The utter crap spun by Baby Sleep Whisperers: episode 2- knowing your baby’s cry

The utter crap spun by Baby Sleep Whisperers: episode 2- knowing your baby’s cry

Did you miss episode 1: linking sleep cycles? Find it here 💙

In my second instalment, I’d like to discuss another popular element in sleep training bibles -the notion that in order to teach your baby to self settle, you need to be able to tell the difference between their ‘protest cry’ versus their ‘emotional cry’. The idea being that if they are just protesting then they are fine to be left and it’s only when they start becoming ‘emotional’ that they need you to step in with whatever form of ‘soothing’ or ‘comforting’ each particular sleep trainer feels is appropriate.  
I have two problems with this one.

  1. Not all babies have a ‘protest cry’ despite what the cookie cutter baby sleep books say.
  2. All crying is communication not manipulation and therefore I’d rather not waste my time listening for the type of cry and simply accept that my tiny, helpless human is unhappy and is asking for help and go and help them in the way I know they want me to help them.

To elaborate a little, I freely admit I am scarred from my horrendous sleep school  experience. The first 24 hours are the lowest point in my life to date. I was told repeatedly in those 24 hours that my baby was ‘just protesting’ as he fired warning shot after warning shot and drifted further and further from the sleep they seemed to think he was heading towards while he ‘protested’. I knew this. I knew my baby. I knew he didn’t protest, he was simply warning that he was building and building and without intervention he would blow his top into hysteria. I told nurse after nurse and they denied this. They ignored me. The one person in the building who actually knew this child and they blew me off. Why? Because the sleep training model they followed said they were right and I was wrong. You know what happened though? Each time he built and built and they held me at the door assuring me he was doing just fine and then he blew. He hit hysteria. 0-100 in 2 seconds flat just as he had done every time I’d experimented with anything similar at home.

There are many babies like mine. The 0-100 babies who are ALL emotion. No protest. They NEED help and they are not backwards in demanding it comes forward. Despite seeing it with their own eyes, these nurses maintained that ‘he will learn’ and wanted me to persist with this cruel routine that saw them rocking my sweating, hysterical baby off to sleep as all their techniques failed to calm the storm I told them was brewing.

If your sitting their thinking, you’re the mother, if you knew you were so right, why didn’t you do something?

You’re right. It still guts me to my core that I didn’t take my baby and run. But it gives you just some idea of the shell of a mother I became. Full of doubt, lacking confidence, I put my trust into this sleep school program thinking that clearly my way wasn’t working and they were experts who dealt with this stuff every week.

Sleep training and mainstream society’s bullshit expectations of infant sleep did this to me. They made me question everything I’d done before to settle my child. They made me doubt I had any motherly instinct at all. They made me feel as though I couldn’t trust my own baby. I felt I couldn’t listen to him as he clearly didn’t know what was good for him.

If YOUR baby does genuinely have a wee little grizzle before popping off peacefully to sleep, then there’s every chance you’re thinking I’m overhyping this and that sleep training was the best thing you ever did and not even remotely traumatic for you or your baby. To you, I say I am happy for you and may you never witness or experience this process with a baby who does not have a protest cry but if you do, please have the strength that I didn’t to pull out of the process that is clearly an inappropriate match for the needs of that baby.

My second problem  with this ‘learn your baby’s cries’ bollocks is, a baby’s cry is their only form of communication. They’ve got nothing else. They also don’t cry just for shits and giggles. I try to respect this by honouring my baby’s cries as promptly as is humanly possible with two small people. If my baby is grizzling or warning as I like to look at it, I’d prefer to help answer his need while he’s still quite calm rather than wait til he’s all worked up and emotional. I try to put it in my adult perspective, if I need something or have something that’s bothering me, I’d prefer to talk with my husband and solve the issue rather than have him ignore my calm pleas and then wait and hop to it when I start howling. Or even as a model for my children, if something needs to be discussed I can address it with them calmly rather than have them only listen to me once I’ve blown my top.

This applies to sleep. If my baby cries for help, no matter the strength or emotion, I will help and in the way I know is required for my unique baby not the way the book says. I don’t need to work out the difference in my baby’s cries as the answer always involves the same thing- responding and comforting through contact and cuddles. 


So Baby Sleep Whisperers can protest cry all they want. I’ll stick to following my babies and my heart by answering their cries no matter what.

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Honesty versus Caution… The Mummy Blogger conundrum

Honesty versus Caution… The Mummy Blogger conundrum

Becoming a mum is a mind blowing experience. Being a mum is a minefield. Every which way you turn there are ‘experts’ claiming to know what is best for the care of babies. Every technique has its proponents and opponents. You are bombarded with advice from friends, family, even strangers and that’s without even setting foot in the social media world full of parenting pages from sleep ‘experts’ to mummy bloggers all filling your head with words, advice, images, more words, more advice, more images. Some make your heart swell and build you up but then just one click later BANG the self doubt, guilt and questions about what you and your baby are doing are back again.  

What’s a mum to do?

The answer is, follow YOUR baby and you can’t go wrong. Follow what feels right in YOUR heart and you can’t go wrong.

If some stupid article has you tied up in knots, ask yourself why. If you are happy, your baby is happy, your family is happy and your choices are safe … F#%^ that article right off out of your headspace! It clearly wasn’t written for you or yours.

If it stirs up residual guilt, then there is every chance your happiness is suffering and you’d benefit from processing your experience more fully so you can get to a place of acceptance and happiness. This MAY involve changing your path but it also may not.


So what’s a blogger to do?

I challenge anyone to write an article that is truly in support of ALL mothers about any specific topic and still sound like they are genuine.

I’ve written many articles feeling like they are as ‘inclusive’ and ‘judgement’ free as possible and STILL some one will call me on it. I’ve since kind of given up on the idea and now choose to write from my point of view but am mindful of those who take a differing path and make sure I am still respectful of their choices no matter that I disagree. This does not mean I will promote or advocate these choices and I certainly won’t be sitting in the sidelines cheering them on as that wouldn’t me being true to me and my heart.

Does this make me the perfect mum and those who do it differently bad or uncaring? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I am far from perfect, nobody is nor need to be. We all do what we decide is best in our unique circumstances and it’s important that we can own that. I own my choices and you should own yours. If your choices fill you with guilt, then maybe some processing is required on your part. Getting all up in arms at some random blogger who stirred it up is not going to help you move on to a happy place in life. If your choices fill you with happiness then I’m sure you will brush off the bullshit you think I’m spinning and move on.

Blogging feels good for me. I love writing and right now my favourite topics are all things gentle mum. I advocate for breastfeeding, bedsharing and babywearing. That’s where my heart’s at and passions lie. I have a distinct distaste for all thing sleep training and sleep trainers in particular. I won’t shy away from that. Sleep training is actually mainstream practice (shiver down my spine). Those of us who don’t believe in it are actually in the minority right now so for all those people who are looking for positive support and articles on the pro sleep training side, you will have ZERO trouble finding support (just talk to your local CHN). Voices such as mine and other gentler parenting bloggers may seem loud and persistent but this is small fry compared to the bombardment of pro sleep training bullshit your average new parent will encounter on their journey especially if they have a wakeful child.

So I speak from my experience. I tell raw truths even if they are only my truths. I throw caution to the wind in the vain hope I can reach some likeminded souls needing a fresh perspective or reassurance that there is a way to do this incredibly tough job while still following a gentle style of parenting. Without conforming to the mainstream.

As a blogger, I may just reach just one mama and make her feel okay and that to me is worth it.

So, honesty needs to win in my book. If you want caution and you want Team Mummy to come out to play with no ifs and buts, then keep on looking, but even if you do find it, you may just miss the realness and connection you find with bloggers who just tell it like it is, even if their ‘like it is’ is nothing like yours.

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The utter crap spun by Baby Sleep Whisperers: episode 1- linking sleep cycles

The utter crap spun by Baby Sleep Whisperers: episode 1- linking sleep cycles

So this series of blog posts is dedicated to calling out some of the crappy advice given in sleep training books and sites. My particular beefs generally all stem from my biggest beef of all- sleep training books make mums and dads who are actually parenting and responding to their own unique child beautifully, suddenly feel like big fat failures, like they’ve been doing it all wrong and THAT’S why their baby sleeps the way they do. These books prey on vulnerable, sleep deprived, desperate families and instead of building them up with knowledge based on actual research on normal infant sleep they offer a prescription to ‘fix’ their perfectly normal child’s sleep. It blows my mind that all the things that happen so naturally, so instinctually to settle and soothe our baby to sleep are exactly the things these faux ‘sleep whisperers’ belittle and warn against. Sleep deprivation really freaking sucks but dreaming up a one size fits all, follow this and do that prescription to train our tiny new humans to do something they are physiologically not meant to do is just bullshit in my opinion. So here I go, in all my non expert but real life, non textbook baby related experience, this is something I call UTTER CRAP on.  

In the very first instalment of what no doubt will be quite a lengthy series, I’d like to discuss one particular bit of bullshit I’m sure you would be familiar with if you’ve even skim read a mainstream sleep training book … In order for your baby to link sleep cycles successfully, they need to be in the same place they fell asleep while being settled in the same way- if you feed your baby to sleep then you can expect them to wake between sleep cycles and only settle back if you feed them again OR if you teach your baby to ‘self settle’ in their cot then they will happily resettle through their sleep cycles because nothing has changed from the way they went to sleep in the first place.


Now, you may be thinking what I thought when I initially bought into sleep training- this makes sense. Of course it would be a rude shock to find yourself in a completely different place than where you were when you fell asleep (eg. Fell asleep in someone’s arms only to wake after a cycle alone in a cot). It does kind of sound like these sleep geniuses may be on to something. Especially if you have nothing to compare it to other than your frequently waking, catnapping, non resettling, non sleep cycle linking little sleep thief like I did. It CAN look very much like this is the answer. The holy grail as to why your little dear cannot stay asleep between cycles. But … As I found and many before me and I’m sure many after, this isn’t actually why our babies wake.

I am no sleep expert, although I have certainly had a little on the job experience, so I don’t claim to know it all but based on my observations of my own babies and babies around me, this myth just does not stack up.

Here are my anecdotal observations …

1. My non sleep cycle linking, catnapping, frequent waking shocker STILL woke and catnapped even after our few ‘successful’ settles we ‘achieved’ at and briefly after sleep school. Riddle me that. He fell asleep, in his cot, alone. No boob, no cuddles, without outside comfort aaaaaannnnnnnddddd he still couldn’t link a sleep cycle most of the time. Why?!? Because he freaking well couldn’t link a sleep cycle. It had stuff all to do with how he went to sleep and everything to do with him waking and NEEDING comfort back to sleep. Whether we withdrew the comfort and trained him not to call out for help despite still needing it or provided the comfort and helped him he woke regardless. I am thankful to this day I finally came to my senses and could see this. My poor baby needed me. The end.

2. This non sleep cycle linking, catnapping, frequent waking incredibly high needs guy once I finally surrendered, was and continues to be 2 years on, comforted in whatever way he needs to sleep every day and night of his life and guess what? He has miraculously linked sleep cycles (I know, what the hell?!?). He sometimes has 2-3 hour day sleeps and sleeps for long hours if not through the night … Even if he fell asleep in my arms and I put him in his bed. Shock horror!

3. My second guy, well he really mixes it up as far as his ability or inability to link sleep cycles goes … He’s never been trained, he’s always nursed or cuddled to sleep, he starts the night on his own mattress and then moves into bed with me sometime during the night. During the day, he sometimes sleeps in bed and other times in the carrier. With all this variation and ‘inconsistency’ you’d expect he’d be the Catnap King and wake frequently at night because he’d surely wake confused that he wasn’t still on boob or in my arms and yes, sometimes he does catnap and yes, he does go through patches of waking incredibly frequently but in general he links his sleep cycles just fine. Some nights he sleeps 8 hours straight without my help to link cycles without ever having been ‘taught’ even remotely to ‘self settle’. Some days he sleeps for 1.5-2 hours without a resettle despite having fallen asleep in my arms.

To make sense of this is really quite simple- When he can link sleep cycles he does, when he can’t, he asks for help or during the day he just has an extra kip later if resettling isn’t on the cards

The answer to why your baby can’t link cycles may be complex. There are many, many reasons they wake but I can confidently say the only sure thing to explain your baby’s waking is that they wake because they wake and if they ask for help to get back to sleep it’s because they need help back to sleep. By accepting this is where they are at and they need you as much or as little as they do today, you can save yourself and your baby so much stress and heartache.

If your baby is waking extremely frequently and you have ruled out medical reasons (eg. Reflux, food allergies or intolerances and other conditions) it is okay to simply roll with their crazy flow. They will learn to link sleep cycles in their own time. In the meantime, keep on settling that baby off to sleep in the way that works best for both of you. You aren’t doing anything wrong and it will all work out fine in the end.
The utter crap spun by Baby Sleep Whisperers: episode 2– knowing your baby’s cry

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Why I personally disagree with Controlled Crying in all its names and forms 

Why I personally disagree with Controlled Crying in all its names and forms 

This post is not written to upset, offend or judge anyone else’s parenting decisions. You do you and I’ll do me is a great way to look at all things parenting because we are all unique individuals raising unique individuals in our own unique circumstances.  

I am writing this because I was inboxed the question, ‘how would you explain why you are against controlled crying with your own child to family members who have used it with their kids?’


Hmmm tough one. Like all topics parenting, it’s not hard to find a sore spot for people. Thing is, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about. Just because we may come at things from different angles does not make the topic taboo in my book. I love hearing why people parent the way they do. I find it fascinating. Some things I hear I know are not for me and mine and others sit just nicely in my heart. So I think the only way to talk about it and still be fair to all parties is to tell the truth. Explain your thoughts, beliefs and reasoning and the other people can choose to take it as intended- you talking about you and your family choices or they can get up in arms, block you out, get offended and fill with misunderstood rage. It’s really up to them.

So here’s my answer as to why I personally disagree with controlled crying.

  1.   I tried it and it went against every motherly instinct in my body. At sleep school with my first, they did ‘responsive settling’ … To me, though others will argue it’s not, this was just a trussed up version of controlled crying. Seriously, if this was the softer, gentler version then heaven forbid I ever tried true controlled crying because it was awful. Awful for me and also awful for my baby.  
  2. I know better so I do better. Since my time at sleep school, I have learned a lot. I now know the effects of raised cortisol and stress hormones. I now know what is normal infant sleep behaviour. I now know that it’s okay to continue to help my baby to sleep. I now know that my baby does not need to be taught to self settle as he will learn to in his own time (and it may take years to fully develop). I now know that catnapping is normal and not a sleep problem.  
  3.  Trust. For me, I want my babies to know that if they need their mum they have me. No strings or conditions attached be it day or night as many times as they require as long as they require. The end.  
  4. Babies wake and need help to sleep for soooooo many reasons. I would never want to train my baby not to call out for me if they need me.  
  5. I know how to get the best quality sleep and rest I can and what to do when sleep deprivation gets the better of me and none of it involves changing the perfectly normal behaviour of my baby and everything to do with me and helping myself.  
  6. Babies who wake in an extreme fashion (mine did every 20-40mins around the clock for a few months) tend to be even more sensitive and even more in need of extra responsiveness and parental help. Being left to cry (however controlled) is not what these sensitive, intense, busy brained babies need in my opinion.  
  7. Time actually flies. I know, I know. Sometimes it seems like it’s forever but it truly goes in the blink of an eye. The weary days will end. All on their own. No crying. No broken trust. No training required.  
  8. I found being sleep deprived and fighting against my baby led me down the path to PND while being sleep deprived while accepting my baby as he was helped me recover.  
  9. Controlled Crying in all its forms does not fit my my criteria for making parenting decisions (thank you Pinky McKay) 
  • Is it safe? Nope. The science says its not.  
  • Is it respectful? Nope. I don’t believe Controlled Crying respects normal infant behaviour.  
  • Does it feel right? Absolutely not. It felt all sorts of wrong.  

So there you have it. This is why I don’t think this is an appropriate technique for my babies and therefore why I would never advocate it to others.

If you are facing pressure to go down this path, read up on the research, look at gentler options if you want to try something but don’t for one moment feel like this is something you HAVE to do. It’s not. Your family. Your choice.
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And for some expert information on this topic-

Evolutionary Parenting-

http://evolutionaryparenting.com/tag/controlled-crying/

Sarah Ockwell- Smith

https://sarahockwell-smith.com/tag/controlled-crying/

Pinky McKay

http://www.pinkymckay.com/sleeping-like-a-baby/

http://www.pinkymckay.com/baby-sleep-trainers-do-you-have-the-guts-to-tell-them-to-bugger-off/

BellyBelly

http://www.bellybelly.com.au/baby-sleep/cry-it-out/

http://www.bellybelly.com.au/baby-sleep/controlled-crying-study-are-babies-really-okay/

http://www.bellybelly.com.au/forums/comforted-sleeping-no-cry-sleep-solutions-92/controlled-crying-controlled-comforting-sleep-training-6364/

La Leche League

http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbjanfeb09p4.html

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Is the difference between ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ souring your time with your baby?

Is the difference between ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ souring your time with your baby?

This is a question I’ve pondered before and I’ve found myself back there again today. Today, it was a mix of my own way of talking and thinking about my baby and toddler but also listening to a mummy of a very young baby and toddler venting.

My contributions were-

 ‘why won’t you go to bloody sleep?’ While trying to convince my wonder weeking wonder that sleep was indeed what his cranky arse needed.

And ‘I just got you to bloody sleep! Why won’t you just stay there!! It’s your fault you woke up and now I need to get the baby down.’ After my cranky toddler didn’t transfer from car to bed as I’d hoped.

The mummy with the little baby contributed-

 ‘she won’t sleep anywhere but on the boob at the moment.’

 And ‘even when I’ve gotten her enough sleep, she still won’t be happy. She’s always cranky right now.’


Now it may all sound a bit nitpicky but trying to change these thoughts from ‘won’t’ statements to ‘can’t’ statements can actually really help you mentally while working through the many frustrations we face with our babes.

The reason for this is that by using the word ‘won’t’ we are inadvertently implying that our baby can do whatever it is that is giving us the shits but they are choosing to be a little arsehole who will not take this option.

By choosing the word ‘can’t’ instead, we are able to acknowledge that our baby, while still giving us the shits is currently unable to simply do whatever it is we desire. Therefore, we are able to see they are not actually being an arsehole who chooses to make our life hard but a small person who is in fact struggling with an action.

This difference can really shape your current relationship with our baby or toddler (certainly not irreversibly) and as I learned first hand, YOU are the one in control here.

You have so many things that aren’t within your control as a mama that sometimes I think it’s really important to reflect on what is. Two things in our power and control at all times are our thoughts and actions.

We can choose to focus on meeting our baby at their point of need and accept that at this moment they simply can not do everything we ask or desire or we can focus on where we think they should be and grow ever more frustrated that they won’t live up to these unrealistic expectations.

So here’s our challenge. Think of all the ‘won’ts’ you are currently putting on our baby and turn them around and rework our thoughts into ‘can’t’ statements. 

Let’s rework our expectations.

Here are some more possible ‘won’t’ moments that may be in your world …

• Baby won’t self settle

• Baby won’t be put down

• Baby won’t sleep in bassinet/ cot

• Baby won’t sleep for more than 20-40 minutes

• Baby won’t resettle.

• Baby won’t sleep without boob

• Baby won’t stay lying in cot

• Baby won’t stay asleep unswaddled

• Baby won’t play alone.

• Baby won’t go to strangers

• Baby won’t settle for anyone but mum

• Baby won’t stop crying in the car

• Baby won’t stop moving/ crying while you try to get them to sleep

Now we’ve clued in and identified our thoughts, let’s try to make the mental shift away from all that they won’t do to what they simply cannot do right now. If they could the would. They can’t so let’s give them and ourselves some grace.

Breathe a little and rest easy knowing that while our little people cannot do these things, before we know it, they’ll be grown and will have mastered these and many more accomplishments all in their own time.

Accept. Breathe in. Rest easy. This too shall pass. 

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Mummy’s Little Booby Monster

Mummy’s Little Booby Monster

Mummy calls my baby brother 

By a very funny name

She says that he’s her Booby Monster

And that nursing’s his favourite game.

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Our baby can do other things

He loves to watch me play

He shrieks with laughter watching me

And crawls right in my way.

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But if our baby is feeling tired

Or something makes him sad

Mummy scoops him up and pops him on

And soon he’s back to glad.

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Our baby now eats some food like me

But while he was tiny he never

That’s why mummy has her boobs with her

So he wasn’t hungry ever.

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Mummy fed him while we were at playgroup

In the carrier at the shops

He had boob while she chased me

Even playing wouldn’t make him stop.

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Our baby likes to play booby monster

Lots and lots during the night

So he sleeps with us right next to mum

So he can boob along and sleep tight.

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Mummy says I was once her booby monster

When I was a baby too

She says she loved to cuddle me close

And nurse away my blues.

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Mummy and our baby Booby Monster

Have lots of cuddles now

But Mummy always has cuddles for me

And she loves to show me how.

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Grubby Mummy and the Grubby Bubbies

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