Here are some lies people tell you about infant sleep

Before I posted this, Adam peeked over my shoulder, saw the title and said, ‘”Oh my god, stop writing about infant sleep. No one cares.”

If this statement applies to you, SORRY NOT SORRY THIS IS MY LIFE, ADAM!

Now for our regularly scheduled mom post.

I know that many of you don’t have babies yet, or have babies that are younger than Olive – I am writing this post for you.

When O was about four months old I remember taking her to a talk put on by the local library. Each week they hosted different speakers, and this particular week featured a public health nurse speaking about the unique nature of baby sleep. It sounded interesting and I needed to get out of the house and talk to real grown up people that didn’t shit their pants, so off we went.

At the beginning of the talk all of the moms went around the circle and introduced ourselves and described our baby’s sleep patterns. Many moms expressed frustration and/or insanity at the lack of sleep they were getting, but because at that point O was sleeping like a rockstar I just said she was sleeping well and was interested in hearing the talk.

I did, however, happen to mention that I typically nursed her to sleep, and at that point the speaker interrupted me to let me know that nursing a baby to sleep was not good. Not just not recommended, but like NOT. GOOD. at all, ever. Period. Her sternly angled eyebrows added extra emphasis.

She was pretty clear about the fact that all in all of the popular approaches to baby sleep, and all the books written by all the experts, the common thread was that “sleep props” like nursing impede a baby’s ability to self-soothe. She told me that Olive would never sleep through the night if I continued putting her to sleep this way.

I nodded, because everything I had read – by all of those experts in all of those sleep books – agreed with this statement. And that’s what I do in the face of confrontation, I nod and smile.

But despite my robotic nodding, I didn’t agree.

Olive WAS sleeping through the night, despite the nursing. And she DID wake up and go back to sleep, I could hear her several times a night – waking, talking to herself and then rolling over and drifting off.

But I sat there and nodded because who I was I, a first time mother with a four month old, to argue with a nurse (not to mention all of those experts?)

Complicating matters even more was the fact that I happened to be, at that very same moment, nursing O to sleep because it was her nap time. As the introductions moved on to my left, I guiltily unlatched her, and then spent the next forty-five minutes walking her and bouncing her and trying to hear the nurse over her cries because she was tired and wasn’t done and I had stopped nursing her because I couldn’t bear to be doing it wrong.

The next day we tried a mild form of sleep training, involving some bullshit that they call Pick-Up, Put-Down, and I call HORRIBLE. I was supposed to hold Olive, and when she looked drowsy, put her in her crib. If she cried I was to pick her up, hold her until she had JUST calmed down, and then put her back in her crib. Aaaand repeat.

The idea is a no-cry sleep training. In reality it was 45 minutes of lots of crying – from an exhausted baby who just wanted to be snuggled, and a confused, frustrated first time mom who didn’t understand why what she had been doing was wrong, but desperately wanted to be doing it right.

At the time that this all went down – the nurse and the talk and the day of failed “sleep training”-  I remember feeling incredibly helpless and confused. I was scared that they might be right, that I might be ruining Olive’s ability to self-soothe and she would be a horrible sleeper and rely on nursing as a “sleep prop” forever, and never be able to go to sleep on her own. EVERRRRRR. 

Looking back now though, as the mother of a one year old, I mostly just feel angry.

What is this bullshit? Why do we do this? Why do we voluntarily subject ourselves to sitting in a room full of people, being told we are doing it wrong simply because a handful of self-proclaimed experts with books to sell say so?

You can’t sell a solution if there isn’t a problem, and in the past fifty years we have increasingly categorized what amounts to normal, human infant sleep as a problem needing to be solved.

Experts, and books, and exorbitantly priced “Sleep Consultants” have proliferated and because we are terrified new parents with bags under our eyes the size of Samsonites we eagerly open our ears and our wallets to find a solution, any solution! And we are frustrated. We’re frustrated because our expectations are out of whack, and our expectations are out of whack because we are being sold lies -LIES I tell you!

Here is one lie: The secret to a three month old sleeping 12 hours straight is just $20 away.

Another lie:  It isn’t normal for an infant or toddler to wake up a few times a night.

And one more lie: It is now, and has always been, customary for humans to sleep in solid 8-12 hour increments.

Enough of these lies! I call bullshit! I want the truth! I can handle the truth!

This series of articles published in Psychology Today was honestly the single best thing I ever stumbled upon as a new parent.

It is totally worth a read – all six parts – but if you are text-averse like Adam, I can sum it up for you by saying this:

“Infant/toddler sleep is erratic, unpredictable and doesn’t conform to our expectations. Children’s sleep habits have evolved to best serve the child, even if they don’t make sense to the parent. Adjust your expectations, not your child’s sleep habits (within reason).

Don’t stop being a parent at night.

And y’all, seriously, stop being so crazy with the books and the shushing and the picking up and putting down and the intervals and the living by the clock.”

The whole series of articles made me feel as though I was getting a good, old-fashioned wallop of common sense from some stern lady with a wooden spoon, but the line that stuck with me the most from the whole thing was this: “…one long-term study looking at child sleep between 3 and 42 months found that there was no stability in night wakings or even sleep duration…”

Guys – there is no pattern! There is no rhyme or reason or explanation! It does not matter if you sleep train or don’t sleep train or nurse to sleep or rock to sleep or whatever. Just give up! Adapt, react, give in. You don’t have to train your child to sleep, you don’t have to enforce rigid guidelines and you don’t have to stop nursing your baby to sleep out of misguided fear, perpetuated by experts looking to make a buck.

Here is the truth, from a mom who has nursed her baby to sleep for more than a year: It is easily one of the best parts of our day.

It is an indescribably sweet feeling to sit quietly with her as her eyes flutter and her breath slows. I love that pause, that stillness, and honestly, there’s a reason it works so well. Night time breastmilk contains tryptophan, the same chemical found in turkey that makes us feel so drowsy after huge thanksgiving dinners. (and even as adults, what is the old wives remedy for insomnia? “Have a glass of warm milk…”)

More importantly than all of that however, and this is the part that makes me mad thinking about my scared, impressionable new-mom self: They were wrong.

At twelve months old, nursing is absolutely not the only way Olive can go to sleep. Grandma can give her a bottle and rock her and she will drift off without any fuss. Adam can snuggle her and she’s out in five minutes. And recently, miracle of miracles, there have been a few times that I have put her into her crib awake for a few of her naps and at bedtimes, and she has rolled around for a bit, talked to herself and then fallen asleep. BY. HERSELF.

It doesn’t happen every time, and now that I have share this information with The Internets, I have ensured that these events will never, ever repeat themselves, but I was told that this would never happen periodbecause of the sleep props, and the bad habits, and my horrible, terrible, lazy parenting with the bedtime nursing.

For months I felt guilty, instead of content, every time I sat there with her and watched her drift off.  And guys, that’s why I’m angry, because no mom should feel like that for nourishing and comforting her child.

It’s hard being a new parent. Not just because of the incredible changes affecting every facet of your life – your career, your finances, your home and your relationship – but because everyone has an opinion. About everything you are doing, and more importantly everything you are doing wrong.

Not being able to breastfeed is heartbreaking, but being constantly guilt-tripped over it is worse.

Being up all night with a baby is challenging, but being lectured on all the ways you are ruining your child’s future sleep patterns when you admit it, is worse.

So here’s what I recommend to all of you new parents or soon-to-be parents, or someday far away in the verrry distant future parents: Read the article I linked to above, and have zero expectations. You might have a baby that sleeps, you might not. You might have a baby that tricks you into thinking they are a sleeper and then messes with your mind by suddenly stopping the sleeping, like Olive did. But regardless, when someone asks you how your baby is sleeping, smile and say “Like a baby”.

That will be the truth.

And so is this: It’s normal for a baby to sleep 9 hours straight. It’s normal for a baby to be up every hour. It’s normal for your baby to do the former one night, the latter the next (and it’s totally normal to feel like an insane, husband-hating, coffee-chugging, borderline-emotional-wreck while this is happening.)

*****

Here’s another thing, while we are on the subject of truth telling. Two months ago Olive went through a week long stretch of waking up every 1-2 hours at night. I call this, “The Dark Time”.

The Dark Time happened to coincide with deadlines for the final draft of my book, and every morning as I hauled myself out of bed, I wanted to gouge my eyes out simply because the eyeballs were taking up valuable space that could have been filled with more coffee.

It only lasted a week or so, but it felt like an eternity measured in 1-2 hour segments. Sleeps that were never long enough, and eyes gritty like sandpaper. I was like, “Oh my god. They were RIGHT. She is EFFED. EVERYTHING IS RUINED FOREVER NO ONE WILL EVER SLEEP AGAIN MISTER FERBER WHERE ARE YOU WHEN I NEED YOU?”

The thing is, the week after The Dark Time, Olive began crawling, started standing unassisted, and then popped out two teeth.

And her then her sleep went back to normal.

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You see? There’s a reason for all of it,I promise, even when we don’t understand. It’s not our job as parents to understand, it’s just our job to parent. That’s all.

All we need to do is respond to our child’s needs, even when they need things at 1 a.m. And 2 a.m. And 2:30 a.m. and every single other a.m. that you didn’t know existed.

It doesn’t make sense and it gets better and then gets worse and the nights seem long and the crying oh god the crying, but the dawn always comes. The sun always rises.

And that, my friends, is the truth.

 

Nov 18, 2013:I added a follow-up post to address issues about sleep training-shaming. It can be found here

 

Nov 23, 2014: Edited to add: This post is getting some attention again so I just thought I would add a little update. I weaned Olive at around 18-19 months and transitioned into reading books to go to sleep. There was an adjustment period of around three days but she is now just over two and we still read books together every night. She usually falls asleep mid-Horton-Hatches-The-Egg and then sleeps for a blissful 12-13 hours. Hey! Looks like I didn’t ruin her after all ;) Thank you so much for everyone who has commented and emailed to express how much this post affected them – I am so, so glad!

 

Did you enjoy hearing me ramble about infant sleep? I also ramble about other things, too, in book form! 
If you are interested in learning how to estrange your husband by composting, make your neighbours uncomfortable by flashing your under-lovelies, or start shampooing your hair with baking soda, click here!

748 thoughts on “Here are some lies people tell you about infant sleep

  1. Pingback: Parenting Advice: Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen | RaisingDAD.org

  2. It feels odd commenting on an old post but this is the first post I read from your blog (it was shared via facebook from an old teacher I still admire greatly) and it really hits home because I’m halfway through my first pregnancy and It great to see some real advice. I’m getting more and more irritated by parenting advice that tell you you’re doing something WRONG and trying to sell you the only perfect way way to do this. After being so impressed with this I did what any neurotic research obsessed pregnant woman with hours and hours of time on her hands would do if she finally found someone with the same hippy chick attitude shes been searching for AND lives in Canada. I read through every blog post since the first pregnancy post. well thats an embarrassing admittance but really I just wanted to say Thank you for writing this, and every other post that made me laugh so hard my brother worried for my health and sanity.
    Reading from Ottawa

    • Thank you for this text!I have a baby, 8 months old, and I have been nursing him to sleep ever since he was born…and hearing all those comments from people around me. Lately, going to back to work, I have been feeling like I might be doing something wrong and ruining ny baby’s sleep for ever. Turns out…I might not be wrong after all! It’s nice to read some realistic advice instead of the typical “pros and expert” talk than most of the time implies criticizing our skills as mothers.

    • Oh my god Bridget!! The annoying advice people give you!!! I wanted to punch every well meaning advice giver in the face (bar my mum who was the only person to offer advice when I actually ASKED for it!) Sure it was probably due to some hormones but it really pissed me off that everyone had an opinion that they would insist on forcing on me when I announced I was pregnant, from how to give birth to my baby ( I was told I was selfish for wanting a water birth at home!) to how much Maternity leave I was taking (a year – “well of course I couldn’t AFFORD to take that much time off in MY day, plus I was BORED being a stay at home mum”).
      To be fair it was normally the older mum crowd who had their kids 20 years ago but still…
      “Oh yeah? Well SCREW YOU!!!” I wanted to yell back, but I gritted my teeth took a deep breath and smiled. Even now I wish I had just punched them. I probably could have played the pregnancy hormonal card and gotten away with it ;) Just kidding.
      Good luck with the pregnancy and just listen to your instincts. Everyone else can go jump! ;)

  3. AMAZING POST! This hit home so hard I was brought to tears. Tears of joy of course. It all makes so much sense and I don’t feel so pressured now into sleep training. You’re right, babies sleep is irratic and that’s okay. If only I didn’t have to work a high stress full time job after not sleeping for months. Someday I will look back on this insane, caffeine powered phase and it will just be a memory. Can’t wait.

  4. Here, here! I got sucked into the whole sleep training BS with my oldest nearly 30 years ago. In my mind we were both traumatized by it, so I decided never again. His younger sister and brother were guiltlessly nursed to sleep on most occasions and ultimately were great sleepers. So there. Our babies need to be taken care of based on what babies needs – not what adults need.

  5. The irony is that you’re complaining about being shamed
    as a parent who feeds to sleep and yet what you’re doing is shaming those who use pick up/ put down. It’s not BS or horrible, how is it horrible? The baby cries so you comfort it, the baby settles and you put it down. Up until yesterday I was feeding my son to sleep and getting disapproving looks from health professionals and today I decide to try something different and I’m reading disapproving blog posts from you. So thanks to judgemental posts like this, no parent is ever safe from being shamed. Parenting is hard so live and let live.

    • I agree! I have a ton of mommy friends, some of who have found success with nursing their babies to sleep, some co-sleep, some use various forms of sleep training. I am lucky to be part of a pretty supportive community where no one shames anyone else for the choices they’ve made our what parenting methods they have successfully used. It is ironic that the jest of this article is, “don’t judge” while calling the method of sleep training that worked for me bullshit. It was not bullshit to me. Every other thing I tried did not work for me, but that does not make those parenting decisions bullshit to those that found success with them. Mothers need to be supportive of each other and not cast aspersions, especially those that resent this behavior directed at themselves.

    • I agree!! Pick up put down was the only thing that helped my son sleep. He was screaming all night and fussing all day from exhaustion, even though I tried nursing him back to sleep every ninety minutes or so for two months and my husband and I took turns holding him all night because he wouldn’t sleep for an instant if we put him down!! Now this post is supposed to make me feel guilty because we didn’t “respond” that way anymore. My child is healthier and happier now that he can sleep through the night. (By the way, his broken sleep all night was effecting his ability to learn new skills which REM helps with, and feeding him all night long was forcing his digestive system to never get a rest). I am very grateful that I consulted a sleep coach and did the (hard) right thing for my child. This woman clearly had an easy baby with great sleep skills – that’s lovely but wasn’t our story. I guess I am supposed to be evil because my son cried for a night (with me in there every step of the way to pick him up and cuddle him!). He cried a lot more and all the time before he was able to sleep. Now he sleeps 10-12 hours straight at night and instead of screaming or fussing all day we get to read together and sing a song before naps/bed and he goes into his crib happily. That’s our story.

  6. Thank you for this post! As a first time mom (my son will be 1yr on Jan 14) I was afraid of doing it wrong. Everything. All the time. At my 5wk PP checkup, it was making me so upset that they put me on “crazy pills”, as my husband calls them. We fought for the first 5wks with my son on sleeping. He had really bad acid reflux, so he had to sleep reclined in his rock-n-play. We’d feed, he’d fall asleep for about 30 min, we’d put him down and the gas pains would hit, we’d rock/bounce/burp/you name it to settle him down for the next 2 hrs before he’d finally settle. Then the cycle started over bc it was time to feed again. As a result, I was losing my mind. I was either attached to the breast pump, or my son and was getting zero sleep, as was he. Then my mom came for another week long visit. I reluctantly left him for a dr apt and when I came home, he was asleep. In his bassinet. On his stomach. He was in the livingroom with her, so she could watch him, but OMG, I lost it. All the experts tell you this is bad. This will kill them. But my mom remaindered me of something…she raised 3 perfectly healthy children (myself included) who slept on our tummies, and had no issues. He’d been asleep for hours. Peacefully. And while he slept, he passed gas….and we’ve never looked back. I feared telling my pediatrician about our discovery bc I knew he’d be mad, but you know what? He’s not always right. I’m his mother. I know what’s best for my child. I rock him to sleep w a bottle AND a paci every night. (But at daycare, he soothes himself right to sleep.). We also don’t believe in the Cry it Out method. If my son is crying, there’s something wrong. And he either wants mommy or daddy to make it right. As a result, he’ll generally sleep for 8-12 hrs, uninterrupted (which means I’m getting sleep), unless something is wrong. Parents learn their children. And boy howdy, they’re all different. But we all strive for the same thing….healthy children who can join society and live normally. And if that means we all parent differently, than so be it. 😄

  7. my baby is now 11. I would nurse him and his older sister(14) to sleep. The only difference sleep wise between them is as they got over a year she would love to fall asleep in the crib on her own, he would not. He would get so upset he would throw up. We put him in a bed at 16 months then he had no problem going to sleep. Landed up our boy was clastiphobic and anything that closed him in scared him, he is still this way. Both of them are good sleepers it is just what works for you.

  8. I was so excited to read this since I nursed to sleep my LO until around 18 months. However I was a little disappointed when I read yours is sleeping 12-14 hours straight. Mine is just past 2 and still not sleeping through, still needs me to go to sleep and regularly ends up in bed with me in the middle of the night (seeing as I’m due with the next at the end of the month, I’m lacking done energy). Am I doing it wrong? People still tell me I am. Let her cry it out! Just shut the door, and she will be cured in a couple nights! Maybe I’m a jaded mama bc I still believe it’s not the best and that unlike their children, I’m pretty sure mine is quite capable of screaming for 2 hours straight just like when she was 6 months. Am I wrong?

    • No! No you are absolutely not doing it wrong. By sharing my “success” with Olive, I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel bad, or guarantee that nursing to sleep would have the same results for everyone. Every baby-mother team is different and will have a different experience, but I just wanted to assure people that nursing to sleep doesn’t mean that your child will never sleep through the night. Does that make sense? I think sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone like any other. They will all get there eventually. I still lie with Olive to help her fall asleep if she doesn’t fall asleep while I read to her. I wouldn’t be able to just shut the door and listen to her cry, either. I do sympathize with you, especially with a second on the way. I don’t think you can go wrong by listening to your instincts. Despite what others say. xo

      On Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 3:29 PM, Sweet Madeleine wrote:

      >

  9. You are the bomb and right on target! Wish my head was in the same place as yours 25, 22, and 19 years ago when my babes were nursing infants. LOVED the lulling to sleep via nursing my babes. Unfortunately I was not well-supplied in the milk department all three times. All my babes had different sleep patterns. Two of the three caused permanent “Samsonites” under both eyes with what seemed like total insomnia (on their part!). Would I do it again you might ask knowing what I know now? Hell, yah. It’s been a journey so far like nothing money can or will ever buy. Enjoy the ride when the moments along the way make you smile. We are all as smart as we need to be just the way we are.

  10. Hey,

    Thanks for writing this post – I think it’s really important that people are sharing their stories of when the books and the nonsense medical advice are nonsense, it gives a lot of new parents in the same situation some reassurance that they aren’t crazy for trying to just do things the way that feels right!

    I’m reading this after my girlfriend showed it to me and I know for sure that she has gone to bed with a sense of relief!

  11. Wel said momma! Each kiddo is unique, while some strategies work for lots not all work for everyone. Meet your child where they are at and what meets their needs with understanding that things happen such as teething, colds that affect sleep. The phrase sleeping like a baby is the biggest oxymoron around!

  12. I did not nurse my daughter (now 7) to sleep because she would fall asleep most nights on her own but she woke up multiple time a night for years. Some times were better than others, but the one thing that we always did was tend to her whether it was a quick snuggle, tuck in or bringing her to our room. I caught a lot of grief from other for doing something wrong and somehow ruining her sleep pattern. It never changed what I did because I felt she needed me and I had to show her that I would meet her needs. She sleeps great now, and occasionally gets up but most often will put herself back to sleep

  13. While I don’t disagree with your experiences with your child (who could with any experience?), I do however strongly disagree with the mentality that health care professionals are feeding lies to solely profit. That in of itself is pure bullshit.

    One concern I have with your post is the neglect to mention that when an infant is given something to fall asleep, many times they need that same, or equally soothing act, in order to sleep. You have said that you don’t always have to nurse your child to sleep, “Grandma can give her a bottle and rock her and she will drift off without any fuss. Adam can snuggle her and she’s out in five minutes. And recently, miracle of miracles, there have been a few times that I have put her into her crib awake for a few of her naps and at bedtimes, and she has rolled around for a bit, talked to herself and then fallen asleep. BY. HERSELF.” So the majority of the time, your child needs something in order to fall asleep, and in your words, “it’s a miracle” that your child has fallen asleep by herself. However, you don’t elaborate on that fact that your child only falls asleep by herself only a few times, you choose to elaborate that she HAS fallen asleep by herself. The point is that she most likely WOULD fall asleep by herself most of the time if she did self-sooth. However, you have made it clear, it is not common for your child to self-sooth, only that in a blue moon that she CAN self-sooth. To the real point, what is the point in achieving self-soothing if a child only does it very rarely.

    Another concern is your blatant disrespect for health care professionals that have done numerous studies on sleep. If it were not safe, health care professionals would not preach it because what does it gain them? You have said that your encounter with the mentioned public health nurse was put on by the local library. I assume it was free for you to attend and that the public health nurse was not getting paid by the library to talk at this program. So if the nurse was not getting paid to speak and you did not pay to listen then what exactly are you talking about telling lies to make money? The nurse would have no benefit of telling you a “lie” to potentially harm your child, give me a break.

    Lastly, tying in with my previous concern, the next time your child gets hurt or needs a doctor visit, I want you to be as bold as you are in this post and explain to the health care professionals that you are this child’s mother and will not be told lies based on their best practice guidelines. They will be able to direct you the nearest exit. It is called AMA and you have every right to it, that is if you refuse the plan of medical care because they are full of lies. If you have no intention to understand how medicine and research works, then don’t come crying for help when you need it most. The best part about it is that those health care professionals will answer your questions to the fullest of their knowledge with a smile on their faces because their job is to promote health and turning away or not treating a patient is not a option in their moral code. They are here to help you, not hurt you. If it was not backed up by research, it would not be practiced in legitimate health care facilities.

    The real concern lies in alternative medicine. Although not all alternative medicine is bad and some of it really does work (and I wouldn’t subdue you to try it if you would like, and if it were safe) however anyone can having one thing work for their problem and it can be called alternative medicine. These are the type of medical scams people get railed into most of the time.

    So to summarize, I don’t think your style of parenting is wrong nor unsafe. Your nursing to sleep is what worked for you are your child and that’s great. I wouldn’t berate anyone else who had done the same as long as it were safe. The point the nurse was making is that nursing to sleep impedes an infants ability to learn to self-sooth consistently. You have demonstrated that your child does not self-sooth consistently, as said in your statements. Perhaps if you had taken the advise of the nurse, your child would rarely need something to sooth her to sleep. However, what you did is not wrong, just not the best route to teaching self-soothing, which by the looks of it, you don’t really care. So who cares? If you like the way your child sleeps then more power to you, but don’t spat about saying health care professionals are feeding lies to make money just because what they said is the best way to help self-sooth did not work instantly for your child. That is ridiculous.

    P.S. to whoever was talking about co-sleeping, there is a very good reason you shouldn’t. It’s called SIDS and happens many times every year because parents refuse to listen to their health care provider about the possibilities and consequences of co-sleeping. But what do I know right? I’m full of lies.

    • Its not hating on health care professionals. It’s trying to stand your ground and take away the guilt when people, including some health care professionals and including some mothers, will tell you what you are doing is WRONG and you must change and do it their way because it is the only way and thats not something that should be common practice especially if what you’re doing is working (and safe for the child). Everybody seems to have a study that supports their view, and I think that means that theres more than one way to do things but what would I know right? Since you sound like someone in the practice of health care by how insulted you are maybe you don’t do this but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. You seems to be taking a lot out of context just for the sake of feeling insulted for a blog post written over a year ago by a person who does spend a lot of time in hospitals and has great respect for those that work there. but hey you only read one random blog post so how would you know any of that. Outrage can do weird things to people.

      • No one ever said what she did was wrong… Just that it would not be the best route to self-sooth. That’s it. No one said that she had to stop doing what she was doing unless she wanted her child to start learning to self-sooth consistently. She apparently doesn’t care that her child self-sooth consistently which is fine. However, the problem lies where she spats that health care professionals are lying. That is simply not true, she just didn’t understand what she was being told.

        Also, there are many ways to achieve one common goal. Most are neither right nor wrong and many are safe. You can choose what to do with your child and your body. However, it won’t prevent people studying the “best” way to do something. Good research intends to find out facts and truth, not manipulate the study to find the results they were looking for. Just because something is the “best” or the “fastest” for the MAJORITY does not mean that it is required or mandatory to achieve the same results. Although, again, studies show particular ways of doing some things make the time to learn and achieve quicker or attainable the majority of the time.

        I won’t say that some people do call particular acts wrong when they are not but that is not the majority, not even close. So my problem was that since MAYBE one person told her she shouldn’t nurse to sleep if she wanted baby to self-sooth consistently, that ALL health care professionals are liars. If she wanted to sound reputable, she just sounded silly making that remark.

        I have not taken anything out of context, I do not think. If I have, please point out where in my comment I have and maybe I can help you understand better or make myself more clear. However, I am not insulted, I am more taken back that people applaud this type of blog post. It seems like many are sheep, following blindly into whatever this person says without really thinking about things for themselves. If people really believed this non-sense that health care professionals lie to gain profit, it could cause detrimental effects for those who really do indeed need help from health care professionals. They may perhaps second guess themselves next time they seek help, and if they don’t, the results could be fatal. All because of a stupid blog by a woman who felt guilty because of her own incompetence to understand the real message.

        Also, I don’t believe this woman really has any respect for the people working in health care. As she said, we are all liars. Does that really mean respect for you? I highly doubt that anyone had said the things she has proclaimed they did. Health care professionals know everyone is individualized and respond differently. No one with half a brain in the field would say that it is not normal for a infant to not sleep the entire night without waking, or any of the other things she has claimed were lies, assumed to be by health care professionals.

        So before you say I am “outraged” let me remind you, a large portion of my responsibilities is patient advocacy. So yes, for the sake of my former, current, and future patients, I am outraged that someone would try and lead them to believe I should not be trusted because I am only here to gain a profit. That is not the patient-health care professional relationship I strive for every day I work. I encourage patients to speak for themselves and their opinions and wants for their care and try to educate them on the various options they have, one including to do nothing or something not recommended, but atlas I will educate them one the possible consequences of their actions if they so choose to move forward with something not recommended or to do nothing. I am here for the patient, not the other way around.

      • I’m sorry I still disagree with you. Someone did tell her she was wrong and that she would be ruining her daughter’s sleep for the rest of her life and they were wrong. Not lying just wrong. Her daughter can self soothe and maybe she would be the outlier in one of those studies but it’s what happened. When she goes on about lies she’s not talking about the nurse she’s talking about people trying to sell the perfect solution hence ” The secret to a three month old sleeping 12 hours straight is just $20 away.”. Authors with books to sell to parents that are scared for their children. She calls bullshit on “a handful of self-proclaimed experts with books” self-proclaimed in my opinion does not mean health care professional. “Experts, and books, and exorbitantly priced “Sleep Consultants”” titles of people that do make money off of scared parents, Not doctors and nurses who are not paid directly by their patients in Canada. She says we are being “SOLD lies” by the people who are out there to make a buck not the doctors or nurses or health care professionals, she doesn’t buy anything from them, we live in Canada. So I’ve pointed out where I think you misunderstood and If you still feel you could point out anywhere where she said the nurse or the doctor or anyone who would count as a health professional was lying then I could see where you are coming from but as it stands This is how I read her words. Not an attack but an admittance of how scared she was and how she feels our culture fails by targeting those fears and the fears of other parents.

    • So…. Tell me, why do babies need to self sooth..? why do they ever need to self settle…? Why can’t parents just unconditionally be there until they reach a time when they don’t need us there?
      Evolution has a big part to play in who we biologically are and why babies and children need soothing constantly.
      Culture, money, the desire to feel less tired and idiots who write books trying to ‘train babies’ into sleeping are what drives the need for CIO or CC methods that are so blindingly dividing nature/nurture from human instinct.
      Babies know how to sleep! The same way they know how to suck and urinate and cry.. its instinct!
      Being left alone in a room to sleep or self settle is not instinct and if you remove this part of the equation we simply go back to how we are biologically determined to be.
      People who argue otherwise are simply projecting their own sense of guilt and failure for not following their instinctual nurturing self.

  14. After 3 kids, I still have issues with what is “right” when it comes to kids sleep patterns! My 6yo son still has on and off sleep patterns. Some nights he crawls in my bed around 3/4am (and yes some nights I enjoy it only because I know in a few years it will be “uncool” to snuggle or love on mom. Other nights I just want to roll on the floor just to sleep without another human half on half off me lol) and some nights he won’t. My 6m old started sleeping through the night at 3 months old, literally days after daddy came home from deployment (thank you baby for not deciding to do that before daddy came home haha) and has every single night since. At first I thought something was wrong, she is going too long without eating, etc but I realized that her body will do what it does and she will definitely let me know when she is hungry day or night. I realized that I’m not doing anything wrong and that I got really lucky! Especially since my then 2yo still was getting up at midnight and up on and off until 3 every..single…night… I know each kid has their own sleeping patterns and each child will absolutely be different in every possible way! So thank you for reassuring me that im noy going crazy, and being an overly paranoid mama!! :)

  15. I can’t tell you how mucho LOVE this post. You’ve given me so much confidence to trust my instincts. I have a question though, and if you’ve answered this somewhere in the 727 comments, just direct me there. I nurse my son to sleep, day and night, but he’s my first child and I hope to have more. Do you have any thoughts on how nap times will go with subsequent children? I won’t always have the luxury of being able to lay down with the baby to help him sleep. Just wondering if you’ve thought about this too.

  16. I can’t wait till she posts on here that her 4 year old gets up in the middle of the night and tries to crawl in bed with her!

  17. love it! I think the bottom line is that Mommy instincts are so important to follow! Sometimes it’s exhausting, not convenient, frustrating, etc., but when we just do what we feel our babies need, it seems to usually work out… My only question is: I want an addendum for HOW you weaned your 18-month-old?? My first daughter weaned herself at 16-mo and now I’m still nursing the 2nd (22 month-old) to sleep and wondering how and when this might end… not in a huge rush, but if you have any advice on what worked for you, I’d love to hear it!!

  18. I love you. As a second time parent, I got sucked in again in my crazy, insomniac, desperate attempt for a 3-4 hr stretch of sleep. I needed this post to slap me back to reality and remind me of what I already knew.

  19. I did the pick up put down thing. But had a very different and positive experience with it. I’d never leave my baby to cry. So picking her up when she cried and putting her down after she had settled did help her learn to go to sleep without being on me all the time, but she was very calm doing it and we had very very few tears. For my second baby, it wasn’t right and he got upset so I stopped trying and let him sleep on me most nights. Different parents, different babies, different approaches….Let’s not judge each other too harshly, hey?

  20. I’ve come from old school idea that child must just be left to sleep when it’s time to sleep!! As mum to 38 years, 35years, 32 years old, first two would sleep all night 10 hrs straight from 10 weeks old unless poorly,there own choosing, youngest no way was he having that!! Two hours at a time if I was lucky and if I wasn’t near to comfort and reassure it was full on hysterics from him for hrs, had him by my bed in singal bed from 9 months old he didn’t like closed in!! up until he was two years old, he then decided that he was big boy and wanted to sleep in room with his brother ..aaaw heaven normal sleeping pattern restored. .. . All I can say is I was lacking in sleep for a long time but it was what suited me as a mum not what I was constantly told I should do that worked out for me and my family…And now they are all well adjusted adults with no after affects of my choices. ..my advice!! Go with what suits you best!!..good luck..

  21. Dear Adam, there are new moms every day that REALLY need these constant reassurances. Thank you for reminding me that I am the best expert on what my baby needs. Every other blog seems to push CIO, why am I a rebel for not leaving my precious baby? Something is wrong with this picture.

  22. Your post is a miracle! I am so thankful I saw this and read it because I have been nursing my baby to sleep since birth and you’re so right, it’s the best part of the day. I seriously went through the exact same thing you did with Olive and it is a relief to hear you say that there is nothing wrong with it. I hate that I ever felt guilty for doing this so thank you for this!! And thank you for the laughs… You’re awesome.

  23. I was blessed with a baby who was a perfect sleeper, if there is such a thing. He was so easy, that his little brother is exactly 19 months younger, to the day. We thought, “We got this. Let’s do it again.” Our second baby surprised us with a “broken sleeper.” He just couldn’t, wouldn’t, wasn’t, and isn’t a sleeper. He will be one next month and we’ve graduated to 2-3 hour occasional stretches, when we’re lucky. For the first 7 months it was every 30 minutes to an hour waking. Meanwhile, we have a toddler who sleeps through the night and wakes at 6am ready for the day. Meanwhile, my husband and I both have a business to run from home. To say it was challenging is an understatement. We received no help from our pediatrician who said it was normal. We read so many books and even more unsolicited advice from friends and acquaintances and third cousins of our acquaintances via Facebook as if those thoughts all didn’t occur to us when we were searching Amazon for a RedBull IV drip system. At the end of the day, if your baby is sleeping you are winning. Getting your baby to sleep, with or without “props” is a great skill that takes a secret combination of love, talent, and shear luck. We love both our boys and look forward to a day when they will both sleep at night, take naps during the day, and we can feel like regular humans again. But even though it’s been incredibly hard, we know that this too shall pass. Eventually there will be sleep. But in the meantime, we have forged a bond and a team and have been blessed with caring friends and family to allow us the occasional emergency nap. No two babies are alike. No single system will work for all babies. Sleep is an amazing thing. But it’s disheartening to experience extreme sleep deprivation alongside so many judgemental mamas and “experts” who seem to think it’s the parent’s fault. Hearing people tell us, “If you really wanted him to sleep, you would do this….” etc. Sometimes there are just no words. And in those moments, luckily, your brain is already running on empty so it all blurs together. Beautiful post. And if you’re reading this and you are a know it all baby expert, maybe take a step back and reread everything again.

  24. I needed this reassurance because I totally believe everything you put in this post 100%, and I, too, have just gotten angry and frustrated at the whole “sleep solutions” market and what people have set their expectations for infants/toddlers to do as far as sleep goes. I also get frustrated and resentful at people who talk about this whole “self soothing” crap. I can’t tell you how awesome it is that I found this post, which puts all my feelings into words. Until about 2 weeks ago, I still nursed my 2 1/2 yr old to sleep for every bedtime and nap, and no one could convince me there was a better way, even now. Shame on that NP!

  25. I’m a dad of a 3 mo. old and thought your post is brilliant! The wife & I both take all that “expert” advice that’s out there on soothing, sleep training and what-have-you with a grain of salt. Co-sleeping and/or nursing to sleep to soothe him and sleep better through the night? Guilty! This read is a breath of fresh air.

  26. Yes, yes, yes! My parents used to marvel at how unproblematic bedtime was in our family. The secret? Well, not really a secret at all: go with what works. The boob worked, he was out in seconds, like nature designed it, brilliant stuff. No artificial routine but a pattern that worked. When he was tiny, that meant he fell asleep on me, wherever I was because he was happy and content in our arms or next to us in bed. The cot stood unused for three years. (In hindsight it is quite funny that we kept it. I guess we were keeping up appearances.) Unproblematic. When a bit older and no longer on the boob, we still played it to the tune of nature and worked with him discovering sleepiness for himself, never enforcing a strict bedtime but rather letting him (with gentle, discrete but intentional guidance) conclude that going to bed was a good choice when sleepy. Unproblematic. No long rituals. Cosy, calm activities, lower light as suits everyone in the evening, then brush teeth and read for a bit. Conked out. Of course it did and does occasionally go pear shaped and an overtired boy becomes increasingly intent on staying awake and increasingly irrational but to be honest, it happens to adults too. And yes, we might have less time to be alone as adults than the couple who enforces a ‘stay in your bedroom from 7 to 7′ routine but we have more time with our child who will only be a child once. We’ll have years and years and years of time as a couple but this is the only time we have to be three. What I did find tricky when he was little and sleeping like a normal infant (occasionally erratically) was not always being allowed to talk about being a tired adult without being made to feel like I ought to ‘solve’ the ‘problem’. Also I did often feel like there was something I was doing wrong even though what I did was working for our family because when looking for reassurance there were very few articles like this one. Thank you!

  27. Pingback: 10 enemies of the sleeping baby - The Thud

  28. Great read.. I’ve been trying to explain this since my first baby… 3rd baby on its way now and so many parents still don’t get it.
    Im tired.. I have a 2.5 year old a 12month old and pregnant. I also have had 3 spinal operations in one year and a diagnosis of graves disease but the only people I ever hear complaining or should I say ‘picking at me’ are those who have an issue with me not sleep training my babies.. certain grandparents or relatives who seem annoyed by my determination to be there for them no matter what!
    Thanks for the article and I wish more people would take the time to nurture instead of whinge.. :)

  29. Pingback: Sleep training…it’s all a myth. | My New Normal

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