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Would I have been happier if I’d just sleep trained like my friends?

Would I have been happier if I’d just sleep trained like my friends?

This question appeared in my feed.

The answer best comes in the shape of another question, is the grass always greener on the other side?

Sleep training is not the miracle cure all that it is often portrayed as and although it is proclaimed to have worked ‘wonders’ for many, it is the source of much stress, anxiety, repetition and struggle for the parents who often find they train, retrain, retrain and you guessed it retrain again. I have MANY friends and acquaintances who have sleep trained and all in all, while it may seem like they are living the high life full of solitary sleep, easy naps and non-needy babies, in actual real life, they seem to struggle just as much, if not more than I do with my nontrained, nonconforming, wakeful little bedsharers.

Life with little kids is tough and stressful and poses many challenges regardless as to whether you managed to hit the supposed pinnacle of successful parenting and achieved the all night cot sleeping, self settling, predictable nap ‘good’ baby.

So yes, you may still be picturing yourself as somehow a happier, more well rested version if you’d gone the sleep training route but this then begs the question, how and why did you take this alternate route?

For me, it was because I ‘failed’ at sleep training and so was forced to rethink my way of approaching infant sleep and through that experience, I came to recognise just how wrong sleep training felt to me on a visceral level. My motherly instinct screamed at me that my baby needed me so but for a long time I didn’t trust this instinct to know what was best for my child.

My instinct was right.

My baby desperately needed me just as much at night as he did during the day and one thing that has really helped me quantify the huge value of the comfort I have provided to him from the time I ceased sleep training is the thought of just how many nursing sessions, cuddles, hand holding, comforting words, singing and prompt response my baby would have lost out on had I indeed ‘succeeded’ at silencing him.

His intense needs have been incredibly stifling at times but honestly, the knowledge that he has always had his needs met fills my heart so much.

The thought that I may never have known, recognised or understood his needs saddens me beyond belief. My sensitive, beautiful babe has at times, asked more of me than I ever thought I could give but I kept on showing up. He needed me and I was there.

I feel comfortable and at peace in this knowledge and it something that those who ‘succeeded’ in sleep training will never know. They will never know if their baby had every need met because they were silenced. They were taught not to call out when they needed help through the night.

For that, the grass on my side will always appear greenest to me. I have no doubts of what I have gained in this long weary season and I am grateful also to not have to worry about what may have been lost.

It can be a long and lonely path to take choosing to go against the dominant sleep training culture but for those on it right now, keep faith in yourself and faith in your baby. You will make it through this together and it will all be worthwhile. Hang in there mamas x

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