Do you think there is a place for sleep training if it suits a child?’

Do you think there is a place for sleep training if it suits a child?’

I was sent a question asking,

Grubby Mummy, I’m curious to hear your thoughts after a discussion I had with a friend today. We read your sleep school article and the ones about the sleep whisperers and get that you are very anti sleep training but we wondered if this was just because you think it doesn’t suit some babies such as your own. He sounded very intense and high needs and like sleep school was very traumatic for you both but we know people who’ve been to sleep school and seen sleep consultants who swear by them and think the benefits outweighed any negatives.

Do you think there is a place for sleep training if it suits a child?’

Short answer, no.

Long answer, no but for a couple key reasons.

Firstly, it is normal infant sleep behaviour for a baby to wake and nurse frequently for the first 12 months and beyond, not a sleep problem. If a child is waking infrequently and nursing infrequently, they also do not have a sleep problem. Neither the frequent nor infrequent waker nor any baby in between, is behaving in a way that is biologically unexpected. I do not believe that a baby who is behaving just as they should be ‘needs’ to be trained to sleep in a manner that society has decided is more desirable to fit in with what is seen as the holy grail of parenting- a self settling baby who sleeps through the night.

Secondly, my second baby actually fits the bill for what you’ve described and I think sleep training would ‘work’ on him very quickly.

This thought actually makes me feel sick.

I am so grateful this baby came after his big brother. If he had been my first, I most likely would have ‘succeeded’ at sleep training him and my parenting path would be vastly different to the journey I have been on as a result of our ‘failure’.

For me, even though I do think I could train this baby of mine to sleep all night, self settle, sleep in his own cot, stop night nursing and not call out for me at night, I could not think of anything I would rather do less. Why?

Despite him being ‘suited’ personality wise to training, his natural sleep pattern still involves waking, sometimes frequently, mostly infrequently and nursing back to sleep each time. It is what he asks for as I follow his lead.

I will not sleep train this flexible, relaxed baby of mine because regardless of what I stand to gain, it is nowhere near enough for me to consider risking what may possibly be lost in the process.

My distaste for all things sleep training runs deep and although it was spawned through traumatic personal experience, it has grown ever since as I have learned more and more about normal infant sleep and also the benefits of gentler approaches to infant care. Some may argue that there is no proof that sleep training harms babies. For my babies, this isn’t enough.

My instincts, my heart and my baby all tell me that responding to my little one both during the day and throughout the night is the path that feels right.

Many will disagree with me. I am okay with that. Sleep training is the norm these days. It is mainstream and pumped down mother’s throats daily (particularly if they have a wakeful baby). Voices of dissent from the norm are important. So I will keep sharing my view on this topic. Not to upset those who choose or have chosen the sleep training path, but for those who are looking for an alternative view of this weary season in life. One that doesn’t involve changing their baby.

Sleep deprivation’s a bitch but I will manage this weary season in my life without sleep training my baby regardless of whether he is ‘suited’ to the process or not.

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