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Accepting the Reality of Infant and Toddler Sleep

Imagine if we, as a society accepted normal infant and toddler sleep. 

I mean really accepted it, in all its glory. 

Every part of society, from every generation, every family, every profession, every community, every culture, every religion.

What if we knew and accepted it as expected and respected elements of a child’s development? 
What if everybody knew well before having their own children that their child would need night time parenting for the first few years of life? 
If everybody knew that waking frequently to nurse was the biologically normal way for an infant/ toddler human to sleep? 
If everybody knew that we are in fact ‘carry mammals’ and that our young require near constant contact with a caregiver for the first few months to continue their growth and development outside of the womb? 
If everybody knew that a baby’s and toddler’s sleep can fluctuate a lot  over the first couple of years as they grow and develop at a phenomenal rate? 
If everybody recognised that a baby’s and toddler’s need for comfort, closeness and nurturing at night is just as valid and important as their need for these things during the day? 
What if nobody doubted the value of night time parenting and wouldn’t even for a moment consider that they could trade it off so they could be a ‘better’ parent by day? 

We, as a society, would come at infant and toddler sleep from a whole other place than we do right now.

There’d be no sleep training and therefore no sleep training industry.

There would be less focus on the baby and their behaviour and more focus on the dyad as a dynamic pair and nurturing the nurturer.

There would be focus on all levels from family right through to the political sphere on the kinds of support families need to navigate this time in their lives.

Antenatal classes and Mums and Bubs groups would be all about helping mothers to build their support network and discovering options that will allow them to meet their baby’s needs while also meeting their own.

For mothers who are struggling with intense high needs babies, the support would recognise the extra level of challenge these mother face as they run the Ultra Marathon of her life and help put the supports in place that mother needs and deserves.

Mothers with mental health concerns would be nurtured and treated in ways that respect her child’s legitimate needs day and night.

Families making decisions about paid employment would do so with the full knowledge that their baby will still require night time parenting.

Wouldn’t the world look so different to the way it does right now.?


The stress, strain, struggle and sacrifices made all because so few people know and recognise what has always been and always will be the way our tiniest most vulnerable humans find sleep normally.

I was told that new and expecting mothers don’t want to know that babies continue waking for a couple of years. I was told I was scaring them unnecessarily and that it was the equivalent of telling horror birth stories to a pregnant mama as she prepared to birth.

I strongly disagree.

Knowing and accepting what IS likely to happen as your baby grows and develops is not a horror story. No one knows how your baby will find sleep in this world but one thing is for sure, they will need you and that is not something you need to fear. Instead of fear, it gives room to mentally, physically and practically prepare. It takes away the element of surprise. It removes the angst of ‘shouldn’t they be sleeping better yet?’, ‘why does my baby still wake?’

A birthing mother doesn’t need to hear every horrific tale of every horrific thing that may or may not happen to her. That does nothing to help her towards her own journey. But it equally does not help to tell her that it will be easy, straight forward and you practically just sneeze and the baby falls out without pain/ discomfort.

A pregnant or new mother does not need to hear every detail of every form of sleep torture she may or may not face in the years ahead with her child. But she equally doesn’t need to sprint to some arbitrary finish line that someone has told her and think that her child’s night-time needs will magically cease and her sleep will return to that of pre-baby.

Let’s be real. Let’s be honest and let’s give new parents the very best chance to set themselves up with realistic expectations for the early time in their child’s life where they will be needed just as much at night as they are by day.

I know this may seem like a pipe dream right now, but all it takes is for voices to rise. Mothers and babies of the future deserve better than what is offered up in mainstream society today.

When we know better, we can do better and so, for all of those in the know, it’s our turn to share our voice, speak our knowledge and share with all we can the truths of normal infant and toddler sleep.

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Why following your instincts is even more challenging if your baby has high end needs

Why following your instincts is even more challenging if your baby has high end needs

Honouring your instincts and mothering the way that feels right for you is extremely challenging in today’s society that values styles of parenting that are very ‘textbook’ and focus heavily on setting boundaries, routines and limits on responsiveness right from the very early days of a baby’s life. Anyone who has opted to follow their baby’s lead when it comes to nursing and sleep will tell you it can be a lonely path to take and it is hard not to doubt yourself and your baby as you make your way through this season in life with all the twists, turns and challenges it naturally takes. I’d like shed some light on a subgroup of mothers who face even heavier challenges … the mother of the high end needs baby.  


I was just at the park with my kids and I was standing with a group of mums when one mum asked the other if she was getting any more sleep as she’d looked shattered the previous day. The mum says, ‘oh my gosh, I’m just so exhausted! My little guy (about 6 months) has started waking twice overnight and my big guy woke for a drink and has done for a few nights in a row. The baby seems hungry but oh my god, I’m exhausted!’

Now I’m not claiming she wasn’t exhausted. In her experience, she most likely is.

But, I swear to god, if I’d heard that same conversation a couple of years ago while I mothered my first high needs baby, I would have-

a. Wanted to slap her across the face
b. Burst into tears and shaken her while I screamed, ‘exhausted? I’ll show you f#%^ing exhausted!’ then run away and gone home with my little sleep thief feeling even more shit and alone because no one else seemed to get it.
c. Or most likely, just walked away with my baby quickly to hide my tears and gone home feeling desperately alone.

Now, I realise that most people who already follow their baby’s sleep lead would know that 2 wake ups a night at 6 months freaking rocks and is absolutely normal BUT for the mother who is following her wakeful little firecracker’s lead, two wake ups can sound like the ultimate luxurious dream as she wakes for the 6+ time that night.

It’s not just that it’s hard for this mother to feel as though she is understood (because let’s face it, she’s largely not), what’s even harder is for this mother to be able to keep any faith in herself and her baby and what they are doing as a pair when everyone around them seems to experience this infant sleep business in such a different way.

Why can’t my baby sleep like that? Why does my baby wake so excessively? Is there something wrong with them? Have I created this mess? Maybe it’s because I breastfeed to sleep? Maybe I do have to teach my baby to self soothe so they can link sleep cycles? Maybe it’s because I’m drinking a coffee a day now? Maybe it’s because I am misunderstanding my baby’s early sleep cues and missing their window? Maybe it’s because I let my baby catnap during the day? Maybe I need to start solids? Maybe a bedtime bottle of formula? Maybe it’s because we bedshare? Maybe I should try the cot again?

I can safely say as a person on the outside who once lived inside this confusing, disheartening, sleep deprived, muddled haze, that provided your baby has been checked out for any underlying health issues that may be exacerbating their normal wakeful behaviour, you have not done a single thing to cause this waking. Your little person just happens to have an intense need for parenting both day and night. It is normal for a baby to wake and nurse back to sleep frequently at night. It is physiologically impossible for an infant or toddler to soothe themselves from a place of distress and therefore, self soothing is not something you can teach your baby.

This may feel like cold comfort to the mother in the thick of living and loving their high needs person but I can tell you now, the first time I heard this, I felt like an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders …

It was no longer MY fault.

It was no longer my BABY’s fault.

And, it felt almost heavenly to know I was not alone.

And still, the weight would grow heavier and heavier and heavier over time as the relentless waking, the relentless weariness, the relentless need for comfort day after night after day after day after night …

I would cycle through patches of extreme vulnerability so frequently and all of the beauty that a gentler approach to parenting would become tainted by my exhaustion. The questions and doubts would creep on in and heaven forbid I showed it to anyone for I’d be swooped on by pitying faces and sleep training promises and told my baby was manipulating me and all about the good old rod I’d created and how abnormal he was and how unnecessary breastfeeding at night was.

It may be seen as super judgemental for a gentle parent to propose that maybe a mainstream parenting technique like sleep training is inappropriate but my goodness, in my experience it’s a bloody free for all when it comes to advice coming from the other way.

My gentle ways that felt so right even if I was shattered and brought my baby so much comfort were routinely ripped to shreds which in effect, ripped me and my extraordinary efforts to shreds, too. Society held so little value for the huge amount of blood, sweat and tears I poured into that baby of mine. I was treated as though I was a bit crazy, a bit of an alternative hippy and once people learned of my complete distaste for sleep training (even if they knew what we had gone through), they so often gave me that pitiful shrug and head tilt, of ‘oh well, if you aren’t willing to do it then I guess you’ll just have to stay tired.’

So little empathy.

No true understanding.

It was a truly lonely journey.

I had to cling to little things to get me through. I had to tell myself and my baby frequently that we were a team and we’d get through this together. Posts on The Milk Meg that normalised night waking and boobin all night became a lifeline. Pinky McKay’s reassuring articles about breastfeeding and soothing a baby to sleep helped me gain more confidence in why it felt right to help my baby so. The 12 Features of the High Needs Baby by Dr William Sears saw me in tears … for the first time, someone seemed to ‘get’ my baby. Evolutionary Parenting and Sarah Ockwell Smith helped me better understand why sleep training is not something any baby needs but why it is so popular. I found the amazing books Sweet Sleep by La Leche League and The Discontented Little Baby Book by Dr Pamela Douglas and learned so much about normal infant sleep patterns.

I looked, learned and reached out and you know what I found in all of this … I was so far from alone.

My baby was not a freak.

And I most certainly was not the only mother sitting by herself crying over the fact that her friends thought that 2 wake ups at night was something they’d call a ‘bad night’.

To those who have less intense little people, I know how many times you would have experienced doubt and worry on your gentle journey but I ask you to really think of those mothers in both your real and virtual communities who have an extra added layer of ‘hard’ that they are battling through and take time to show them you see them and their incredible efforts and the way they continue on despite the heavy weight of societal pressure telling them they are wrong every chance it gets.

Next time you read a, ‘I never wanted to sleep train but I honestly can’t do this anymore!’ plea, please, I beg you to stop, reflect and then respond. The whole, ‘I could never do that, how could you consider…’ comments are by far the worst.

Talk with this mama. Fill her confidence in mothering with her instincts back up. She needs you to have her back when she’s vulnerable. She needs to know she can do this incredibly hard thing but may need to ask help to keep doing it. She needs your practical help and a little empathy never went astray.

To those mamas with intense little ones, I salute you. You are the unsung heroes of the mothering world and your wee one will forever benefit from the incredible commitment of love, time and patience you have given them. Your efforts are not in vain. You are doing incredibly important work, never doubt it.

 I sincerely hope to see the day where it is normal to nurture your baby and meet them at their point of need regardless of how intense those needs may be. Until then, I will continue to speak of the biological norm and shine a light on the wonderful work being done by gentle mothers the world over that deserves to be revered instead of ridiculed.

I dream of the day we can say we have truly moved beyond the sleep training culture.

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Sleep needs versus sleep wants

Our society and our infants are at odds with each other when it comes to sleep.  Society has a very fixed and adult centred view on sleep ‘needs’ and this is commonly projected onto our infants and has created a mismatch between what we as parents view as sleep ‘needs’ versus sleep ‘wants’.

We as adults are very quick to defend our sleep ‘needs’ and often put up an almighty battle to regain a sleep pattern that we would say we ‘need’ to be normal – long, uninterrupted sleep in a bed away from our baby.

We ‘need’ this in order to function, to avoid or overcome PPD or PPA, to be able to be a good mother, to be able to return to our paid work, to have energy for our toddlers and other children, to be able to enjoy life.

Not coincidentally, society has become all accepting of the belief and understanding that our preferred way of sleeping at night and our preferred way to be productive during the day are what is not only best for our infants and toddlers but also what we should expect.


The rise of extinction methods such as Cry It Out and modified techniques that fit under the Controlled Crying banner was rampant during the era most mothers today were being mothered. Since then, there has been a push to achieve the same results but by being ‘more present’ and ‘softened’ approaches have grown more popular, even if in actual reality they are only softer by name or seem softer for the adults but are still arduous and traumatic for the child. Responsive settling or comfort settling are two such examples. Sleep training can and does vary greatly and the impact it has both in the immediate, short and long term on the child is heavily dependent on that individual child but the risks, well they are becoming more and more documented.

Despite this, many mothers feel that sleep training is something she MUST do. This is even more true if she has a baby who is far from the sleepy ideal of a ‘good’ baby. She believes her baby needs to learn to sleep and in order to do that, they need to self settle and learn to sleep away from her in chunks that will see them develop and grow the way they should.

 

It is a common misconception that a child needs a certain quota of sleep and in big, long chunks to grow and develop. Babies and toddlers DO need sleep and overall, they need quite a lot, BUT it has been shown many times over that there is no golden rule for how much sleep any one baby needs at any one time in their life. It is also normal for a human infant to sleep in short chunks, rouse and nurse before drifting back to sleep many times at night. During the day, a baby may sometimes have short naps versus sleeps and other times a nap may be extended with help through the cycle. This is NORMAL.

As for self settling, this is perhaps the saddest misconception of all. It is physiological fact that babies and young toddlers are incapable of being taught to self soothe. If you’d like to read more on this, I highly recommend this article and if you are shouting, ‘but my baby CAN self soothe!’ then check this one out.

It is also untrue that a baby needs to cry and that allowing them to cry is in any way ‘good’ for a baby either physically or mentally.

A baby or toddler NEEDS a caregiver to help them to sleep through contact, nursing and soothing when they are tired (not when some random book dictates). Some babies take a hell of a lot of energy to soothe off to sleep and may fight and struggle, but they are not alone in this if you are fully supporting them in your arms. You should never be made to feel your baby would be better off crying out of your loving arms. Pick up your baby every time. They don’t just want you, they need you and your calm.

A baby or toddler also NEEDS you within close proximity to sleep calmly and soundly. To begin with, only your chest may do (a carrier can help with this), then it may be right next to you in bed or in their side carred cot, or little mattress next to yours.

Your baby and toddler NEEDS your help when they wake at night. It is normal for a human infant to wake and nurse frequently at night for the first 12 months AND BEYOND.


Their body NEEDS to wake, refuel, feel comfort and connection, make sense of new learnings and feel any discomfort or worry is soothed.

Some baby’s NEED for night time comfort is far more intense than others just as some baby’s are more intense by day. Their needs are just as legitimate as their less intense peers.

There will be times where you will wonder what the hell has gone wrong, as a baby who had been sleeping relatively well will begin waking more and NEEDING more help at night.

All of this is normal infant sleep behaviour.

No, it looks nothing like the adult sleep we prefer.

No, it’s not how most people describe infant sleep but in a society who sleep train most babies, there is little hope that mothers will be able to garner a genuine picture of what is normal and what to expect when most babies in her world have been trained to override their biological sleep pattern.

Sadly, a baby seeking comfort to sleep is interpreted as something they want not a need.

A baby past a certain age who is seeking to nurse, is said to want to nurse when really they need to nurse.

A baby who sleeps best on or very near their caregiver is interpreted as wanting this contact but they truly need it.

A baby asking for help in the night only wants assistance because they are accustomed to it, but nope, they legitimately need it.

While these biologically normal behaviours are so quickly dismissed as wants, it is easy to see why sleep training seems like such a viable and necessary option to families.

Loving mothers everywhere want to meet their baby’s needs but while society believes that what a baby needs is – solitary sleep, to learn to self settle, to stop nursing at night as quickly as possible and to become as independent at night as possible then we’ll continue on this skewed path.

These beliefs go hand in hand with the belief that adults are only well rested if their sleep is long and uninterrupted.

This is not true.

This is a WANT not a need.

Yes, we need sleep.

No, we don’t need perfect, uninterrupted sleep to be okay.

We can and should adjust our lives and habits to be able to meet the night time parenting needs of our babies and toddlers.

Quality sleep is what parents should strive for. Forget the quantity.

Instead of all the energy we pour into ‘fixing’ and overanalysing the sleep behaviour of our babies, let’s pour our effort in to working out what we can do maximise the quality of our broken sleep.

What are we doing that could be exacerbating our weariness?

What choices are we making that fight against this time in our lives?

Maybe it’s staying up long after babies are in bed and losing sleep. Maybe it’s forcing yourself to keep getting up and staying awake to tend to your baby. Maybe it’s looking at screens in the night and waking right up. Maybe you have trouble winding back down. Maybe you are awake longer because you are trying hard to resettle when you could all be back to sleep if you simply nursed or cuddled. Maybe you are laying awake predicting the next wake up.

There is so much to consider and no one answer.

What is key here is recognising the true needs versus the wants in your unique situation.

Babies are exhausting. Being sleep deprived is no joke but as a society we have it so skewed that we have this big wall up that serves to protect the societal view of what sleep should look like and overemphasises how important it is to attain this even while we are raising our very dependent, very trusting little humans who need us intensely both day and night.

If you sit back and think, I sincerely hope we can shift this conversation and belief a little.

How much sleep you want is vastly different to what you need to be okay.

How you want to get that sleep will also be different to how you need to get it with a baby or toddler in the house.

It’s of mutual benefit to the mother and child to think on this a little.

The only way to change an entrenched view is to keep offering up the alternative.

Please, take some time to review your own beliefs about your own sleep needs and that of your baby or toddlers.




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‘Don’t tell me not to think I’m tired! I AM tired!’

‘Don’t tell me not to think I’m tired! I AM tired!’

I know you are tired, mama. Nobody denies you are sleep deprived.  
I have been criticised before for always including the tip to stop focusing on how tired you are, and have been told it is like telling a depressed person not be sad or a cancer patient that they aren’t sick.

But you see, the mind is a very powerful thing and you DO have the power to control your mind.

For me, if you are going to stand any chance of making it through the weary first years of life with our babies with any kind of happiness and fond memories, you are going to have to take your thoughts and mental well being in hand, particularly if you are blessed with a wakeful little person. Being able to shift your focus off your weariness is not to deny that you are tired, but to simply to tell your body and mind that it’s okay to be tired and that while you will do all you can to get yourself rest, it’s okay to think about other things.

Feel free to brush this off. If you think this is bullshit, go ahead and keep on telling yourself, ‘I’m so tired! I’m so exhausted! I can barely function, I’m so tired!’ And you just watch your body and mind fall into line. You will feel every ounce of weariness and tiredness and exhaustion that you focus your thoughts on and they will be amplified as you give those thoughts your full, undivided attention.

That’s how our mind and body work.

Just as you may have learned techniques to help refocus your energy and thoughts during labour and delivery to try and shift your mind away from the pain of contractions, you too, can employ similar tactics to help you combat your tiredness.

Just as a person with depression or anxiety may be taught mindfulness or techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that assist that person to manage their thoughts and feelings and take the unhealthy feelings in hand and recast them in a healthier light.

Just as a person who has cancer can acknowledge their illness and the challenges and trauma of the journey ahead while still focussing their energies on positivity and potential, you can CHOOSE to shift and control your focus.

***As a side note- being sleep deprived is not in anyway comparable to the experience of cancer. I am merely alluding to the effect the mind can have on challenging experiences in life and not trying to diminish the all encompassing experience that is cancer. ***

In my experience as a mother of a wakeful child, I lived the first 6 months as an anxious, depressed, wallower.

I wallowed in my weariness. I lamented my lost sleep. I bemoaned my child’s waking. I stressed and worried about my broken, disrupted night’s sleep.

I calculated how many minutes or hours until he may next wake, I calculated how long I’d been awake. I calculated how long it was taking me to get to sleep. I calculated how much sleep I’d not had.

My calculations always equalled exactly the same amount = I AM SO F#%^ing exhausted, I feel like death warmed up! This child is going to kill me!!!

Now if you go about your day with this awful algorithm dominating your every thought and you live in this never ending Pity Party mode, I can tell you firsthand, you are going to be the most miserable, depressed, shell of a person and mother.

But this algorithm is lying to you! This set of calculations tells you that you cannot enjoy motherhood or life as you know it as long as you have a wakeful child and as long as you remain sleep deprived! The good news is, THIS IS NOT TRUE!

These sad and sorry calculations only take in one part, albeit an important part, of your life that is sleep. There is more to life and your beautiful, wakeful baby than how much sleep you are or are not getting!

Accepting that you are going to have disrupted sleep and that you will need to work out how to get the best quality sleep and rest you can to handle these very normal night time behaviours of your baby can take a huge weight off your shoulders and allow you the breathing and mind space to think of something other than sleep.

Some days it will still get you. I had one such day last week. No amount of mind shifting and refocusing could deny it.

I was exhausted.

This is not only normal but also I think an excellent protective factor your body is demonstrating. Your body will tell you when enough is enough. The mindfulness and distractions only work when your body is able to cope and then when it really does warrant your attention, it let’s you know in no uncertain terms that your weariness DOES require your full attention.

On that day for me last week, I slept during the day for the first time in months. My body ordered me to take the opportunity as a matter of urgency. I felt about 3 billion times better even though it was only a 20 minute kip. I found that the moment I woke, the weight had lifted again. I could do it all again. I could think of other things and get on with my day. Sleep deprivation in tow but not as an anchor holding me back.

The mind is a powerful thing, mamas. Where is your focus right now?

Acknowledge that weariness, honour your opportunities for rest and focus on all that is good in your world.

You will have endless years to catch up on lost sleep in the future. Right now, your baby needs you intensely both day and night. Focus on meeting them at their point of need. You are doing marvellous things for that child of yours.

Chin up tired mama xxx

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Why you should learn about normal infant sleep behaviour

Why you should learn about normal infant sleep behaviour

As you will have noticed from my numerous articles centring around understanding normal infant sleep behaviour, I think it’s really important and useful information for all parents. 

But why?

I have had more than a few comments pointing to the fact that understanding what is ‘normal’ doesn’t make a mother less sleep deprived and that my writing is ‘unhelpful’ and ‘upsetting’ for desperately sleep deprived parents.

I beg to differ.

If my own experience taught me anything, THE most important thing to a mother, ahead of her own wellbeing (rightly or wrongly), is knowing her baby is okay. That her baby is healthy and thriving. That her baby is behaving as they should.

The stress, anxiety and worry of a mother who fears her baby is possibly not okay is immense and in my experience tenacious, persistent and all consuming.

A mother who fears her wakeful baby will in some way suffer or experience future challenges due to lack of sleep will make choices and move mountains to try and ‘remedy’ this issue all with the best interest of her child at heart (read my experience here).

The only way for a family to make genuinely informed decisions about how they manage the ups and downs of infant sleep is to firstly fully understand what fits into the wide range of normal.

Simply by knowing what is normal can help families make decisions with a clearer head. One that isn’t clouded by the impossible expectations often perpetuated in today’s society. It can help them mentally prepare, plan, adjust and manage. It can help them remain connected and allow them to enjoy more about their baby by taking sleep out of sharp focus.

My first baby sat at the very extreme end of the range of normal. Many babies who initially appear to be in this range do in fact have underlying issues which is why it is so important to still check and rule out possible concerns that that may be preventing your child from easier, sounder sleep. Food intolerance, allergies, tongue and lip ties, birth trauma … All have the potential to impact on sleep.

But, if, like us, you investigate it all and there is nothing else at play, please know that to have an average there has to be the extremes and being the extreme can still be normal. My extremely busy brained, super sensitive, sleep allergic baby now LOVES sleep and is currently peacefully sleeping for his lunch nap and will happily hit the hay for bed tonight, with not so much as a hint of resistance. He, in his own time, learned to love sleep.

Other sleepophobes continue to run on the smell of an oily rag and go on to live hugely successful lives.

An interesting thing I found with accepting the night waking as normal, taking up bedsharing and giving up on nighttime resettling (which so very rarely worked) was that it actually got my guy more and better quality sleep. He would stir rather than wake fully, a boob would appear, he’d hop on and off to sleep he’d go. We both lost way more sleep when I was getting up to him or having my husband trying to resettle. He still had some shitful nights where he was awake for stupid amounts of time but they became far less frequent and no doubt centred around developmental and growth periods.

For at least half of mothers, they will never need to know the extreme end of the wakeful child because as with all averages at least half will sit in the ‘average wakings to least wakings’ end of the spectrum. This means that MOST families are dealing with slightly below average, spot on average to even above average range of normal infant sleep and this to me has the potential to be very reassuring. Knowing that your child is actually sleeping very well for their peer group, even if you are tired yourself helps you keep on keeping on. It helps you realise that this is just where your child is at. They are doing exactly as they should.

I know as a mother on the extreme end, I seriously had to bite my tongue when mamas I know vented to me about their child’s sleep which was well within the range of average and even better when I would have done ANYTHING for 2 hour stretch even once a night. But, once again, I truly believe this comes down to education as well as perspective. From my extreme perspective, I could appreciate small reprieves or slightly longer stretches for the true miracle they were for me but for a friend who was used to very long, consistent stretches, she found riding the developmental cycles of waking very hard to understand and were a source of frustration for her. She didn’t know that it was normal for babies to cycle through periods of waking frequently even after they have achieved some longer stretches and therefore she was desperate to find a ‘fix’ when her baby started waking thinking the wheels had fallen off and they needed to train him to get things back on track.

This is why I think all families would benefit from understanding the norm. It would help them place their child’s sleep in the grand scheme of things and help them to appreciate the unique child they have without the fog of whether they are the most sensationally sleepy baby or the wakeful sparkler in the mix.

It would help them to take a look at their own family dynamic, lifestyle, health and support systems to make choices that work WITH the baby they have to ensure everybody can get the best quality sleep they can in their unique setting with realistic, fair and manageable expectations of not only their baby but also themselves.

Confidence and belief are a big part of parenting. Feeling like you are able to work as a team and that what you are doing feels right for everyone is such an important way to maintain a healthy dynamic and connection as a family navigates this weary season in their lives.

This is why I bang on about normal infant sleep behaviour. I see it as central for hoping to make a shift in the way today’s society responds to babies and their sleep needs.

If you would like to read up on what is ‘normal’ for infant sleep, here are some useful articles to start you off –

Evolutionary Parenting

Sarah Ockwell Smith

Pinky McKay

The Possums Clinic

Meg Nagle

Professor James McKenna

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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.
💙

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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