- Most sleep coaches use CIO
- Sleep Training creates attachment issues
- Sleep training could cause long term issues
Becoming a new parent is a bit like being sent into a foreign land where you don’t speak the language, you can’t figure out what people want from you, and you’re barely surviving from a rather severe case of jetlag….Welcome to Parenthood!
For many of us, we spend a lot of time half-asleep, googling all things baby-related to figure out what’s normal and what’s not.. In your pursuit of a quiet night, you’ve probably come across sleep training.
Whether your bundle of joy is a newborn, 4 months old, 8 months old, or even a toddler– there are many methods and approaches to sleep training. With SO much information out there, it can be quite overwhelming.
There are a few common themes I see surrounding sleep training and it’s easy to become confused. Let’s tackle some of these issues and hopefully I can help give some clarity.
#1: All sleep training consultants use CIO or “cry it out” method.
Contrary to popular belief, sleep training does not equal “crying it out”. Sleep training has gotten a bad reputation, but in reality, that method isn’t the go-to solution for most sleep consultants. (Unless, however, you’re talking to your pediatrician, then yes, that’s typically the only tool he has in his toolbox.) That’s why the majority of pediatricians say you can’t sleep train until your baby is 6 months old. (What they really mean is that your baby can’t Cry it Out until 6 months old.) The low down on pediatricians is this…Infant Sleep is hardly even touched upon in medical school. Yes, as crazy as this sounds it’s true!
The CIO method is an old-school approach to getting your baby to sleep through the night. You put the baby in the crib, close the door, and don’t return until the next morning. That is NOT reality and that definitely ISN’T what I recommend as a sleep consultant.
Sleep training is an umbrella term that covers all sorts of methods, practices, and theories concerning how to create an independent sleeper. The goal is to condition your baby to fall asleep and back to sleep on their own. And trust me there are plenty of ways to do this that don’t involve CIO! So let’s put that “cry it out” myth to bed, so to speak. 🙂
#2: Sleep Training Can Interfere with Attachment
Attachment style parenting is popular these days, and many first-time moms are scared away from sleep training or sleep shaping because they are under the impression that any sleep shaping or training will either 1. Cause them to ignore the needs of their baby, or 2. Their child will become detached from them and feel abandoned.
Attachment style parenting sounds amazing on paper, and there are certainly plenty of amazing aspects to it. Obviously holding, rocking, soothing, babywearing, contact naps, and even co-sleeping at times are all part of caring for your baby in a healthy way that feels good and IS natural and instinctual.
HOWEVER, living in a way that completely ignores your needs as a human being, for months or years on end will eventually become unsustainable and many times creates resentment and a feeling of utter and complete exhaustion. Many moms simply cannot sustain the daily reality of this type of parenting. This is NORMAL and not something you should feel guilty about!
Here’s my Philosophy….
Your beautiful, wonderful bundle of joy is a welcome addition to your family– and for the first 3 months of his life, you’re going to center it around caring for your newborn. This is normal and healthy. However, there has to come a time when you begin to transition away from that high maintenance care and start to bring some balance back into your life. This can happen slowly but it DOES need to happen. Things should begin to get easier right around 3 months of age. Your baby goes through a big developmental leap at that age and slowly transitions out of the newborn stage. Remember, You are still a wife, a sister, a friend, a business owner, an employee etc. You have other relationships that also need nurturing and that you need, in order to be nurtured yourself. Now having said that, I do really love some of the elements of attachment style parenting. Just know, you can also implement healthy sleep habits for your child as well, WITHOUT sacrificing attachment and bonding.
The silver lining? These things can co-exist!
#3 Sleep Training Can Cause Developmental Issues
We all know that sleep, specifically QUALITY sleep is vital. Not just for babies, but for humans in general (that includes YOU, mom and dad). While there are plenty of people out there fear-mongering about CIO and its negative impacts, there is substantial research that sleep training is EXTREMELY beneficial to the family as a whole.
Studies have shown that critical-brain-development periods are based on adequate sleep for babies and concerning this particular claim– that sleep training has no effect on long-term emotional or behavioral health. Yay for studies that support healthy sleep!
I know many parents are concerned it will affect parental attachment down the road as well, but studies have proven it does not affect that bond either. In fact, it actually promotes that bond.
A study done in Australia measured the stress levels of the babies in three different sleep training groups by analyzing their saliva for the stress hormone cortisol. The groups that were sleep trained showed slightly lower cortisol levels than the babies who had no sleep training. This suggests that the babies had less stress, and anxiety and were more rested. Yes, sleep lowers cortisol. What’s more, the babies that did follow a sleep training method fell asleep more quickly and woke up less frequently in the middle of the night. This truly shows the significant benefits of sleep training or sleep shaping to the family as a whole.
I hope that dispelling some of these myths has put your mind at ease. The whole goal of sleep training is so your baby can learn to self-soothe, fall to sleep easily, and back to sleep upon coming to partial awakenings in the middle of the night.
Minimize your sleepless nights and improve your family’s wellbeing as a whole with consistent routines and methods that are gentle and effective. Bottom line: Don’t believe every mom’s rant on the internet. Sleep training doesn’t ruin your bond with your baby, it doesn’t mean abandoning them and letting them scream, and it doesn’t affect their emotional or behavioral wellbeing. Studies actually show that getting adequate rest promotes bonding and wellbeing for BOTH mom and baby.
You have the power to choose what’s best for your baby and your family. Don’t let guilt, fear or unproven claims guide that decision process.