I Can Get any Baby Sleeping Through the Night in One Week

WARNING – THE START OF THIS POST IS FICTITIOUS I DO NOT REALLY RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING – PLEASE READ TO THE END!

I am 99% certain I can get any baby, even a tiny 8 week old ‘sleeping through’ 7pm to 7am. I am not some baby whisperer magic sleep fairy baby sleep expert, I’m just a mum, who happens to read a lot. I have not attended a special school for guaranteeing a contented little baby or set up a £1 per minute phone line for my advice, but I’m certain I could do it!

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I am certain that I could get a four month old who wakes every two hourly from 8pm to 8am snoozing through in less than a week, in fact I’m going to shorten the odds and say I could probably do it in 3 days! After all, isn’ t good sleep essential for our baby’s health? and isn’t ‘self soothing’ and ‘self settling’ a vital skill to teach our babies?

How would I wave my magic sleep wand? Would it involve leaving your baby to ‘Cry it Out’, or use ‘Controlled Crying’? Of course not! I don’t use these methods, I use methods that are stress free for you and your baby! What do I use? Well, now that would be telling you and you haven’t parted with your money yet, so I can’t tell you all of my secrets…..I’ll  let you in on a few tiny little snippets instead. I would probably use some or all of the following:

  • Dream feeding
  • Formula top ups (or bottles of expressed breastmilk fed by dad if you are strongly opposed to formula)
  • Not rocking babies to sleep or allowing them to fall asleep in your arms (even in the daytime
  • Getting babies used to being in their own rooms from birth
  • Using blackout blinds
  • Using artificial heartbeats (in the form of a toy)
  • Never letting baby fall asleep on the breast or bottle
  • Using a cue word, such as ‘it’s BEDTIME now’ when putting baby to sleep.
  • Make them wait for their food, just a little bit longer each day.
  • Moving further away from baby, towards the door, each night
  • Picking up and putting down
  • ‘Controlled Comforting’ or ‘Controlled Soothing’

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t use controlled crying (nobody uses CIO anymore so we’ll ignore that bit), but really I do….I just give it a different name to make it sounds ‘softer’ (such as ‘controlled comforting or soothing’) and often I will stay in the room whilst I do it, but you know it’s really the same thing right? It’s just a good marketing tool for me, because, well you know, folk are getting a bit uncomfortable with controlled crying nowadays particularly with that research last year that showed how much it stresses babies.

So, what I’ll do is tell you to go to your baby when they cry, but here’s the key ideally you won’t pick them up at all, you’ll stroke their head or pat their tummy and tell them it’s bedtime, hopefully they’ll stop crying, but usually it takes at least 3 nights to ‘break them’. Sometimes, if they’re really crying and they’re really distressed I’ll let you pick them up, but the minute they stop crying you’ll have to put them straight back down again.

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HOLD IT RIGHT THERE………..

No, I haven’t gone insane, I **COULD** do everything I’ve said, I **COULD** get any baby ‘sleeping through the night’ in less than a week, I’m absolutely certain I **COULD** break any baby, because you know baby sleep training isn’t exactly rocket science, I could break even those babies with the strongest will, but I won’t.

I will NEVER do anything I’ve said above, why not? Because I have morals, because I have ethics, because I know that everything I’ve said here carries potential side effects, potential damage to the parent-infant attachment, potential side effects to the detriment of breastfeeding and potential side effects to the development of you baby’s brain. I think it is VITAL parents make an informed choice, if they want their babies sleeping through in 3 days they need to know that their baby will experience trauma, so will they (however gentle the techniques supposedly are) and they need to know that they will not be meeting their baby’s needs in doing so, they need to know how unnatural the methods are and how unnatural it is for young babies to ‘sleep through’ (not just young babies – but older ones too!). I think it’s also really important to tell parents that sometimes sleep training doesn’t work and often the effects are only temporary. How many ‘baby sleep experts’ tell parents the side effects of their methods?

So, whilst I **COULD** break your baby and guarantee you uninterrupted sleep in less than a week, I never will. Instead I will help you to understand that your baby’s sleep is normal, I will help you to find the support you need to survive the pressures of parenting a young baby and I will help you to use gentle tips that can help a baby to sleep a little longer whilst helping you to understand that there are no ‘quick fixes’ when it comes to babies that do not carry significant risks of psychological and physiological harm. I will help you to understand the science that helps us to know our baby’s needs and normal behaviour. I may not be rich but I will sleep better tonight knowing that I am not advising parents to ignore a mountain of scientific evidence and perhaps the most important thing of all – their instinct and their baby.

Sarah

About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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44 Responses to I Can Get any Baby Sleeping Through the Night in One Week

  1. Are you aware that putting a baby in it’s room by its self is one of the precursors to sids? That it’s completely normal for a baby to wake in the night until they’re at least 6 months old and that technically sleeping through is a 5 hour stretch not 8, 10 or 12 hours!

  2. Allison says:

    This is some of the worst advice I have ever read. I feel very sad for the children of any parents that follow this advice.

  3. Okay, So I went back and read the whole article. SORRY, The way you prefaced it I thought it was another Tizzy Hall type BS and once I started reading it I just got halfway through… and stopped reading, because I can’t bear to read crap about leaving babies to do anything on their own.. Jumped to conclusions. Sorry about that.

  4. Amy says:

    Why start out negative? Go for the good stuff right away! This not a movie that needs the suspense element to make it exciting. Parents need to hear these true words more to be confident in their innate ability to express love to their child, not stifle it as some so-called experts advice. Send out the positive, not the negative 🙂

  5. Eva says:

    A great post, but you will inevitabl get those who say ‘I did some of these things and my child is fine’ but it’s the invisible damages you’re talking about here. The stuff that leads to depression and anxiety in our teenagers when they can’t speak to their mums because ‘why would they listen now if they didn’t listen when they were babies?’ Not something they think logically but is there subconciously. I say this as a mum who will still cuddle up with my teenager over night when she needs it. Once you give birth to them you will always be their mother, as I know my mum would agree who still looks after me now when I visit her.

    But in general, you can’t go wrong if you use the ‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’ addage. Would you feel ok about your partner ignoring you if you were upset, or even worse told you you needed to learn to ‘self soothe’!

  6. tiffany says:

    I’m glad you added the warning! I am very familiar with your philosophy and have read your lovely book, and knew instantly this was a fictitious / sarcastic start to something with a very different message! It’s always risky to write something ‘sarcastic’ or something with a dual meaning, because not everyone is familiar with the lovely baby sleep methods and gentle encouragement and support you advocate to new parents! People tend to read the first few lines of something and then switch off or keep reading if it grabs their interest — so it’s quite risky using this sort of strategy, without some misinterpreting the message! Funny take though and so sad that some parents dismiss the dependent needs of their child — no adult would leave another adult to cope if they fell into a dependent state — so why would one leave a tiny baby! It’s quite beyond my comprehension! But, different forms of parenting exist and only education I guess and scientific evidence will change some people from using such dimissive and cruel parenting methods! Thanks for your lovely supportive book — it reaffirmed all my beliefs!

  7. Ania says:

    I that it might be nice to reorganize the text though…. Some people will quit reading after half of the text expecting that you are still the sort of person that you are NOT, you know what I mean.

  8. cecilia lawrence says:

    Good one. But agree you got me confused at the beginning…

  9. Nikki says:

    Anyone who knows you would have realised that was tounge in cheek and your definitely an advocate for the baby’s well being not the sleep trainers hip pocket..BTW I love your book and give it to all of my clients. Thank you for offering a much better perspective and reassuring those of us who respond to our babies and cuddle and nurture them the research to back up our decisions.

  10. Emily says:

    I love the theory of what you’re telling us, and I understand that there’s been research showing how bad it is to let your baby ‘cry it out’ etc, but the problem is, when you have a small baby who won’t go to sleep without crying (except sometimes after a monster milk feed when she’s already tired) then it leaves the parent feeling desperately like they’re failing. My little girl rarely falls asleep easily, either for a nap or for night, despite all the love, affection, gentle rocking, calm talking, soft singing etc I can muster. She cries. She cries and she cries and I’m left feeling that even though I may hold her close, sway gently and do the best that I can, she’s still crying herself to sleep and I might as well (although I won’t) leave her on her own to cry it out as that’s pretty much what she’s doing. Will she end up emotionally scarred through all the crying if it’s while being held by someone who loves her very much? Should I be concerned that speaking to her softly telling her how much I love her and that she can relax and sleep doesn’t calm her, but white noise does!? The theory is great, but how can it be put into practice!? Even when she falls asleep on me there’s a necessity to put her down sometimes – dinner needs to be eaten so I don’t faint and can breastfeed!!
    Oh, and then there’s wonderful theories about co-sleeping… how it’s beneficial if you have skin-to-skin contact, but how is that possible, when it’s too cold to sleep without clothes on, and it would necessitate using a big thick duvet, which of course isn’t safe with a little one!?!
    No one ever seems to explain the details of HOW we’re supposed to achieve all these wonderful things!!
    Oh, and out of interest, why do you put dream feeding on the list of things that are bad?

    • Hi, holding a crying baby is entirely different to leaving a baby to cry by themselves. Some babies cry – a lot, and sometimes as loving parents we cannot work out what they need in order to stop crying, some babies just seem to need to cry, but crying in the arms of somebody who loves them and is there for them is enough, it is absolutely not akin to sleep training.

      Re. bedsharing, you absolutely don’t need to do it naked! I used to bedshared wearing thick pyjamas AND my dressing gown/robe and my babies in babygros, we got our skin to skin fix in the bath together!

      • tiffany says:

        I’d really like to comment on Emily’s post and echo sarah’s sentiment that it’s better to hold a baby while it’s crying than to put it in a cold cot and let it cry it out….even if you think you aren’t pacifying the baby by holding her, you absolutely are! The thing is with us humans, is that we find it difficult to empathise, without understanding the reason for someone’s pain! i.e. my baby cried lots too and I totally get what you’re saying emily, about feeling frustrated that you feel you’re doing everything by the ‘attached parenting’ method, but feeling very disheartened and like nothing works to soothe your baby! What i came to realise is that babies just need to cry sometimes and that’s ok — I trust that my baby has a very good reason why she is crying and that it doesn’t matter that I don’t always know the reason! Sometimes she just wants to be held through her inner angst! Like my mum held me, a few weeks after I’d given birth when I just sobbed buckets — a hormone reaction I’ve been told — it was incredibly overwhelming giving birth, so no wonder our babies just need to cry also sometimes — they’ve had an even scarier time coming through the birth canal — they were floating happily, ok it was getting a bit cramped, but they felt safe, comfortable, then all of a sudden are being pushed through a tiny canal, and introduced to this scary world, with clothes to wear, a body that does nothing but feel heavy, surrounded by people they don’t know! The world is a very scary / new place for a baby and maybe just maybe, they need to cry to let out the fear and express their discomforts! Babies don’t just cry because they need feeding, are overtired, hungry, need a nappy change, are windy, they may also be fearful, anxious, adjusting to their new worlds! There bodies are growing at an extraordinary rate! So it’s little wonder they might be experiencing physical discomfort or emotional angst! Something just hit me, when I realised my baby never cries for no reason, and I might not always be able to soothe her pain, but I can soothe her by holding her until the pain goes away! Just like when they have an infection or illness, or are hurt when they are older, you can’t always take their pain away, but you can give them a cuddle which makes them feel 10 x better.
        A little tip I found soooo helpful…..my baby cried lots because she was tired and couldn’t get to sleep — little wonder when they don’t have the hormones we do which induce sleep! Anyway, I tried everything one night, rocked, soothed, lullabies, and nothing was working….in the end I put on the radio and 80s smooth classics were playing — which bingo, I found soothed me to no end and ultimately she drifted off….ever since I’ve slow danced her to sleep! Music is a great mood lifter and I once I gave up trying to figure everything in her world out, and just did all the things I could think of, I knew my job was done and all I could do was cuddle and rock her to sleep…i think she enjoyed the connection, the fact that I relaxed, and we both thoroughly enjoyed slow dancing — I got lost in the music and in the moment cuddling my beautiful baby….and she got lost in noddy land! xx I feel for you, try music that makes you relax and when you are relaxed, your baby picks up the vibes x

  11. tiffany says:

    Also @ Emily, if white noise works to soothe your baby, I say use it and use it some more….If you hit something that works, give yourself a lovely pat on the back and keep using it until it stops working! Enjoy the ‘relief’ moments when you do find something that pacifies your baby…..if you utilise the white noise, it means you can get on and have your dinner, rather than have to rock your baby to sleep…..maybe your baby also intuits your needs — baby has tuned into white noise as a method of soothing, which gives you time to do other things….voila everyone’s happy!

    Also my baby co-sleeps and I use a duvet — but I move it down so the edge is just below my pillows and then tuck the excess under at the foot….I then remove the pillow on her side and position her so her head is always above the duvet…that way the duvet never comes above her head and she can’t pull it up …babies seem to wriggle up rather than down! She can also kick it off if she gets too hot etc…but i’m right next to her, so can easily feel her being warm or cool etc!

    Personally, I love that there are lots of parenting methods and suggestions out there, but they are just suggestions and not rules… I tend to tune in when I want some info about something, take what I want and discard the rest….

    I have learned to rely mostly on my own gut and intuition and use help / support when needed…and if something works use it and if it means it gives me time off or some hands free time, then my baby’s working with me, not against me! She’s learning to find other things to pacify her, which is building her independence nicely!

  12. Kitty says:

    I wonder if you thought for one minute about how this load of rubbish would impact on a mum who is on her knees struggling with a baby who barely sleeps and other children to look after too? I was that mum, I was post natally depressed (you are 3 x more likely to be if your child does not sleep!) and literally at breaking point when I sought help from one of the very people that you are vilifying in your oh so sarcastic article.
    With help and support, yes, my baby was sleeping the night within 3 nights and it transformed my life and that of my whole family. I came off of antidepressants within weeks, all 3 of my children had a whole and happy mother back. My marriage which had been under immense pressure was back to the way it used to be when I was no longer exhausted and stressed beyond belief and I was no longer a walking zombie – putting my whole family in danger on a daily basis because I could barely see straight enough to drive a car.

    And in this whole dreadful, mean, neglectful, atrocity that I decided to put my baby through, yes she did cry for a whole 75 minutes spread over 3 days in the entire process! and yes I found that really tough but I tell you what I knew – she was not hungry, she did not feel abandoned as I was right there next to her, she was not in pain…she was exhausted too and simply did not know how to get herself to sleep!!

    Being a parent is the toughest and most amazing job in the world and it is our job to teach our children many things in life. When she learned to walk, she fell a hundred times, she would undoubtably have cried for longer than she did when learning to sleep but I’m sure you wouldnt suggest I carry her around forever – as a toddler she would steal toys from other toddlers, and when i would take them away from her she would cry, really hard sometimes – but Im sure you wouldnt suggest I let her do whatever she wanted or she would never learn right from wrong and when she learned to sleep, yes she did cry a little but she learned how to embrace the feeling of tiredness and learn to love going to bed and sleeping and is the happiest, healthiest child as a result of it 3 years on – and she also has a happy mother, and a happy family and is given so much love, care and attention – so please think and spare a thought for the people out there like me who you are making feel guilt ridden with your claims of damage to babies, they are utter rubbish.

    And for your information – I adore my children and would protect them from harm with my life and real research back up by 6 year studies proves that what you state is a load of biased rubbish. Please read the real FACTS in the following article and remove your post!!
    http://children.webmd.com/news/20120910/parents-rest-easy-infant-sleep-training

  13. Nicole says:

    There is always a balance in life. Love can be shown in many different ways-including boundaries. We can’t rescue our kids from everything in life and that sometimes includes the reality that mom/dad need their sleep as well depending on their situation. Lots of parents need to work and thus need sleep. I don’t believe the crying it out method scars kids for life as it hasn’t done to mine. My son has become a great sleeper after a few days or reassuring hugs/kisses and soft spoken words as I continued to leave them in their bed to cry to sleep. He was around 12 months when I did this and it was relief for myself, my son and my husband. I believe that the sleep they require to build their brains far outweighs the chance that this may have scarred them.

    I am a pediatric dental hygienist who deals with early childhood decay. This is an observation and not a judgement in my workplace but her it goes:
    Many of the kids we see have been breast fed on demand by parents following the “attached parenting” model very religiously and unfortunately sometimes these kids don’t seem to adjust well to being independent and secure in situations like coming to the dentist-many need their parents until after age 12. Now, I am of course not saying that this is the case all the time, but their is a common thread that many in our industry would agree happens. In general, these parenting models do not like to “force” their child to brush their teeth and often we end up having to do full mouth reconstruction on 2 -3 year olds because the parent won’t take control and do preventative brushing at home and stop breastfeeding b/c they feel strongly it will affect the child. Putting your child through a surgery at a young age is far riskier than the few tears they will have with the preventative part. Kids seem to raise up to the bar that is set for them- I see it every day. We have expectations of our children that are healthy and they eventually achieve it with confidence as we guide them along. Part of the parents job is to guide them through life, and unfortunately they will experience very difficult things along that journey-sometimes starting at a young age. It is our job to equip them with tools on how to interpret the world for how it really is and teach them to cope with these things and to be confident along the way. I like some of the ideas in attached parenting method, I sleep with my babe sometimes and I have rocked him until he was too heavy to hold .LOL. At the end of the day though, I am the one who has to keep the family unit going….and we all need our sleep.

  14. Jennie says:

    Well said Kitty. THANK YOU! As a mother of 7 of the most amazingly gifted and wonderful children/young adults I have to say I find your blog post above far reaching, narrow minded and down right mean to inflict hurt on your readers for taking the necessary step to teach their children to be a healthy sleeper.

    Let’s put aside the “research” for a moment and focus on what truly matters most. The physical, emotional and mental health of mums out there who may very well be on the edge, and so drained that they are unable to focus on simple tasks and making mistakes that put their children’s lives as well as their own in jepoardy. Let’s focus on these women rather than written page and websites that tell us if we ply our children with all natural remedies it will transform them into calm model children we strive for them to be. My youngest is 18 months and I can tell you she accomplishes this all on her own AND slept through the night…without crying from 6 weeks old (to be fair 8 hours at night at 6 weeks and 12 hours at night at 8 weeks). And just like the 6 siblings before her, I “sleep trained” them all. And guess what…no crying theatrics went on in my home. They never felt abandonded. I held them often while awake and kissed away boo boo tears. I kiss all of them more often than some would like and they fight to hold my hand while on walks. They are well adjusted children…all of them. Even my teenagers..but I may have to circle back to that comment later as some days I am just not sure.

    Several of my children now have recoreded IQ’s above 130 and are active members in their school and local community….OF THEIR OWN CHOICE. I am very protective of their sleep and they are in bed with the light’s out by 7:30pm every evening (with the exception of my teens who have to be in their bed reading at 9:00pm).

    I do not feel the least bit guilty for teaching my children how to sleep and think I have done one heck of a job raising fabulous children who light up my life every day. So, while you are most certainly entitled to your OPINION as are all the readers of the “article” above I challenge you to think the next time before you write rubbish (thank you Kitty) that can cause an already fragile mother to completely go over the edge due to sheer exhaustion, guilt and being overwhelmed. We are all in the same boat here ladies…compassion and not passing judgement would be extremely helpful for the working mums (whether at home or in the workplace… we all work just as hard) who have to be on their game EVERY DAY.

    And yes, I will proudly say it again…WE SLEEP TRAINED ALL 7 OF OUR CHILDREN! And they are wonderful sleepers and I get my 9.5 hours of sleep every night…with the exception of when one or more of my darlings are sick and then…I get none. But, even when they are sick and my heart is breaking at their agony I know that these disruptions are short lived and I would not trade them for the world. Nor my decision to sleep train. My Granny tought me how as this was how she trained my mum and how her mum trained her.

    Oh and by the way dear, I have morals and ethics too. Shame on you for suggesting that those who choose to teach their little one’s to sleep do not.

    • Kitty says:

      Thanks for your comments Jennie, and well done for teaching your children how to sleep HEALTHILY and HAPPILY! Sleep is so so important, not just to us but to our babies, children and teenagers too and I just wish some people were more realistic about the monumental effects of sleep deprivation! Divorced parents or a very depressed mother, or god forbid a car crash are extremely stressful things for child to have to deal with and a whole lot longer lasting than a few nights learning how to fall asleep independently. Sleep well!x

  15. Jerry says:

    sleep: the never ending argument between camps of “expert” moms. A few clarifications here:
    leaving a child in a room alone is NOT a precursor to SIDS. Co sleeping IS. It is dangerous and provides zero benefit for anyone. Except maybe the mother who insists that her baby needs it. (did the baby mention that in conversation?). Rather than google all these half brained websites, try searching out peer reviewed, reputable scientific journals or publications regarding the FACTS. You can find anything on the internet.

    The claim that having your baby coached to sleep in three days will cause trauma goes straight to the first point I made – says who?? Did we ask the baby? Or do we just assume because the mother is upset the baby is. There is NO data to suggest any trauma for when a baby cries. If there was, wouldnt we be traumatizing them every time they cried when they were hungry?

    Nothing upsets me more than forums like this. It takes away any and all power of a new mother and hands it over to half brained experts and no it all parents. Do your research and make a choice for your self and your family

    • Wow Jerry you really are misinformed! Lets deconstruct your beliefs one by one.

      1. Firstly there is peer reviewed research which shows sleep training is traumatic for babies see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=middlemiss+asynchrony

      2. Secondly SIDS is linked to babies sleeping in a room on their own – see http://www.isisonline.org.uk/hcp/where_babies_sleep/room-sharing/

      3. Thirdly rolling/overlaying/suffocation when sharing a sleep surface NOT following safety guidelines (see http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/) is NOT SIDS, SIDS is an unknown cause of death – these cases are not the type of bedsharing I am talking about and are due to the parents rolling onto the baby.

      4. There is much research to show bedsharing is safe if following guidelines (see above) and does not increase SIDS risks – see http://cosleeping.nd.edu/assets/32946/new_knowledge_new_insights_and_new_recommendations_2003.pdf and http://www.isisonline.org.uk/hcp/where_babies_sleep/parents_bed/

      I’m all for publishing a wide range of opinions on my blog, but please make sure your facts are straight before you attack me!

      Sarah

      • Zoe says:

        Well said Sarah! Unfortunately there will always be ‘haters’.
        For me, your advice has been so empowering, thank you x

      • tiffany says:

        I think the only person disempowering a women is Jerry — for ignoring all the mothers ‘cue’s’ and responses to her child…..a mother responding to her child is not a need from the mother, but a mother responding to the needs from the child….there’s a massive difference and if a mother does not respond to the needs of her child, then she is doing something fundamentally wrong and for a man to undermine a mothers innate / emotionally intelligent and biological response to her child, by not giving the child’s emotion or the mother’s response any credence, is really ignorant and nothing more than a total misogenystic / opinionated viewpoint, lacking any real emotional intelligence or respect for a mother / child bond, which does not need factual / scientific evidence….just respect for the beautiful / natural bond that exists…..mothers are not over emotional, or needy putting their child’s needs first, they do so because it’s inbuilt / instinctive and necessary for a child’s development….
        Thank god there are people like you in the world sarah, who gather factually / scientific based research, which empowers a woman’s natural ability to mother, using largely her instincts, rather than be swayed by the opinionated views of a man, who’s never given birth and never will and will never understand the dynamics of the mother / child bond…..until you’ve carried a baby in your womb, you will never truly understand the bond, and until the time when science allows men to experience this biological miracle, well, would be wise to give the utmost respect to that which you have no right to have an opinion on….because it is not based on any real life experience……only intellect!

  16. tiffany says:

    Co-sleeping, is the most natural and intimate thing you can do to reassure / pacify / feed / nurture your baby……adults ‘need’ to co sleep together, yet, you put this poor, defenceless, highly vulnerable baby into a separate sleeping space from it’s mother….the only reason a baby is born at 9 months, is because the head would have difficulty coming through the birth canal if left any longer to grow……but the emotional / attachment needs of the child are underdeveloped…..therefore co-sleeping provides the best emotional environment for the child to feel a continuation of nurturing that he / she felt in the womb! You could say all babies are born premature, simply because women cannot continue pregnancy any longer, as it would be unsafe for mother / child……you never roll over and squash or kill your partner in bed, so why would you think a mother, who’s carried her baby for 9 months…..has got used to sleeping in the most uncomfortable positions to protect / nurture her baby, would squash her baby in the night, providing she is not under the influence or taking drugs? A mother, after going through 9 months of pregnancy — you have to experience it to believe it, would never squash her baby….she is far to aware of it’s existence and fragility and vulnerability — she has an innate / inbuilt ‘PROTECTION’….sense that keeps baby safe……
    When you co – sleep with your baby, you are constantly aware of your baby’s needs, whether she / he is too hot / too cold, when their breathing changes, which it frequently does…..I co-sleep and I’m red alert when I do….my brain never fully sleeps….it’s what i’m programmed to do — PROTECT my baby…..it’s inbuilt, there is no opinion or intellect or reason that can mirror a women’s innate maternal instinct….it’s INBUILT….and providing a women is following the co sleeping guidelines it is the most natural thing in the world to do and the most optimal for your childs emotional and physical development….
    I love how some men feel they are qualified to have an opinion on something they have never experienced and never will…..and other beautiful men, have empathy / respect and honour a women for doing something they’re just not build to do! You can’t argue with biology…..it outranks opinion!

  17. Siobhan says:

    Now now ladies, this is the opinion of a lady who has had children herself and believes in a more natural and gentler way of parenting. you are attacking any woman who feels this way, just like you claim that Sarah is attacking your parenting. If you choose to parent a certain way, that is your choice and yes, you will be judged all throughout your life for the way you parent, whether it be cc, cio, or attachment parenting but rather than feel offended by reading what sarah write, why dont you just not read it and show your pride of your children and how you raise them in your day to day life, rather than writing what comes across as negative on this page. we are all mothers, we all know the strain children can bring, and all sarah is trying to do, is show that there are other ways to get around the trials and tribulations. I, for one, am very tired of all the anger and judgement from other mums, because i parent one way, and they parent another. to each their own! if you enjoy your children and spending time with them, and they reciprocate then theres no need for argument. xo

  18. Lora says:

    Great. So this week I read a book that says day care is highly detrimental for little boys, and now I read this which basically says I have absolutely no morals or ethics because I sleep trained my boy. He has slept through since only 8 weeks old. He also goes to bed at 7pm every night and looks up at me and smiles and goes straight to sleep and wakes up at 7am, giggling and singing. I am a single mother and I work full time and I have very little support other than my mum who lives 2 hours away. My boy is very healthy and happy and everyone I meet comments on how lovely natured he is. BUT seeing as I have apparently traumatised and damaged him I guess I have some rocky years ahead. We’ll see. I worry constantly about how I raise my boy and am I doing it right (as every 1st time mum would). All I have are my instincts and the happiness of my child to go by, so for now I am going to forget I read this and continue cuddling and kissing my boy and following my own intuition reading his cues.

  19. tiffany says:

    Personally, I appreciate that perhaps Sarah is simply trying to offer an alternative parenting style to questions traditional sleep training methods, based on new research findings, rather than intimidate or offend parents who’ve already used sleep training methods! Life for me is about constantly ‘improving’ on the ‘old ways of doing things’ and if new research highlights that sleep training babies has neurological and emotional developmental effects etc, then surely as parents we must take heed of this research and adapt our parenting styles to provide the best possible upbringing for our children…to create healthy adults from the inside out! That is, not to beat ourselves up for ‘old ways of doing things’, just to keep changing and adapting according to our intuition and new and vital research!

    I personally am very surprised to hear that an 8 week old baby would sleep solidly, without waking, stirring or wanting to feed for such a long period of time, from 7pm til 7am? I’ve heard this once before and was surprised then…I wonder, did your boy sleep in the same room as you? If not, could you ‘always’ hear his vital stirrings? If he did, did he ever stir and you soothed him back to sleep? To state your baby sleeps through from 7pm til 7am, I feel very undermining to new mothers who are frantically trying to soothe their babies to sleep, only to have a friend say ‘ooo my baby sleeps all night through?’, which I seriously can’t believe? I think stating that your baby slept all night long, is far more intimidating to new mothers, than the parenting style Sarah is trying to communicate…Plus, did your baby not require night feeding? What happened when he cried, did you leave his cries unattended? babies in my opinion, need constant care during the day and at night time…simply because they are ‘babies’ and do not know or are capable of sleeping ‘solidly’ through a 12 hour night time cycle, it’s not in their physical or emotional make up to sleep that long!..If they have got into such a long sleep pattern, I can only assume it is because they did cry, but no one heard or attended to them, so they just gave up and assumed they MUST go back to sleep…so you have trained them to ignore their needs….because their carer is ignoring their needs….their hunger and / or emotional needs have been left unmet, so yes if this has been the case, then there will be some vital repair work to do at a later stage! That’s not to say a baby is damaged for life, for using sleep solutions, you can always remedy things, but that takes an open mind and acceptance that sleep training methods, do cause some harm to a developing baby….

    My baby made ‘noises’ lots throughout the night and at first I left her thinking / assuming she was just adapting to her new surroundings, only to find in the morning she had been sick in her cot…my father believed in sleep training, my mother attached parenting, so Ive experienced both styles growing up…but, after experiencing being a mother, I would absolutely choose to attend to my child, no matter how tired I am, rather than leave her to cry alone in a cot…..never again did I leave her and she has co-slept with since she was 2 weeks old….she still wakes for BF feeds at night…and I think, given all the research available, that this is incredibly natural / normal and the experience you are stating, implies that this is not normal, which leaves mothers out there, like I said, feeling like they are doing something wrong or that there babies are not ‘good’….when actually they are doing everything to prevent later neurological or emotional problems….

    • Lora says:

      Are you kidding me? I HAVE NEVER LEFT MY CHILD TO CRY AND I HEAR EVERY NOISE HE MAKES THROUGH OUT THE NIGHT!! Thank you Tiffany for insulting me further! I am doing the absolute best I can and I have a healthy happy child. My baby slept in a cradle right next to my bed until 4 months when he was simply too big for the cradle then he went into his cot in his own room. When he is feeling sick or needs comfort he sleeps in my bed. We have a tiny unit and I hear every snuffle and stir he makes through the whole night, which means I have not had one restful sleep in the last 14 months. BUT he has and that’s what counts. I am a first time mum and I simply stated my experience and how Sarah’s statement of people not having morals or ethics is insulting to me personally. I can assure my child slept through from that age. And during the day he fed a lot. When he slept through I was getting up every 3 hours to express so that my milk supply did not diminish. I personally don’t feel it’s a measure of any parenting skills how long a baby sleeps. Some babies sleep soundly some don’t everyone is different. My baby simply doesn’t cry! I am extremely lucky. To imply that I have not attended to my childs needs is both insulting and extremely hurtful. I did not in anyway imply that people who’s babies don’t sleep through are doing something wrong. I simply stated that my boy sleeps through. Apparently because he does I lack morals and ethics, which you so kindly have confirmed!

      • tiffany says:

        I’m sorry if you feel insulted, I promise you that was not my intention at all….I am also a single, first time mother and I was really trying to understand your ‘parenting style’ and to clarify whether you in fact used ‘sleep training’ methods or whether you were one of the lucky / unique ones, in the minority whose baby just ‘naturally slept’ for long periods without stirring…it is obvious now, from you further clarifying that your parental style is comparative with sarah’s suggested methods and that you HAVE tended to his needs when he’s stirred and are just simply, one of the LUCKY ones whose baby sleeps through! I think it’s important for women to talk and share their experiences, because it helps to comfort, and know that NO ONE is doing anything WRONG….every mother is doing their best….and some (very few) babies do sleep for extraordinary long periods, without needing much tending from their mothers thro the night….however, what sarah is referring to I believe is those parents who are consciously ‘sleep training’ their babies, or indeed experts who are advising such methods….as there is now evidence based research which proves that this method is detrimental to a child’s emotional and neurological development….it was a tongue in cheek article, I believe not aimed to offend anyone, but really to point out that if we ignore our children’s needs, then yes, sleep training is a wonderful tool….but at what cost to the child? Its very upsetting to think there are parents out there using such methods and ignoring the emotional and physiological needs of their children, by continuing to use such methods, when there is evidence based research now, which proves these methods are detrimental to our developing babies…
        Therefore, you leave me confused — i wonder what offends you so much, if you have naturally followed an attached parenting theory style…where you have religiously attended to your babies needs, never left him to cry it out, or sleep trained him….what offends you so much by sarahs article? if it doesn’t apply in the slightest to you and your parenting methods?
        I’m so thankful that people like Sarah are out there, advocating these methods and not only supporting mothers / parents to feel more empowered and support their own intuitive and maternal instincts, but she is also backing up her parenting methods with vital research to prove that sleep training is harmful….which gives us parents using more empathic methods, struggling with sleep deprivation, tending to all our babies needs, ammunition against our peers or relatives who still try and tell us, that their old methods worked and not to listen to ‘such nonsense’ and to sleep train your baby, because it never did them any harm…..while one of my parents now suffers severely with depression….his partner has 3 children, none of whom speak to her….so, I for one, am so thankful for Sarah’s support, information and evidence that she constantly provides to us new mums, empowering me to no end! xx

      • Lora says:

        I don’t feel that I subscribe to any particular “parenting style” as such. I just try to tune into my little boy and do what I feel is best. Sometimes it feels a little like a science experiment when I read too much and get clouded by all the advice out there. I have read a lot and I have found that all of the “parenting experts” have some good points that can be used as a guide but that not much replaces your own instincts. I read about all sorts of settling techniques when I was pregnant and my baby was going to have the absolute perfect routine from day one. About 2 nights in reality struck that babies aren’t really into textbook routines! When my boy was about one month old I found I was spending hours throughout the day rocking him to sleep in my arms and it felt like it was quite distressing for him. But he was sleeping in two 5 hour stretches through the night once he went to sleep around 9pm to about 1:30-2am then fed and went back to sleep till 7:30-8. He barely woke at the 2am feed and always fell straight back to sleep. It would take at least an hour of rocking/cuddling a crying baby to try to get him to sleep for the evening. So one night I just put him down in his cradle awake instead. He grizzled a little for about half an hour whilst I patted him and spoke to him and he went to sleep. To me this grizzle sounded less distressed than when I was holding him! If he stirred again I would pat his tummy and he settled. So I guess I have never really “sleep trained” as per the traditional definition rather just helped him to settle himself instead of trying to force him to settle by rocking him to sleep in my arms. Which by traditional “self settling” methods is in fact opposite?! Very often he still (like most babies I assume) will call out or have a little cry while he is still asleep. Occasionally it sounds distressing enough for me to pick him up and he stops but is still fast asleep. My mum always said that once you are a mum you sleep with one eye open and she was most definitely right! Whilst I certainly do not disagree with Sarah’s methodology perhaps the wording of the forum offended me more than the intent? Mainly because you always wonder are you truly “doing it right” (and you will never really know until your child is a happy adult!) then describing someone who has used a form of settling techniques as “lacking morals or ethics” does not really help with self esteem that is already bordering on low. My child doesn’t have a good role model of a father in his life and I feel a lot of guilt for that and worry about the impact that will have on him when he reaches the teen years and early adulthood so hearing I may have caused him further psychological damage by simply helping him sleep through really hit a nerve.

  20. tiffany says:

    To comment further….I have re-read sarah’s article and your response….and I can see where you are coming from…..you feel incensed that Sarah’s is implying that if any parent uses ‘controlled crying’ methods, or a form of controlled sleep which doesn’t involve picking a baby up / cuddling her etc / tending directly to the childs needs with physical affection etc, but instead simply soothing at a physical distance to train them it’s bedtime and that at bedtime they do not get their usual physical attention from their carer, that you disagree this could be deemed immoral or unethical? Well, it’s just Sarah’s opinion and she is entitled to have an opinion, as are we all…..personally, I think if people use such unemotionally attached methods, then they are ignorant to a child’s ever growing and developing emotional intelligence? Is it a moral or ethical issue, if a parent denies a child emotional and / or physical comfort / affection just at bed time to try and train them that they have to sleep and bed time is not a time for a carer / parent to offer tactile emotional nurturing?…. instead, by contrast a child see’s a stern / detached parent? What signals does this give to a child before sleep? If in the daytime a parent is full of love and cuddles, physical affection, but at night switches that off?….yet when we become adults, we all crave physical affection ‘at night’ from a significant other? The point is it unethical / immoral to be selective with ‘LOVE’ and ‘physical affection’?…..well, as I’m pondering this, yes, I think perhaps it is? You are switching love on and off, and surely this is confusing to a child? isn’t it? why would a child understand, oh it’s night time, therefore, yes, no cuddles for me? …..so I guess, when something becomes emotionally disturbing, yes, I think I would agree, it does make this parental style immoral and / or unethical, so I would agree with Sarah….but obv you have a right to disagree and a right to your own opinion!
    A member of my family, has a 2 yr old, and she had to move in with her father at 1yrs. We had a family get together at a relatives house, not the babies home and this father put the 1yr old, in a strange room, in a strange home, in a travel cot to sleep and left her to ‘cry it out’, to go to sleep….saying she has to learn its bedtime….there were many of us there at the time, feeling sick to our stomachs listening to this poor 1 yr old baby, crying her heart out, especially as she had to also recently undergo leaving her mother to live with her father? Is that unethical, or just ignorance? I think it’s emotional cruelty and this is what I believe is the underlying point….emotional cruelty is just as bad, if not worse, than physical abuse! It’s harmful to the child’s emotional development and disturbs later attachments….

  21. Lora says:

    and further to my comment, the reason I was offended by your reply was that you strongly implied that my baby slept in another room on his own and that I simply didn’t hear him, there was no way he actually slept through – a very small part of me sometime wishes that were true because just one night’s full sleep would be just wonderful, but I knew when I chose to have him that motherhood was for a lifetime…

  22. tiffany says:

    Thank you, I’ve really enjoyed hearing you elaborate on your initial response….I really feel that you left out some vital information initially — in that you only stated that your baby slept through from 7pm to 7am, when your follow up response proved that wasn’t actually the case, as very much like the rest of us, you’ve experienced your little boy having many stirrings during those hours, all of which you’ve got up and attended to…..this was not clear in your first post.

    You also mentioned you’d ‘sleep-trained him’ which I think we have to be careful what buzz terms we use nowadays, because they all mean different things to different people, but this one is particularly coined in a ‘controlled crying’ type theory, which has some very negative connotations. What you are talking about, is intuitive mothering, and doing exactly what is best for your individual baby, which is very different to ‘sleep training’….

    (Also, you may like to re-read my response, as I really did not imply anything about your mothering style, only enquired for you to further elaborate, as I was amazed by your declaration that your baby slept from 7pm to 7am, without waking at all, which is what your post implied if you re-read it…)

    I read your mothering techniques with joy, as I too have had spells where I’ve rocked my baby endlessly to sleep in my arms, and like you, sometimes she just wants to be laid in her cot, and soothed, as opposed to being held and rocked — she has trouble sometimes just ‘going off’ and has to wriggle a bit to get comfy, and sometimes prefers to do this in my bed asleep, while i’m laying next to her, rather than in my arms. you instinctually reacted to his needs, as I have done and like you, I don’t really advocate a specific parenting style – my style is likened in the main to attachment theory, but my baby is 9 months old now, and she’s happy in her push chair, rather than being carried in a sling, and my back is a lot happier!….she has been cuddled more than you can imagine, carried in a sling, rocked to sleep at all hours, and at 9 months is happily finding times when she enjoys her independence, with little need or intervention from me, other times she wants me right in her space….I have not pushed her in any direction, only supported whatever pattern she determined…’intuitive mothering’ i like to call it!!! sometimes she has a pattern, sometimes she doesn’t but I don’t clock watch her….(only sometimes, when I’ve had a sleep deprived night and I’m waiting for her nap time, only to find she sails on through happily wide awake until the next nap time haha)….I go always with her needs, and not with a textbook, but that said, I do love reading and gaining knowledge and enjoy taking what bits I think might work, or improve my techniques, or enhance my intuition….I know I’m not perfect, no mother is, and that’s ok!

    As for your baby boy not having a father figure, well, I’ve got a similar scenario being a single lone parent, but I don’t beat myself up about it…kids nowadays come from all sorts of backgrounds, two mummies, one mummy, just a daddy, foster parents, etc… as long as they have bucket fulls of love from the one parent who is their constant carer — they won’t go far wrong!! If she wants a male influence later, I’m sure she’ll find a way to introduce that into her life….whether it be through a friends parent, a childcare set up, an uncle, a new partner that I might find….right now, at her age, all she needs is her mummy….I also can’t change how other people behave, so if the male who made her, is not suitable, acts irresponsibly or hurtfully, or does not want to be present in her upbringing, that is not my guilt trip to endure….but theirs!

    I made my baby in my womb, I take care of her 24/7, I have nothing to reproach myself for, and everything to feel proud of myself for…..I’ve got up every night since she was born, it is what it is….she is loved, happy, settled and very secure….there are no guarantees in life….she might have had two parents, and one die later, life is life…it’s all beautiful lessons! I’ll be there to catch her through them all x

  23. Gemma says:

    I just wanted to point out that it seems to me, ” I have morals….ethics” is comparing herself to the baby trainers and NOT the parents. Every parent does their best, you are all wonderful. XXxx

  24. George says:

    I really liked your book btw, but I did wonder what is so bad about blackout blinds? I thought that darkness helps establish circadian rhythms? There is a street light right outside our window so we have a blackout blind and I think baby sleeps deeper and goes to sleep easier now but not for longer, he never sleeps more than 3 hours, and more often for 2, since he turned 14 weeks, he’s 22 weeks now. I bedshare now and get plenty of sleep this way.

  25. Karen Garrett says:

    How on earth do you feel like you’ve helped anyone with this post? None of the above makes sense or is useful to a parent who is dealing with a baby who doesn’t sleep!!!

  26. Gemo says:

    It’s great to read a post that’s realistic and human (baby) kind 🙂 too often we forget our instinct and innate ability as a parent to guide us. The first 12 weeks of my baby’s life outside the womb were a complete shock and completely exhausting….I bent all the rules….co sleeping, sleeping in our arms, rocking, pushing in pram etc to enable her to sleep soundly and myself too. She’s now 18 weeks and much happier and accustomed to life outside and sleeps on her own….as in in her own cot. I judged myself so much for many of my decisions re co sleeping but now just wish I had relaxed, accepted the situation and realized there was no optimum right way and that whatever a loving parent chooses is not wrong. Let your instinct guide you. Your post has brightened my parenting experience thank you!

  27. emily6781 says:

    I find this article hugely interesting.
    What surprises me is the black and white take on getting your baby to sleep. We’ve been lucky enough to have a beautiful baby boy who 90% of the time adores being in his bed, chats to his toys and the drifts off to sleep without any crying or fuss.
    However on the few nights it’s a struggle to get him to sleep, we do what’s appropriate for his mood – some nights if he is hugely over tired we put him down, he cries for 5 minutes and then sleeps. Other nights he might need a hand on his back or a familiar toy or even to be taken back out of bed and more milk.
    Sometimes he drops off to sleep on us, sometimes that’s not what he needs and actively doesn’t want to be held and pushes away.
    I am no expert being a first time mum myself that has never looked after anyone else’s children. What I am trying to say is that each baby is different and each day is different, so saying to exclusively do anything is wrong and going to not work 100% of the time.
    I think that the main ingredient is to listen to your child, act only through love and never let frustration get the better of you.
    Trust that as long as you are acting out of love for your child and listening you will know what to do and this will be different each and every day for the rest of their childhoods.

  28. Anna says:

    I have an 11.5 month old, who for the last month has been really resisting sleep. A few naps over the last month have been skipped. I can rarely feed him to sleep, I had some success with rocking in the last week or so, but that now results in him crying very hard. My husband has more success than I do, so sharing the job has helped me not go insane as we trying different things (walk in the carried before bed to help him adjust after playing, using a bedtime routine that has a few more elements, introducing a lovey, trying to get him down a bit earlier). The internet doesn’t really offer much help when you google “unable to get my baby to sleep in my arms” and, surprisingly, the only thing that seemed to ring true was an American woman’s pro cry it out website that said because I am transferring him to the cot when he does fall asleep, he knows this and thus is fighting sleep. When I got to bed at night we co-sleep and he stirs/wakes during the night (this is okay) and I feed him. So I now feel maybe I should have just sleep trained him at around 6-9 months as surely a few nights of crying is better than the sleep deprivation from skipping naps? I wonder if the cortisol is worse when they are sleep deprived. Parents I know who have sleep trained using controlled crying (Family, mum’s group, friends) have happy babies and usually no problems with sleep, and a few other mother’s who parent similar to me seem to have similar issues, babies taking a long time to fall asleep, so I wonder if controlled crying it really is as bad as people make out. I am finding myself really questioning my parenting choices up until this point and had a few moments where I think I have done things wrong.

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