My baby is 13-months-old and I will not sleep train him, or let him cry-it-out. He doesn’t fall asleep by himself, and rarely does he even sleep by himself. Also, he does not sleep through the night. Some nights he wakes up only once or twice, other nights he wakes up about 50 bazillion times.
Yes, I am tired – SO tired. Physically and mentally. It’s tough.
But who isn’t tired? I don’t think I’ve ever talked to another parent, or another working adult for that matter, who could truthfully say, “Yes, I am well rested.”
It doesn’t matter if your baby is sleeping through the night or not. You are still a parent, parenting is hard work, and you are going to be tired.
Besides that, why do I say NO to sleep training – especially, when there are so many experts (pediatrician, friends, family members and other relatives, and of course, random strangers at stores or elsewhere determined to give us their two cents) that recommend sleep training?
Reason #1: I LOVE the snuggles!
There is nothing in this world that is more fulfilling than snuggling my baby. In a weird way, I secretly enjoy waking up to take care of him at night. It’s our special quiet snuggle time. It’s dark, the house is quiet, the older kids are sleeping, the dogs are sleeping, and the cat – well, he’s usually pawing at my door wanting to come in and play, but that’s okay, it’s still mostly quiet. And I can be still – no talking on the phone, making a to-do list, or any other multi-tasking. I just feed and hold my little, and enjoy being close and connected with him.
I realize this may be strange to some, to enjoy the night wakings. Don’t get me wrong, there are nights that I need sleep and I don’t enjoy the wakings at all. But I just have to remind myself of this next reason.
Reason #2: They’re only little for a little while.
If you are a first time mom, I know this seems cliche and far from the truth because you are exhausted and haven’t had a decent night of sleep in months. But it’s true. You are going to blink and off your baby goes to kindergarten. Blink again, middle school. Blink again, high school. As the mom of a highschooler, I am not ready to talk about what happens with the next blink ;).
But seriously, each stage of infancy goes by so stinking fast. I am okay with the night wakings because I know this to be true, and I know he eventually will sleep through the night and I’ll miss his littleness and the sleepy nighttime snuggles.
(In case you were wondering, my highschooler, who I also did not sleep train, did eventually sleep through night. In fact, he is even great at napping now 😉 )
Reason #3: Sleep training feels wrong.
Maybe not for some, but for me it does feel wrong. I understand there are gentle ways of sleep training, but for most sleep training is some version of letting your baby cry-it-out, that might or might not include timed intervals of checking on and comforting baby.
I tried a version of this with my first baby after being pressured that he needed to learn to self sooth. It was HORRIBLE. I could only handle about 20 minutes of crying. He was sobbing so hard that his snot and drool made a foamy mustache and beard around his mouth, his face was Red Delicious apple red – a shade that I didn’t even think possible for human skin to be. By the time I scooped him back into my arms, I was also crying, my stomach nauseous, my head hurting, and my heart aching from the whole ordeal. I hugged him, and nursed him, and hugged him, and promised him and myself never again.
So, I can’t stomach it. I don’t care what the “experts” say, leaving my babies alone to cry-it-out feels wrong.
Reason #4: I realized my babies wake at night because they need me.
They are not waking at night because they are spoiled, or being manipulative, or trying to make life more difficult by stealing all of the precious sleep.
They are waking because:
- Their gums hurt from teething
- They are gassy and their tummy hurts
- They are ill
- They are hungry or thirsty
- They are too hot or cold
- Their diaper needs changed
- They’re learning a new skill (new skills such as sitting, crawling, and walking often disrupt sleep patterns)
- They just need to be snuggled/comforted
There are many other reasons, but the point is if babies are waking up at night it is for a good reason, and we should comfort them.
Reason #5: I realized that babies do NOT sleep the same way as adults.
Even though babies need more sleep than adults, they also need to wake more frequently. Light sleep and frequent wakings are actually a good thing, because it means our babies are more in tune with their body and their needs, which also means a lower risk of SIDS.
So, yes I am tired – SO tired – but I am okay with that. Sleep is developmental and just like any other skill, my baby will sleep through the night when he’s ready.