 18 months and he always fed to sleep. They were criticizing her a bit (not in a mean way but saying she was too soft on him wrt sleep) and I said no, please don’t criticize, whatever works is the best thing. My sister works full time now and she needs her sleep. If that means taking her baba into the bed with her and her husband to get her night’s sleep, then that’s fine. It doesn’t mean he will still be there in two, or three or five year’s time! I think the judgement about everything we do as mothers ALL THE TIME is so wearing! Everyone is different. Every family is different. The best approach is to do what works for each of us as individuals.
Thanks for this post!
I’m in love with everything you said! My daughter will be 9 months next week and she almost always nurses to sleep (naps and at night). It’s what works for us and I honestly enjoy the time we have. My husband is able to get her to sleep by bouncing or wearing her and my mom can get her to sleep no problem. I know she won’t always seek my comfort so I’m enjoying it while it lasts. And if I’m wrong, I’ve already reserved a single dorm room so I can nurse her to sleep in college 😉 Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for this. It saved my sanity this morning when my nursed to sleep 8 month old woke many a time last night, and I spent the whole night thinking I was doing something wrong as a parent. It’s reassuring to know there are so many moms with the same experience!
Reblogged this on OMG It's Buri! and commented:
I wanted to repost this from a lady named Madeleine, who went through some trouble as a first time mom, and the appropriate way to “sleep train”(or not) her daughter.
You mentioned you nurse your 1 yr old to sleep and let grandma give her a bottle to fall asleep with…I’m guessing your child doesn’t have teeth (which she probably does) because that can lead to some serious tooth decay. It is not ok for you to be telling people that it is ok to let children with teeth fall asleep with any kind of milk. Moms and dads should find new ways to comfort them at nap/bedtime OR brush their teeth after their last serving of milk OR give them only water at bedtime if it’s the bottle that they want. It concerns me that many people are reading this and thinking that is ok.
– Concerned Nutritionist, Sara
These moms are just trying to find some sanity, some balance between being sleep deprived and doing what needs to be done for their child. Yes, we care about our kids’ teeth. But some of us are also bat-shit crazy, because we’ve only had a handful of hours of sleep over the course of the week. I was one of them, and I can tell you, I would do ANYTHING to get some rest, so I could be that calm mom when my child was fussy instead of having a stark raving lunatic, because I had NO REST IN A WEEK or longer. We tried the water in a bottle, and my kid cried for THREE HOURS, starting at 2am. My husband and I called everyone we knew, talked to everyone (friends family, nurses, pediatric behavior specialists, sleep doctors, EVERYONE), and nothing worked. We hadn’t slept in months. We were literally losing our minds, and that does not make a good parent. When you’re at this point, the POSSIBILITY of tooth decay is not even on your radar. And things like this make moms like me feel guilty over needing more than 4 hours of sleep in a night. I felt horrible, as a person, as a mom, because I wasn’t taking care of my kid’s every need — but the fact of the matter was that I needed rest to be a mom at all.
I don’t think you quite understand the level of desperation that comes from being constantly sleep deprived for months on end. Yes, we are concerned, and yes, we are aware that there could be some issues, but for those of us who are so exhausted all we do is cry all day, we have different priorities first, and we will deal with other issues once we get through the bigger issues. Thank you for being concerned, but we also need balance here. That’s what this post is about.
Thank you so much for sharing this! I am due to have our first child in just 4-8 weeks and I will be an exclusive breastfeeder. I don’t have any support, so this will help get me through all the criticism that I am already getting! THANK YOU!
Page this is my first time breastfeeding one of my children. I found a group on facebook for breastfeeding parents and it is very supportive. My son is 7 weeks and I would have given up if it was not for the support group. It will take time for you and your baby to get use to things but once you and your baby get it it will be very beneficially to you and your baby. When you give your baby breast you are giving the BEST. Good luck! God Bless you and your little one.
Beautifully, writen. Add EC elimination communication to your knowledge and it will offer more insight to why babies stir. They simply dont want to urinate where they sleep, like every other animal. Thank you for this.
[…] When O was about four months old I remember taking her to a talk put on by the local library. Each week they hosted different speakers, and this particular week featured a public health nurse speaking about the unique nature of baby sleep. It sounded interesting and I needed to get out of the house and talk to real grown up people that didn’t shit their pants, so off we went https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/10/14/here-are-some-lies-people-tell-you-about-infant-sleep/ […]
What a load of rubbish. This is just for mothers whose baby doesnt sleep and they are not strong enough to ‘help’ them by sleep training. Its lazy parenting and its not doing you or your baby any favours by you and them having broken sleep….
No, it is truth. “Sleep training” isn’t strength, it’s cruelty. Guess what, none of my 4 kids have ever been sleep trained and they all are great sleepers. The oldest 3 in their own beds, in their own rooms. I never taught them anything, I never forced them to cry themselves to sleep, I never bought into into any of the self soothing, sleep prop, drowsy but awake bs. I nursed all of them to sleep (unless I wore them to sleep or rocked them). Every nap, every bedtime until gradually, when THEY were ready, they didn’t need it anymore. It was different ages for all of them, of course, because they are different people.
If it’s “strong” to “sleep train”, I’d rather be “weak”, because it’s the strength of a bully….Kind of like your post.
I wouldn’t say that “sleep training” is cruelty, but I also wouldn’t say that not “sleep training” is laziness! The whole point of the article is doing what works best for your family situation… every baby and every situation is different, and every mother is different…
It’s not right of you to make judgments on mothers who have done EVERYTHING in their power to get their kid’s sleep under control. I spoke with EVERYONE, we did EVERYTHING. We tried the ferber method, modified ferber, and a hundred different other suggestions. Plenty of people thought that we were “just being lazy” until they came over to our house and spent the weekend/week living in our hell. Even my own mother had no idea what we were going through until she saw it for herself. And you, sitting at your computer hundreds of miles away, have even LESS idea of what we go through than someone who lives down the road. If you have been blessed with children who sleep at night, thank your lucky stars that you have no idea what some other mothers go through, and thank your child for being a good kid.
[…] Here are some lies people tell you about infant sleep | Sweet Madeleine Reply With Quote […]
This is my first baby I have nursed he is 7 weeks. This post is so great because it is stressful at times. Breast milk breaks down quicker and I have to feed him more times a night than my formula fed daughter now age 8. I nurse my son to sleep and it is best for him and myself. Lots of times I want to pull out my eyes but then this beautiful baby looks at my as he is nursing like I am his sole purpose of food. I know I am giving him the best and it helps me keep going strong. 🙂
Expressing just how helpful and how truthful this is doesn’t come easily. It comes after 2 years of nursing to sleep, crying it out, coddling, co-sleeping, and middle of the night fights with my significant other over everything we were doing right. I say right because there’s no wrong way to put your child to sleep. That’s the point of this, right? But everyone has a theory, an expert opinion and methods that are proven to work. Yet those same methods worked for us for a hot minute, a brief respite from insomnia insanity, but ceased to work ever again once she grew out of it. I have a stubborn child who, at 27 months currently comes to bed with us at 1am every night, but I’m ok with it. Because one day she will be 12 and she will begin her moment of parental hatred and I will look back on all the times that her only comfort was cuddling in my arms.
It is so helpful for any parent to read this. Whether it’s someone who is still holding onto the belief that there’s something wrong with their parenting abilities for failing to sleep train or it’s someone who just needs reassurance that their stubborn disregard of all the “helpful advice” over the years was the right way to go, we can all benefit. So thank you for reminding me to keep up the snuggles, and keep an open mind. Thank you for speaking the truth! You rock. Really, you are just splendid. And thank you for the link to the fantastic infant sleep article.
I loved your article…my daughter wouldn’t breastfeed (that is a whole other story) but for months we gave her a bottle and rocked her to sleep. We eventually transitioned in to a modified sleep training.(around 1) We would let her cry for 5 minutes. normally it was less than 1. She still doesn’t sleep through the night and likes a bottle in the middle of the night. I love the sleepy cuddles that I get. But the main I love your aticicle is becasue it is not judgemental. I belive taht is the hardest part of becoming a mom. Everyone loves to judge. So thatnk you for a well written article aht is not preachy or judgey
ingore my spelling mistakes…it wouldn’t let me see what I wrote 🙂
Thanks so much for writing this! After months of up every two hours, I felt like I was starting to resent my son. And not because I couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation, but because a bazillion expert opinions are telling me that he should be sleeping. I was starting to feel like I was doing something wrong. It’s good to be reminded that it is totally normal….and he is my last baby so soon I will miss the middle of the night snuggles 🙂
Madeleine, Thank you for this post.
In reflection after doing this for a year, and meeting other moms with babies with vastly different temperaments and personalities, I now have come to believe this is true: “do whatever works that will keep you and your family sane (for the most part).
It is so hard for new moms to figure out what the ‘right’ thing is and almost impossible to not live in the constant fear of ‘I’m ruining my child for the rest of his/her life because I did/did not do……”. I also read all the books and bought into the routine is the only way, no boob pacifying sleep philosophy. And for my baby, it worked. Shush-pat worked. Pick-up/Put down worked, wake-to-sleep worked. Before you start hating me, what I want to say is this – I’m fully aware that it worked because it suits my baby’s nature. I’m fully anticipating that our next baby will probably not be like him, at all, or maybe she will. I don’t know. I think what makes me sad/mad is seeing moms who sticks only to one approach even when it is not working for them. I have girlfriends (such as yourself), who love to nurse their babies to sleep, they love to co-sleep, they are completely functional not sleeping through the night if their babies need them and have loving relationships with their significant other. I personally would not be able to be functional in that situation, but that’s me, and I’m aware of it, and God gave me a baby that took to my adopted parenting approach. I feel blessed everyday. Don’t get me wrong, it took hard work, but it worked.
We moms need to give ourselves so much grace, and trust our instincts. Take what works and encourage each other in our efforts instead of admonishing each other. So thank you for your post. There is most definitely not ONE way to raise children, and it definitely takes a village (whether in person or via the internet).
apparently there is no tryptophan in my breastmilk and our “the dark time” has been going on for 5 months (my son is 9 months old now) and thats great all of that worked for you but i would nurse my son all night long if it meant he would go back to sleep. i think thats another lie i have been told, that if you only just comfort them all night or if you co sleep you will get some sleep at the time time. no one ever told me my baby would sleep for 20 minutes, wake up for 20 minutes, sleep for an hour and half wake up for an hour, sleep for 20 minutes, wake for 20, sleep for an hour, wake up for 2 hours, sleep for a couple hours, wake up at 5 30 am, not nap all day, and that i would be too tired to drive or that i would fall asleep holding my son and drop him in the floor. we have passed milestone after milestone and tooth after tooth and it never gets better. Its not during wonderweeks either. To me its extremely clear that my son is waking yes like a nromal baby but has no idea how to get himself back to sleep, and any attempt to help him wakes him up too much until the point he cant go to sleep again. my idea of getting better is on the day my son finally crashes and takes a nap for an hour and half but thats maybe once a week. i feel like i get guilt tripped WAY more from the attachement parenting side. way way way more. there has got to be a middle ground
Have you looked into whether he has some other issue interfering with his sleep? Reflux can cause lots of waking & nursing. Silent reflux isn’t really noticeable unless you look for it.
Dr. Sears has some other suggestions http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/hidden-medical-causes-nightwaking
Until you find the cause or your baby “grows out” of waking so frequently, do you have anyone who could watch him for a couple hours a day or a long stretch a couple times a week so you can get more sleep? Because you’re right, you need sleep too.
And if you’re really desperate, if he’s old enough to play for a bit, gate him with you in a completely baby safe room, or give him a bunch of toys in a crib/playpen you know he can’t get out of, and at least doze.
we have already ruled out any health issues, he was even on reflux meds for a while and no change at all. my daughter was a preemie so we have been pretty familiar with dealing with everything related to reflux and its definitely not it. he was up from 2 am to 5:30 am the other night. i dont have ANYONE to help and my husband works nights 6 days a week. i dont have a play yard and i cant put him in his crib because the side is down so his crib is side carred to ours. trust me we have tried everything, we have tried no cry sleep solution, i have asked for help on every attachment board i know of, i have asked STRANGERS how they get their babies to sleep im so desperate.
That made me tear up!!! I feel exactly the same way after sleeping on the floor next to my baby for 2 years!!! The guilt, the shame but whenever I tried to let him cry I felt like a part of my soul was breaking. I just couldn’t understand how that was supposed to be the ‘right’ thing to do!!!!
Anyway I could go on and on but thank you for writing that
I have a 1 year old boy who doesn’t like to sleep apart from on me, I started listening to the advice out of desperation and because I felt like I was doing it all wrong. I think I cried more than him, sat on top of the stairs waiting for the exact second I should go back into his room to comfort him. It was horrible, now I just go with the flow and let him sleep on me, nurse him when he cries and I am feeling much better, and believe it or not he slept all night last night.!
I’m pregnant with #3. I have a 4 yr old and a 2yr old and I tell ALL my new mum friends this….DO WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR A HAPPY BABY AND HAPPY MAMA! Screw the books, if it works for you, stick with it! I think we broke all the rules LOL! I NEVER woke my sleeping new born every 2 or 3 hours to feed. They woke up when they were hungry, and I fed them. I nursed to sleep, then when they went to a bottle then got a bottle at bed time and nursed themselves to sleep and both kids STTN from about 2 weeks old. OF COURSE we had “dark time”, who doesn’t but YOU DO WHAT WORKS!
Loved this article. Screw the “professionals” LOL!
Amazing 🙂 I’m going to feed my baby to sleep tonight and let him sleep in my bed if he has another rough night and enjoy every second of it…. my stresses and guilt disappeared just my reading this… wish I ‘d seen if months ago!
I think it’s so funny that a mom that nurses her child to sleep is considered “lazy”. It’s actually the opposite. It requires a lot more from us mamas. Especially on the nights when my son may not be feeling well, or wakes every time I put him in bed because he wants more snuggle time with me -and I still have to do the dishes, fold the laundry, plan my lesson for tomorrow, etc…… I cherish every moment of that time of nursing him before bed, just as i did with my daughter.
I nursed my 5 month old to sleep while I read this nodding my head. I stumbled on that same set of articles a while back and finally felt vindicated with the way we are doing things. i love it and know this is a very short phase in her life. I don’t mind one bit. Happy baby = happy mama!
Speak it sister! I just loved reading this, especially for any new mom, this is EXACTLY THE things we should be telling them! I happily and proudly breastfed my oldest until he was 15 months. I also always nursed him to sleep and we also co-slept. EVERYONE told me he would NEVER, EVER learn to sleep through the night, how I was “ruining” him. We transitioned him to his own room around 10 months, and when we finally weaned at 15 months, he started sleeping a full 10-12 hours on his own, in his own room every night with no wake ups. I always tell my new mom friends, DON’T BELIEVE everything you hear, always do what feels right for you and your family!!
Love this! I am a mother of 5. Each of them had different sleep patterns and the baby (9mo.) has been totally inconsistent. Some time along the way I realized, probably around baby #3, that I needed to do things the way that best fits my child and our family. Since then life has been slightly less hectic 🙂 I only wish I had learned this sooner!
OMG, tell your husband to buzz off, I’M SO FRIGGIN GLAD YOU WROTE THIS!!!! Here I was thinking that my baby is getting all dependent on my breasts and what now and I realized that she has every right to feed when she wants, where she wants! I don’t have a strict single bedtime routine – I always switch it up by walking around, reciting/singing to her, rocking her, but it always ends the same: she wants to nurse and then go to sleep. And right now I don’t care anymore what the heck my Ped told me or what other article said not to let the baby make a habit of nursing to sleep. I enjoyed those quiet moments watching her nursing at my breast and now I’m going to do it guilt-free and happily every night! (Besides, it the eeeeasiet way to put my baby to sleep 😀 hassle-free! And she’s out like a light!)
This is great! I think also having more than one kid definitely taught me there is no one perfect right way to do anything because every kid is so different! 🙂 What worked with my son never seemed to work with my daughter with sleep, eating, everything..!! Great article!
I love this, thank you!
This made me cry. I’ve nursed my 7 month old to sleep since birth, and have felt guilty because everyone has told me that he’s going to be a “titty baby”, and I need to detach him or he’ll never be independent, etc. They aren’t just talking about his sleep patterns, or things that won’t matter in a few years, they’re talking about his LIFE. So thank you for this. I feel like you just kicked their asses for me. <3
I just stumbled upon this at it was linked on Facebook. But as a mom of 4 children all breastfeed, and breastfeed “to sleep” I appreciate this post. All of my children had different sleep patterns and some were easily more able to fall asleep by themselves than others. But all of my children are just FINE and they all eventually slept through the night. Thanks, Mother of an 8 yr old, 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 4 months.
I wanted to thank you so much for writing this article! I’m a first time Mom of a 3yr old boy and I too struggled with his sleep. Let’s just say he was a horrific sleeper, 2 yrs of pure hell for me and my husband! I excessively read all the books while I was pregnant and came to the conclusion that a strict schedule was the “right” way to go. I would never give my son a bottle to sooth him to sleep, didn’t allow him to fall asleep completely as I rocked him, blah blah blah. None of those stupid rules ever worked for us. He never slept through the night, waking 2 to 3 times and his naps were 45 minutes to an hour during the day if I was lucky.The one thing i am happy about is that me nor my husband ever had the heart to do the cry out method. It tore our hearts in two listening to him whaling, when all he wanted was to be close to mommy or daddy. I even felt guilty that we weren’t strong enough to let him cry his little heart out….how ridiculous is that!! We finally decided to let him sleep with us for awhile, felt guilty about that too, but he slept awesome. Then he just slowly grew out of it and was ok being in his room by himself. He now sleeps very good, he gives me 2.5 hr naps everyday and sleeps mostly through the night, only waking if he has a nightmare or misses us and that only happens 1 to 2 times per week. If I could I do it all over again I would completely do it differently allowing my son to tell me what he needs, when he needs it, and would definitely use milk for soothing. I now tell all expecting moms to throw out the books and listen to your child’s needs….follow your own parental instincts and as hard as it may be let the guilt go…ps. I’m still working on that part! Thanks again for the REAL truth!
My first one began sleeping through the night at 2 1/2 weeks (her choice, not mine)–the first time it happened, when I woke at 5 am and realised she hadn’t been up to nurse, I leaped from my bed and grabbed her out of the cradle to make sure she was still breathing — she opened her drowsy little eyes and gave me a puzzled look. “Um… Mom…do you have a problem?”
She slept all night every night till 7 months old. Then for one week, she woke up once at night to nurse, fell back to sleep promptly and slept till morning. At the end of that week, she got her first tooth. Then she went back to sleeping all night. She is 33 years old now and as far as I know still sleeps like a rock. She is also hearing-impaired, and may have been so from birth– maybe sounds from the room didn’t disturb her at night when she was a baby? Maybe that’s why she slept so well? Who will ever know?
BTW, none of my other kids ever did this.
Speaking of expectations: I also had one child (not the same one) who daytime-potty-trained herself at 14 months and was sleeping dry through the night long before she was 2 years old. It occurred to me that I was glad this wasn’t my first child. If she had been, I would have had completely unrealistic expectations for the others who came after her.
How sad that it seems all new mums around the world have the same stories to tell about awful “professionals” who have judged them and made then feel bad when really we should be told we’re doing a good job!
Thank you so much for this. I’ve endured the looks when people find out I nurse and rock my 5 month old to sleep, even though I point out he has his whole life to sort out his sleeping patterns. Why can’t people just let babies be babies anymore?!?
I agree with the library speaker.. Yes for some, rocking their bubs to sleep works fine but for other parents their baby can completely rely on you to fall asleep EVERY SINGLE time. My 6yr old brother still cannot self sooth himself to sleep because my mum let him fall asleep on her from day one… I too rocked my first baby to sleep and it got to the point where i could not socialize with family and friends because i was always in the back room rocking my boy to sleep, every time he woke i would have to spend another hour rocking him to sleep.. I could not have this going on any longer.. At 5months I researched the pick up put down routine and worked wonders for me. Yes it can be a hard process hearing your baby cry but after 3nights my son put himself to sleep on his own and, slept through the night.. He is now 3 and still has 2 or 3 hour naps daily and sleeps 12hrs straight at night without any problems at all.. I personally do not want him being like my 6year brother who is up extremely late because he just cannot put himself to sleep because he never has learnt the skill himself. I now have a 3month old girl and yes she gets cuddles and rocks but i make sure she is put into cot awake, She now knows how to sleep anywhere without any help.
I do also understand some parents and bub are happy with nursing to sleep and works out perfect for them in the end.
Thanks so much for this post. I co-sleep with my 3 month old bub and sometimes rock him to sleep, and pretty much put him down to sleep anywhere (safe, of course) and at any time that I believe he’s sleepy. People ask me what my routine is sometimes, and I tell them that I just let him sleep when he’s tired and he seems to sort himself out. I do get the odd few people who think I should be more structured with him, but I’m just so glad to know that I’m not doing the wrong thing by just tuning into his body clock…
I have quite a few more months before I am a mom but I did just read Bringing up Bebe… It sounds like France as a country has discovered the secret to getting babies to sleep through the night at 3 months… But interestingly they just call ir commonsense–which, for them, is gradually getting the infants on a feeding schedule of 8, 12, 4 & 8, to coincide w the adults… No middle of the night nursing… It all Certainly probably sounds easier said than done but I intend to try out the advice in the book bc it sounds like French kids and parents are happy, well-rested & well-behaved! Just thought Id mention it in case anyone else is interested in a fun well-written book w solid advice!
Mom of two here. Did the full bed-sharing attachment thing for baby #1. She was not an easy baby like yours and woke every 2 hours until 20 months, when I finally weaned her. My postpartum depression was made so much worse by the nightmare years of no sleep. Baby #2, I did the same until this past July, when at 15 months I just couldn’t take it anymore. He is a real screamer and it took more and more work to get him to sleep. I was losing my frigging mind. Hired a sleep doula. Did what she said (hide in the room and shush). We have ups and downs with illness and teething, but her method always works and now I sleep. Minimum 6 hours in a row most nights. Sometimes 8 or even 9. My only regret is that I didn’t hire that sleep doula with #1 when she was around 9-10 months old! I now enjoy my children much, much more rather than surviving every day clinging on by the fingernails. Mamas, if you are going crazy, you need to find a solution that works for both of you, and that may mean some supported crying. If so, I’m here to tell you that you are still a good mom, maybe even a better one once you get some sleep!! <3
Loved this article – particularly the idea of not watching a clock to determine when your baby is tired and to trust your own parenting instincts. Everyone is different so I’m not sure why some professionals and parents feel the need for everyone to do things exactly the same way or prescribe to a “style” of parenting to validate their actions. Good read thank you
Thank you x
I have twin girls who were 12 weeks early. They never learned to nurse and except when they were tiny have always been TERRIBLE at bedtime. They are now 14 months old and I can literally count on one hand the number of times they have gone to bed without 30-60 minutes of lots of crying. They cannot seem to wind down despite a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine. They never clue me in that they are getting tired and they never get all nice and sleepy while taking a bottle/a nice bath/cuddling/whatever method one would recommend. I wanted to be the nursing/cosleeping/attached mom but it never panned out. I have 2 very busy girls who cannot be comforted at bedtime(I have tried). I don’t believe in sleep training but I’ve gone through every method in desperation to stop all the crying and nothing worked. They do sleep all night but I would trade that in heart beat for less sleep for me but less crying for them. I am SO jealous of all of you who have all these cuddling/nursing/bonding moments. They don’t exist here :/
I’m so sorry Christine, I feel like I can hear your sadness – it is so horrible hearing your baby cry 🙁 If all of the comments on this post have shown me anything, it’s that everyone seems to have their own sleep issues to bear – babies that can’t nurse or moms that can’t breastfeed, babies that are up every hour and babies that sleep all night but never nap. They test us, these wily babies! I hope that with your awesome consistency and routine (which I am so envious of, because creating routine is one of my biggest stuggles) your girls will eventually come to know what bedtime is, and be able to sit and snuggle and drift off to sleep. Fingers crossed. xoxo
I am a Mum of two boys. My first is now almost 6 and from birth he was a terrible sleeper. I tried every single thing the books, professionals, well meaning family and friends told me to do to get him to sleep. I always felt guilty that I would give in once it all failed and cuddled him to sleep. From when he was 2 and a half, he finally slept through the night, in his own bed, without cuddles and stayed asleep for 12 hours. It just worked itself out. Our second is 2 and is completely different and is not one to cuddle, he loves his own space and can be put in a cot and in a short time will be fast asleep. After two years, I am still surprised that he goes to sleep this way because of the issues we had with our first. I have come to realise that the way your baby sleeps has nothing to do with how you are or what you do, but what your baby needs. Looking back, I wish I had of just enjoyed the cuddles with my first instead of trying to change the baby he was because now that my second is not a cuddly baby, I miss those cuddles even more. Thank you for your post. I never reply to posts but often want to but this post I felt the need to share my experiences.
I love you. THANK YOU. That is all.
[…] Here are some lies people tell you about infant sleep. […]
Thank you. I always did what i wanted and never conformed to what a book saif. They dont know me and they most certainly dont knoe my child. I have been very against book parents and how they rely on these books to put their children to sleep and what to eat when to do this and that. Its a journey and a bloody wonderful one at that and yes its a steep learning curve. I went back to work full time when my darling son was 6 weeks old. I tried controlled crying and hated it. I felt more comfortable rocking him to sleep and even though i wasnt there for him during the day this was my bonding time with him. We just need to roll with the punches and if thats a 2am wake up call so be it, embrace the essence of a child and them wanting u at these times. They are only little once. Relax and enjoy and do what u want for ur child not what someone has told u in a book. Every child is different. Thank u again for such a great read!!!!!
We are very hard on ourselves!
This article is wonderful! I agree every child is wonderfully unique and sleep is no different! The quest to understand human nature always baffles me.
My Ella is 5 and has always been a good sleeper! She did express a small period at age 3 more behavioural to fight bedtime but she always enjoys and seeks sleep:) my son, Gavin, is 3 and very different. Sleeps well but wants to know mom or dad are close. He wakes up once a night and just wants a warm kiss, hug, pat, “I love you” he just wants that 1 second reassurance I guess you’d call it and I worry about that. But love it all the same because I know soon enough he will be a teen and not seek that. We try our best!
I nursed for a total of 5 years with my 3 children and nursed them the evil way…. To get to sleep! My oldest went to college this year while one is getting ready to graduate from high school and my baby is starting! Ugggh!! I would not take back one night of the precious time I had with each one of them. Academically, they are all three well beyond their years, social experts and always been very healthy. They did not have 1 drop of formula! I totally agree with you about all the benefits of nursing and being a parent all the time. I have taught kindergarten for over 15 years and let me tell you, if we had more parents like you…. We would have a much better future. I call it PPP. (Piss poor parenting). It seems as if people are just looking for the quick fix and I don’t believe there is ever a quick fix for raising children. I applaud your views and want you to know I say”bullshit” under my breath alot especially when it comes to what is best for my kids and my sweet kindergarteners! I wish sometimes I could say it boldly to some people who think they make the best choices for children!! Thanks for the message:)
At Last!!!! Someone who does not make a villain out of the mother who would rather cuddle her baby to sleep then listen to them screaming and crying at night. I tried sleep training with my first child and he on a couple of occasions became distressed and threw up in his cot. After that I ignored what everyone said and nursed him to sleep. I would rather my child know that I was there for him when he needed me then make him feel that Mum doesn’t care. With my second child I began nursing him to sleep but now he prefers to be put in a cot with dummy, teddy and a special cushion, that was his choice and I am happy to support it 🙂
Stuff what the “experts” say. I was exaclty the same I co slept and nursed to sleep from day 1. 2 years later my son goes to sleep no fuss in his own room without a bottle… we didnt use any evasive techniques everything just happened when he was ready… sure there were nights I wished I had put him in his room earlier or given him a dummy but thats parenting. Constantly learning. Hes teaching me as much as im teaching him. I couldnt care less if anyone thinks I did it wrong because end of the day him and I are happy.
YES. Absolutely. Well written. Thank you.
I don’t know… I think, we need to feel we’re doing something about it, trying to fix it, trying to make it better by going to these workshops and seminars and paying consultants and seeing pediatricians… Because the alternative of just accepting and adapting that children sleep is erratic, seems to just, maybe, um, I dunno, remove ALL HOPE from the depressed, sleep-deprived mother who has begun to question everything from her love for her children, her husband, her worth… Because frankly, walking up between 8-16 times every night for 17 months until our 2nd child was born (yes, we were that crazy to have another) adding a few more night-wakings, and just accepting that it was normal, might kill us (read that in italics).
And so I spoke with my pediatrician, and my friends and paid TWICE for a sleep consultant (…) because I needed hope that there might be a solution. And I wanted to hear it all and try different methods and even lose money over it because losing any more sleep was barely, barely acceptable anymore.
So mothers, don’t worry, babies sleep is erratic, nothing is “normal”, but don’t stop trying to get them to sleep through the night because someone told you that it is normal if they never sleep through the night. You need sleep too, so you can be a better mom during the high interactive parts of your babies day (or for going back to work – a whole other challenge further affected by lack of mommy sleep).
And mot of all, HAVE HOPE!!
I think that is SUCH an important point, and one I hadn’t really considered – the need to feel some sense of agency over this hugely uncontrollable process. Thank you for adding that! And yes, I totally agree with you. I think you can accept your child’s sleep while still working on ways to make it better.
Absolutely, and what I found is that each child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. We have to keep trying new things. I let my babies cry… but for no more than 10 mins. Some just like to cuddle, but I learned that the hard way. I live with deep regret I ever listen to the legalistic “older” mom who told me to let my baby cry no matter how long it took. Ugh. It sickens and saddens me. There were times when I had 4 kids under 5 years old that the baby had to be trained to cry him/herself to sleep. But within reason. AND, with the understanding that the baby wasn’t in a growth spurt (3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months… generally speaking though, I had one who did it every month… you just nurse every hour for 2-3 days and then get them back on a livable routine), or wasn’t in pain some way. or wet, or stinky, or cold.
Sing it, Sister. I also stopped reading things on Mommy networks about sleep regressions and Ferber methods and all sorts of other delightful bullshit. Unless I;m looking for material to comment on for my own blog.
Anyway, I’m two babies in and they sleep through the night. I couldn’t breastfeed, but let them fall asleep on the bottle or rocked them to sleep. I don’t know what a Ferber is and I doubt I could train my dog to do anything , let alone a toddler or a four month old.
We do what works, and don’t do what doesn’t work. It’s that simple.
love your article, I breastfed my both boys to sleep. Now that they are teenagers they both sleep like logs!!! They never wake or woke up at night and I just treasure every moment I devoted to them 🙂
Thank you for writing this. I can say with honesty that is is the best article I’ve read about sleep (and I’ve read a lot!)
Thank you so much for your kind words, Donna!
Love this article! My experience with my son was similar. He slept fine when I nursed him to sleep. Everyone told me I was creating a monster and that he would never sleep on his own. He weaned himself by 10 months and now at 15 months still sleeps 12 hours at night and a few during the day. I lay him down awake and he blows me a kiss and says “night night.” I agree– I wish I could go back and enjoy those precious moments when he fell asleep nursing in my arms. I spent so many of those nights worrying that I was teaching him something wrong. With baby #2 I vow to follow my own mommy rules. I think they are called instincts and i have grown more confident that mine are pretty damn good.
Thank you so much for this! I bf my almost 1 yr old daughter for 10 months and almost every night, she fell asleep on me after a feed. For the last couple of months when that was her only feed of the day, it was utter bliss for my partner and I to sit down for half an hour and just be quiet while she drifted off into the most peaceful sleep. But I was also made to feel the FEAR that I was ruining her for doing this! Utter rubbish! I am sick of all the ridiculous opinions coming from “the experts” on how we should be raising our babies and taking advantage of vulnerable first time parents. All the advice we need is to exercise your intuition (like all the time!) and use your common sense… Listen to your baby! They’ll tell you what they need/ like/ want much better than any “expert!”
If only I had read this 10 months ago…. You are brilliant for being so honest, I agree totally! Thankyou
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Wow! Amazing! I love this. Where were you when my son was born? Of course I type this and my 4 year old walks down the stairs at 9:05 pm. I think he is having growing pains. I still hear comments like you need to let him sleep on his own from my husband. There are nights where he just wants to cuddle. Other nights he crashes quickly. I find nothing wrong. He sleeps through the night. Thank you for your honest to God post. More moms need to read this.
As a mother of 5 kids, I can tell you right now this is fantastic!!!! You go girl!! You are on the right track. Fight for your baby and for yourself. Buck the system!! My one BIG issue with the medical world today is that they ether ignore or completely crush the all natural, completely NORMAL mother-instinct! 13 years ago, I took my first baby, a 3 week old son, to see the longest practicing pediatrician in the USA. She had been practicing for 70 years and at the time was 102 years old. Yes, you read that right 1.0.2.! Her name was Dr Leila Denmark (she died at 113 or 14). She told me to trust my instinct. She said: “God gave this baby to you honey, not me! When this baby is sick you are going to bring him to me and I’m going to ask you what you think is wrong, and I will tell you what I think is wrong, then we will discuss it, then I’m gonna ask you “Mama, what do you think we should do about it?”….She saw my rather incredulous look because I told her that she was the Dr and would know what was best…. what she said next has gave me the biggest confidence boost a young, new mother can have…. She said: “This is your baby, honey, I’m just a Doctor. I will never know and understand this child like you do. There is nothing that can replace the instinct you have for the care of this child. A mother cow instinctively knows how to care for her young, why wouldn’t you? Trust that natural instinct. God gave you a brain, honey, use it!!”. WOW! Every Dr I have encountered since has treated me like dirt if I didn’t follow their advice to the “T”. For example, ALL my babies slept on their tummies. I thought it was the stupidest thing to have a baby rick suffocation by aspirating their spit-up because they were on their back. Dr Denmark thought so too and taught me how to prepare the crib so it was a safe environment for tummy sleep. She told me she suspected the child obesity issue was because the babies were being put to sleep on their backs, where the plate at the back of the skull would press on the area of the brain that regulated hunger, and it would misshape the head. “Tummy Babies” have nice round heads” she said… and guess what!? all my kids have nice round heads, not the “pointed” skulls or flat round faces of back babies. Trust you instinct!!
Thank you so much for this! I also hear how I am harming my baby by nursing him to sleep for maps and nighttime! I struggle Especially with naps… do I put him down at let him cry hi.self to sleep? ….or nurse him to sleep?!? UGH!?! It is horrible all the bs you can read or hear… thank you again and i will continue to nurse to sleep!!
Thank you. I spent years feeling guilty about nursing my babies to sleep. I just did it quietly and didn’t tell a soul. My children are now 14 and 6. My youngest nursed until almost 4… nursing himself to sleep every night. At a certain point too he started sleeping through the night… to the point of 12 straight hours. For his first 6 months he slept on my tummy only rolling him to my side if he needed to nurse. I had a lot of practices that felt right that I didn’t tell my doctor because she always made me feel wrong. Now at 6 if he wakes to use the bathroom he takes care of things, comes out to kiss me one more time and goes right back to sleep. Mom’s know best.
Let me add my name to the list of people who are “just one person” reached by you.
My seven month old daughter is sleeping well, always has, and I’m in my forties, so I’m perhaps a little less susceptible than some to attempts to thrust unreasonable rules upon us… but I’ve had my moments when I’ve thought I ought to try to break the habit of nursing to sleep. The reality is, though: she sleeps well, I sleep well, and I do love those moments. She sleeps through the night sometimes, but mostly wakes once or twice. It’s good to be reminded that this is a perfectly normal pattern, and it feels good (I’m lucky to be able to) to adjust to her needs rather than try to adjust her to mine.
Sometimes I listen to her breathing, sometimes I wish I was downstairs at the party, sometimes I text with my husband (who is usually at work), and sometimes I nod off with her. I’m going to remember your post, and your readers’ responses, the next time I think I should make a change because someone else thinks I should despite she and I both being happy.
I think the problem is that most women refuse to give themselves up to motherhood. Everything must fit into a schedule, “baby eats everyday 4 hours, baby poops everyday, baby naps twice a day, baby sleeps through the night”. Not only is this impossible to achieve with an on demand breastfeeding baby, it leads to feelings of inadequacy when the baby doesn’t “do what it’s supposed to”. Simply accept that babies are as unpredictable as every other human on the planet and go with it.
We have nursed both our kids to sleep since they were born and have fell into attachment parenting. Both kids now 3 and 1.5yrs are still comforted to sleep and start in their own beds.During the night daddy ends up sleeping with our son and I with our daughter. Right now it works for us, we will look at changing it when we start getting frustrated 🙂
At times it’s annoying but I appreciate now and I’m sure even more when they are older 🙂
The best advice I ever got was, “Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are committed to do that forever.” When you and your husband get frustrated, it will be MUCH harder to change. Good luck with that.
Outstanding article, exceptionally well written! Totally agree, I ditched all the hype myself and did it my way. It’s challenging, it’s a roller coaster at times … But for the most part it’s a joy!!!! I’m all for empowered parenting, where sensible responsible citizens of the world are trusted to follow their natural parental instincts.
Thank you for a nicely written and really fun to read post, with a lot of truth in it! I feel bad for you for having had to go through that unnerving round of introductions and then being scolded at, made to feel guilty …
As a sleep consultant (but one without an exorbitant income … 😉 ) I offer an approach that is gentle and accepts nursing, holding, rocking, … to sleep as non-spoiling sleep aids. At the heart of my work is guiding parents to observe their baby (to understand what is going on), finding out what they and their baby need, and how to either accept the current situation or else work in improving things.
It’s a fact that many parents feel relieved once I tell them that it is OK to nurse and hold and in any way help their little ones sleep. It’s also true that many are grateful to find out how they can gently guide their baby towards a little more independence when it comes to sleeping, without any crying involved and without any harsh or cold-turkey weaning from anything.
Because for some, no matter what they do (nurse, hold, schedule, no schedule, sit through growth spurts, teething, separation anxiety, …) sleeping is a nightmare and they become desperate with sleep deprivation. Then I’d say guided sleep help has its value, as long as it does not force any kind of training.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that yes by all means parents should feel empowered – and not be made to feel guilty! – to follow their instincts and accept their baby’s development etc. But also that those parents who in spite of that still struggle with their baby’s sleep, should not be judged for getting support.
Long story short, thank you for your post, it’s great to see how it empowers many moms here and helps them feel better about how they do things, brilliant!
Oh, Heidi, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it to sound as though I was trashing your entire profession. I’m also sorry that you don’t make an exborbitant income because you sound really nice and you probably deserve it 🙂
I agree with you, “…parents should feel empowered – and not be made to feel guilty! – to follow their instincts and accept their baby’s development etc. But also that those parents who in spite of that still struggle with their baby’s sleep, should not be judged for getting support.”
I think I could have expressed myself better, because a few people have come away with the anti-sleep training message, and I truly only wanted to rant against the imposition of sleep training when it wasn’t needed, or the misconceptions about the nature of baby sleep. There is absolutely nothing wrong with parents asking for help or trying to improve their baby’s sleep.
I had no idea that this post would blow up so big, and I was writing with the assumption that the small group reading knew my views on sleep training, as I had discussed them in prior posts. A good reminder to be more clear in the future!
Thank you so much for the kind, respectful reply.
Hi Madeleine, I only saw your reply now but still wanted to thank you for replying, at all, and so kindly. Definitely no need to apologize, you wrote a really nice piece and I didn’t take it badly (I guess my toes are pretty short as they say, so it’s difficult to step on them :)).
You summarize it nicely with “only wanted to rant against the imposition of sleep training when it wasn’t needed, or the misconceptions about the nature of baby sleep”.
So really, no hard feelings at all, on the contrary I can only applaud it how you manage to write a rant saying exactly and freely what you think, without sounding disrespectful or judgmental.
And it’s indeed special how “big” it has become, it shows again how deeply emotional the issue sits with so many parents.
Thank you for this great post! It’s so true. I’m pregnant with #5 (!!!) and have been through all different sleep struggles and dark times. Here’s my biggest lesson that applies to all things parenting, not just sleep – we do what we do until it doesn’t work anymore. I have basically nursed all of my kids to sleep and coslept until it stopped working. My oldest and youngest both coslept until about 6 months, at which point I realized they were so concerned with finding the boob all night they weren’t sleeping well, so I quit cosleeping but still nursed to sleep until at least 12 months (the youngest is still going at 16 months). My second was a horrible sleeper from birth and even cosleeping didn’t help. I had to wean him at 9 months because I was 3 months pregnant with his brother and nursing was causing severe cramping. So he was probably the most aggressively “sleep trained” and now at 6 is probably the least confident of all of my kids. My third was a great sleeper and we loved cosleeping and nursing to sleep…until he realized his older brother didn’t do that andhe self weaned and didn’t want to sleep out of his crib anymore at 10 months.
The point is, all kids are different and the same technique will certainly not work for each one. But following our instincts and doing what works for our family (until it doesn’t work) SHOULD be the focus of so called experts.
Amen!!! This is great! I have to keep reminding myself with my 7 1/2 month old that so far, he has let us know when he is ready to start or stop something. We just have to be paying attention. There was no weaning off the swaddle- one night he just wouldn’t have it and I popped him in a sleep sack and he slept the whole night. Three weeks ago, he let me know that he didn’t want to nurse at noon any more. He’s let us know when he is ready for food, and we’ve just realized he wants to try a cup. I’m sure nursing to sleep will be the same way. He’ll let me know when he doesn’t want that any more…
As moms, we need to support one another regardless of our choices that we make as parents. Being a mom is the hardest job to do without any training. I can remember the day we took our first child home from the hospital thinking that they must be crazy to send this little baby home with me:). Lol!
My husband and I have four children-4,7,10, and 11. Our life is crazy most of the time but I love it. All of the children are amazing–I’m their mom and I have to say that but put them in any situation and they rock it. A woman approached me in a store on Saturday to compliment my children! They do great in school–the older two are straight a students, one is a competitive gymnast. I am so proud of the children that we have raised.
It is our job to raise independent and respectful children that can contribute to society. How we feed our children, how we put them to sleep should not matter to anyone but our own families. Many times people do offer advice on how to help children sleep because parents talk about the lack of sleep.
As a teacher, I cannot tell you which children were breast or bottle fed, who were rocked or cried it out. I can see which children were not loved and given a set of expectations to follow. And I teach fifth grade! Love and parenting is what matters! What all these moms have in common is that they want what is best for their child so chances are good that regardless of what “style” we use, our kids will turn out great!
Oh, and not that it matters but I am sure you are wondering–I sleep trained my kids. It worked for my family but not for everyone!
Amen! By the time they’re in school nobody gives a crap…. and there’s research that backs up what you’ve said…. there are no measurable differences between kids who’ve been sleep trained and those who haven’t.
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Good for you. I personally don’t leave anyone I care about crying in a dark room. It’s kind of a thing for me. I nursed my son for 3 years and always to sleep when he was a baby and guess what – he went to kindergarten just fine. Now he’s 12 and very well adjusted and he knows that we take care of the people we care about, and he’ll never be left on his own to cry until he blacks out at any age.
Wow, who would leave their baby to cry until they black out? Doesn’t sound like sleep training to me….
I fall into both camps. I am a midwife, parent educator and child health nurse, however, only a midwife before having my first child. I had my first child in London, travelled to Australia via a stopover in Thailand and Hong kong and travelled across Australia to visit relatives after living overseas for a few years. After having my 2nd child, we moved to Africa for 2 years, with 2 round the world trips in the middle and at the end of our stay. My first two children travelled with us through all of these moves. I breast fed on demand and fed them to sleep. The first one woke every 2 hours, which did really tire me out but, I got her up, gave a feed and she went back to sleep. The same for my 2nd. They could never get into a routine due to our travelling, but I never had a baby that cried for hours on end as I gave them what they wanted. However, after doing parent education traning between my 2nd and 3rd child, I realised that I was feeding every time they cried and that they do have tired signs and perhaps I may have had a better sleep if I had have put them to bed when they showed tired signs, but, it did work and as long as mum and baby are happy, that is the main thing.
This is such an important message! Babies are just little people and everyone is different from the next. Telling new mothers that they should be working towards the goal of a baby sleeping through the night is setting many of us up for feeling like a failure.
Some babies will not sleep through the night! In fact, a lot of them won’t. I don’t know why we are not telling each other this? Surely it’s better to just accept this and get on with it, than to torture yourself into trying to reach an unattainable goal.
My first baby slept like a dream, he barely even moved from 7pm until 7am from about 6 weeks onward. I was sooooo proud of myself, clearly I was a superior parent! Until my second child was born. I did everything the same but -shock!- she woke many times per night. So I researched and tried it all but still she woke up!
Then I got it… It didn’t matter what I did. It wasn’t my excellent skills that got my son to sleep well. Nor was it my fault my daughter did not. They are little people and not all of them will sleep in 12 hour stretches at night (same goes for adults, right)
EVENTUALLY your child will sleep all night, most of the time. But as a parent, you will probably never sleep as deeply as you used to before kids anyway. Might as well get used to it!
I like this one….finally the truth….I’m so tired and I slept on the floor last night Joslynn (4year old) pulling the I’m scared past few nights and Ronan (7 month old) waking up in the night more frequently (likely going to pop out a few more teeth soon). I wanted disparately to just sleep so I put the comforter on the floor shut all the doors and moved all items out of Ronan reach and had Joslynn and Ronan on the floor with me…no rolling off my bed which is pretty high off the ground wrong of me maybe but they slept I slept and even if they woke I knew they would not get harmed so sore back/ ribs for me but good sleep….to be young and able to sleep in any position without getting sore ohhh those were the days.
I never comment on blogs. NEVER. BUT I just had to say thank you for this post! I was blessed with a baby that has been sleeping all night since 7 weeks. She is now 6 months and has slept all night every night since the first time. I know I am one lucky mama and I dread the night when K wakes every hour – because I know it’s coming. She is my second, I have been there before. I love this post because you give me something to share with my friends who are constantly asking me for “tips” to get their babies to sleep like mine. I did nothing different from them. I am not a better mom than they are. The only thing I am is lucky. REAL LUCKY to have a child that loves her sleep as much as her mom lol My sister has called me crying because she wants her baby to sleep like K does. Then she gets upset at me when I tell her that I can’t make D sleep like that – only D can decide to sleep like this when she is ready! When my kids are teenagers i’m fairly certain this awesome sleep will bite me in the a$$ and i’ll be that mom messaging her friends asking for tips on how to make her teenagers listen and not be pains in her a$$.
And this is why when my kids were babies (they are now 13 and 9), I absolutely, positively, categorically REFUSED to read anything and everything about child-rearing from so-called experts. And ladies, just FYI, it doesn’t end. Now I get emails from some Parent University organization encouraging me to go to seminars to find out things like “how the teenage brain works.” OMG, are you kidding me? Just love your kids and be a parent. Follow your instincts, trust your gut, and don’t let others make you second guess yourself.
As someone who grew up with a literal baby guru for a mother (she was well known in my hometown just by word of mouth and never advertised herself). She only helped those who sought her out for help. I developed the same skill set from her. Every baby is different. It’s not just one size fits all. You can’t generalize or set stereotypes on adults, so what makes babies any different? They are human beings too. What works for one may not work for another. Who decides this crap anyway? Who decides what’s the “right” and “only” way to magical baby sleep?!
I am now a mother of a six month old. I haven’t bothered to read a single parenting book. I have a perfectly healthy, happy baby that sleeps for 12 hours at night, and I don’t need any “experts” to tell me that I have to do it a certain way.
My mom worked with new moms as individuals never assuming what worked for one child would work for the next. You have to look for what works for the individual. It’s that simple. I totally agree with your blog.
Hey new moms, stop looking for what society tells you is “right” for your child. If it works for you and feels right for you then don’t let some stranger guilt trip you into to doing it any differently. It’s your baby not theirs.
I also want to just berate those with the critical side glances in public. We all know those strangers, the ones out in public that eye ball you for not doing something the way they did with their own kid, having a baby doesn’t make you an expert on someone else’s baby and neither does a degree. It’s an simple as knowing your child and figuring out what works. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.
I like how you refute the opinion totally opposite of yours and then in the end you try to soften it and say “Oh it is ok to do whatever works for your baby/you…” I call bullshit. First, you may have felt vindicated after nursing your baby to sleep for the first year of her life, but what are you going to do when she is 3? Are you going to keep nursing her? Give her a sippy cup full of milk that will rot her teeth because you don’t brush her teeth in the middle of the night? The best advice I ever got was, “Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are committed to do that forever.” So if you want to FOREVER nurse your baby to sleep, run into her room when she wakes up at 3 am and soothe her, and let her use you as her “woobie” then by all means continue. But I am here to tell you from experience, it is harder to keep a 4 year old in her bed than an 18th month old. OH! And not to add salt to the wound, but you hear all the complaints about millennials? Where do you think the coddling started? So if you want to perpetuate the frustrations of generations and continue to raise people with delusions of grandeur, tendency for being increasingly narcissistic, confident in abilities they do not posses, and need constant validation…then by all means continue to soothe your kiddo to sleep.
I think you are being a little drastic. I myself nursed my son to sleep till 11 months, at which time I weaned him. And I didn’t give him bottles to replace the night time nursing and he learned to sleep without it. So how can you make a statement like “FOREVER” nurse your baby to sleep? That doesn’t even make sense. If you read the article properly she did say that other people can put her to sleep and also that O has fallen asleep on her own just lying in her crib.
Also your statement “So if you want to perpetuate the frustrations of generations and continue to raise people with delusions of grandeur, tendency for being increasingly narcissistic, confident in abilities they do not posses, and need constant validation…then by all means continue to soothe your kiddo to sleep.”
I’d like to know what kind of statistical evidence or documented proof you have of such a RIDICULOUS statement. I’ve never heard of such rubbish in my life. You are mad at her for just saying how she feels…..who are you to say she is wrong and YOU happen to know what’s right? Give me a break!
yeah, obviously that commenter hasn’t met the awesome, compassionate people who were attachment-parented if she’s going to make overarching statements like that (more likely, she does know them, but doesn’t know how they were raised). also, her opinion doesn’t coincide with the best & latest science that shows that the more affection you pour into your child, the greater their capacity for human connection throughout life (and that those deprived end up with attachment disorders—the inability to relate or empathize). her comment came off sounding so cold and mean, in fact, that i don’t suspect she understands how deep human connection can run, or how beautiful it is, let alone that it’s what most of us live for.
giving children your undivided attention & sincerely listening, cuddling when they need affection, demonstrating that someone will always be there for them in their time of need—and just overall choosing love over fear—sets them up to choose friends and mates who treat them well, and teaches them that’s how you treat others. it’s compassion 101. people raised with endless love, and grow up with plenty to give—show me a world full of folks like this, that’s the world i’d choose to live in. luckily i made my own mini world of loving, tender, compassionate folks, from my spouse to my friends, and it’s lovely over here. 😉 this is certainly not the selfish/narcissistic crowd (anyhow, those traits are a reaction to insecurity, something well-loved people are LESS likely to grapple with).
As a parent to an 18mth old girl and a 3.5 yo boy, I have just one mantra… do what works for you and your baby. My son slept 10 hours a night from age 8 weeks – nice you might say BUT he only slept a total of 10 hours during the day in his entre first 4 months. The only whay life progressed what to strap him into the sling and get on with the cleaning, shopping, dog walking – that was the only place he would rest! I rocked him to sleep at the start of every one of those nights. He would wake gurgle and drift off again – as long as it was dark! At age 1 we gave him a sippy cup, then 2 then 3 as he would wake in the night and ask for water. At age 18 months he hit the usual separatation anxiety phase and I slept on the floor of his room most nights for about 3 months. After that I did a brief stint of controlled crying – terrible but fixed it in 2 x 25 minute sessions (we both cried!!). At age 2 we toilet trainined and replaced the now 4 sippy cups with a “blankie” – now 3 blankies, humpty and a shark backpack he is very attached to. he sleeps through the night – 99% of the time.
My daughter – totally different. Did not want cuddles. If she was crying because she was tired and you tried to soother/cuddles/rock her she would scream louder and stronger! Put her in the cot and she’d be out in 2 minutes. Basically we figured in the end she just liked the noise! apparently gorwing up around a 2YO means you get used to noise and if there isn’t any, you make your own. She slept 12 hours at the pretty average 3 month mark – but she was a good day sleeper – cot, car, pram. Anywhere with noise and she’d be out. That lasted A year – now with every new word (an there is a lot) there comes a sleepless night – maybe just one wake up, maybe 3. On average she sleeps through 75% of the time.
Moral of the storey – there is no formula. No set plan. JUST DO WHAT WORKS. Keep it real and if controlled crying is what works for you great – if rocking wokrs – also great.
The thing is that once your baby can talk and you can explain why they need to sleep it gets alot better. Before that – roll with the sleepless punches like mums have been doin gfor centuries. Support each other without judgement like mums have been doing for centuries. Worry less and love more and soon you’ll realise that everyone is better off!!
Thank you SO much for this. I “could” have written the exact same schpiel about my experience, but I didn’t and I love how eloquently and honestly you have communicated what I’ve been wanting to say. I still nurse my son to sleep at 20 months, at bedtime, when he wakes in the night and at naptime. I am exhausted and do honestly hope he will decide he doesn’t need my milk any more within the next few months, but I will never force him to wean because he’s reducing it in his own time and I do still love comforting and nourishing him that way. He has never had a bottle of cows milk or formula which has tied me to him and curtailed social life to some extent but I am his mother and he’s only small and he is my first priority so I can put all that on hold. I have been emotionally beaten up by UK health professionals and other parents and non-parents and social pressure to be getting more sleep and giving my son some discipline, but I will continue to parent in the way that feels completely natural to me because I believe it is important to let my son develop naturally and he is an amazing, happy, secure and adventurous human being who I am privileged to have running my life!
Oh my goodness I need to say a big sandpaper-eyed thank you!!! I am not a new mum (number 5 is 8 months) so I should know better but in my sleep deprived state I needed the reminder that a) I will sleep again at some stage in my parenting life and b) to enjoy the cuddly bits more! They’re precious! Thanks again xxx
All I can say is you rock. I get opinions handed to me left and right, and you are right on the button-listen to what is working for YOU and YOUR BABY-no one else. Thank you for sharing this amazing post-I can’t tell you about all of the momma guilt I have over EVERY decision I have ever made for my kids-there isn’t enough hours. BUT I do the best that I can with what I have and that is that. Period.
You know what I wish; I wish that I would have read this six years and three kids ago…after I had my first I was TERRIFIED of everything that I **wanted** so desperately to do but was told was “wrong” by the all the books and other “experts”. I didn’t co-sleep because I was afraid my son would be 35 and bed-sharing with his mom, no matter how much it made sense at 2am I wish I had more confidence in my instincts and did more “alternative” research and sought support from other new moms.
Fantastic post! I stopped reading books by “experts” because they never worked and just made me more stressed out. Following my instincts as a mother has been the best thing I’ve done for my son and our family.
I have six kids, the youngest is two and still transitioning to his own bed. In the past fifteen+ years of being a mom, I have learned: There’s no such thing as a “parenting expert.” There are people who have studied the average course of human development, so they can give you a general idea of what the age range is for certain milestones. But the only experts on *my children* are their own parents. Each one has needed something different. Some “slept through the night” very early on. Some went in spurts, sleeping long stretches one night, up every hour another night. As for sleeping 8-12 hours with no waking, I don’t even do that, why would I expect my babies to? I wake up powerfully thirsty at 2am some nights. If I don’t get some water, I can’t get back to sleep because my mouth feels like the Sahara desert. When my baby wakes up thirsty, who am I to deny them having that need met?
This article is awesome! And so true. I got the same thing from ‘People’ about how you shouldn’t nurse to sleep, you shouldn’t co-sleep…….blah blah blah. Hmmmm….isn’t one of the best thing we have is instincts. And we are actually just doing what that inner mom is telling us to do. Then along comes someone to tell you to ignore that and do something that seems to wrench your heart and feel completely wrong. Yay for the truth! Also just wanted to add I think the same goes for potty training. We went with allowing our son to let us know when he was ready. It was before he was 3 and then it took like 3 days. There were still messes and just like sleeping….there would be days where it seemed like we were back to square one but when I hear of moms talking about the HORROR that IS the dreaded potty training I don’t know WHO or WHAT is forcing them to force their child to learn something that they may physically not even be ready for. Why? Why do we listen to other people and think “Oh no! Said Child is almost 2 and not potty trained. When will they learn if I don’t teach them now?” I’m not pushing my opinion but again looking for that one person that needs to hear that your child will eventually potty train and will not go to school or college in diapers. All of our bodies develop at different rates and their bladder or other parts might not be ready. And you don’t have to go through all this bribing with candy/toys etc. Yes it does work for some people and that’s ok if you want to go that road but honestly if you just relax and allow your child to develop at their own rate….not comparing them to someone else’s child then you will see that this is a natural progression and you don’t have to be stressed. Just sayin. 😉
Much love to all you Mom’s out there. Keep being strong. Remember it’s YOUR baby. So raise them the way YOU feel you should.
i nursed my babies to sleep, We even did the “family” bed thing .. It took awhile for our oldest to sleep through the night, but now? he is a Marine, he sleeps any where. Our other two daughters, They are in college, they close their eyes and fall asleep on their own. hmm .. I guess i ruined them huh? I do believe that the adults need to rule the home and the baby/ children need to learn the schedule of the home. But, there is a way to do that without frustration (or as much anyway) or aggravation .. I hear your anger and I heard the same things more than 20 years ago … Sounds like you know how to raise your child better than a book … Go with the gut! (The Bible is a good manual when the gut is broken)
This was so refreshing! We just recently (2-3 weeks ago) started getting our kids in their own beds. They are 3 years old and 20 months. Up until now, they stayed with us in our bed. There are so many opinions on this stuff, but all I know is that we did what works for us, until it didn’t work anymore. Then we adapted and our kids are now doing great in their own bed & crib. I also breastfeed both my kids to sleep, but most recently my son and since he slept next to me, he would wake many times in the night for mini-snacks (this got old, but tired mommy’s do silly things sometimes). Of course, I know that he’s waking more because he knows I’m there… none-the-less, he is now doing great in his crib, sleeping through the night on his own, and we weaned the breastfeeding too. It was not my first choice to wean him at the same time as getting him to regularly sleep in his own room (taking away two things he loves at the same time), but this is the way it worked out. I just can’t agree more with every situation and every baby being different and, at least for my parenting, react to the individual situation and do what feels right for your situation. All the time that my kids breastfeed to sleep is not having an effect on them now, but the “experts” make it seem like your child will never establish healthy sleeping habits and it will negatively effect them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES!
None-the-less, thank you so much for this… its nice to have some back up!
I couldn’t disagree with you more. Putting your own personal emotional needs ahead of your childs developmental needs is ridiculous. “Well my child needs to sleep to develop properly but i’de rather watch her eyes flicker and she falls asleep on my chest.” It is a known fact that sleep deprivation in children leads to ADHD. Sleep training is a real legitimate thing that works. We have a 2 year old that currently sleeps 11 hours at night and takes a three hour nap every day on the dot. At 7:30 when it’s bed time we ask her, do you want to go to bed and she says “ok, ok”. She never wakes up at night, ever. She doesn’t have “bad weeks” or “bad months” where she wakes up every hour or two, never has. She has been sleeping through the night since she was 4 months old. Are we lucky? Do we just have a great baby? Nope, and here’s how i know why. My wife and I read numerous sleep books before she was born and formulated a sleep plan. From day one, she was put to sleep in her crib. No toys, fancy lights, vibrating machines, and no breast feeding to sleep. If you every read a sleep book they tell you why. If a baby falls asleep on your boob and wakes up in a totally different place, it’s upsetting to them. Imagine if you feel asleep in your bed and woke up in your car? How do you think you’de react? This allows you child to learn how to fall asleep all by themselves, hence the term sleep training.
Now as our child was growing up we thought, maybe we’re just really lucky. Our child is in the 98th percentile for height, 70th percentile for weight. Learns very quickly, is never moody, eats the same food we eat (we eat an organic paleo style diet). But then two of our friends had babies. One is a very forward thinking, structured type personality and the other is an emotional, fly by the seat type. We gave them the same sleepsense manual and told them to follow it and gave them some advice. What do you think happened? The first mother had her child sleeping through the night at 2 months and sleeps 12 hours at night and had two naps during the day. The other’s baby up to age of 14 months would only sleep on the mother or grandmothers chest and after the couple seperated and she had a new boyfriend, she asked us if we could help sleep train her baby. She brought her 14 month old over and she put her in the crib at 8 oclock. She screamed at the top of her lungs and one of us, not her mother went in and calmed her down every 15 minutes and put her back down. After 3 hours of this she finally went to sleep (ironically we put our baby to sleep in our walk in closet during this whole 3 hours of screaming and she slept right through it). They stuck with this and in 3 days she was sleeping through the night with no sleep props.
Now in the end I understand there are some extenuating circumstances that may not allow you to sleep train them properly. Legitimate colic, health issues, people who only have room for one bed, or have to sleep multiple children in the same room. But if you have a regular healthy baby that doesn’t sleep well, stop making excuses, stop using props, stop letting your own emtional needs rule over logic. You can change it in a few days. Be forward thinking, do research, stick to do it. Don’t react to what your baby is doing, don’t struggle, don’t do the minimum. Do the maximum. Our kids will grow up much better for it, healthier, with less developmental/learning disabilities and be happier! And don’t even get my started on how a great sleeping baby positively affects your marriage. How much easier do you think it is to get a babysitter for a baby that sleeps from 7:30 till 6:30 by just putting her in her bed?
Now I want to be clear, that i’m not trying to be mean. I’m actually one of the nicest people you’de ever meet. But if there’s one thing that gets me passionate it’s the development of my child and other children! I strongly feel that sleep training your baby is the only way to go. Don’t use tricks and props, don’t do it. Sleep train your baby, it’s never too late, it takes a few days. It will change your babies life, change your life and change your relationship with your spouse. We are in our mid 30’s, we both work full time, my wife teaches grade 8 and we have a 2 year old that I watch most days while I work from home as a home designer. My wife and I both do crossfit 5 days a week, have date nights, make most of our meals from scratch and we live way out in the country, we even get 2 hours a night to spend with just eachother So if you’re wondering how we do it? It’s because we trained our baby to sleep properly! Simple as that. The true “lies” are that you don’t need to try your hardest to sleep train your baby. Your babies sleep isn’t about you, it’s about them.
Me and my husband get all that and neither of our babies we’re sleep trained. I also know many people who sleep training didn’t work for. Doesn’t work for everyone. Perhaps your daughter would have developed the same without the training, you’ll never know. I think maybe the training should be used for older children, not babies under 1, if nothing else works. Good luck with your daughter in the future, things may change; especially when she hits her terrible 2’s or learns to say no. She may not always just go to bed when you say so.
It’s true that it doesn’t work for everyone. But I find that people who’ve tried sleep training where it didn’t work out become pretty militant with their opinions. And all these lines get drawn…. honestly, now that my baby can sleep through the night on his own I nurse him to sleep. Yup, just like all the anti-sleep trainers. Except now he sleeps 10-11 hours straight. If he wakes, we know it’s because something is wrong…. he’s sick, or teething, or whatever, and we go to him as soon as we hear him. And I’ve found he really likes someone staying with him till he falls asleep. Now that he can go back to sleep on his own if he wakes, it’s a non-issue…. I put my hand on his tummy while he holds it until he falls asleep.
And I’m sure you’re entitled to your opinion about age. But it’s just an opinion. I also sleep trained my baby at four months. It’s actually a much faster process if they’re not rolling or standing in their cribs, it’s easier on everyone. They learn so quickly. And I get comments all the time on my baby’s temperament, how happy and calm he is.
And maybe the terrible 2’s hit every baby, sleep-trained or not. But I will say that I talked to a few different friends who sleep trained some of their kids and not others, and they all said that the sleep trained ones slept better even past the toddler years. Giving a baby the gift of sleep lends to their development and their overall well-being (my son wasn’t getting anywhere near the recommended amount of sleep before we sleep trained…. I know, I logged his sleep from 6 weeks on, he got 2 to 3 hours more sleep every day after sleep training, as opposed to bedsharing before).
There’s value to the sleep training. But if it’s not for you, hey, no big deal. But for my part, I get really tired of the anti camp making like they’re more humane, more natural, more ethical, etc etc etc. I certainly wouldn’t project negative attributes on them. I don’t know why people need to tear other philosophies down to make themselves feel justified.
Wow, that was a post in itself! It sounds like you and your wife have put a lot of thought into how to best raise your child, and I think it’s clear that she’s thriving 🙂
I am not against sleep training in the slightest, but I do disagree with the idea that there is one “right” way to raise a child. I do not believe I am putting my emotional needs above my child’s – quite the opposite in fact. I feel that I am building a strong emotional bond between us by responding to her when she requires it, and making her feel secure by demonstrating that her needs will be met.
I don’t doubt that sleep deprivation is correlated to ADHD and all manner of physical and psychological remifications – as any sleep-deprived parent will tell you 😉 – but I believe most of the studies supporting this are referring to school aged children, not infants or toddlers.
“Night wakings serve to protect the infant. Night wakings have been reported as being more common in infants who bedshare with a parent, yet the wakings and bedsharing (when done safely) may actually protect the infant from SIDS (Mosko, Richard, & McKenna, 1997; Mosko, Richard, McKenna, & Drummond, 1996). The critical period for SIDS is up to 8 months of age (with the peak at 2-3 months) and night wakings may serve as a protective mechanism. In fact, if we look at parenting historically and cross-culturally, frequent night-wakings coupled with co-sleeping and breastfeeding are the norm for which we should be comparing other infant sleep behaviours.” – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201302/normal-human-infant-sleep-feeding-method-and-development
My father-in-law is Paleo as well and was always really encouraging about our parenting philosophies, particularly using carriers most of the time instead of strollers (also encouraged by Mark Sisson, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-wear-or-carry-your-baby/) and although we don’t co-sleep, that is typically encouraged by Paleo devotees as well http://www.marksdailyapple.com/co-sleeping-risks-benefits/#axzz2l9qGowZk). Our modern culture is only a few hundred years old. For centures parents responded to their childrens cries and I don’t know that there would have been any sort of sleep training in the same way as it is presented today.
But we don’t live in caveman times, mama has to work and it’s way easier to get stuff done when you don’t have to prop your eyes open with toothpicks, hence sleep training.
Yikes. I didn’t mean to write a novel back. In short, I think we disagree about some points but I did want to clarify that I’m not anti-sleep training, but I am definitely PRO letting every parent make the best choice for their child. Whatever that might look like.
ED: Sorry, that first quote is from the Psychology today article I cited in this post.
My 2.5 yr old is cuddled to sleep, she doesnt sleep through the night. She is very advanced in her talking and in her developement. It is certainly not hindered by the way she gets put to bed……. every parent, parents differently and the developement of your child is to do with a lot more than sleep. What works with one certainly doesnt work for another. I have 3 daughters and k ow how true this is.
Thank you for such an honest, candid article. I completely agree that as a first time Mom, you feel vulnerable and unsure and can be bullied into questioning your methods. My outlook is this: it’s your baby, your choices, your business. My friends and I have very different babies, with very different sleep habits & methods to help them sleep. However, rather than judge one another, we listen & encourage each other and offer advice if/ when asked to. I’d be curious how many of these sleep ‘experts’ have kids. 😉
Thank you again. If possible, I’d love to share this on my blog, The Pampered Baby.
I love that you and your friends have such a supportive group! It honestly makes all the difference. And by all means, please feel free to share the post 🙂
Sent from my iPhone
I think she also said that her group, “rather than judge one another, we listen & encourage each other”. That’s pretty much the opposite of what you’re article did. Quite a few folks here have called you out for this article pretty egregiously judging other moms…
So I thought before my little one arrived that I would have a “sleep trained baby” by the time he was 6 weeks old & that he would be sleeping in his crib based on what I was told & read. Boy was I wrong! How could I possibly let my sweet baby sleep all alone when he was so used to be with his momma for 9 months. No way! We bed share & co-sleep. I breastfeed him to sleep every night & at 9 weeks old he is sleeping 5 1/2 hours, wakes for a quick feeding, then sleeps for another 3 hours. This works for us so I am not bothered by anyone who tells me I am doing it wrong. I stumbled across a Dr.Sears book called the Baby Book & I am so glad I did because it gave me the reassurance that I am doing everything right. I know this time isn’t going to last forever so I am enjoying every sweet precious minute of it! Oh & the term “sleep trained” sounds to me like I am raising a dog! I don’t like that term at all! Great post by the way!
I absolutely agree with stay at home dad. You are yet another mother judging other mothers. Sleep training may not be for you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for someone else, every family is unique. I didn’t sleep train any of my 5 kids but they were all good sleepers. I have friends who have with great success and necessity sleep trained their children and it has absolutely been the right thing to do for themselves and their families. When you have several children you sometimes have to think of the greater good and I sincerely empathize and support anyone who has had to make tough decisions like this. It is also true that a well rested baby makes a smooth path for cognitive development. Not all babies have the skills to put themselves back to sleep at the end of a sleep cycle and eating is not the best way. I do whole heartedly support breastfeeding but not for your own gratification.
I am not sure where the breastfeeding for my own gratification comes in, but I completely agree with you that sleep training is right for some families and not for others.
The only one who can make that decision is the parents themselves – that was why I felt I needed to write this post, because there seems to be such a push to sleep train from all sides and it can get overwhelming, especially if parents are under the impression that it’s abnormal for infants/toddlers to wake several times a night and that this is somehow indicative of a failure on their part, which it isn’t (as detailed by some of the research in the linked article above.)
I hope that clears things up, No judgement here. I have friends who have sleep trained and friends that haven’t, and I have seen how hard of a decision it is to make, and it is never taken lightly.
I love this.
I’ve been in the childcare profession for over 25 years ( and a Mum)
I’ve seen countless trends of child rearing come and go ( trying most myself….)
Each child is an individual, as is the Mother and will have completely different needs to the next.
One cannot possibly bring all children up in the same way.
It’s all about bumbling our way through and the most important result is a happy and loved baby.
best line in this whole post: “For months I felt guilty, instead of content, every time I sat there with her and watched her drift off. And guys, that’s why I’m angry, because no mom should feel like that for nourishing and comforting her child.” that summarizes my first year with my first child. i HATE how other mom’s in my circle of friends pushed the need for black and white boundaries. i neglected my daughter beyond belief, listening to the lies that it was for her good. i’m sick thinking about it. i’m actually in the middle of writing a massive blog post about it, too, because other moms need to know. you were born with maternal instincts, you will not ruin your kids – love them as only you know how!
By my fourth child, I had read some literature about how important it was for Mom to get a good night’s sleep, and how even a nursing baby could be trained to sleep through by not being nursed whenever she woke up at night (“give baby a little warm water if you feel you must give them something, hold them awhile, then put them back in bed…after a few nights they’ll realise it isn’t worth it and quit waking up.”) So I tried it with that child. Baby fussed a lot day AND night, but because she fell asleep every time within a few minutes of beginning to nurse, I figured she wasn’t really hungry–didn’t that confirm the book? I figured she had colic. Or something. I figured I just needed to work at it a little longer and she would eventually come around to my schedule I had set for her.
Then at 6 week checkup I discovered she had JUST barely regained her birth weight. She was, said the doctor, starving. Talk about being horrified. I said, “Why does she fall asleep after just a few minutes of nursing?” Doctor said, “She’s exhausted from not having enough calories.” I walked out of doctor’s office pretty much determined to feed the baby every time she opened her mouth, until she started gaining weight. And she did gain weight, as soon as I began nursing her frequently enough to build up my milk supply.
Meanwhile, I had well-meaning friends and social authority figures telling me I “just didn’t have what it took” to nurse this baby; obviously I was over the hill as far as being a nursing mother (having probably worn myself out nursing three earlier babies–whose current ages ranged from 4 to 9 years old, incidentally) and, after all, I “wasn’t a cow!” So I supplemented with a bottle for awhile. Hated every minute of it. Quit as soon as I was sure baby was OK. And lost a good deal of my confidence in “knowing what was right for my own child.”
Baby and I both survived, she became a lovely, healthy child and then an adult, but it was a bitter time for me.
When I got pregnant the next time I consulted with a friend who was also a midwife. I said, “What do you think of ‘scheduling’ a baby’s feedings?” I told her what had happened the last time, and how scared I had been when I realised what I had done. She said, “Scheduling is fine if you want to experiment with it, but first things first! Make sure your milk has come in and the supply is up where it needs to be. If the supply is good, then of course you can nudge the baby into a schedule that is more convenient for you. But you can’t ‘schedule’ something that isn’t there.”
As a mom of a 21 mo. old who I nursed to sleep for almost 18 months and who still wakes up several times a night EVERY night, I have read and tried the “Cry it out” method, and The No Cry Sleep Solution and listened to all the advice I can handle. She still wakes up on average every couple hours but sometimes every 15-20 minutes and if Im not in bed with her she screams until I come to her and sometimes if its a night terror she continues to scream and wont let me touch her or go near hear until she wakes up enough to see reality…and lately she has found a new way of “self soothing” that of course involves me… and several times a night she screams “Belly!!” and has to lay head heron my mushy bare skin and feel the rhythmic movements of my breathing and the warmth of my soft chubby stomach. I recently was told “Your a sucker!” because I give into her…. When I read your article I sooo wanted to scream “YES!” Finally… someone gets it!!! Yes it does get frustrating sometimes and I get so delirious after almost 2 years of not getting a single night of more then 2-3 solid hours of sleep at a time…. BUT this is my baby, my sweet cuddly baby…shes mommys girl, and this is how she sleeps, and Im just enjoying every moment with her that I can, because as a mom of 3, i know they grow too too fast and I KNOW she will not start college needing to sleep on my belly and cuddle. I never stop being a parent… when she cries and wants mommy and 12, 1, 2, and sometimes 3 a.m. its my natural instinct to go to her and comfort her (BTW if I dont she screams bloody murder until she gives herself diarrhea… and I made the mistake of letting her scream constant for 2 straight hours during nap time with the thought that I was helping her learn how to sleep… I still feel HORRIBLE about that day) I love being a mom but it doesnt come without worries, trials and tribulations and many sleepless nights and lots of comments and unwarranted advice. Thank you Madeleine for sharing your story, I get it…even the annoying husband part 😉 This was GREAT to read. Keep on doing what you do!
I’m mom to nine, the youngest is 18 years old. I nursed every one of them to sleep for much longer than a year. We co-slept with all of them. None are still in our bed and their sleep issues are now their own. 🙂
Thank you for your article – I am lucky to have read it now. I was going down the same path of guilt and frustration this past week as I started to read up on ‘proper’ sleep techniques as my little one is turning 3 months next week. All these fears of ‘what if’s’ were snuffed out by your article – all kids are different, and listening to what your baby needs is more important then to experts who provide techniques for the generic baby. Our little one has good nights and bad, and sometimes sleep by herself and other nights need crazy long cuddles and feeds. But I agree – she sleeps ‘like a baby’ and that’s what my husband expect and love her for.
If we’re discussing things scientifically, it’s worth pointing out that tryptophan in turkey is a complete lie, too. While there is some amount present, it’s not able to cross the blood/brain barrier and affect sleep (it’s also too small an amount).
Turkey dinners make you feel drowsy when you eat too damn much, just like any other food!
Tryptophan in milk? Ditto—not able to affect sleep.
I have heard the tryptophan breastmilk info from a few different sources and your comment made me curious if it was just an old wives tale so I did some very official internet research and this is what I dug up:
“A temporal relationship was observed between the circadian rhythm of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin of the exclusively breast-fed babies and that of tryptophan in the mother’s milk”
“So it seems that higher tryptophan concentrations–which are typical of night-time breast milk–may indeed help young babies sleep better.”
Thank youThank youThank youThank youThank youThank youThank youThank youThank you!
– from a slightly deranged mother of two, who just needed to hear that what she was doing was ‘ok’ 😉
Oh you are SO doing okay! Great, even! You’re welcome- and thank you for reading and leaving such a sweet comment 🙂
This was the best read I’ve had since having my two beautiful girls. I was about to shed a tear as I read it but the more I read the more I began to smile! Having my second child only 9 weeks ago, the one thing I said I would do differently this time was to NOT take any advice or follow/read any guidance. My first child has never followed ‘the rules’ and at nearly 3, she still doesn’t need sleep so all those days of me straining to get her to nap/sleep over guilt from how much sleep she ‘should’ be getting was unnecessary stress! She is the way she is. She doesn’t and never will fit the ‘typical child’ outlines. Thank you for your article. I have been so depressed over the last few years believing I had been such a bad mom and getting it all wrong no matter what I did (I don’t think that belief will ever fade) but its good to know I’m not alone, thank you!
Where were you all those years ago when I was “creating a rod for my back”!! I nursed my kids to sleep, I even nursed them and cuddled them when they were awake just for the fun of it! I lost years and years of sleep to nurture my 5 children when they were small and needed it. Now I have a bunch of emotionally stable well rounded teenagers who *shock horror* self settle and sleep through the night. It doesn’t last forever. I’m a midwife now and I always tell the new mums to get as much cuddling and nursing in while the child will let you because one day in the not so distant future they will be independent little beings who don’t need/want that level of attention anymore. Your message is fantastic!!!
I love this. My babies are 18,14,10,and 2. I am so glad to say that I trusted in my motherly instincts all along and breasted all my babies to sleep. Mothering I feel was my purpose and the one thing I felt I knew best despite all the people who and opposite opinions and advise. I am so happy you wrote this, it is right on! BTW…all of them sleep very well, well except my 2 year old she sleeps like a baby! 😉
So good to hear! Thanks, Stephanie!
I once heard someone say that you never stop feeling guilty as a mother. How very true! I think I’m going to have to stop reading the ‘how to…’ books and then beating myself up because it doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right and go with my gut. My natural inclination is towards a more baby-led approach and this article has given me confidence (and perhaps permission) to keep on this track! I will nurse on demand, nurse to sleep, comfort him when he cries and lavish him with cuddles, he’s a baby, it’s the only language he understands.
Hi, I am Becky and I nurse my one year old to sleep. My husband walks with him and my Nana rocks him. I also bought a king sized bed so I can cosleep. And guess what? We sleep awesome!
Ha! I love the AA-style intro.
“Hi, Becky!” 😉
Thankyou so much for writing this article. Our first baby has just turned 1 and is yet to sleep through an entire night. I nurse him to sleep and put him in my bed, and have had such severe scolding’s from nurses and specialists that I have spent many days and nights crying because I have “ruined my child”. Despite the lack of sleep, he is a very happy, healthy baby boy, so thankyou so much for the reassurance that I am not a bad mother and I haven’t ruined him, and one day he will finally sleep through 🙂
thanks for the great article, looking after our 8 month old boy a few days a week, i feel its natural to keep the stress down and the fun/smiles up so we nurse our boy to sleep and try and meet all of his needs. I havent had much time to research into the effects of crying / stress vs fun / smiles on babys but I’m wondering if anyone has come across any good articles on it.
Ooh, I love a good research challenge! Let me see what I can dig up!
Absolutely awesome and spot on!! It scares me how many mums are trying sleep routines with such young babies and worrying they’re not doing it right when baby doesn’t conform. I have nursed both of my kids to sleep as babies, fed them to comfort them when they wake crying in the night, often they’re still awake after their feed but settle themselves. And my 3.5yr old daughter has slept solidly for 10-12 hrs through the night for the last couple of years, with no hassles. Every baby is different and they are not manipulative. We have to remember we’re animals and baby animals need comfort, mostly in the form if nursing. I say go with what works for you and your baby, it’s not worth everyone getting upset and stressed and frustrated (especially at 3am). Too many do-gooders thinking younguns can be trained, making mums feel helpless and useless, when they should feel supported. Thanks for your awesome article, will be sharing on Midnight Mums group as this is such a commonly discussed topic.
Im sorry you had to feel this way as a new parent. I so disagree with anyone that argues that nursing to sleep is wrong and a baby won’t learn to self soothe after! I am also baffled as to why people are so rigid with baby “schedules.” Routine is good because it gives some sense of order but there also needs to be felixibility because babies are constantly growing and their world changes so fast so we have to be adaptable. I agree what we always have to be is parents, even at 3 am. Thanks for putting his out there!
Sorry to hear some stupid nurse made you feel badly about nursing your baby to sleep. She makes all nurses look bad!!
each baby is different. Each pregnancy is different. Enjoy them all ! Our cherubs grow up much too quickly! (mine are 14 and 16)
You know, it really wasn’t the nurse herself. She was delivering a talk that was in line with the public health mandate, and I don’t fault her for that in the slightest.
Looks like you have quite a few readers here and therefore have a great opportunity to foster thoughtful discussion on this, the one topic where there are very few black & white, exactly right & wrong answers. And yet, by transforming this discussion into a partisan, “I’m right! They’re wrong!” message, I think this type of article actually drives people further apart, by forcing them to take a side or feel guilty about their choices rather than bringing folks together to collaborate on the best method(s) to sleep train their child.
I totally get your frustration at attempting the sleep training “advice” from the nurse. But vehemently railing against other types of sleep training that didn’t work for you as “Lies! Lies! Lies!” is just as counter-productive as the nurse proclaiming that nursing your child to sleep will permanently damage her.
What’s especially frustrating, too, is that you claim to have read “all the books” but then only implemented ONE sleep training schedule proffered by a nurse who badgered you at a talk. The reason “all” those books exists is because not every kid is the same. Not every kid will react the same way to the same sleep training method. And your child just happened to NOT respond to this one particular method.
Again: I still don’t understand why, after reading all the books, you only implemented the one system by the nurse who made you feel guilty. My advice to you, as a fellow grownup and parent, would have been to seek out the advice of someone you trusted, not someone who made you feel guilty.
Also, I’m not sure if you quite meant this, but the tone and attitude of your article is divisive and belligerent. Especially because some of your exposed “lies” aren’t even factual and/or some of the statements casually dismisses all sleep training books as exactly the same in being wrong. For example, Weissbluth (“Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”) actually does write that sleep training is unique to the child and if nursing your child to sleep is what they need, then do it. Further, Ferber & Weissbluth, the 2 most popular sleep training authors are almost OPPOSITE in their approaches: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/ferber-or-weissbluth/
I want to say that by simply venting you’ve actually done more harm than good, but that’s not entirely true. There are plenty of folks who have utilized your same sleep training method, and if the comments here are any indication, then you’ve validated their choice. And if that choice worked for them (like it has for you) then great! But there are folks (like myself) who DID follow the advice in some of those books you rail against (Weissbluth) with great succss: My 10 month old sleeps a solid 12 hours every night, including solid, predictable naps during the day. But that’s not because the book was exactly right every time for every child — it was exactly right for this particular child.
TONS of resources are available (whether friends, family, trained psychologists, even this website) and they should be consulted often. But there’s no one right answer to any of this. My hope is that follow up this post with something that demonstrates a bit more understanding and empathy for why folks might follow a parenting system (or systems) that differs from your own.
Thank you for the thoughtful and respectful reply 🙂
I’m a step ahead of you! I wrote a follow up post yesterday to address some questions similar to yours that have been brought up in the comments (it can be found here https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/11/18/oh-my-3/).
As I clarify in that post, and in others I have written on this site in the past, I am totally not against sleep training, either in general or the specific ‘pick up put down” method that I talked about in the post. The only thing I am venting about, and it’s something that many people seem to have felt as well, is being made to feel guilty about my choices around Olive’s sleep. I didn’t personally have a problem with how she was sleeping, and I didn’t feel like I needed to change anything, but I was so unsure of myself as a new mom that I was scared that what the nurse was saying was right – that I was somehow ruining Olive’s ability to sleep well.
The only lies I wanted to address, were the misconceptions that newborns should be sleeping twelve hours straight; it is somehow abnormal for an infant or toddler to wake up several times throughout the night, and that human beings have always slept in solid 8-12 hour increments. These misconceptions are things that I think can make people feel guilty, stressed or crazy because their child doesn’t conform to these expectations. By providing research-based articles demonstrating that erratic sleep in newborns and young children IS normal, I hoped that it would help alleviate some of the stress felt by parents.
My goal with this post was not to further divide, but instead to give parents permission to stop stressing about their child’s sleep. Since this was published I have had literally hundreds of parents – primarily mothers – who really didn’t mind (and often enjoyed) nursing their children to sleep, cuddling them if they woke, co-sleeping etc., but felt guilty for doing so because most (*most*) of the popuar sleep books warn against exactly that. THAT’s what bugs me. Someone seeking advice from a sleep training method because the way things are going is no longer working for them? I s completely support that!
I trust parents decisions to make the best choice for their baby and their family. As I said in the post, “It’s hard being a new parent. Not just because of the incredible changes affecting every facet of your life – your career, your finances, your home and your relationship – but because everyone has an opinion. About everything you are doing, and more importantly everything you are doing wrong.”
The last thing I want to do is add one more voice to the “you’re doing it wrong!” camp.
Thanks for commenting, and for giving me a chance to respond and clarify.
yeah, the part about babies naturally sleeping 12 (or even 6-8) hrs at a time is absolutely a lie! they have scanned brains of sleeping babies, and adults alike, and there’s very little mystery in the process. adults sleep in roughly 90 minute cycles, whereas babies’ cycles are ~45 minutes. adults cycle in and out of sleep, becoming barely asleep at the end of each 90(ish)-min cycle, but if nothing is awry, they head (totally unaware of this phase of nearly-awake) back into another 90-min round trip to sleep and back.
it’s similar for babies, except they’re on that shorter 45(ish)-min cycle, and they don’t pass through the same set of brainwave-identified phases of sleep (there are some they will not develop for a few years). but since they are not evolutionarily meant to be sleeping all alone, cold (out of skin-to-skin contact) in a crib, they are more likely to feel something is awry when they get to the end of each sleep cycle. if baby is in contact with momma (or her partner, or both), baby is more likely not to stir, but transition right back into another sleep cycle. if baby *does* stir, it’s only b/c baby needs mom(/parent), and since mom is right there, baby isn’t discontent for long.
there are some babies who grow USED TO being left alone & ignored all night, but it is not in their nature to spend their nights in this way, or to cry for any length of time (it wouldn’t have been safe, as the crying would have attracted hungry animals that would love a small, defenseless baby for a midnight snack). you are ripping baby apart from what they are evolutionarily prepared for by making them be all alone for 33-50% of their infant lives. you wouldn’t need to “sleep train” a baby except that what you want them to do is so incredibly unnatural to them. let’s be honest about that. i don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to sugar coat that (especially not b/c it might potentially polarize a readership—it’s *your* readership, and they’re interested in what you actually think and feel).
i think it is always good for us to speak out boldly and unapologetically in defense of what is truly best (and most loving and compassionate) for our children. and in my opinion, that’s what you’ve done. and you happen to have done it in a conversational tone that’s right at home on your personal blog.
here’s some food for thought: what if you’d written this right when spanking/slapping children was very first falling out of fashion, to say you didn’t want to do it anymore, and you preferred a gentler way of eventually arriving at a place where your child understood right from wrong? someone would have said you were being divisive, and you shouldn’t judge those parents who still felt the need to keep their kids in line by hitting them, and maybe they were using a different methodology than the one that turned you off, so how can you conclude hitting is bad when really you just happen to be lucky that your child is behaved well enough not to need hitting to force compliance? i’m laughing, of course, b/c i think there’s rarely a time we need to force compliance out of children, who, as naturally social creatures, do what their social environment expects of them w/o coercion. the more we learn in the field of psychology, the more we move toward gentler, kinder approaches to relating to one another. and sleep training will, like spanking, eventually be looked back on as a cruel experiment on our most vulnerable and beloved (and one that lasted less than a century, a mere blip in human history).
(sorry if i got a little long-winded here. i’m typing on my phone and it’s so hard to adequately edit or judge length of a comment from a phone!)
I am a first time mom of a beautiful 2 month old baby girl. I also nurse her to sleep every night and she has been sleeping through the night (6-8 hour stretches) since she was a month old. I consider myself very lucky! I love our night time routine, but she can fall asleep other ways: on her own in the crib, snuggling with daddy, in her rocking sleeper, etc. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone on this. I just trust my instincts as her mother, it feels right nursing her to sleep so that’s what we’re going to continue to do. It works for us.
I’m too tired to form an actual response, but from a first time mom nursing her 4 month old back to sleep at 4am…thank you 🙂 you’ve made me feel a lot better!
This made me laugh! Thank you (and you’re welcome!)
I do believe some of your article rings true but as a mother to two babies that would not even begin to self soothe I would never have made it without help from an expert. My first baby breasted to sleep every nap and evening and by 5 months I hadn’t had more than 45 mins of sleep at a time. I was sleep deprived and depressed. I got a ton of crappy advice from family and friends ie “it’s because you breastfeed, he’s hungry” Yeah right, he was gaining weight like a champion! “Just co-sleep” Not going to happen, SIDS scared me to death. I was miserable, my hubby was miserable and the baby was miserable! We were all exhausted! I got an expert in and I kid you not he was self-soothing within two hours and only waking twice a night for a feed within two days. Don’t get me wrong we struggled with sleep as he grew there is no quick fix and some kids just sleep better than others but I had the tools to handle it from someone who had actually had experience with many many children. There were no old wives tales and it met my child’s needs and our family’s needs. My daughter had the same temperament as my son so I used the same techniques I had learned and she was much better from the beginning than her brother. I’d say experts can be really helpful and good parenting isn’t giving in to the madness but coming up with solutions to keep everyone sane and happy!! I think that information out there can be helpful just make sure it suits you and your baby.
I completely agree. I think every parent should feel good about asking for help if they need it. I’m sorry you had such a rough go of it initially – sleep deprivation is it’s only special sort of hell – but I am so glad you found something that worked for you and your babies! Thanks for the comment 🙂
hi there _ going through same thing at 6 months – who did you get please??? don’t want to CIO tho!! xx
Thank you thank you thank you. I have only just weaned my almost 16month old son off breastfeeding and I really probably could have kept doing it! I have had so so so many people tell me I was doing the wrong thing feeding him to sleep and I even had my own mother tell me (when my son was probably about 6 months old) that I should stop breastfeeding and give him formula as my milk must not be nutrious enough as he doesn’t sleep through the night! As a first time mum you feel so very guilty when you are trying to do your best and everyone thinks they know better! In the end you are the mum and deep down you know what is right for you and your baby. I wish I had of read this in the early days. It’s good to know you aren’t the only one. I’m glad kept doing what made me and my son happy and what worked for us but I’m sure there are many mums who are guilted or bullied into doing something else and that is very sad. Thank you for sharing your story x
Hello! I just wanted to say thank you for your article, I actually have a few tears of relief. I still breast feed my almost 7 month old to sleep. At my baby’s 4 month check I told my child health nurse I was doing this she said we could ‘fix it at around 6 months’. But I never felt it was wrong. I tried some putting down and crying but it felt wrong and made us both so unhappy, My baby has also had good nights and bad, the last month she has been waking up 3-4 times every night and one night she woke every hour! When I was telling a friend she said ‘I would die if that was me’ like a baby waking in the night was a huge inconvenience. I’m tired most of the time but I feel I am so lucky to have this little being.
What struck me here was the line “…but I never felt it was wrong.”
Exactly! I feel you. Keep doing what feels right, and if it stops feeling right, change if!
Thank you for the sweet comment.
I have to disagree with some things. It may be easy for someone to say that you don’t have to train your child on how to sleep.. But as a mom who literally has NO help, sleep training was the best thing I ever did. In our situation it was either sleep training or lose my effing mind. My baby was suffering, i was suffering, my relationship with my husband was suffering because my baby would wake every 20 minutes all night and all day. Literally every 20 minutes. I tried everything. Nothing worked. If not sleep training = my baby sleeping in at least one or two hour increments, then I absolutely agree with your whole article. But for someone like me- sleep training saved us. My daughter was constantly tired, grumpy, upset, miserable, TIRED! And I was no better! My husband works 80 hours a week and we have no family around and recently moved and havent made friends in the area as of yet.. so we never get a break. My daughter is 20 months old and we have never so much as had a date night, let alone someone watch her. We cant financially afford a babysitter/someone to watch her and so it leaves me and solely me to do everything around the house and care for our daughter. On 20 min intervals of sleep that was near impossible. We used ferber method and once my daughter slept thru the night it was like an actual miracle happened. She now sleeps for 10 hour stretches, is happy and thriving. I am too. I actually enjoy life and am so grafeful for sleep!!
I think the overall message of your article was spot on though. People need to do what works for them and their babies!! Dont listen to some author or sleep expert. Find what works for u and stick with it. For us, establishing a sleep routine was the answer to a prayer. For others, it may not work. Moral of the story: do what works for you
Annie- every 20 minutes?! How are you alive? You are superwoman and you deserve a medal!
I’m so glad you found a solution that worked for both of you to finally get some sleep!
I am annoyed with all the people that have misconstrued this article into saying something that it is not! NO WHERE did she say that people who do “sleep train” their babies are wrong… what she did say is that people who say that “sleep training” is the ONLY right way, are wrong.
oops, I had more to say…
The whole point of the article was to make people who don’t sleep train feel more empowered, not to judge those who do sleep train… so stop being so sensitive and putting words into her mouth.
I am very impressed with the classy and composed way sweetmadeleine replies to each of these accusatory responses. What to be!
*I meant “Way to Be!” not what. I’m tired…
You know, I was wondering why that impression kept coming from, too, and I think it must be where I say “…y’all, seriously, stop being so crazy with the books and the shushing and the picking up and putting down and the intervals and the living by the clock”
I think that may have come across as dismissive, or condescending towards those who have chosen to sleep train. I hope most readers don’t come away with that impression, and it’s good to keep in mind for the future I guess!
I agree with everything you have said except for this: “Not being able to breastfeed is heartbreaking, but being constantly guilt-tripped over it is worse.” Please don’t make those kinds of statements unless you have walked a mile in both of those shoes.
We weren’t able to successfully establish breastfeeding, despite months of trying and supplementing at the breast. Instead I spent the first year of my daughters life hooked up to a breast pump around the clock rather than comfortably nursing her. I wish I could have nursed her to sleep! On top of the heartbreak and exhaustion, I constantly faced guilt-trips in public for giving her a bottle (of my own breastmilk!). It was excruciating and I don’t think anything you’ve described in this article sounds nearly as bad, although I;m sure it was challenging for you at the time.
Hi Nadia, I’m so sorry you had such a challenging time with breastfeeding – and I can’t believe how commited you were to continuing to breastfeed through pumping, it’s honestly incredible. I didn’t mean to take away from what you have experienced – this remark comes from having friends unable to breastfeed and seeing them go through similar experiences (heartbreak, disappointment, judgment etc.), but I understand what you are saying.
Thanks – you’ve saved me the trouble of writing down my own (nearly identical) journey through the professional opinions about infant sleep. Guilt-tripped out of enjoying far too much of the time I had with my first, exhausted from a very sick second baby, it took until bub #3 to chill out and go by instinct. And what a lovely change that made for the entire family. Enough of a change that we enjoyed a #4 as we’ll! Thanks, excellent article.
My one regret in parenting thus far, was reading this anti-sleep training propaganda. Waking up all night was just not sustainable for me. 9 months of not sleeping more than 3 hours lead me straight to depression and in general craziness. At 7-8 months I “trained” (yes that included crying) my LO that once a night was okay, but beyond that it was not. Now at 9.5 I am a better mother for it. I can exercise (something that is important for my happiness), work during naps, and love my husband again. If BF to sleep works for you then great, if pick up/put down worked for you great. If cry it out worked then awesome. YOUR SLEEP is critical to your ability to function and be a good mom. period. How ever you get there is less important than your ability to be there for yourself and therefore your child during the day.
I completely agree with you, and you pretty much took the words out of my mouth from my last post (https://sweetmadeleine.ca/2013/11/18/oh-my-3/) I am so happy that you found a solution that worked for you! Sweet dreams to you and your babe.
I wish I could have read this blog post 3 years ago. I have a non-sleeper (that is, she was a non-sleeper until I disregarded everything everyone told me and started co-sleeping full time. It only took me 18 months to get there – and of course telling my husband to shut it because I hadn’t slept in a year-and-a-half). Anyhow, of course now I firmly believe you need to do whatever it takes to get your baby to sleep peacefully. A wise mommy-mentor told me that you can do anything on a full night’s sleep, and she was right – you can tackle anything if you’ve got your well-rested brain about you. The reason I wish I could have read this post when my girl was a new born is that I’m angry at myself for not trusting my instincts and just letting her sleep with us. It would have solved most of our problems – this blog post would have allowed me to trust myself enough to do what was right for our family. Thank you, because I know it will help another bedraggled mom “solve” her baby’s “sleep problem”!
Ahh, this could be the best blog post in the history of the world. Thank you. Just what I needed.
Ha! Melody, I’m going to quote you on that 😉
When your dtr was waking a couple weeks ago every 1-2 hrs…she was probably going thru a growth spurt. They increase their feeding as their energy requirements change….the body naturally does this. It happens at pretty much the same intervals…3 days 6 days….3 weeks 6 weeks …3 months 6months…9 months…year and so on.
I love when posts like this go viral!!! You go girl!!! Tell the truth loud and clear!!!
Thank you for posting this! I have read some of those books about sleep training and was getting nervous that I was going to pay for the way I was putting my now 8 weeks old to sleep. I just didn’t want to change the routine yet because she sleeps 7 1/2 hours at night, wakes to breastfeed and then falls back asleep for another 3 hours. I do hear hear wake up at times and then she falls back asleep on her own. Also during the day I notice she doesn’t need to BF in order to fall asleep for her naps. So thanks, I feel a lot better about what I am doing.
This is great and very interesting. However I do feel it is much easier to say these things if you have a baby who settles themselves at night. It is harder to go with the flow when your baby wakes every hour, won’t feed lying down and only naps outside walked in the sling… As mine does. My body is crippled and exhausted from no sitting down time in the day and not having had more than 40 mins sleep in a row for six months…so as much as I do agree with you..this is a situation that is actually becoming unhealthy to me and I need to find a way of either helping her to sleep at night or nap at home during the day so I can get SOME rest. Not so easy for all.
I just read your follow up article and I understand your intention now much more. I live in hope of finding a way to get a little more rest however That may be!!:)
Thank you SO MUCH for this. I have a four-month-old who wakes up every hour of the night (and I nurse him back to sleep every time because I’ll do ANYTHING IT TAKES to get some sleep), and I so, so needed to read this entry.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m so overwhelmed with trying to figure out what sleeping and soothing techniques are ‘right’ for my two month old. Every google search, book snippet, well meaning parents, even my pediatrician told me what tricks will work. So I stopped listening to baby A’s cues and attempted to try out their advice, because what do I know as a first time mom? Instead of finding relief and success I was met with frustration and despair. I called a friend of mine nearly in tears and she told me, “only you know what’s best for your baby.” So I went back to listening to A and just a few days later we are now back to HIS sleep routine that I disrupted unnecessarily. We are both much happier. Thank you for reaffirming that it IS ok to do what does come naturally even if the ‘experts’ disagree.
This was a FABULOUS post- funny, wise, and truly honest! I shared it on FB and one of my friends commented, “this might be the best thing I’ve ever read!” So, tell your hubs, from mamas united, he is dead wrong! 🙂
thank you! awesome. laughing/crying/typing 1-handed as I nurse. 🙂
Oh wow tell Adam to take a leap. LOL (not really)… I’m a mom of teens and *I* enjoyed reading this. I remember the sleep wars well!! And I nursed both my babies to sleep regularly for about a year and a half each. And you know what? At 13 and 17, they go to bed ALL BY THEMSELVES! Every night! And they sleep through the night, sometimes almost til noon!
Moms… Relax. Enjoy your snuggle times with your babies. You WILL make it out alive. You really will. And they’ll grow and drive you nuts and make you proud. And those experts’ books will land in the $1 bin at wally world. So no worries. YOU are the parenting expert when it comes to your child. So read the books, and glean what works for you and your child from them, and toss the rest out.
Good luck, Mom. You’re doing great.
Thank you for this. When my now 2 and 1/2 year old son was only a few months old I guiltily admitted to my mom I nursed him to sleep. And to my surprise she had no idea that not nursing a baby to sleep was a “rule” She nursed all of her babies to sleep and we all slept fine, I nursed my son to sleep and he sleeps fine. He also is perfectly capable of “self soothing”. Thank you for putting this out there so that we all can stop feeling guilty over nursing our babies to sleep!
I still nurse my 2.5 yr old and do avtualy beleive that because i nursed her from a baby ive made a rod for my own back… for now anyway until she is old enough to understand…. problem is i like cuddling her to sleep, she likes cuddling to sleep and i dont really see it as an issue… she also doesnt sleep all night and very rarely has in her short life so far. She is my 3rd daughter… bit hey ho sleep is overated.. and ill get my own back a s teenager.
Your article makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks x
Um, why is someone whose kid can self-soothe and STTN writing this article? I want to read one by someone else whose kids are crying/yelling up all night, many times, for much longer than a year and who don’t STTN or self soothe when they’re a year old. That I could relate to.
Ohh we aren’t that lucky yet. Olive slept like a rockstar until around 5.5 months, and has been up at least once a night since. Very occasionally she can fall asleep by herself, but most times I nurse her to sleep. Sometimes she wakes up once, sometimes four times. I have seen an improvement in the amount of night wakings in the last month or so but we definitely still have plenty of rough nights 🙂
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Thank you!!. This is just the spoon full of medicine I needed. Now I am feeling delightfully reasured. With much appreciation. Chellsie, mother to 4 mth baby Anoushka.
That is the cutest name ever! I toyed with naming Olive, Anouk! It’s such a cozy sound 🙂
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What a lovely read! I am a grandmother and it is so lovely to read about new mums following their natural mothering instincts. When I had my four I joined a breastfeeding support group and came across all kinds of support for baby led weaning and the family bed. My lovely hubby didn’t always agree, but I found the times alone feeding baby (or toddler) to sleep very precious. They are only little for such a short time. The other thing to remember is that touch is so important to these little ones. It’s not just the fact that you are feeding them to sleep, but that you are there, with close body contact. I can’t quote any studies, but I know that one of the things that really helped me through the constancy of their physical needs was that children whose needs are met when little grew into very confident, independent adults. This certainly happened with my children. If I had my time over, I would definitely do the same again.
Wise words from a grandmother, thank you, Mary!
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Seriously – this just made my day :)…
When I was a first time mum and struggling with the ‘right’ way to do it all, I had all the comments from various parenting books whizzing round my mind and it made me feel like I was doing it all wrong because my daughter didn’t fit any of the patterns they were talking about. Someone said to me ‘there is nothing more perfect than a child’s own mother’. That comment gave me a real sense of liberation, I chose to ignore the books and trust my instincts and mother my way. I also nursed my daughter to sleep for as long as it took for her to decide that is not how she wants to do it and I would do exactly the same again if that ‘s what my baby needs to feel comforted and able to sleep.
I have nursed my son to sleep since he was born (he just turned 2), and he only slept 6 hours straight when he was 14 months-old, I was a zombie, but as the days went by he started to sleep 12 hours “straight” (and he still does) and I would still nurse him to sleep or put him down after always breast feeding him.
There is a lot of pressure that us parents have to deal with, but there is no right or wrong, and I couldn’t agree more with you and I am happy you have shared this with us.
They will grow faster then we think, and the things they take with them forever is our love and dedication. Respect your child, have pacience because it gets better!
Personally, I think sleep training is great. With my daughter, we did co-sleeping and I nursed her to sleep. My day was chaos! I was sometimes still in my pajamas in the afternoon. By the time she was two, she was waking every 45 mins every night. I thought I would go brain dead with exhaustion. I was also in my first trimester with her brother at the time and had zero energy.
With my son, we started EASY and he took to it immediately (as in first day out of hospital as a 3 day old). I simply had to swaddle him, draw the blinds, put him down and “Shhh” and pat his back for 10 seconds and walk out. Approximately I.5 hrs later he would wake for a diaper change, feed and play, then pop back to sleep. We never kept to a “time schedule”- he slept and ate at different times, but the structure was basically the same. By 6 weeks old he was sleeping 7pm, dreamfeed before I went to bed and woke up at 7pm. I did miss having a sleeping baby to cuddle, but our whole family functioned so much better and he did sleep on me when he was sick (no nursing).
We also used Tracy Hogg’s methods to sleep train my daughter and eventually got there (shortly before her brother arrived).
*woke up at 7am
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m just about to share this with my mothers group and hope that we can all take comfort in what we’re doing – the right thing! The right thing for each of us, and each of our babies, whatever normal is for us! 🙂
I just came across this post and I can relate to it so well. My daughter is now 2, and she is overall a good sleeper but she still has nights where she wakes up for no apparent reason, and I completely agree that there is no RIGHT way for anyone or any baby. The articles that you linked to are very helpful too. AND your daughter is absolutely adorable!!!!!
Thank you, thank you thank you…… My 4 month old is,waking every hour to hour and a half. We have a cot sidecarred to our bed, and I nurse to sleep. Really struggling with naps in the day too. I am currently lying in bed with a sleeping baby not really daring to move….. 🙁 thank you for giving me hope that it will get better…..
I love this 🙂 my daughter is 4 months old and I nurse her to sleep every night and she sleeps 10 hrs and wakes up and puts herself back to sleep.I love having her lie on me and fall asleep :)If she does wake up and cries constantly then I do feed her.Everyone likes to have an opinion on how to raise your child.Every baby is different and these books that claim you should get your child on a schedule don’t recognize this.I followed a book that said put your baby to sleek every 1 and a half hours.I did that and she would only sleep 30 mins.I finally relalized that she wasn’t tired enough and when she stays awake for 3 hours I get a longer nap, but not always.The way I see it sometimes j don’t sleep will due to stress etc and its probably the same with babies some days are good some days are bad.Thank you for such a fantastic article !!
Great post! After 2 kids that are not great sleepers but are/were great lovers of nursing to sleep (and back to sleep) I have finally learned this. Also, guess what?! My 7 year old who nursed to sleep until age 3 – can go to sleep very well on her own now thank you. (well, most nights, minus periods of normal fears etc. that come up, but I parent and comfort through those as well and we come out the other side sleeping!).
BLESS YOU! Thank you for writing so frankly about what I think about all day (and night.. haha). Thanks, you rock, and you have a gorgeous little girl!
Wonderful post. I think this also applies to a lot of things in our lives. We’ve been programmed to believe that other people know better. When I had my daughter I reconnected with my intuition, my inner knowing. She taught me to trust myself and to trust that she was telling me what she needed from me. This was such a great lesson and a HUGE wake up call. Who would have thought a new born could teach you so much about yourself. I connect with my own inner knowing know all of the time. I’ll listen to what others have to say but I always, always listen to what my body is telling me, listen to that voice inside that always knows what’s best for me. The Goddess inside is never ever wrong. If we learn to reconnect with our natural feminine ability to know without doubt what is best for us and our children our lives become much easier, more wonderful than ever imagined.
I whole heartedly agree. I love nursing my 1 year old son to sleep, it is the most wonderful sweetest time of the day. He is such a happy little thing, and i feel like this is such great bonding time for us. We too had a month of hellish sleep a couple of months ago. He started walking soon after. I love responding to him and feel good about it. Throw out the books and let your natural instincts prevail.
I still nurse my 22 month old to sleep every night and every nap (when I am home). she does not consistently STTN and while that bothers me, most nights with a gentle pat on the back or picking up the stuffed animal that fell out of the crib, she will go back to sleep without other interaction. It is exhausting but she obviously needs some form of comfort from me or her dad and that is our job. I hate it when people tell me I am parenting incorrectly…and usually those critizisms come from people who either do not have children OR have “wild and crazy” kids…. 🙂 thanks for the article.
I feel I should explain a little from the ‘other side’. As a mother of a 2 year old, who hardly slept for the first year, but also as a Public Health nurse, I see both sides of this.
I completely agree with everything you have said, all children are individuals, and a change in the parents expectations of sleep, rather than changing the child’s sleep itself really can be the key to calmer, happier (but just as sleep deprived) parents.
In my role I never EVER tell parents how their child should be sleeping, or try and give them a specific solution. However, I do see so so many tearful mum’s with 2,3,4+ children who are desperate for me to offer them solutions to their lack of sleep. I try and listen, offer hope that one day their child will sleep, and discuss many options of how they could help their child sleep. Including safe co-sleeping, and nursing to sleep, if that is the option the family choose. I leave it to the family decide which option fits with their family life/parenting styles best.
I’m so sorry some of you have had such negative experiences with ‘experts’, and I wish you all a good night sleep (..must sleep away from the computer and go to bed, my 2 yr old will be up at 5am!)
You know, I don’t blame the nurse. She was passing along her mandated message and I don’t think that was her fault. I am so glad that you are there to help new parents with their children’s sleeping problems – it’s so important that parents are able to find a supportive, non-judgmental person who can answer questions and provide options. Thank you so much for the work that you do, and the open-minded way that you do it! Hope you got a great sleep 🙂
Sweetmadeleine- how did Olive sleep in the day? My 3 month old sleeps well at night (for now!) but in the day will only sleep on me. If I try put her down (doesn’t matter if it’s her bed, the pram or the bouncer) she just wakes and gets upset. So I’ve gotten in the bad habit of holding her in the day (including sometimes nursing her to sleep) and was curious if your nursing to sleep was similar (because they like the comfort and closeness of you)??
I really needed this read! This entry has summed up my exact feelings. My daughter is 6mo. She slept well until 4mo and has had very inconsistent patterns since. I fell for the scare tactics and attempted the put down pick up routine…. Which sparked a spousal argument which lead to more stress.
I will take your advice…. Thank You!!!
As the primary author of the normal sleep series you linked to I am so so happy it helped! It was a piece I had been pondering for ages and hoped it would have a positive effect for parents 🙂 Your piece is just lovely and I’ve also shared on my FB page!
I still nurse my almost 11month old to sleep most nights – some nights she’ll go to bed awake.
She was waking 2-6 times a night until this week, now its 1or 2 times a night.
I try to sometimes avoid a feed at night and give water but it hardly works.
And “sleeping through” actually means sleeping 5-6 hours straight not 11 or 12, so Im happy the nights my daughter “sleeps through”lol.
I still get advice now about her not sleeping 12hours straight but I just half by ignore it.
I never sleep more than 6hours at a time myself lol
I have a 9 year old and a 5 month old. We live in Ireland. I have never read anything more honest and true. Thank you for a wonderful moving read.
Thank you so much, Nina.
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As a parent of two teens I continually give new parents the same advice. Don’t be afraid to trust your own instincts! We had similar issues and once my wife and I decided to do what we felt was right our son started sleeping marvelously! Not every child is the same. Not every parent is the same. Just because you are a first time parent doesn’t mean you know nothing. Listen to advice but then trust your own instincts to do what is right (even when you feel like you have no instincts – because you do!)
Great article. I identify with your anger, having just emerged from several months of book-reading, consultant-seeking, nurse/midwife-instructing bullshit. Fuck everyone and anyone (and their dog) who tells you what you must and must not do with your baby, creating a wedge between you, baby, and your natural instincts. I wish I’d freaking had Jeremy (3 months old) in hut in a forest and just worked it out for myself.
I agree with everything you wrote! I believe if it feels right, then it is right. I don’t know how people let their little ones cry it out. Listening to my baby cry when I could easily soothe him just did not make sense. I love the time of rocking my 22 month old and he has slept through the night since he was 9 months old. We go through the ‘dark time’ every now and again and clock falling back has killed our wake up time, but rocking my sweet lil boy has not ruined him. I am 20 weeks pregnant with our next and plan to do the same thing. As new moms we have to tune out the judgement, take advice for what its worth and do what we know is best for our babies. Thank you for such a heartfelt-reassuring no bullshit tell-the-truth article. You are an amazing writer!
Thank you so much!! This Makes me feel so much better! I have also felt the guilt of “doing it wrong” but your blog has made so much sense to me and assured me that my little Grace is just a baby! By the way, You kick ass!!
writeing this. Like its my own thoughts that I couldn’t write down myself. I already know all this by still nursing to sleep my two year old daughter. She sleeps amazing. Although we just had that “dark time”. It was only two nights but felt horrible. I was like a zombie and when I went to buy some food I was just giggleing in the store.. I was sooooo ashamed… Like i was drunk or something 😀 But then I realized my periods started at the that same night and when it happens milkproduction can be low and ofcourse that first night my girl “orders” more milk. and the second night wasnt so good becouse of the late sleep during the day. Third night was normal again. So there is ALWAYS a reason.
(Im sorry if my english is bad, thats not my own language)
So thank you one more time to writeing this. Its shared out in our toddler nursing group. I hope this will give a better direction even one mother who is lost and frustrated of meeting those horrible sleeptrainers… <3
I LOVE this! I completely agree!!! I nurse by baby to sleep every night and he is fine. If he wakes up I go and help soothe him. I still get plenty of sleep and he sleeps great for the most part. I love that he trusts me and knows I will come to him when he cries! Thank you again this article is perfect.
Brilliant article. I have so often heard the obsessive conversation around obsessive attempts at establishing ‘routine’ from friends and others with new (ish) babies. In fact, it tends to dominate most conversations with new parents. They are semi-frantic about getting it ‘right’. They are fraught when the ‘routine’ changes yet again. It wasn’t a ‘routine’! It was just what the baby was doing at that time. It evolves all the time. I have never tried hard to establish a firm routine, it’s just kind of happened by itself, I rolled with it, feeding them when they were hungry day and night, and lo, they eventually settled into diurnal beings! All my four children do sleep at night and are awake during the day, despite my lack of ‘routine-establishment’ (although the older ones seem to have reversed that pattern for half of the week as they got into their latter teens :)). No battles with the ‘right and wrong’ type of sleep pattern. Some of them were up a lot at night, one of them for a couple of years, one slept at night most of the time from birth, the point being, it’s different with each baby, and it often changes, naturally, regularly, but without pattern. I don’t believe the parent ‘trains’ the child. I believe the child just does what it does. What a huge and unnecessary stress on top of the inevitable sleep deprivation which goes with new parenthood, to be angsting that you are somehow getting it wrong. Parents are bombarded with what they should and shouldn’t be doing, from the moment the child is born and it never stops really. Here’s my little bit of advice, for what it’s worth; small babies need love, warmth, a calm environment, to be kept clean and to be fed when they’re hungry…when those bases are all covered, go with your instinct on the rest of it – the babies will go with theirs.
This is a fantastic article I too have been told many times not to nurse/rock/sing my baby to sleep and I do all of them and guess what, she’s a wonderful sleeper (most of the time!) it’s so nice to hear such lovely words from a real expert…another mum!
Thank you so much for this article I now don’t feel guilty snuggling up with me youngest until he falls asleep and I put him in his cot I’m now going to enjoy every second of it & loose the guilt x
Lol.. In order to get my 11 mnt old to sleep, I HAVE to give her breast first. Not just by her only, my husband too; He doesn’t read or listens much to advice. He listens to our daughter. She also sleeps in our bed. OUR. BED! This will not end well!
One of my children slept with us in our bed. It did take a while for him to sleep in his own bed but I miss the cuddling now. Enjoy this time because it will end sooner then later. You will miss it too 🙂 These times are very precious and only last a moment in time. 🙂
I know 🙁 our oldest also slept with us until she was done feeding at night. It was I who had a hard time falling asleep without her and I looked foreward sleeping together again.
My oldest, when she’s sick or something, I still go to her bed and sleep and cuddle a little 🙂
I will pay for this later! Raising unadjusted spoiled adults
Thank you for having the courage to say it! I just do my own thing, wake up when I need to with my boys, and don’t worry about anyone else. I still nurse my 2.5 yrs old to sleep for some naps, and at night until he was about 2. Guess what? He is a great sleeper. When he isn’t, oh well. My 6 week old sometimes wakes 1 time, sometimes 4 times at night, still has no predictable nap times, and he’s fine.
Reblogged this on Live it fresh with Laura and commented:
For all my friends out there battling to make sense of baby and toddler sleep – or the lack thereof 🙂
[…] Sweet Madeleine’s blog post called Lies People Tell You about Infant Sleep. It’s been making the rounds on Facebook and since I’m smack dab in the middle of […]
I agree with you that broken sleep is natural for babies and toddlers, and if your baby was sleeping well enough for you, no one should have told you to stop what was working for you. But even though no one else has commented this, I know I have lots of company out there when I say that your approach does not work for everyone. Great for you that you had a four-month-old who slept through the night and could self-soothe even when nursed to sleep. I didn’t. I had a four-month-old who still woke EVERY HOUR and I would nurse her and I would never sleep. And our bodies as mothers can honestly only take so much. We’re only human. I needed sleep or I would have seriously lost my mind. Like, not been tired and cranky. Lost my mind. Like PPD lost my mind. Not good for me, not good for my baby. So we sleep trained. I hated every minute of crying from my sweet darling baby. But it worked gloriously. She went from up every hour to sleeping 12 hours. She’s 2 years old now. Do we have times when she’s up three times a night? Sure. But then we have times where she sleeps, and I sleep, and now that we sleep sometimes, I can handle the times when we don’t. I still parent at night a huge amount when my toddler is sick or scared or just wants a cuddle, but it’s a matter of degree. The fact is those books and experts have so much appeal because of babies like mine and the fact that our poor human mother bodies can only take so much punishment before we just need some sleep. Not want, need. Maybe if you have another kid you’ll get one that doesn’t self-soothe without some help, and see what I’m talking about. If not, I hope you’ll withhold judgment on moms who seriously Needed something to change, and found help from sleep training.
I’m lucky so far in that I have a 5 month old self-soother (although getting her to sleep was a huuuuuuuge challenge for months), but thanks for your comment about CIO and health and sanity of mom. I liked this post, but totally agree with your vantage point as well.
Moms out there: you’re doing great. You care so much about your sweet little babies and are making things work however is best for your family.
I do understand. and somethimes I was thinking, One night!! this was the last one! Again a night like this, and than I’ll feed her a bottle so she’ll sleep longer grrr.. And I’ll train her, she HAS to learn!
And than we had a quiet night 🙂 so I never had to. But I can comprehend. Not everyone is the same and what works for you and your family might not work for the next. But rather ‘testing’ by yourself because you know your child and yourself, than just following a book or a strangers advice. no matter what you believe or your child lives well on. But I do not think it should be standard to train baby’s to sleep alone. The world needs more loving and nurturing humans, not less.
some people paint a false dichotomy, as if baby waking in the night = getting up to soothe. if you cosleep, you wake up only the slightest bit, but don’t have to get up at all (you hardly have to move), give baby the breast (until baby is old enough to find it on their own), and fall back asleep, baby finishes nursing & falls asleep whenever they do, but you’re already back asleep, if you really woke up at all (you might not if baby finds the breast unassisted). so simple, and both mom AND baby are happier. it’s not the case that EITHER mom OR baby gets to have their needs met, but not both. that’s just entirely too cruel. who can look forward to bringing a baby into the world thinking they have to choose? you have a right to sleep, but equally so, your baby has a right to sleep and feed when they need it, and it’s entirely reasonable that mommas ought to look first for solutions that allow both sets of needs to be met. if you’re not heavily medicated (which would probably preclude breastfeeding anyhow), cosleeping & freely breastfeeding is the first route to try—not sleep training!
I have a four month old with random “problems” and inconsistencies. I’ve tried to heed the books and Everyone’s advice reasonably. and I constantly feel wrong or unlucky about my situation and my baby.
and then my wise mom will sum up her experience raising seven of us with the simplest answer and that all of our issues aren’t issues. everything is Normal. and then I realize I’m stressing when I should be enjoying.
I so needed to read this article today. thank you.
I truly think we need to hear that again and again and again. It’s sleazy to lose trust in ourselves. Thank you for reading 🙂
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*It’s EASY, not sleazy! Haha
This is so true! I have a 13 month old and felt the same pressure from “experts” when I was nursing her to sleep, finally I gave up listening to “experts” or the opinion givers and did what worked for us. Addie has been sleeping through out the night since she was eight months old.
LOVE IT! 5months before my son was born I watched my friend read every book and being tortured trying to take care of her new daughter. She made herself crazy trying to stick to some stupid schedule. So when Julian was born we just went with: if you are hungry… eat, if you are tired… then sleep. I can go anywhere with him and he will fall asleep wherever. If he is hungry I sit in the car and feed him. He sleeps next to me in bed after breastfeeding. I could move him in his crib when he falls asleep, but I really enjoy having him there. I am going to be very sad when he is done breastfeeding. Wonderful article!
I have found some benefit in Dr. Ferber’s method as far as reducing the middle of the night wakings (when I consistently was in that gouge-my-eyes-out / waking-up-to-nurse-every-hour-state), but for the most part I agree with what you said. From my humble observations there is some element of pattern, BUT it is an ever-changing, very fluid pattern. And, nursing my son to sleep is the best part of my day! He is now 14 months old and I get a lot of flack for still nursing him at this age, but I’m glad we’ve stuck it out because those cuddles are exactly what I need after a long day of work away from my baby.
[…] An interesting look at infant sleep myths. […]
Have read this post four times over 2 days. So encouraging. Thank you!! Will be putting the last paragraph up on the fridge to reassure me while I grab the milk for my bottomless coffee!
The only expert on your baby is you, you know what you baby likes and dislikes are, you know what your baby facial expressions mean, you know what their different types of cries mean, you and only you know your baby inside and out, So stop listening to the so called experts, who are only everyday people who think they know your baby better than you, why? because they learned what they know from another person who thinks they are an expert and who in turn learned from yet another person who thinks they know best what your baby is about. So from now on only listen to your mothers intuition and your mommy heart then you and your baby will be the blessed match made in heaven. I’m just saying.
Loved your article!! My favorite is when women that do not have children tell you(an actual Mom) the “right way of doing things.” It is frustrating when that woman thinks you are totally wrong when you try to explain because she know best. Argh!!! Hence, sadly friendships end.
Great post. Experts are so full of themselves and full of it, aren’t they? I shared your post on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sleep-Tech-Moms-Simple-Steps-to-Get-your-Kid-to-Sleep/140416909330644
Yes, I confess that I am a registered sleep technologist who labored for 5 years in the pediatric sleep lab founded by Dr. Ferber. And I have your back.
Hi and thanks for your take on sleep training. After my first son who never slept and made me so sleep-deprived that I was grumpy, depressed, and miserable, I swore that I would not have any more kids. 3 years later though, I had another boy, determined to enjoy parenthood with a baby and find a way for all of us to get enough sleep. To do this, I followed the advice of my wise younger sister, who has twins who are amazing sleepers with very predictable schedules. She told me to read “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby,” and it has been our Bible. My youngest, who is now 22 months has been a terrific sleeper, with predictable naps and bed times. He currently goes to bed at 630 and wakes up at 6. He is down to 1 nap during the day, usually from 1030 until around 1230. Everyone in the house is well rested and happy- a far cry from my first experience.
Oh, Andrea I can’t tell you how glad I am that you were able to find a method that worked for you!
Those little sisters have so much wisdom- mine are constantly surprising me with how much knowledge, advice and life experience they possess.
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Thank you. THANK YOU. Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyooooouuuu.
OK, you get the picture. I – *gasp* – nurse my baby to sleep, or rock him to sleep, or wear him to sleep, or do whatever else it takes to get the little critter down. And he wakes up every few hours at night, and nurses, and snuggles in next to me and snoozes with his lovely milky breath in my face. And people shake their head and sigh, and ask when I’m going to start sleep training. But he’s a crazy energizer bunny and is pulling up and crawling, and standing and hitting milestones at a mile a minute. And this is our quiet special time, and he needs it and I need it.
Yes, sometimes I long for more than 3 hours uninterrupted and a bed to myself. But this too shall pass, all too soon most likely.
Awesome post. I tell every new mom to be that I will give them the best advice they will ever hear: if it feels right to you, it probably is. I feel sad that you missed out on months of luxuriating in the beauty and peace of nursing a baby to sleep. And trust me, I have a 9 year old, a 6 year old and a 8 month old (who nurses to sleep and again a couple times in the night, while co-sleeping in our bed), they do learn to sleep on their own; in their own beds just fine. I’m glad you were able to see the bullshit though. The parenting industry is undermining our instincts, our common sense and our ability to try, fail, forgive and be the perfectly, imperfect parents that we all are.
[…] After all, this post from Pregnant Chicken points out “babies are constantly changing” and this other post from Sweet Madeline says, “There is no rhyme or reason or explanation!” But there’s also the fact that my mom […]
Thank you! This was exactly what I needed to hear as I sit with breastfeeding baby, thinking I’m screwing it up. Thank you so much!
So very true. I never sleep trained my 3 year old daughter and not going to do it with my 2 month old son. Both are healthy , fine and sleep well. We were not sleep trained in our childhood too. Most of the babies back in our country are nursed whenever required and brought up in most natural way. I really dont understand why there is so many methods, or models to TRAIN an infant to a natural process, Sleep… I feel these are over-studied, nosy and over-kill kind of industrial approaches whereas infant growth, sleep, nursing etc have been there even when man did not understand Sun, Moon or Earth… In fact, all these theories hamper parents confidence, cause stress and also affect nourishing or lactational capabilities!
I don’t have kids yet but want to someday and I adore this trend of non-judgment toward moms. Keep up the good work! You ARE making a difference for the next generation of moms!!!
Thought this was interesting. One of the things that I think gets me is that so few people seem to have much experience with infants by the time they become parents themselves which leaves them ill equipped for how infants can be. I was a nanny for 5 years in my early twenties and my husband has siblings that are 10 and 13 years younger than him, so both of us know what a newborn acts (and sleeps) like. And I think because I have looked after children since I was 10 and my mother is pretty pragmatic I’ve always figured that what works works and haven’t read anything about child-rearing (including sleep training). This just confirms that for me. My husband and I are expecting right now and honestly the newborn stage isn’t really something we’re worried about (labor on the other hand…) because I figure kids are all different, we know its gonna be hard, but its a season and by the time they are 3-4 you kind of forget about all that. Also, I think its important to have a good filter, as in, knowing when to politely nod when receiving advice and then wantonly ignoring it. What I think it comes down to, for a lot of people, is that they just don’t feel very confident to do this because they lack much experience.
What does never even mean? I have teens. I nursed the younger to sleep, fast forward to today and she sleeps on her own terms. Older one didn’t sleep through the night until he was three but he too sleeps just fine on his own terms. The only expert on my children was/is me. Only expert on yours is you. We aren’t raising sea monkeys. We’re raising individuals with their own personalities. My kid isn’t going to behave like yours and vise versa. Just as you and I aren’t going to react the same.
I was lucky in that our pediatrician told us not to listen to the so called experts. If there wasn’t anything medically wrong, then we shouldn’t make ourselves crazy. My mom pointed out that I might be reading all these books but my kids weren’t so how were they to know when they were supposed to do XYZ as the book told me they should.
I’ll be honest, young childhood wasn’t my favorite time, but I sure love the teen years. I’ll take the eye rolling, the snarky come backs (I asked “what time is it?” kid responded “time for you to get a watch?” Thanks for nothing kid!) and the rest. I love the debating. I don’t even mind the arguments because I understand where they are coming from. Yes, I chafe under rules too but my job is to keep you safe while teaching you the tools to do so on your own when you leave me to go to college.
It really does get better and then other challenges arise. I’m enjoying these challenges more so than I ever did the sleep and potty training (another milestone that took *forever* but they both use the toilet now).
Awesome post! I enjoyed reading every word, as I have been in your same shoes over the past 15 months with my baby girl…I threw away every “sleep book” I was given!!!
This was my experience to a tee. I nursed both my babies to sleep all the while feeling like I was doing something wrong. Tried the horrible Ferber method with my first. Still feel guilty about it to this day, it’s complete bullshit. I loved how you described the wonderfulness of how you felt while nursing to sleep, I felt that too. They’re now 14 & 11 & I can’t get them out of bed! It only gets better, hang in there.
Thanks so much! I needed this article right about now. My 17 month old has been waking every hour or two to nurse throughout the night. I’m going a little crazy so it’s good to remind myself that this is normal!
Great article! I have 6 children from age 12 to 2 and they were all different. Some of them still wake up at night for various reasons…. nightmares, bed wetting, teething, leg pains. There are lots of reasons kids wake up. I’ve read the books and tried lots of different things over the years. The conclusion I’ve come to is trust your instincts! You know your kid best and you’ll figure it out.
Did that nurse EVER take a Child Development class? Or the experts? A lot of them haven’t, so unless they have a Child Development degree I wouldn’t listen to them. Children will learn to sleep peacefully on their own when they know they are safe and they have loving adults to soothe them to sleep. Thanks so much for this blog Sweet Madeleine, you are right on!
Myself, a mom of two kids that were both “nursed” to sleep until they were about one years old and a Child Development Major.
As a mother of slightly older daughters, the thing for all you Mums with younger little people to consider is that this too shall pass. Whenever I worry about whatever it is that my kids are doing (or not doing) I now know not to worry – few people make it to 18 still waking every hour/wetting the bed/having a tantrum/being a fussy eater or whatever. It’s all part of the package, and when it goes and your child moves on you will miss it!
I have a 4 month old daughter that doesn’t seem to want to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch. Our choices seem to be let her cry and keep our entire apartment building from sleeping, or comfort nursing her. I feel a physical pull every time my husband tries unsuccessfully to comfort her at 5 am (which is the current time- I just nursed her back to sleep) when I know how easily I can comfort her by nursing. I hate how guilty it makes me feel because my pedi and everyone else on God’s green earth thinks we are ‘spoiling’ our child or giving in to her demands and letting her win a mental game. Yeah? So what? Thanks for this post and the linked articles, I will read them some other time, as she is now asleep- and I will be very shortly too!
Consider yourself lucky that she sleeps three hours at a time! My one-year-old wakes every two hours. As my mother always said to me, don’t worry about it, she won’t be nursing to sleep any more on her wedding night. You are NOT SPOILING HER, just nurse her to sleep. When my now 12 year old was a baby, we lived in a small apartment too. I nursed her to sleep every night until she weaned herself. She did not end up having any sleep issues.
Had tears while reading this! Thank you so much for the confidence knowing what I am doing for my son (7 months old)is the best thing I can do for him breast feeding on demand and around the clock! And it is so true the 3am wake ups and looking at him while he nurses are to be thankful for!! It’s worth the loss of sleep!! Much love mama!!
Thank you for such an honest post. I nursed my son to sleep for almost 2 years and always felt out of all things motherhood, this was one I was doing ‘wrong’ too but I kept at it because it was most natural and I was most comfortable. I remember sitting outside the door and counting the seconds until 2 minutes so I can run in with open arms again and how distressed I felt. I gave up trying to put him to sleep and continued nursing and when asked how I put him to sleep, would sheepishly say I nurse him. It’s actually quite beautiful and less tiring and so glad you found the voice to acknowledge it for us mums. 🙂
Hi, I am from Mexico and I feel just like you and I understad perfectly your feelings. I nurse my baby, he is 1 year old. All the people even the Doctor said that: 1. I have to stop nursing now because my milk its only water now. 2. My baby needs to learn how to sleep by himself now. 3. 4. 5. etc… so many reasons to make him grow by himself now. I am so glad to read yor articlt because sometimes I felt alone, wrong and angry trying to do “the right things” for my baby, even thoguh I know in the deep of my heart that LOVE and CARE is the best that I can give him. Time doesnt come back and we will regret the thing we didnt make for-with- to our babies.
Thanks for write from your heart…
Sorry for my poor english. I wish I could buy your book.
Hola Monica! Don’t apologize for your English! It’s great, and you can eloquently express yourself in two languages whereas it took me five minutes to remember that it’s not spelled “Ola” so… I’m so glad the post resonated with you. I think if you keep following your instincts you’ll be just fine 🙂 Xoxo Madeleine
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You are so sweet, thank you! Have a great and Merry Christmas 😉
Loved this! I have a toddler who wakes at least 4 or 5 times a night (and always has) and a newborn who wakes once or twice. Normal infant sleep looks different for every baby. It is not up to us to make sense of it though, we just have to trust our babies to let us know what they need.
I liked everything you said, I’m sure this is gonna help a lot of moms! I’ve also read all the book and been to classes (and still do things my way by instinct) but I never picked up this ‘guilt’ complex u talk off. I guess I never took the information personally enough to do so. I read another blog the other called ‘mom u should’. This blogger was so mad that people keep giving her advice about what to do. This doesn’t bother me either ! I like hearing perspectives and getting new info (unless it’s coming from my mil
I have a 12 month old who until a week ago still nursed day and night, about 8 times every 24 hours. And we were both fine with it. However, I am also pregnant, and will be having a baby when my little one is 18 months. God bless those women who can “tandem nurse” but I know it’s not for me. So, time to wean, with enough time in between weaning and having a newborn, so there’s no jealousy. I am going to try this method http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html , and I sure hope it works. This guy (a doctor) supports both co-sleeping and breastfeeding to sleep. If anyone encounters a grouchy “professional” telling you that breastfeeding to sleep is bad, perhaps they should read his article and reconsider. As a side note, I also have a 12 year old daughter, who co-slept with me until she was 5 due to our limited finances and living arrangement, and I nursed her to sleep every single night (and multiple times a night) until she weaned herself at 11.5 months. She now sleeps wonderfully by herself, has absolutely no problems falling asleep, and never has. She also does well in school, is self-motivated, and has a great group of friends. I honestly believe people who say there are long-term negative effects of co-sleeping and nursing to sleep are full of it.
Thank you for making me feel normal ! I am a mom of two girls 3 yrs and 11months. My 3 yr old as a baby was a rock solid sleeper we never had issues it was awesome I didn’t dare brag about it though. My youngest was born and I thought I had it all figured out from my first one what worked for her will work for this one.WRONG!
My 11month old still doesn’t sleep through the night she wakes up usually 1–2 times at night I nurse her to sleep and I nurse her when she wakes at night. I tried other methods and it just makes it worse! So I just decided to give in to her needs and give her what she needs. This is what works for her. I felt horrible like she is never going to be a good sleeper.
But now my 3 yr old who was the rock solid sleeper is also waking up in the night, not every night but most nights. So after reading this. I feel more relaxed thank you. What I am experiencing is normal and that the truth is all babies are different when it comes to sleep patterns and we can’t conform our babies to an ideal pattern.
My mom would be elated with this read! She’s always hated me for following books. Having raised 4 children, 4 grandkids (before mine) independently – her philosophy has always been to go with the flow of the child & every child is different. She believes in : Yes, the sleep patterns can be atrociously torturous to working parents – but that’s part of the whole package. The child will outgrow it. We will have to bear with it.
Nevertheless, this has been the best read of the year for me. You’ve paved a better mentality in me as I continue to raise my 3 yo, & live harmoniously with my mum everyday=D So thank you.
Wow! I love this!! We have 2 kids 16 months apart. Ds was a hard sleeper- We rocked and rocked and rocked and there were many many many sleepless nights. I was exhausted, Hubby was exhausted, our marriage was exhausted. The first ten months of our sons life felt like a battlefield. He sorted himself out eventually but we were always wary and went to bed immediately after he did “just in case”. Then dd arrived and I was so sick of fighting so I said screw it, screw the books, screw the “professionals” this kid can do what she liked. So we stayed up until 2am chatting, feeding, playing. She would eventually fall asleep, i’d pop her into bed and that was that. Tired yes but not exhausted! In fact I was a little smitten with my night owl. She is now 7 1/2 months and crazy active (She is couch surfing already!) She has two perfectly timed naps and a perfect routine bedtime that she came up with all by herself and it’s wonderful!! Her first few months never felt like a fight, I can catch up on sleep when they are teens but I can’t catch up on when they were newborns. It goes so quickly and it doesn’t need to be a fight!
I have 4 kids 5 and under. My best advice to new moms is to take other’s advice with a grain of salt. You have to do what you feel is best for your child. There is no one “right” way to parent a child (this goes for sleeping, feeding, teaching, etc). You take the good advice you like and use it, you take the other advice you don’t agree with, and let it roll off your shoulders. People need to stop being so judgmental about the way other people parent – I’m a little on the uptight side and my sister is more laid back but I know her kids and my kids will both turn out fine! Good post.
Hilarious!! So funny. I believe I stopped caring after I read a book during my third trimester that sounded so stringent I nearly threw the book in the fireplace. I thought to myself why would anyone buy this as a gift for me? Now she is 4 months and we are just figuring it out as she grows. Just do what’s right for your baby, right?! Thanks so much for your great post!
Well written and oh so true. Thanks for putting this out there for the world to read. Hopefully many will come across it as I sure am glad someone sent it my way. As a mother of a 6 month old and a Naturopathic Doctor, I couldn’t agree more. Shine on and keep spreading the good word 🙂
As a mother of 3 children and I am far from being an expert, I can add one thing to your article to new moms: “do what feels right to you, and above all, what suits you and your new baby”.
We have entered an age of everyone is awaiting a book, a step by step prescription, to fix issues. Therefore no one relies on instinct. Yes, we need books in order to assess if our kids are reaching the age milestones at about the proper times (and if your kid is not crawling by 6 months, then it’s fine, you still have time before checking him/her in therapy), if we are feeding them the proper food at the proper age group. Use these books as distant guidelines, trust yourself and remember what works for your neighbour might not work for your family.
I loathe the pressure put upon mother nowadays. Perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect housekeeper, perfect friend, and later on perfect behaved children is an attainable challenge: to all new moms, give yourselves a break, sit back, enjoy the bumpy ride and as you took the wheel the first time, expect a chaotic few miles, it only gets better. And as you go along, you ll soon realize your child has only one mother (yes, you!) and you are certainly the best to him/her. No matter what you did wrong 🙂
We, moms and dads, are the experts! We are the experts at raising our own children because we are the ones who know them better than anyone else! We know how to read their crys, their sounds, their movements! I have 3 of my own and they all had different sleep habits, and sleep issues and sleep victories! What ever works for you is what you should do, and no one should have the right to make us feel we are doing something wrong!!!! Suggesting is one thing judging and reprimanding is another! Wait until someone gives you the stick eye or worse tells you something for disciplining your child in public!!!!
My daughter’s three months old, and her sleep habits have varied so much. For a couple of weeks, she slept through the night. It was fantastic. Then she changed her mind and she did about 4 hours at a time. Then we had her first shots and now she’s doing only 2 or 3 hours at a time, but she’s sleeping in the crib now, which she refused to do at first. I nurse her to sleep quite frequently, and while I’d eventually like to get out of that habit, it’ll happen when it happens, and it’s not the only way she’s able to fall asleep. She’ll figure out how to sleep for longer periods of time eventually, and at least we’re getting enough sleep to stay mostly sane right now.
Olive has just started sleeping through the night again in the last few days (for the first time since she was 5.5 months old). It is blissful! And probably not permanent, but it’s so nice knowing she CAN. Congratulations on your little one! You have so much joy ahead.
I love this! I especially love when you say that nursing your baby to sleep is “easily one of the best parts of our day.”
My three kids are grown now, and I always nursed them to sleep . . . until they were each about two. Yes two!! And they all know how to fall asleep on their own. Amazing, isn’t it? When I think back to those years, I have memories of bedtime being peaceful and relaxing. I read books to my older kids while I nursed my youngest, and nobody was stressed or anxious at bedtime.
Now I watch my daughter do the same thing with her baby.
Thanks for writing this – it is so well written, and in my opinion, so true.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Only wish you’d written this for me before I had my first (I’m now up to four). Fuck the experts, everything you say here is true. Amen, sister! xx
Oh i hear ya on the nursing to sleep .I did this with my daughter, and I’m no longer nursing her and she sleeps just fine. She wakes up maybe once in the middle of the night and 9 times out of 10 she falls right back to sleep. Oocassionally I have to go in there and soothe her. But on those nights it’s usually because she got her foot stuck in the crib railing or something. SHe’s 14 months and doing just fine. So yeah bunch of bs for sure from the experts.
This was such a great thing to read for flirts time moms. Sometimes we feel so beaten up over the restless nights. My 10 month old used to sleep thru the night. The past 4 weeks she has been waking up. At first I thought I was doing something wrong. Something terribly wrong but she just learned to crawl and stand up and has a molar coming in. After reading many things I now know this happens for a reason. Thank you for your blog. We, as mothers, need to be reminded of what an amazing job we are doing
Thank you so much for writing this piece! It has given me back some confidence as a mother:)
I’m a dad, son is one year old today actually. We chose to sleep train, and it worked, but just from having a kid, I went quickly from “it’s 1 + 1 = 2” sort of formulaic child-rearing theory to…it’s hard. Are there answers in books? Yes. Should we ask questions of science and more experienced parents? Yes. But end of the day, each kid is different and every theory, every formula has to recognize this. Advice on raising kids works as well as advice on any other personal matter: it can be slightly to moderately helpful, usually is arrogant, and has to be considered, weighed, and the good parts sifted out and used.
Absolutely perfect advice for new moms! Keep writing! 😉
(Mom of 4 boys)
Hi 🙂 I think you are phenomenal (as a mom and as a writer). I thank you deeply for this! I’m a first time mom to an almost 5 month old and you couldn’t have hit the subject more head on if you lived in my house. So thank you!!
Thank you so much, Mariam! Enjoy your little one!
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I loved this article! I think every mom does things we aren’t “supposed to do”. I remember hearing from somewhere that babies shouldn’t have a fluffy blanket in their crib. Because it will kill them. I learned this AFTER my child had bonded with her fluffy blanket and had to take it everywhere. She’s six now, so I think it worked out ok.
This is by far the most wonderful and excellent article/post I have read in (quite possibly) my entire life!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for it for so many reasons.
I will share it near and far in the hope that we can help relieve others of the ‘guilt’, ‘dread’ and ‘shame’ involved with parenting instinctively.
Wow! Thank you, Sarah! You just made my morning 🙂
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Great article! I have four children and none of them slept the same. One child was up every hour for the first year and it turned out to be from a medical problem (obstructive sleep apnea), that required surgery which was finally done when he was four. I co-slept with all of my children and am looked at like a bad mom as I could have rolled on them in their sleep. While that is true. I modified my sleeping so that they slept in the crook of my arm, so I couldn’t move. I was pinned by them. It worked for us. We started crying it out after a year (and I started with nap times to ease them in, so the night didn’t seem so lonely), because I worked at night, and hubby is on meds and he can’t co-sleep. My 7-3yr old, sleep in their own beds now, but know if they have a nightmare they can always come hang out in my bed. It’s not every night, and some nights it’s all 3 (very uncomfy for me), but there is safety there. And in this big, scary world where to them we all look as big as The Friendly Giant, but don’t seem as friendly, knowing their parents will be there for them even if it’s giving up our precious sleep space, that’s what counts. Trust me, there has never been a child in the history of man who has been spoiled because their parents met their basic needs. And keeping your child feeling safe is one of the most basic.
Pretty beneficial….look ahead to coming back again.
About the only thing I agree with is that all babies are different so you always have to tweak the approach you take. I don’t agree with anything else you wrote. That’s a load of garbage and it’s sad to see so many people agreeing with you. No wonder there are so many terrible sleepers out there. I only read one book (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) and it was great! The earlier sleep training is done (3 months is the best) the faster it is and the sooner you as a parent have regular full nights of sleep. It worked with all four of my children and eventually with my daycare babies too. Proper sleep is a life skill.
My first child slept through the night at 3 weeks, and from then on in. No sleep training and I nursed her to sleep EVERY SINGLE night. My son, didnt sleep through until 6 months. I nursed him to sleep every night also. They are now 11 and 9 years old, and are by far the best sleepers of all of my friends kids, my nieces and my nephew, whose parents “sleep trained” their children.
Quit judging Christine!!
Christine, I’m glad to hear all your babies slept well, but I do wonder if maybe you have missed the point of this article. And I must confess that your comment about proper sleep being a ‘life skill’ made me giggle a bit – couldn’t help but imagine a little baby sat there in their little baby office with their little baby C.V listing all their Life Skills (“I am proficient at rolling over unaided and have excellent organisational skills, as shown when stacking and unstacking my toy plastic cups.”)
Perhaps a bit more tolerance and an understanding that everyone is different might be better life skills to work on.
As a brand new mom, I read what you wrote with a lot of interest. Since I started out life with my new baby, I have just been following my instincts in much of how I am handling sleep and all that my baby needs. She is three months old and she is sleeping 6 hour stretches and sometimes she will have a night that is 12 hours long. She wakes to feed and goes back to sleep no problem. I have worked with babies in a day care setting for years, babies with many different temperaments, and found that when you cuddle them when they want to be cuddled and just love them and spoil them, they really have potential to become happy babies and build secure attachments. I enjoy seeing how my daughter communicates her needs without crying because she knows that we will attend to her. If she needs to nurse to sleep some nights, that is no problem for me and makes me feel like I can provide her something so special, and like you said it is wonderful to see their eyes flutter to sleep! I loved what you wrote because it just made me feel once again how good it feels to follow the lead of the child and to attend to their needs, and it feels good to see a happy secure baby as a result.
This is a wonderful and true article. The very best advice given to me by a friend was “No-one can tell you how to bring up your baby. No book, no parent, no friend. The only person that knows is you and your partner. Just listen to what your baby tells you and work out what’s needed.” As a result we don’t look at our child rearing books any more we just follow out instincts. For example; our daughter has always slept well and gone down easily. But one day she cried for ages. We picked her up, soothed her and put her down and she started crying again. But she was tired. In the ed I told my wife: she’s tired and that’s why she’s crying. She doesn’t need picking up – she just thinks she does. 10 minutes later he was asleep. The next night it took 5 minutes and now it’s usually a minute. The other thing you have to remember is “you are in charge and you know what’s best sometimes”. It isn’t easy, but te answer isn’t in a book. That’s for sure.
I couldn’t agree more with this. Our DD slept good for the first 2months but then decided she had to nap on me every 2 hrs or so during the day and went to sleep at night with me and I would sneak her into bed. Everyone said you are going to have to let her cry some time. Well guess what that did not happen she out grew it and decided she was more comfortable in her own bed and she no longer wanted the cuddles. She is now 22months and starting to give up napping most days.
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Bravo young lady on your aticle…I tried all the training and crying it out crap…it was a nightmare…with the third child he slept with me until he was 6 months old and we both got the most glorious sleep ever. He then transfered to a crib without any problem. All these people with the stupid, “put your baby aside, let them scream it out approach” are setting themselves up for adults that have no empathy, void of real emmotion and other problems, In the time of cavemen and even today in some third world countries, babies are attached onto the mom all day in a “snuggly” like wrap. You dont hear any crying and they nurse when they want to and the mom goes about her duties and chores, This timing everything is bull crap, schedules are bull crap…you dont see moms from 3 rd world countries going around with giant bags under their eyes like the moms in North America…why is that…can anyone explain that…..ps…..btw tell your husband that your readers said he was wrong….the women do what to hear about your articles about sleeping 🙂
Tired parents everywhere just took a deep breath of self-forgiveness. Thank you for the amount of compassion and consideration this post offers, not to mention bravery. Your point about awaiting the outcome of a change in behavior rather than assuming parental failure is an excellent reminder and a positive spin within a world of self-doubt. This is a really lovely post. Thank you.
As a mother of soon to be eight, ALL my babies were different and had different “sleep needs” but all were nursed to sleep. Our goal is to find out what each precious baby needs. Listen to your baby and do not read a book, ha ha! And love on each in their own unique way!
I remember that none of my three girls ever slept through the whole night, and that was fine. I always nursed them to sleep and they almost never cried. It would break my heart to let the cry themselves to sleep. Babies need to have their needs met for them to have trust in the world around them and especially trust in their parent(s). Every mother should never let someone else dictate how they should mother their own child. Your intuition should override when something you hear is ringing completely untrue in your own mind.
This saved me! Thank you!
My little one who is 4 months old was sleeping through the night until I stopped nursing her to sleep. Convinced that I was ruining her, I stopped so she could learn to self soothe on her own as everyone suggested, the experts, my friends, my family. Everyone! She couldn’t self soothe. She would get so overtired that it would be impossible for her to fall asleep. I knew in my heart that this could not be what she needed. I’ve started nursing her to sleep again because I know it’s what she needs. And we’re both sleeping better! 🙂
Last night at about 11:50, after yet another disastrous attempt at the “cry it out” method, I searched the internet for sleep training tips (something I’ve been doing often, lately, due to a 4.5 month old that doesn’t sleep through the night and screams if you put her in her crib) and came across this breath of fresh air. I had all but convinced myself that I was surely doing something wrong since she couldn’t go a night without that 2am feeding (or just crying session), and was willing to try any tips I could get my hands on. Your post made me realize that I had to stop doing that immediately. My baby is happy and healthy, and so what if she doesn’t sleep through the night like other babies I know that are her age. So what if we give in after 6 minutes of crying and let her sleep in our room. So what if we have to rock her to sleep with a paci in because she doesn’t have the knack for self soothing yet. Someday, some bittersweet day, she will be able to do just that, and these nights will be a distant memory. For now, I choose to take your advice, that is stop taking everyone’s advice and worrying about their opinions and what their baby is doing. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for giving me a long lost piece of my sanity back, and helping this new mommy to remember that she’s just a baby. Everything will be just fine.
Oh, Amy I’m so glad you’re here! I think you’re right on the money, the thing your little one needs most right now – more than anything- is you. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, and I’m so glad the post helped ease your guilt a little. You’re doing an amazing job!
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I totally agree with all that you have said. Unfortunately I’m still sleep deprived but I rather do what feels right to me to make my baby feel safe and protected whether its nursing her to sleep or cuddling her big brother in bed until he drifts off. I believe once they are school aged and have their own little lives and social events going they will soon settle.. or so I tell myself :0) Lovely post
Thank you for this! Glad I’ve stopped reading the “expert” books and went with my gut.
Oh how I wish this had been written when my first daughter was a baby. I did the exact same thing you write about with the expert, except that for me the expert was in the form of a sleep book: after reading it, I was convinced that nursing my little one to sleep would ruin her, and I tried to do something different, but all that did was extend bedtime from an easy 20 minutes to a tear-filled 2 hours. I finally decided that I was just going to ignore what I read and get her to sleep. And I nursed her to sleep for a year and a half. And I nursed my second to sleep for 2 years. And guess what? I didn’t ruin either of them! Thank you!
This was such a refreshing post to read. As first time parents, we allowed my daughter to CIO, but it only took her 2-3 days to start sleeping through the night. My son, however, is 22 mos and is still not sleeping through the night. He has had health issues from birth, so sleep has never come easy. He must be rocked to sleep, then placed in his crib. Recently, he has begun waking up between 11-1 and won’t go back to sleep unless one of us lays down with him. I refuse to allow my child to cry to the point of vomiting, which doesn’t take long. For whatever reason whether he is scared, hungry, hurting or just wants some affection, my baby needs me. It’s frustrating being woken up after just 30 minutes of sleep or right as I lay down, but I do love these quiet times of closeness, togetherness, these special one-on-one moments. I know this “dark time” won’t last forever and children are only children for so long. So, I’m enjoying my children while they are still young. I’m reveling in their hugs and kisses. If it means I lose a little sleep…..or a lot, then so be it. Thank you for expressing a point of view that isn’t always so popular, but applies to so many. Parents know their children best and what is best for them. That’s why there’s the term, “a mother’s instinct.” I vow to follow mine more often. What a breath of fresh air.
My wife and I have two daughters both nursed to sleep in bed with us, both transitioned into their cribs within a year or so, both have a really strong bond with us and lead perfectly normal lives. I never worried about my wife or I rolling over or smothering them with our bodies or blankets, we were taught that if we are cold or hot then most likely they would be cold or hot so that helped. If we were to have more kids we would do the same thing, screw the “experts”.
Ha! Agreed. Thanks, Norman! Nice to have a guy chiming in 🙂
This is awesome. I am about to have my second and have been thinking these things, but you said them perfectly. I tried everything the first round and mine didn’t sleep “through the night” until 1. The scheduling and strategies were almost more exhausting than the sleepless nights. This time around, I’m going in with ZERO expectations & doing what feels right for us! Not what the stupid books say. Thanks for the affirmation that what I was thinking all along is right!
Thank you for posting this. I wish I had stumpled upon your blog/article last year when I had my first baby! I wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying about messing up her sleep pattern and freaking myself out and spent more time enjoying more moments with her. Great post, thank you again for this refreshing and honest post. I am mad at myself for being that impressionable new mom.
Oh Vez, don’t be mad! I was too. It came from wanting to do the right thing! I know the feeling though. I think that’s why people keep having kids, they think “with the NEXT one I’ll do it right!” But each child is so different that they never react the same 😉
I enjoyed this article so much thank you! To be honest I return to read it about every week when I have those nagging doubts about whether nursing to sleep is affecting my son’s ability to “self soothe” and its absolute tripe that I should feel like that and your article serves to remind me of that! He is rested, happy and sleeps pretty well, with a few wake ups still at 9 months but will nurse back to sleep in minutes meaning we all get a longer nights sleep and barely hear a cry from him. Thank you for your honesty and experience on this- I am very grateful!
Oh you’re very welcome, Katy! Olive is still up around once a night doing the same thing but she’s also skirt through the night a few times lately, too which is very cool!
I always have to learn a lesson a few times before it sticks, too 😉
I have just two words to say. Or maybe it’s one – I’m too tired to know any more. THANK YOU!
Aw, thank you, Becky! And you’re welcome!! I hope you get some sleep 🙂
I needed this. Thank you.
My 4 month old thanks you too 😉
Just imagine if your child did the waking every 1-2 hours (or even more frequently) for not a week, but months on end until you were vomitting from sleep deprivation, she was an overtired mess, and you didn’t know how anyone was supposed to function in your household any more? You wouldn’t be calling that “Dark Time” this normal developmental thing any more, I don’t think.
Nope, probably not! Olive’s sleep has always fluctuated from good to bad, I was just pointing out that sometimes there are underlying issues that preclude “good” sleep in infants and toddlers.
Thank you so much for posting this! I have a six month old that I nurse for naps and bedtime. I have ways feared I am doing this wrong and that it will cause her problems but I do not believe in CIO or sleep training. We have been blessed with a baby that sleeps through the night and when she does wake up she will put herself back to sleep. There is no one way to do things and there is no one way for a baby to behave. When she does wake up and needs me, I never ignore her. I respond to her and comfort her. I’ve never commented on an article before, but this one really resonated with me.
Thank you so much for commenting 🙂
I’m so glad you’ve found this to be true as well, and I’m so glad you have a good sleeping baby! Keep on keepin on
Wow, it’s like you’re peering in my nursery window! At 9 months my baby is flipping back and forth between 8 hour sleeps and summoning me every hour (on the half hour). He’s one leg twist from figuring out how to crawl and loves standing assisted while holding the ottoman. I’m holding you to the idea that it will get better once he nails these skills! I nurse him to sleep but don’t believe that I’m ruining him or that I’ll have to do so until he’s 32. Thank you for this!
Amy, I feel your pain. However my son is now 22 months and this past year he has flipped from sleeping through the nights to getting up once to getting up every hour to now, not going back down unless I sleep with him. I hope this is just a phase. For whatever reason, he takes comfort in me laying next to him and honestly, I will take the stiff back and sleepy days for some extra snuggles! It won’t be long before he’s pushing his old mom away from my hugs and kisses! We are going to try moving him to a “big boy” bed and see if that encourages him to stay in bed. I don’t have high hopes, but again, who can resist more one on one snuggle time?! 🙂
You’re welcome! Hoping tonight is an 8-hr night 😉
Wonderful article. Even though we stuck pretty closely with a ‘sleep training’ program for a few months, I am happy to see so many parents reading and relating. I certainly relate! We (I) decided we needed to do SOMETHING as I was getting up every 1-2 hours for months, and I was NOT liking the grump I was turning into. We stuck VERY close to the sleep training program for a month or so. But now (4 months later), I have loved what I learned. I am much more flexible about how we approach sleep for our little babe, but I really believe she benefited from us learning about her sleep. We’ve adapted what we learned to work best for all 3 of us. Knowing when(ish we should be home for a nap, watching for signs that she’s tired etc. Nursing her to sleep now that I think of it never worked that well, I would slowwwly get up, walk to the crib (with her still sucking away) and every so slightly put her down in the crib when her sucking settled… 8/10 she woke up anyhow. And I gotta say, since we started “sleep training”, this baby is as happy as can be when she’s awake. It worked for us, but getting too hung up on what’s “normal” can be a new parent’s worst enemy (same with comparing what developmental milestones your baby has achieved vs. your friend’s!…) Keep writing!
What an awesome open minded comment! I love it. Thank you for sharing your relaxed approach, I’m glad you found something that worked for your family 🙂
Holy grail. Thank you!!
THANK YOU ! I wonder if I can translate this for you in spanish, I have a 1000 friends that would benefit from reading this.
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Thank you for writing this! It really hit home and makes me feel much better to know that there are other moms out there who feel the way I do. Well written!
Thank you so much for a refreshingly honest and accurate discussions of infant sleep. Since my 5m old was born I have fed her to sleep and everyone wanted to talk me out of doing it, like she would never settle on her own, ever. Interestingly she is one of the best sleepers of the dozen or so babies her age I know. Occasionally we get 10-12hr stretches, sometimes just 2-4, she is healthy, happy. Very occasionally she even settles herself to sleep by chatting away to herself but if she cries, I will pick her up and I will feed her. I just wish, like you, that I wasn’t made to feel like I’m failing her or doing something wrong. I think it’s our job to parent around the clock and care for our babies when we are called to do so not when it suits us. I often wonder whether the sleep-trained babies lead to more stress when they don’t conform, I also wonder whether those who refuse to nurse their babies to sleep are simply extending the tired/grumpy phase their babies go through before they finally nod-off… Seems illogical to me.
So thank you for being the first person to unequivocally agree with me and support my choice. Obviously it’s worked for you and I’m confident it will work for us too.
Totally agree – my 7 month old and her (our) sleep brings me new challenges every month but I have faith…
If you go back to nature, you’ll find all animals caring for their little ones all the time, they nurse all the time and those who can, carry them all the time, like monkies, coalas etc.. I think I read all the sleep training methods available since my LO was born, now she is 6 months and still didn’t even try any of the sleep trainings. The reason is that deep inside it didn’t feel right. I always nurse or rock my baby to sleep. She wakes up twice at night to nurse and I’m not saying I’m super fresh in the morning or not tired but I feel right and happy that I decided this way. My LO is a happy child because she finds me when she needs me.
Thank you for posting this!! I couldn’t agree more with you and it is so nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have been berated so many times for nursing my daughter to sleep even though I know that is what is best for us. It is hard to not feel alone in that sometimes and always nice to find someone who doesn’t want to tell me how I’m doing it all wrong! Thanks!
your doing what works for your baby…….. each and every one are diffrent……… if it is not broke dont fix it 😀 x
can i just say i nursed my baby to sleep every time he needed t sleep…… never did he go to sleep without my breast but at a year old ish (okay more like 18 months) he was in his own bed no longer having breast at all telling me he as ready for his bath and bed and now is a happy healthy 3 and a half year old…… he slept in my bed till 18 months so when he woke he coould be nursed back to sleep and was constantelly attached to me via my boob even whilst we were both asleep….. i would wake up and he would still be attached…….. he has slept through since about 3 months even b4 he only woke when he had detached from me…….. so always slept pretty much thrugh but never hear a peep now he is in his own room…… little man has grown up now :’-( xx
This is a terrific post! Thank you for your truth telling. We must change the perception that the children have a problem with their sleep when it’s really the parents that have the problem! I nursed both my kids to sleep for years (AND I still lie down every night with my almost 8 yo so he can touch my hair) and loved those times soooo much!!! However, as a mom whose boys both took years to get through the night, it is grueling. Have faith parents, it will happen. In our house we say babies sleep through the night at 38 months because that is when our boys both slept through the night (the older one finally made it all night when he got a big drink of his little brother’s yummy warm newborn milk!).
YES re: parent’s problem not the child’s!
[…] read this article the other day and instantly had that “Amen” moment that you rarely have when someone […]
After nursing four babies, I’m pretty sure that one big reason babies wake up is because they get chilly. There are two ways for them to warm up: they can snuggle with mom, skin on skin, and get nice and cozy warm again, or they can scream their brains out until they warm up.
I recommend choice A, which is what our instincts tell us to do, what you and I both chose to do as new moms, and what works best for mom and baby.
Good luck on your book! I’m finishing my last edit of my first book right now too! Crazy, scary and so fun. Blessings.
i feel like we have to remember that there was only instinct to guide moms’ behavior once upon a time. so what feels SO right cannot be that far off base. trying to imagine what a totally untainted-by-modern-schools-of-thought momma would do, i think they would never refuse to breastfeed, and they’d never become alarmed that baby is falling asleep during. it’s obviously incredibly natural, which is why seemingly every baby does it. it’s not a sleep prop; it’s part of the natural behavior of babies. sheesh. some “experts” need to be slapped. also, the more secure and safe baby feels while their brain is developing, the more likely they’ll be a calm, mellow, confident kiddo. letting the fight-or-flight response dominate all of a child’s developmentmal experiences is a TERRIBLE idea, in any form it takes. have you read about “attachment parenting”? i bet you’d love the philosophy. it advocates breastfeeding as a central feature of the mom-baby relationship. it also advocates always responding to baby’s discomfort—that is, never forcing a little one who relies on you to go it alone physically or emotionally before they’re ready, but letting them show you when they’re ready, which will be different for every child (just like sleep). can i also recommend “unconditional parenting” while i’m at it, and “raising our children, raising ourselves” as great antidotes to the cold, harsh advice like you received at that talk (that, in my opinion, teaches us how to raise little neurotics & sociopaths)? they’re still experts in child development, but it’d be hard to be rubbed the wrong way by the authors of these books b/c their advice is flexible, loving, kind, compassionate, patient, and when they describe something as good for the child, it’s not thinly veiled advice on what is most convenient/least effort for the parent—it’s actually all about what’s best for the child, and it asks you to be the judge, b/c you know your child best (not to rely blindly on specific, rigid rules). and it doesn’t ask you to go against your tender, motherly instincts; if there’s challenging advice, it’s only b/c it asks you to dig deeper into that reservoir of tenderness (and patience)!
[…] dear friend just sent me this blog article about all this, and boy did it make me feel better! Thankfully I’ve never faltered with my […]
God I so agree! I had my son on a routine from 2 weeks & while he responded beautifully when we had our daughter, now 7mths I didnt have the time to spend ‘putting her’ on the routine as I was chasing after my toddler….when I would turn around to put her to bed she had thought ‘sod this’ & put herself to bed! I felt duped to say the least!! What I worked so hard at with him she did all on her own. So I say the same. Do whatever it is that gets you through the night without wanting to shoot yourself in the face! Thanks for your ramblings.
Thanks for your article. While I still believe there are a few general principles that can help your baby to sleep more at night such as a routine of ‘feed, play, sleep’ and trying to get them used to settling themselves off to sleep; the only thing I’m sure of now is that all babies are individuals. There is no perfect formula! After years of pediatric nursing, years of running a play group and raising my 2 boys (now 7 & 9years) I’m convinced the only thing that works is what suits your baby plus you plus your partner, and therefore that will vary for every family. Although my youngest usually put himself to sleep I needed to feed him off to sleep for his afternoon nap sometimes because it was the only way we could both get some sleep while my toddler slept. Also I sometimes wonder why I pushed my oldest son to self settle- it dosent suit his personality. At age 9 years old, last night he said to me “mummy I love it when you sit with me and give me a hug as I fall asleep, it’s my favorite part of the day” . He will come back downstairs in tears if we forget to tuck him in.
Love what you wrote. I’m a postpartum doula and I teach my moms to do what feels right to them. To follow their instincts and to not get caught up in google, books and opinions. Every baby is different and you need to trust that you know your baby the best and will do what they need. My almost 3 year old was nursed to sleep for a long time and both my kids slept on their stomachs. Do what works for you!
So true. Some kids can be nursed, rocked, sung, or whatever to sleep and do fine. Others not so much. If the “habits” and their sleep is not an issue for you then it’s not an issue. Ferber actually even says this in his book. He even says that if you can nurse them down to sleep or rock them down and they sleep all night then it’s not a problem, it becomes a problem when it’s a problem for you. We still deal with my daughter and sleep. We have done so many different types of sleep training and I do think it has helped us because it has been bad and was not working for us (5-6 times a night wasn’t working for me when she was 6 months old…I was just too tired). Anyway she’s 2 yrs old. Still wakes usually once a night but goes down quickly which is fine. Now we sit in her room till she falls asleep. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes not. We’ve just starting doing this because we found it’s clearly what she needs. We’ve also found that she definitely needs much less sleep than other kids. It’s just something you learn about your kid and have to accept. And you have to follow your intuition. A friend of mine said she just thinks to herself we’re not going to be doing this when they are 10 yrs old.
We do the exact same thing with our almost two year old son. Sometimes, I find myself awake at night hoping he will get up and need me! I know as parents deprived of sleep, it can be frustrating getting up and down, but just as I miss it in the present, one day, these are the moments we might miss the most. 🙂
You have some excellent ideas. As a parent of 3 and grandmother of 1 I can tell you that you are right. I wish there were more people like you.
Thanks for a beautiful article. My favorite part of my day is nursing my 6 month old to sleep, even though she usually has what we call “second bedtime” 30 minutes later, sometimes she sleeps all night, and sometimes she needs a 2am feeding.
Thank you! As I read this article I just happened to be nursing my three month old son to sleep. I have worried about this on many occasions because much of the material that I have read not only recommends against it but seemingly judges me for it. The first author I picked up on the subject as an anxious new Mom actually ridiculed clients who were getting it wrong. It’s good to read for once that I’m not messing up my kid by choosing an approach to bedtime that is soothing and easy for us both.
Hi! I came across this cause a newish mom friend linked to it on Facebook. I have 4 kiddos, but the youngest is almost 7. I nursed them all to sleep. In fact, I even had them in my bed up to and past 2 years with the youngest. Despite all the (many many) naysayers who said they would never learn to sleep on their own, that I would never get them out of my bed, that I was ruining their likelihood of growing into functional, independent, normal individuals, I did what felt right.
When the time game for them to transition into their own beds, and not be nursed or soothed to sleep – they all did it just fine! Sure, there were a few days of transition for each of them, and we stuck to the routine and commitment at that stage that they would now be in their own beds and we and they would feel some pain with the new adjustment.
However, not one of them took more than a few days to transition, and in the end they were going to sleep fine, in their own beds, (even the one who started this process at 9 months) without being nursed, without crying, without hours of stress from me. They did not need to be taught to do this when they were 2 weeks old. They were taught and helped to do this when the time was right for them and they learned very quickly.
Humans are amazing. Humans adjust, adapt, survive, make it work. That includes even the youngest of humans. Silly books and experts to try to make us believe they are like machines who only work properly given certain maintenance procedures.
Don’t listen to them. Listen to yourself. End of story.
Your last paragraph is so so so so so so true! Well said. Couldn’t agree more.
Thank you SO MUCH for writin this. It actually made me tear up a little because this is exactly EXACTLY what I have been going through with my just 4 month old. I stumbled upon the Do Not Nutse to Sleep advice and have been very conflicted with trying to not do that when it feels so natural. I am going to stick with my gut an thank you for encouraging me to do so.
Definitely stick with your gut. I have just night weaned Olive, (which is will write a post about in a few weeks) and I find these sorts of transitions way easier for both of us now that I know she can understand me, and what I’m telling her. Keep on keepin on, mama!
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Yes mommas. Nurse your babies ! Nurse em to sleep, nurse em to playdates, naptime….I nursed for “me time!”
That’s right I nursed for ME. The minute baby latched on I was hooked. The wonderful oxytocin flooding my system…Ah, totally relaxing.
Our society relies on keeping our culture under the thumb of “expert advice”
Mommas, You will get this from the nurses, authors, pediatricians, teachers, in-laws….
Do not expect cheerleaders. This is the toughest stuff for women. But this will make you strong. The feminists don’t get it. You will find women who understand some of it.
I totally get it.
Only mommas know their babies.
I found your post interesting but wonder why you feel the need to use such foul language. Its very distracting and unsettling.
What “foul language”?! There is nothing offensive in the post.
Did I say it was “offensive?” Nope. Just foul. Not very professional.
You know, I’ve often questioned how often I swear in my writing, and whether I should try to avoid it altogether.
I think I do it because I tend to write the same way I speak (or would speak, if I was able to express myself better verbally), and when I’m writing about something I feel impassioned about, or telling a story that makes someone feel like they were right there with me, swearing for emphasis feels most natural, and the most like I would speak if talking to a close friend.
I totally understand that this style may bother some readers, but it’s how I feel most comfortable writing.
If it is working for mum and baby, then surely that is perfect? There isn’t a single person out there that knows how to soothe every single baby. They are all unique and just because something works for one baby, it doesn’t mean it works for them all.
As mums, we need to listen to our babies and do what we feel if right for them.
This is a great blog entry. If you and your family are getting the sleep you need, then carry on as usual and don’t worry about what you “should be doing”. It’s like one of the other responders – nursing your baby to sleep is not a problem until it is. If your baby can always nurse to sleep and sleeps in great stretch at night, then you have it made. As a mama who finds breast feeding to be one of life’s greatest joys – I would have gladly nursed my babies to sleep for every nap and ever night. Unfortunately, a lot of babies who are always nursed all the way to a sleeping state wake up every time their sleep cycle ends and can not get back to sleep without nursing again. Most babies have a sleep cycle that is only 30-40 minutes, so as you can imagine this can be 10x a night. You were blessed with an easy baby who is a great sleeper. You mention that her daughter started sleeping through the night on her own at 4 months of age. Wow, that is awesome. You also mentioned that for exactly one week between the ages 4 and 11 months your child was up every 1-2 hours. ONE WEEK. You called that one week your “dark time”. One sleepless week was your dark time….hmm I think your baby might be the best sleeper I have ever met. I don’t know many babies like that. But I do now many babies who wake every 1-2 hours every single night for months and months. Can you imagine that? It would make your dark time look like a walk in the park. What should those moms do – just say “oh well, I wasn’t blessed with a fantastic sleeper” and so I should be up all night? Those moms deserve to know that there are people out there to help them. It is a proven fact sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of PPD. And what about those moms who are suffering from PPD and there baby is not sleeping – you are telling them they just need to suck it up? I started in my profession (I am one of the mentioned “dreaded sleep consultants”) because without sleep, us and our children can not function as happy and healthy human beings. Again kudos to those lucky enough to have babies who just sleep – but for the rest of us (myself included with my first child) there are people who can help us navigate the confusing world of getting your baby (and yourself) much needed sleep. Again, if you and your family are getting the sleep you need – carry on. But remember that while sleep is not something we are born knowing how to do. And most babies do need to be taught – be it with a very gentle method or a more extreme one. I would just hate to be the mom who has the challenging baby and who read this blog – and thinks wow I must be doing something wrong…because most babies just aren’t that easy. I wish you luck with number 2 my friend. You just may re-think you current stance.
You are lucky to have a kid that is a good sleeper. Many of us aren’t this lucky and we have to resort to teaching our babies how to sleep so we may have some sanity in the house. After 8 months of waking every 2/3 hours at night to feed our son to sleep, we decided to sleep train him. It was the toughest and the best decision we made. He is 3 now and a rocking sleeper.
Every child is different. My advice is: do what works best for your family.
Totally, completely and utterly agree. I beat myself up when my kids didn’t “sleep through” but once I realised I was setting them, and myself up to fail, and the problem was more in the expectation than the reality it was SO much easier. Don’t expect a routine, don’t expect a full night’s sleep – and you will cope SO much better emotionally with the reality. Great post.
This advice applies to every aspect of parenting. Every time I have gone against my instinct and followed the advice of teachers, doctors, experts, things have fallen apart. When I listen to my gut and what I know is right for my child because I am his mother, everything falls into place.
I do think we should listen to suggestions and take advice but only when that advice feels right. Only when it works for you. My son is a teenager now and I still get that feeling that I’m doing things “wrong” sometimes. Then I force myself to listen to my heart and let that guide me.
FYI my son is one of the best, most kind people I know and makes me proud on a daily basis so following your heart and owning your mothering instincts does pay off.
Reblogged this on Serene Criticism and commented:
My friend shared this post about infant sleep over the weekend and it could not have arrived on my screen at a better moment. Even with my second daughter at 15 months old and a wealth of knowledge that rough patches in parenting do pass, I simply needed to be reminded that we are not the only ones clawing our eyes out from a week of intense sleep deprivation. No, in fact we are “normal,” for whatever that means, and after a relatively relaxing weekend, we will all survive. Now pass that second cup of coffee and start another pot.
I could have written it. Totally! Still nursing at 21 months and yes, people love telling me how she is too old for that. And, yeah, for sleeping with us. And yes I nod and then really sorry for them not knowing what is to snuggle with this little, warm, needing you body and to wake up by a set of eyes staring at you for good morning
Thank you SO very much for writing this. AS a first time mom of a now 4 month old I have been feeling exactly the same way, thank you for making me feel like I’m not doing something wrong!
Nursing to sleep doesn’t work for all babies. As a naturopath specialising in family health I see a lot of mothers who are so sleep deprived because their baby can only ever go back to sleep with a nurse. This affects their health both physical and mental, as well as their milk output. There is no one-size-fits all formula. Routines work well for some babies and others do just fine being nursed to sleep. I’m sorry you had such a traumatic experience at that nurse talk – I can completely understand how frustrated you must have been when things where working just great with your little one. I have, however, met plenty of very empathetic nurses who’ve been very helpful to new mums.
I totally agree on all counts 🙂
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I have three children (now ages 9, 8, and 5) and ALL THREE were incredibly different in their sleep when they were babies. My oldest slept through the night at 6 weeks! YUP! 6 Weeks! I thought I had it in the bag with sleeping babies and I had it all figured out. Then came my son. The ONLY way he would sleep through the night was in his swing….for 9 months…yes….9 months. He is now my BEST sleeper. Out like a light at bedtime and wakes up happy. Moving on to child number 3, I nursed her to sleep until she was 7 months old. Why? Because I knew she was my last one and that’s what I wanted to do! Let me tell you ladies, they will ALL sleep through the night when they are ready to sleep through the night. That’s all there is to it!
Thank you so much for writing this! My baby is going through a dark time herself, and I’m feeling at the end of my rope. Last night I just kept saying, “I can’t be a mother anymore”. This encouraged me more than I can express! Thank you thank you thank you!
I have a 3 and 6 year old. I nursed both of my babies to sleep until they were just a little over a year old. To this day I out them to bed around 6:30 and they both sleep good until 7-8am. Periodically threw the night I can hear my youngest wake up and talk to himself. But they are both easily capable of self soothing. I say who cares what the ‘experts’ say. They don’t know my kids like I do. Each child is an individual, not everything works for everyone all of the time.
As a mother of three boys, I loved this. I try so hard to tell my expectant friends that you will never know how you will parent until you become one because every baby is different and every PARENT is different. You have to find a groove that works for both of you and chances are that it’s going to be completely different then every other baby-parent relationship you have ever come across. and in the long run who is going to be happier, the mother who spent hours holding abd living her baby or the mother who is going crazy because she has been trying to get her baby to “self sooth” herself to sleep? I have done both and the older my kids get the more I see how important it is just to simply LOVE
I just happened to catch this on FB. My “baby” is now almost 31 years old. When he was born I was told not to nurse him to sleep. “Let him cry,” said the doctor. Well, being a new young mother, I did. He cried for an hour and then silence. I peeked in to check and he had stopped breathing and turned blue. After that, I stopped listening to the “experts” and began to follow my instinct. My son didn’t need sleep. He was 10 before he slept through the night. As a toddler, not only wouldn’t he take naps, even being awake all day, he wouldn’t sleep at night. Finally, I let him follow his own pattern of sleep needs. No more stress on me. No more stress on him. I’m happy to say he is now a successful college graduate and has a great job. BTW, he does sleep now!
Keep up the good work!
I had the exact thing happen with my first born. Felt like a failure because I nursed him to sleep and even co slept with him. People left and right made sure I knew I was doing it wrong. He’s 3 now and sleeps through the night and still will come to bed with me sometimes but it makes me so mad that our society has made the natural instincts of a mother as something to feel guilty about. Thank you for sharing, it’s always nice to hear other moms who do things the “natural” way. Feels like we have to keep it a dark secret we can’t discuss with anyone.
Thank you for bringing me back to reality!! I have a 5week old and I made the mistake of reading Hogg’s secret of the baby whisperer. I thought I could get my baby boy on a schedule no problem. It’s has honestly been a horrible difficult challenge and I felt defeated! I found the other day when I was out and about and on no real time schedule, he slept for 2 hours in my arms or on my friends chest. He’s wake talk coo wiggle nurse and back out again. I think your article made me realize I need to stop looking at the clock and pay more attention to him. I also felt guilty for constantly holding him, co sleeping, even having daddy give him a bottle of formula. But I know what works, how he sleeps better and how we as parents will do what it takes to sleep!!
Oh my gosh yes- at 5 weeks tell all the schedules to go to hell! Olive always slept better when I wasn’t trying to manhandle her into someone else’s timetable- but it took a long time to learn that lesson!
Cuddle your baby, cosleep, celebrate your awesome formula feeding man… It sounds like you are doing an amazing job.
You can’t spoil a baby with love. Physical contact soothes them and helps their brains grow 🙂
I loved this. As new parents we all have to realize there is no real right way to do anything. We ate going to get criticized for it no matter what we do. I went through some comments and seen the comments about swearing. We are all adults here it’s not that offensive it’s just another way to judge a person. Same for Amy Lage’s comment there. I do believe sleep is a very natural response and we are born knowing how to do. But everyone has to learn what is most comfortable for them to fall asleep and a routine. I haven’t seen anyone just not sleep for years because it was not natural. This article or what I take from it is that the experts are telling parents they are doing things “wrong”. When your baby and yourself get good sleep there is nothing wrong with that. Those mothers that co sleep if it works for you kudos. That could be dangerous for others, like myself. My husband and I are very heavy sleepers we’d probably kill our kids trying to have them in our bed with us. Those parents that nurse their babies to sleep kudos we can. I honestly feel bad for those who can’t or won’t nurse their babies at all but it didn’t work for them. I am glad for those that study this and many other problems with kids. I learned with my first though what works doesn’t work for everyone nor does it work every time. My youngest will be 2 months old next week. She has been rocked, nursed, self soothed, and a good few other ways out to sleep. She is a decent sleeper now but as long as I’m getting the sleep I need as well as getting the things done I need done everyone should be happy. Not say it’s wrong, like a lot of experts like to say when trying to sell their advice. Mothers need to quit competing life is not a race. Love it and live it mothers. Don’t stop giving advice either. Someone may be helped with it. Also remember to pat yourself on your back and spread confidence not judgment.
Love this!!!! I’m currently nursing my (9month old) second one to sleep each night and while she is still getting up to nurse twice a night, she is also crawling and pulling up and trying to walk. Along with popping out teeth!
Milk is supposed to put them to sleep! I’m convinced that sleep training was created by people who could not nurse their babies to sleep!
And guess what, the habit of sitting in the same spot each evening to nurse works when given a pumped bottle by hubby or my mother! She still falls asleep!
What a great article on sleep and babies. I enjoyed the comments as well. As a mother of 8, the youngest now 18, I’ll add my two cents. I nursed all my children past 1 year of age. They ALL had different sleep patterns and nothing was ever predictable. My job was not to change what their internal clock was saying but to just find the best way to cope and to adjust …and that seems to sum up a lot of parenting no matter the age.
The only schedule babies know is their own. They are very basic creatures with very basic needs, why complicate things? Babies and toddlers don’t have any terms of reference, they don’t care if we have a house to clean or laundry to fold and they aren’t aware that we need groceries, a hot cup of tea or more sleep. They only know to try to let us know what they need so they can feel secure and happy.
You only have them for 18 years or so…and it goes by in a flash. By all means listen to everyone’s advice and then do what you feel works best. You, after all, are the one who has to live with them…and if that means knowing every channel reruns of Friends are on between midnight and 6am, so be it…it won’t last forever.
Make the most of this time and save frustrating both yourself and your child….throw your expectations and everyone else’s opinions out the window and parent your child the way you feel works best…and learn to trust yourself! You’ll both be happier and that will pay off in the long run!
I seriously LOVE you for writing this! Thank you!!!!!
Aw, thank YOU Bridget!
I love this! Wish I would have figured that out when I was on baby #1. Also… Your baby is adorable.
Thank you so much, Emily!
While I appreciate that your story is coming from a good place of wanting to encourage others to continue innate mothering practices, I feel that this campaign of “follow your instincts” is completely unnecessary to begin with.
For whatever reason you decided to seek advice on baby sleep even though your baby slept like a rock star. Fine. It is unfortunate that it sounds as though the advice that was given was terribly misdirected and misinterpreted. Bummer. It is also unfortunate that you were impressionable enough to think that you needed to stop from breast-feeding your child to get her to sleep. Big bummer. Unfortunately, all of these missteps have led you to one conclusion, that mothers shouldn’t sleep train. And you are now passing just as much judgement on these approaches as the misguided nurse passed on to you.
I could not agree more that baby sleep
Is erratic and cannot be expected to be regulated in the manner and time-frame we may want. However, there are babies who truly are not capable of regulating sleep on their own. It isn’t healthy for a 9 month old to still wake every hour, sometimes staying awake for several hours in the night, feeding doing nothing to help. In fact, as a bleery-eyed mother of one of these, I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to hear from you that I should accept this and deal. Because no one, including my child, benefits from this “normalcy”. The example you used of your daughter going through a week of bad sleep, was my life for over a year. And again, being able to attribute this to milestones puts your daughter in the “normal” category. Consider yourself fortunate, as this is not always the case. Many mothers are desperate to find a reason as simple as teething or crawling for their child’s lack of sleep. If only I had been so lucky to have my child just fall back into a routine after. Also, this fallacy that you shouldn’t breastfeed your child to sleep is completely misinterpreted on your end. This is not advice for you, whose child can self-soothe. Please do not perpetuate this stigma on sleep-training. It saved my marriage, my child, and my sanity at 14 months. Something you wouldn’t understand until you’ve experienced true sleep deprivation. Mothers feel too much guilt already. We don’t need to pass this along in yet another aspect of parenthood.
Thank you for writing your comment. I completely agree! …but it’s late and I’d rather not write my own lengthy reply that will keep me up any later. So I appreciate you basically saying word for word what I was thinking. 🙂 (from a mother of a 2,